All Out Of Bubblegum

Breaking down the best hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Rowdy Tellez (MIL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.

Rowdy Tellez came to the game Sunday to do two things: hit bombs and chew bubblegum. Turns out, he was all out of bubblegum, so he settled for a pair of homers instead, giving the Brewers’ first baseman 13 on the season, and three in the past five games. On the day, Tellez finished with two hits, 2 R, 4 RBI, and a walk. Perhaps Tellez is starting to remind the Milwaukee fans why he was traded for and ultimately won the starting gig at first base with the consistently struggling Keston Hiura relinquishing any chance at retaking the job in mid-April.

Through the season Tellez looks just fine, slashing .244/.317/.450 through 265 plate appearances heading into Sunday’s match up. His 20.8% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate look pretty good on the surface as well. Recent history as shown even better plate discipline, recording a 14.3% strikeout rate and 11.9% walk rate through 84 plate appearances in the month of June. The issue arises when you realize the better plate discipline isn’t translating to more production. Prior to Sunday’s stat line, Tellez had totaled just one home run, five RBI and four runs scored through the month of June and that may be blamed on the rest of his team falling off a cliff as well. In the month, the Brewers as a whole have ranked in the bottom ten in practically every rate stat, including but not limited to wOBA, SLG, K%,, OBP, and AVG. Tellez isn’t doing himself any favors, recording just 20 hard hit balls in June (prior to Sunday), good for just a 23.8% hard contact rate – much lower than his 30% rate on the season, dipping below the MLB average of 26.3%.

Perhaps Sunday was a sign of more to come – bringing back the power hitter that most fantasy players expected him to be with every day playing time in a hitter friendly ballpark. If the aggressiveness ticks up for Tellez and the balls starts to pop off his bat more consistently in the coming days, July could be a much more productive month ahead.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday

Kyle Schwarber (PHI): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.

Turns out, Kyle Schwarber is pretty good at baseball. Sunday showed off most of what Schwarber does well, except walk, which he ranks in the top 10 across baseball with a 15% rate. The seventh inning homer was Schwarber’s 21st of the season, making his .215 batting average a bit easier to stomach. Leading off everyday for the Phillies certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Byron Buxton (MIN): 3-3, 2B, 3B, 3 R, RBI, BB.

A home run away from the cycle, Byron Buxton made up for lost time on Sunday. All three batted balls left the bat over 95 mph (104, 109, and 97 to be more specific), and Buxton looked just fine running the bases after his second inning RBI triple. Fantasy managers can let out a sigh of relief after Bucton avoided another IL stint and expect a few more outputs like Sunday in the near future from the explosive Twins’ outfielder.

Daulton Varsho (ARI): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Well this was a sight for sore eyes, for sure. It’s been a rough month for the catcher-eligible outfielder, who had been slashing .177/.198/.204 through 82 June plate appearances leading up to Sunday’s two-hit game. Varsho’s sixth inning homer was just his second of the month, which lines up with a less than desirable 23.4% hard contact rate and just three total barrels on the month. Catcher eligibility is nice and all, but actual production like Sunday would make it much more valuable.

Brendan Donovan (STL): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Speaking of eligibility, Brendan Donovan has it in spades. Catcher is perhaps the only position he’s not eligible at, depending on the platform you’re playing on, so it makes it that much more likely fantasy managers who roster him got to enjoy the full stat line from Sunday, regardless of where he was needed to fill in on the roster. The 359 foot homer Donovan squeaked through in the third inning had a .150 xBA attached to it and was just his second on the season, so just feel lucky to get the bonus bomb in your stat totals on Sunday and maybe just rely on the .300+ batting average and positional flexibility moving forward.

Eric Haase (DET): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Eric Haase doesn’t get the same sort of run for the Tigers as he once did, playing pretty much every other day behind the plate and mostly focused on facing left handed starters. Splitting time behind the plate with Tucker Barnhart surely doesn’t give Haase ample opportunity to provide useable production to fantasy teams, but ever so often, under the right circumstances, he can back his way into a day like he had Sunday, where he belted his fourth homer of the year. Somewhat ironically, though Haase seemingly sits on the small side of the platoon with Barnhart, starting most games against left handed starters, his homer came off the first pitch he saw from righty J.B. Wendelken out of the bullpen.

Jose Altuve (HOU): 1-3, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB.

Jose Altuve now has home runs in three of his last six games, and sure that’s nice, but it’s the two stolen bases, his fourth and fifth of the season, that’s the most interesting aspect of Sunday’s stat line. Though Altuve chooses to run in less than 5% of the opportunities he sees, he sees more than his fair share of opportunities, with 37% of his plate appearances this season resulting in him landing on base with the next base open in front of him. Since Altuve has the luxury of leading off regularly for the Astros, he is provided ample opportunity and is now on pace to easily swipe double digit bags on the season, something we haven’t seen him do since 2018.

Alejandro Kirk (TOR): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Alejandro Kirk accounted for all of Blue Jays’ scoring on Sunday with his first inning, three run blast off Chi Chi González. The 410 foot shot was Kirk’s tenth of the season and caps an impressive five week campaign where he’s slashed .389/.477/.737 with nine homers (five in his last eight games) and just 11 strikeouts through 111 plate appearances. That’s the sixth most plate appearances amongst catchers in that time frame, and with that sort of volume coming out of the Toronto clean up spot one has to wonder why Kirk still sits on over 10% of free agent wires across Yahoo leagues. Regardless of league format, Kirk should be starting for someone in every league.

Nick Senzel (CIN): 3-3, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Now with three multi-hit performances in his last four games, Nick Senzel is quietly providing actual value for fantasy rosters as of late, putting up a more than serviceable OBP of .321 since returning for a short lived injury in early June, driven by a sub 20% strikeout rate. Sure, the .277 SLG isn’t doing us any favors in that time frame, but the production on the base paths has made up for it. Sunday marked Senzel’s first game in the past four days in which he did not record a stolen base, but it wasn’t for lack of opportunity as Senzel saw the next base open in front of him after each instance of getting on base Sunday.

Isaac Paredes (TB): 3-3, 2 2B, RBI, BB.

What? No home run for Isaac Paredes? That doesn’t seem right. Something must be wrong. (Note: Nothing is wrong, but it would be nice to see Paredes playing every day rather than getting every third day off on average.)

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

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