Batter’s Box: An Unexpected Canha Worms

Oakland OF Mark Canha has been on the warpath to redeem himself ever since getting the call to come back up to Oakland on May 9. After hip surgery that...

Oakland OF Mark Canha has been on the warpath to redeem himself ever since getting the call to come back up to Oakland on May 9. After hip surgery that ended his season last year, he appeared in six games with the As to start 2017 but went an abysmal 2-19 with six strikeouts so the brass optioned him to Triple-A Nashville in mid-April. Three weeks later, Canha got another shot in The Show and has been crushing it over the last two weeks. He’s batting .379 this month with a tasty slugging percentage of .862. He went 4-12, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, K this weekend and was a measly single away of hitting for the cycle Friday night, providing extra-innings heroics to beat Boston with a walk-off home run. Saturday saw him homer as well: that’s three in five games. Eleven days can change a lot: keep an eye on whether Canha can become the Michael Conforto story of the Bay Area if he keeps the playing time his bat is earning him lately.

Let’s take a look at what else happened hitting-wise around the league:

Welington Castillo (C, BAL) 4-12, 3 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, BB, 3 K. In five games since his return from the 10-day DL, Castillo is hitting .455 with three multi-hit performances. The second of his homers Friday propelled Baltimore to a walk-off win over Toronto at Camden Yards, and he’s now got 16 RBI on the season. He had an unremarkable 0-4 Sunday, but that was because Marco Estrada was busy being outstanding against all of the Orioles as a whole and shouldn’t be interpreted as the start of a Castillo slump. Fire up the .348 backstop in all formats.

Mark Trumbo (OF/DH, BAL) 8-13, 5 R, HR, 3 RBI, K. A .350 May has seen Trumbo grow his average from Mendoza Line caliber to a far more formidable .270, and the fact that he’s had three straight games with multiple hits and four total over the last week is great for his fantasy stock. If he can continue to pick up the power and hit RBI as often as he scores runs, owners will feel especially comfortable looking back on his frigid start to the season and laughing it off.

Jake Lamb (3B, ARI) 4-11, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K. Sunday saw Lamb’s eight-game hit streak come to an end, but that doesn’t take away from what an exceptional season he’s enjoying. Fantasy owners of Lamb have reaped the benefits of 36 RBI—the sixth-best such mark in the league—and a .288 average. Only 12 players have hit more than Lamb’s 11 homers so far, and both his walk rate and hard contact percentage this year are at career-high levels right now.

Justin Bour (1B, MIA) 3-13, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 5 K. The weekend stat line is just a hair above adequate from a fantasy standpoint without context. But it becomes noteworthy when one becomes aware that Bour has both homered in three of his last four games and that he’s got a five-game hitting streak intact right now. He’s batting .313 this month, and that has made up handsomely for his .222 April. Perhaps his slow start is to blame for the fact that he’s owned in just 23.6% of ESPN leagues and 25% of Yahoo leagues. The RBI that Bour generates from the middle of Miami’s order could probably help you if you take a chance on him.

Matt Kemp (OF, ATL) 6-12, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K. Kemp hadn’t homered yet in the month of May before Friday, but he managed to do it a second time Saturday. The biggest component of Kemp’s value recently has been his batting average of .351, which is currently tied for fourth-best in the league alongside that of Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart. Kemp has 25 RBI on the year but only nine of those have come this month. Conversely, he’s scored 14 of his 21 overall runs in May. He’s been locked in as the Braves’ cleanup hitter for a while, so it’s not a lineup spot change that’s caused this; six of his eight homers—including both against the Nationals this weekend—have been solo shots. I’d blame .207 hitter Dansby Swanson in the 2-spot for hurting Kemp’s RBI cause, since Kemp is an incredibly solid .314 whenever he actually gets to have some runners in scoring position. Regardless, Kemp is a good fantasy producer and is an everyday start.

Adrian Gonzalez (1B, LAD) 3-8, 3 RBI, 3 K. Gonzalez had an RBI single in Thursday’s series opener versus Miami, did not play Friday, went hitless Saturday before coming up huge Sunday to key the Dodgers to victory with some 2-out magic for the trio of RBI. He just got back from a stint on the 10-day DL, so it’s good to see him healthy again but I can’t say that I recommend using him in your 5×5 fantasy lineup. The counting stats just aren’t there, with just six runs scored on the year and no home runs yet. A .264 hitter with no power, speed or significant production to speak of just isn’t worth your time, plain and simple.

Yasmani Grandal (C, LAD) 4-8, 2 R, RBI, K. Grandal has come up huge in an unexpected category: batting average. Projected to be a guy who hits for power but idles in the .220s for BA, he instead has mashed .393 in May for a .299 mark on the season after hitting safely in 13 of his last 14. The homers have been few and far between, though, as have the runs scored. With a bat as hot as Grandal’s though, a risk may be worth your while if RBI and average are your current needs because the power should make a return appearance soon.

Evan Longoria (3B, TBR) 6-12, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, K, SB. He’s been hot and cold this month, as Longoria has had several spurts of multi-hit production spelled by a fruitless night or two at the dish. Overall, it’s been a great May for the usually dependable RHB, as his .307 work has inflated his season BA to .250 and he stole his first base on Friday as icing on the cake. Six homers on the books now for him, and I’d like to continue to see more run production. He’s playing somewhere between being a strong backup 3B streamer and being a back-end starter, but he’s trending in the right direction.

Corey Dickerson (OF/DH, TBR) 6-12, 5 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB (IBB), 5 K. Dickerson has five consecutive games with two hits and is hitting .347 on the year. The Tampa Bay slugger crossed the double-digit homers threshold with a a pair of jacks against the Yankees Saturday, making it five times he’s homered in the aforementioned five-game stretch. He’s presently tied with fantasy studs Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant with 30 runs scored in 2017, so take that for what it’s worth. For points league purposes, Dickerson leads MLB with 59 hits.

Jason Kipnis (2B, CLE) 5-14, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K. Kipnis is starting to resemble his old self at last, and a seven-game hit streak has a lot to do with that. He went yard for the third time this season Friday and he’s been cranking out RBI during the last week to get his count up to 15 on the year. His .254 May now contrasts starkly with his DL-shortened April résumé of .161 with zero HRs and one RBI. A BA of .225 is still highly suspect, but it seems as though he’s found a comfort zone and is back to being productive.

Mark Reynolds (1B, COL) 5-14, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K. Reynolds has been simply stellar this year, and Colorado has him to thank for the league-leading 39 RBI he’s contributed en route to their being two games up in the NL West race. The .323 average and 12 homers don’t hurt in the slightest. He’s clearly here to stay, so the veteran 1B should be owned and deployed daily.

Avisail Garcia (OF, CHW) 4-12, 3 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 K. The entirety of Garcia’s fantasy value this weekend came in an XBH explosion Saturday, but the White Sox phenom has been on fire for much of the season despite two hitless outings on either side of Saturday. He owns a .350 average and has eight homers, 26 runs and 34 RBI to his name.

Alex Avila (C/1B, DET) 4-10, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K. Avila is hitting .380 on the year and keeping himself relevant as a streamable catcher with 18 RBI and five homers. He’s due for some regression but is an acceptable play as part of a platoon with James McCann if you’re hurting for production.

Brandon Moss (1B/OF/DH, KCR) 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. He’s still batting just .200 and has seen his playing time greatly reduced, so don’t read too much into his multi-hit night Sunday. His five-gave hit streak dates back to May 12, which indicates how seldom Kansas City is confident installing Moss into the lineup these days.

Andrew Todd-Smith

Journalistically trained and I have written for SB Nation. Fantasy baseball & football nerd, and there's a solid chance I'll outresearch you. I live in Columbus, pull for Cleveland and could learn to despise your team if you give me reason to. Navy veteran and wordplay addict with an expat background.

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