Batter’s Box: Behold The Lamb of God

The primary architect of a 12-2 road drubbing of the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday was Diamondbacks 3B Jake Lamb, who went 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, K to...

The primary architect of a 12-2 road drubbing of the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday was Diamondbacks 3B Jake Lamb, who went 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, K to inflict severe damage to the ERAs and dignities of both Luis Castillo T1 and Ariel Hernandez T9. I happened to attend the game in Cincy yesterday: the crack of the bat on the first homer was certifiably satisfying to hear in person, which makes sense now that I’ve discovered the exit velocity on it was 103.5 mph per Statcast. Though Lamb’s batting just .204 so far in July, both of the only two multi-hit performances he’s turned in this month have been double-dinger outings: so when he’s feeling it, the power flows in abundance. He’s got a .274 average overall, and he inflated his RBI count to a mouthwatering 76 with this game. Lamb should reasonably cruise into the mid-30s range in homers by season’s end without too much trouble, and he has scored 57 times personally. He could very well stay in the 3-spot here on out for Arizona, where he has started ever since the acquisition of ex-Tiger J.D. Martinez, so there shouldn’t be any risk of the production sneaking off anywhere suddenly. Steals aren’t a real thing for Lamb, but he swipes successfully about once a month as a nice bonus atop a pretty fantastic set of counting stats otherwise. An OPS of .915 ranks Lamb 27th-best in the metric league-wide. However, if I’m being picky, he fares significantly worse against LHP in most cases; additionally, I would love for him to edge his zone contact percentage up from 87.1 up a hair closer to the 90s. Otherwise, he’s legitimately a great starting 3B.

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

Paul Goldschmidt (1B, ARI) 0-5, 4 K. Disregard this dud entirely. Everyone has a bad day at work every now and then, and it was Goldy’s first—and perhaps last—golden sombrero of the year. Goldschmidt should never be benched under any circumstances.

Chris Iannetta (C, ARI) 2-5, R, 3 K. Iannetta is just a .227 hitter with 139 at-bats under his belt. The pair of doubles he hit off Reds pitching Thursday matches a feat he accomplished at Coors Field on June 21, but a couple of fortunate XBH outings aren’t enough to make him fantasy-relevant. To reinforce the assertion, Iannetta hasn’t homered since June 8 and he’s gone three weeks straight without an RBI. Don’t waste your time with him at an admittedly thin position, since he’s just not doing nearly enough for you in roto formats.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN) 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, K. Suarez was the only Cincinnati bat to do anything substantive in a game where the home club was simply overwhelmed by Arizona’s offense. The Venezuelan 26-year-old now has 15 homers on the season to go along with 49 RBI and 50 runs. His .256 average matches his career figure exactly, but it has steadily declined over the course of this season ever since his weirdly red-hot April—he was quite hopeless at the dish in June, going just .190 last month. When all is said and done, both his best and worst moments may be behind him in that regard, and I’m comfortable wagering that his average will stay put to finish up in the .250s. He’s a good but perhaps not excellent option to start, as the reality is he’s a mid-tier fantasy 3B.

Justin Smoak (1B, TOR) 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K. Both Smoak’s single T6—which plated Darwin Barneyand the pair of homers he deposited into Fenway’s bleachers gave Toronto its last three RBI in an 8-6 win over Boston. Smoak has been decisively delivering clutch power as a switch-hitter all year, and the jacks were his 25th and 26th thus far in his All-Star campaign. He owns a .298 average and has scored 54 times while driving in 62 RBI. He continues to be criminally under-owned in both ESPN and Yahoo leagues, considering how appealing his numbers are.

Mike Napoli (1B/DH, TEX) 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, K. We could be seeing a case of second-half splits being significantly better in Napoli, as he is up over the Mendoza Line by way of hitting .292 in July. Specifically, he’s gone 10-21 since the break, and seven of his 21 total homers have come this month. It might finally be time to pick him up if he’s on the verge of an effective run for Texas, and he’s pretty widely available since his unimpressive average has likely scared many former or prospective owners away. Now that the BA is on the mend, I can say a possible 35-homer Nap is worth a stash-and-stream at this point.

Jonathan Schoop (2B, BAL) 2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Schoop is firmly settled in as Baltimore’s 3-spot hitter, and the .302 average is quite appealing. Tuesday’s homer off Cole Hamels was his 19th of the year, and he has also notched 63 RBI. He doesn’t steal, but is otherwise an elite 2B in both the real world and the fantasy realm.

Salvador Perez (C, KCR) 2-3, 2 R, RBI, K, SB. Yep, Sal stole a base! Kansas City destroyed Detroit by a tally of 16-4 in a game where seven of the nine starters got multiple hits, and Perez continues to generate offense as one of fantasy’s best catchers. He has a .285 average that’s third-best among Royals hitters—trailing only Eric Hosmer and Whit Merrifield—and his 18 homers are second-best on the team behind 25 from Mike Moustakas, who rounds out the fantastic infield in KC. Don’t hesitate to start all of them if you’ve got them on your roster.

Yasmani Grandal (C, LAD) 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, K. Speaking of excellent catchers, Grandal is also a member of the upper echelon. He has a .266 average that’s far removed from the sub-.200 dip it made in late April. He’s got 13 homers on the year, and has the distinct pleasure of playing in one of baseball’s best lineups so I wouldn’t expect his opportunities to accumulate copious counting stats to go anywhere. I have him as a set-and-forget catcher in a season-long points league, and his roto viability is just as legitimate.

Dustin Pedroia (2B, BOS) 3-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, K. I don’t flippin’ know, man. Just when I’ve written Pedroia off as a middling, boring high-average bat who doesn’t score enough runs for my taste, it’s like he takes umbrage with my analysis and goes on a tear. Four of his six homers have come in July and he’s got a .315 season average, much improved because of a .384 showing so far this month. If I’m content to maybe give Napoli the benefit of the doubt for a resurgent second half, I guess it’s only fair I give Pedey credit where it’s due as well. He’s got a nice hit streak going, plus 52 RBI are decent, especially as they appear to be coming in droves now as Boston attempts to keep its slim lead in the AL East. If you have a 2B/SS spot in your league, Pedroia could be a worthy occupant of it at this point.

Hunter Renfroe (OF, SDP) 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, In his return from a neck strain injury that saw him do a brief stint on the 10-day DL, Renfroe batted fifth and belted his 17th homer of the season. It was more impressive because he did so at hitter-stingy AT&T Park, and it accounted for his 40th and 41st RBI of the year. I’m still not super keen on the .231 average, but it is far from being a dealbreaker if he can keep the power coming. He’s a serviceable streaming option at OF.

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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