Batter’s Box: Finding Power Is Renato Problem

Everything Chu thinks you need to know about Wednesday's best hitters is right here in the Batter's Box.

Guys like Renato Nunez (1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles), who had a stellar day at the plate Wednesday (5-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), are a dime a dozen. He’ll hit close to 30 home runs and bat around .240-.250. He gets a slight boost from hitting in the middle of the order (one of the few benefits of being an Oriole), which should get him to 90-ish RBI, too. That’s not bad, I guess. He and his family should be very proud of his success at the highest level of professional baseball.

As a fantasy owner, though, this is barely relevant in 10- and 12-team mixed leagues. While the 26 home runs put him in the top 12 in home runs among players eligible at the hot corner, he’s barely a Top 20 player at first or third when you take his whole stat line into account. He’s the kind of guy who’s easy to get excited about when he hits a hot streak, but his slumps are so brutal that you simply can’t hold him outside the deepest of leagues.

My advice to you, fantasy manager, is to develop a cold, hard heart with respect to these sluggers. It will serve you well when dealing with the high and low tides in the ocean of power hitters in the current hitting environment. When they heat up or show something, by all means pick them up. If it dries up, though, and they fit that “30-home run, middling batting average, no speed” mold, cut ’em. No mercy. This is a business, after all, and we have to make the tough decisions. If you need a corner infielder with some power, Nunez is probably on your waiver wire. If he goes through a stretch with that ugly .200 batting average and no counting stats, kick him to the curb.

Edwin Rios (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. The 25-year-old has only played sporadically this season but put his power potential on display by hitting his first two major league home runs. He’s hit plenty of home runs in the minors, but his contact ability is suspect, and he’ll need a more obvious role to open up to find more playing time.

Yuli Gurriel (1B/3B, Houston Astros)—3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. Over his last seven games, Yuli has four doubles, five home runs, 11 runs scored, 15 RBI, a stolen base, three walks, and just one strikeout, and he’s doing it all in the fifth to seventh spots in the lineup. The struggling pitching staffs of the White Sox, Orioles and Rockies likely played a role, but whatever Yuli has done to change himself, it’s still working. And also I deserved this after making fun of Carl in yesterday’s post. CURSE YOU, CARL.

Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas Rangers)—4-5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SB. It’s his 11th season in the major leagues and his ninth time stealing at least 24 bases. While 2017’s 20-home run outburst remains an outlier, he continues to be a steady, reliable source of stolen bases, batting average, and runs scored.

Eric Thames (1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—3-4, 2B, 2 RBI, SB. In leagues that are deep enough to consider a platoon bat, this is one of the better ones you can find. He’s utterly predictable in his usage and production as the classic lefty first baseman and gives solid power and a handful of steals along with decent batting average and a strong OBP.

Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals)—3-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, SB. Is it weird that a 22-year-old is going to have close to 20 bombs and 25 steals and isn’t being talked about every single day? That’s just the new era of successful rookies, I guess. His .244 batting average will hopefully improve as he matures, particularly with respect to the strike zone. He’s going to be a really nice fantasy outfielder for a very long time.

Bryce Harper (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—3-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. People will always hate on Bryce because they want to hate on Bryce, but those who don’t should reap the rewards of a 35-home run, double-digit stolen base contributor with a .375+ OBP and over 100 RBI.

Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics)—2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI. Bring on the 35 home runs, 100 runs scored, double-digit walk rate, and solid 20.6% strikeout rate. Sure, the batting average could be better, but even if .255 is more the reality than 2018’s .278, he’s a stellar fantasy third baseman.

Gary Sanchez (C, New York Yankees)—3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. Hopefully he’ll clear 100 games played, but questions about his durability are only getting louder. There’s a game-changing fantasy catcher in there, evidenced by the 26 home runs in 82 games and the fact that he should get to 30 in 100-110 games, but with such a low replacement level at catcher, missing games really hurts (particularly in head-to-head formats).

Freddy Galvis (SS, Cincinnati Reds)—4-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. He’s a surprisingly serviceable middle infielder in deeper leagues. I doubt the .275 batting average holds up, but he’s got some pop and a little speed.

Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox)—3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB. I took him in almost every draft this spring because I liked his lower price among a top-heavy shortstop market. I never expected to be this right.

Michael Brantley (OF, Houston Astros)—4-5, 2 2B, 2 R. It’s nice being the Astros, isn’t it? With such a deep roster, they could afford to take a gamble on an injury-prone Brantley and try to manage his health. They’ve done just that, and while the stolen base numbers are WAY down, his .328/.387/.525 line more than makes up for it.

Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves)—2-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB. Over the last week, he’s been pretty much the everyday center fielder, and since his recall on July 24, he has 12 walks to 10 strikeouts and a .421 wOBA. Between the hot bat and the incredible glove, he should be the starting center fielder for the Braves going forward, which means he has pretty decent fantasy value due to the speed and batting average.

Asdrubal Cabrera (2B/3B/SS, Washington Nationals)—2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. He has a hit in all five of his starts for the Nats with four doubles in his last three games. I don’t know what secret sauce the Nationals have with respect to seemingly washed-up journeymen (like Asdrubal and Howie Kendrick), but it seems to be working. He won’t have 10- or 12-team relevance without a starting job (and even then, it’ll be a little fringy due to his limited skill set), but deep leaguers should take notice.

Ketel Marte (2B/SS/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—4-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. He makes me look stupider every day. Someone should tell him I don’t need the help and that I’m pretty good at looking stupid on my own.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, Boston Red Sox)—0-4, 3 K. I was real excited a while back when he started heating up. He had many of the makings of a breakout guy with power and speed, but the quality of contact is too inconsistent, and while he may get to 20 home runs and 10 steals, the batting average is just way too low to use in almost any format.

Domingo Santana (OF, Seattle Mariners)—0-3, BB, 3 K. This is very much what to expect on Domingo’s bad days. He strikes out a lot and takes plenty of walks, and he pairs it with 25-30 home run power and 10 stolen bases. That’s useful in almost every format except the Yahoo standard formats (which only uses three starting outfielders).

And as for the minor leagues . . .

(Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire)

Scott Chu

Scott Chu is a Senior Fantasy Analyst here bat Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. He's also the inventor and mascot for Fantasy Curling (as seen the Wall Street Journal) and a 3x FSWA Award Finalist. In addition to being a fantasy analyst, he's a dad, animal lover, Simpsons fanatic, cartoon connoisseur, amateur curler, a CODA, and an attorney.

9 responses to “Batter’s Box: Finding Power Is Renato Problem”

  1. Bryan says:

    I know you can’t write about him every single day, but Aristides Aquino is the first player in MLB history to hit 9 HR in 14 days. Thought that was worthy of a mention.

    • Orange WHIPs says:

      Two, even.

    • Scott Chu says:

      He’s an impressive young player who went from unknown to breakout in two weeks. I don’t really have much more to add about him that I (and several others) have already said, so I sort of skipped him. He’s doing something no one expected and while I am impressed, I also don’t know what his long term value will be. If he has a bad September, what then? Is he just another power outfielder?

      • Bryan says:

        Yeah, that’s the hard question. But Yordan is being taken more seriously and I’m having a hard time sussing that out. Both were relative unknowns before the season. Both went wild in AAA with a revamped swing. Both came up and showed huge power immediately.

        Aquino’s statcast is crazy right now, suggesting it could be legit. Obviously you worry what the plate discipline will do longterm, but his max velocity is scary.

        • Scott Chu says:

          I’d say Yordan was quite a bit more known coming into the year and that his scouting report was much rosier than Aquino. As for the Statcast data, it can only measure quality of contact and can’t differentiate hit streaks from skill changes. In the short term you obviously have to add Aquino, but there’s a non-zero chance he’s a flash in the pan.

  2. Bryan says:

    I know you can’t write about him every single day, but Aristides Aquino is the first player in MLB history to hit 9 HR in his first 14 games. Thought that was worthy of a mention.

  3. Jack says:

    I know you can’t write about him every single day, but Aristides Aquino is the first player in MLB history to hit 9 HR in his first 14 games. Thought that was worthy of a mention.

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