Batter’s Box: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Scott Chu goes over some of Sunday's interesting hitting performances.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is both the title of a Hemingway novel and a quote from a work of prose by Englishman John Donne. The original usage, by Donne, was a reflection on mortality — he had contracted yellow fever, which gave him a new outlook on the fragility of life. Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Piratesis himself a prime example of a type of fragility — the fragility of success. After a bit of a breakout in 2017, the bell tolled for Bell’s power. He went from 26 home runs in his first full season down to 12 in his second season, which also cost him 28 RBI and 55 points of slugging. He still showed excellent plate discipline, but it wasn’t enough to save his job as the clean up hitter as he was demoted to the sixth spot by mid season. Luckily for his owners, 2019 is a chance to start anew. He’s back in the fourth spot and rewarded his manager by going 2-4 by smacking a double and a home run while scoring two runs, driving in two runners, and taking a walk. Based on his minor league profile, there isn’t much reason to believe that a jump back to 25+ home runs is in the cards for this third season in the majors, but 20 is a reasonable goal, as is 160 or more combined runs and RBI. If you take that along with his .350+ OBP, you’ve got a decent corner infielder in 12+ team leagues.


Derek Dietrich (2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. The Reds’ new utility man, who joined the team on a minor league deal after being waived by the Marlins, has now hit from the five hole in two straight games and has clawed his way into playing time at 2B with the loss of Scooter Gennett. He’s a career .254/.335/.426 hitter who is slightly above average against right-handed pitchers. There isn’t much value here in 10-12 teamers, but those in 15 team leagues and NL-only formats can squeeze some juice out of this orange until Gennett and rookie Nick Senzel make their way up. He’s capable of playing multiple positions, so he can play enough to be relevant in deep leagues for another one to two months.


Christin Stewart (OF, Detroit Tigers) – 2-4, 3B, R, 2 RBI. An early six-game slump was rough to watch, but that’s just how things go for young power hitters: They tend to have their fair share of hot and cold spells as they develop. On a positive note, we’re witnessing a bit of a hot streak right now as the big outfielder has back to back multi-hit games, three straight games with an extra base hit, and four straight games with an RBI for the scrappy Tigers. The batting average won’t be an asset, but the former first rounder can provide 25+ dingers in a full season along with a decent OBP, so those in formats that won’t penalize him for the .235 AVG should feel free to throw him on the roster if they have an open space.


Clint Frazier (OF, New York Yankees) – 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. It was a hit parade in this one, with the Yankees getting 15 total hits and seven (yes, seven) home runs. Gary Sanchez had the biggest stat line, but he’s not so interesting for fantasy because he’s universally owned and started. On a more intriguing note, the slew of injuries to the Yankees has opened up a spot for young Clint Frazier, who has been blocked form playing time by the strength of the Yankees outfield and by injuries. He has a hit in each of his last four appearances and three HR in his last two games, so while Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton are on the bench, Frazier is a nice plug in both real and fantasy baseball. You can’t go too crazy in 10-12 teamers — playing time is going to be an issue at some point — but there’s decent enough pop in this bat to cycle in as a fourth or fifth OF if you’re dealing with injuries or have some dead roster weight.


Max Kepler (OF, Minnesota Twins) – 2-4, HR, R, RBI. He has been a breakout candidate for quite a while now and, while he’s shown a bit of growth over the last three seasons, he needs to find a way to do some damage against lefties if he’s ever going to succeed (60 wRC+ in 446 career PA against LHP). I really want to believe that there’s a 25 HR season in him with six to eight SB, and there very well could be after seeing this three game stretch of games with a home run in each, but be wary. The power surge and position at the top of the order is great, but keep an eye on his performance against LHP. If he continues to struggle against them, he’s likely to lose playing time.


Tyler Naquin (OF, Cleveland Indians) – 3-3, 2B, RBI, SB. He’s batting fifth for a projected division winner — that’s the good news. He’s also Tyler Naquin — that’s the bad news. In very deep leagues where anyone with playing time is valuable, go pick up Naquin. Everyone else? Go stream pitchers who face the Indians, because they’re batting Naquin fifth.


Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF, New York Mets) – 2-3, 2 R, RBI. There are plenty of exciting story lines out of the Mets so far, but one that many were interested in after a strong second half was McNeil. When he hits, you can count on double digit power and speed numbers and a strong batting average, but that’s assuming he can get to 120+ games played. He’s started more games than he hasn’t, which is a great start. He’s worth rostering in 12+ team leagues thanks to his three-category contributions and positional flexibility.


Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves) – 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI. His upside is probably a 15 HR, 10 SB season, but an interesting development form his early season success is the bump up in the batting order: He found his way into the sixth spot after being in the eighth spot for what seems like his entire career. If he can stay up there (he probably can’t), those 15 HR and 10 SB could some with decent counting stats, which suddenly would make him relevant in 10-team leagues. Until then, he’s a back-end MI with a cool name.


Dan Vogelbach (1B/DH, Seattle Mariners) – 3-4, 2 HR, 2B, 2 R, 6 RBI, BB. He’s a big guy and he put up some big numbers in this slug fest. Our own Ryan Amore had an awesome preseason article on big Dan, so go check it out and buy in if you need power.


Chad Pinder (OF, Oakland Athletics) – 2-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI. The hot start to the season continues. There isn’t much new to say about him other than he has decent power and crushes lefties. He hasn’t walked yet this season, which isn’t a good sign that he’s going to keep the plate discipline gains he showed last season, but it’s still early. It’s nice to see him crush some righties in this contest, though. If he can keep that up, he has a chance to break the 400 PA mark for the first time.


Yandy Diaz (1B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 1-4, HR, R, RBI, SB, BB. Just wanted to keep the hype train satisfied with a mention here. He has got biceps as big as my entire waist and hits the ball really hard (but mostly into the ground). Those who believed he could make a change by getting under the ball are likely pleased with the early returns, though. The stolen base was a nice touch.


Austin Barnes (C, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 1-2, 2 R, RBI, 3 BB. If you’re looking around for a replacement catcher, Barnes is worthy of consideration thanks to his high walk rates and ability to chip in four to six steals. He’s getting more playing time than many thought he would after the Dodgers signed Russell Martin and, while batting eighth doesn’t hep a guy score runs or drive people in, he also can bat better than .240 and give you eight HR on the year. It sounds sad, but that’s just fine for a second catcher.

Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire

Scott Chu

Scott Chu is a Senior Fantasy Analyst here at Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. He's also the inventor of Fantasy Curling (as seen the Wall Street Journal) and co-host of the Hacks & Jacks Podcast on the PL Podcast Network, and 4x FSWA Award nominee for Best Fantasy Baseball Podcast. In addition to being a fantasy analyst, he's a dad of three, animal lover, Simpsons fanatic, amateur curler, a CODA, and an attorney.

11 responses to “Batter’s Box: For Whom the Bell Tolls”

  1. TobiasFunkeAnalRapist says:

    Dansby was only at 6 because donaldson was out and ozzie was leading off against a lefty. Great post. Would you consider dropping voit in a 12 team h2h mixed daily moves league where i just have 1b with 2 utils and no MI or CI? I have petey alonso then guys like yandy, ozzie, moncada, and bregman for the utils.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Thanks TFAR! I don’t expect Dansby to stay in the 6 spot, but the fact they even were willing to put him there at all is a step in the right direction.

      As for Voit, Yandy is probably the one at the bottom for me in that group if one if you have to cut one. I like Yandy and he’s an exciting player, but the playing time is a big concern, and owning part-time players is really tough to do in a 12-teamer. All that said, I’d be wondering who you’re adding over one of these days.

  2. DJ Pink Koolaid says:

    Safe to drop voit for Diaz in a dynasty?

    • Scott Chu says:

      It’s a fair question, but I probably wouldn’t. Playing time is still very cloudy in Tampa, and Voit is batting in the heart of the Yankee order. It’s worth keeping an eye on, but Voit’s upside is too great to cut for Yandy (who I do like). Yandy is more of a top 200 guy — so if you wanted to cut Jesse Winker, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Wilmer Flores — go for it.

  3. Mike P says:

    Who do you like more ROS Swanson or Paul Dejong? Points league where K’s count

    • Scott Chu says:

      Gimme DeJong by a pretty safe margin. In a points league, the 10ish SBs that Swanson can provide don’t matter much — I’d much rather have DeJong’s power and ribbies. Also, in a points league, batting order is critical, as more PAs means more opportunities to score points. DeJong has hit 3rd in 8 of his 9 starts, while Swanson has hit 8th in 8 of his 9 starts.

  4. John Cook says:

    Thoughts on dropping Profar for Vogelbach in a 10-team, OBP league? Or is there a better add drop here?

    • Scott Chu says:

      It’s hard to say without knowing every single guy on your roster, but I am OK with this. Profar’s value is mostly in deeper formats where his eligibility is an asset because the free agent pool in those leagues is fairly devoid of talent. In a 10-teamer, you don’t need Profar much because the waiver wire contains all you need at most positions. In shallow formats, I prefer to pass on the safe-but-mundane guys for a chance on the risky-but-special. Bats like Profar will always be available on your wire, but Vogelbach’s upside is much more interesting. I’d make the move, but if it doesn’t pan out, be ready for the next gamble. The waiver wire is your friend!

      • John Cook says:

        Thank you Scott, appreciate you interacting! How about dropping Nimmo for Diaz? Sent you my lineup on Twitter DM.

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