Batter’s Box: Forget The Tour De France, Cody Bellinger’s A True Cyclist

A guy hitting for the cycle is always a joy to witness as his fantasy owner, but it’s especially sweet when you can do so after re-emphasizing the fact that...

A guy hitting for the cycle is always a joy to witness as his fantasy owner, but it’s especially sweet when you can do so after re-emphasizing the fact that many people legitimately had not even heard of said stud three months ago. Cody Bellinger is almost assuredly the runaway frontrunner for NL Rookie of the Year, and to say the All-Star Break did not disturb his rhythm or distract him from the task at hand is an understatement. Bellinger went 5-12, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 3 K, CS this weekend in Marlins Park, and his valiant outing during the Home Run Derby in the same venue a week ago probably made it very easy to feel comfortable at the dish during actual gameplay. The 22-year-old slugger became the first rookie in Dodger history to hit for the cycle with his 4-5 effort on Saturday, and the power shows no signs of letting up. Bellinger has 72 hits since being summoned from Triple-A on April 25, but what’s crazy is that he’s homered 26 times, doubled 16 times and tripled twice: the man has the same number of triples and homers as he does singles. As an XBH machine, he’s an elite option in both points leagues and roto leagues since the .268 average and exceptional run production amid all this power make owning him a no-brainer. In what should come as no surprise, his .632 slugging percentage ranks second among qualified hitters behind only Derby champion and presumptive AL ROY Aaron Judge. Bellinger is having a magnificent maiden voyage aboard U.S.S. Major League Baseball, and he is one of many walking, talking reasons the Dodgers are one of the favorites to reach, if not win, the World Series now.

Let’s take a look at what other notable things happened for hitters around the league this weekend:

Adam Lind (1B/OF, WSH) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. We’ve done this before in a Monday recap of weekend action: if it looks like a single-game stat line despite the fact that the player’s club played three times, there could be an issue with his fantasy viability. He had a good day Sunday in Cincinnati, and after failing to secure a hit in his last four games (one start, three as a PH), the All-Star Break was clearly welcome for the veteran 1B. Lind, owner of a .312 average with 31 RBI and seven homers, is slashing nicely for Washington this season. The reality of it, though, is that 125 at-bats at this point in the year is too few, and Lind has Ryan Zimmerman to blame for his lack of playing time. The 22 runs scored are just OK, and Lind does not steal. Ultimately, he’s a good baseball player who doesn’t get enough chances to do good things for your fantasy team. Unless Zimmerman gets injured, that is; in that instance, Lind’s fantasy stock would subsequently soar.

Anthony Rendon (3B, WSH) 7-11, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, K. Rendon had a titanic weekend in Great American Ball Park, and he’s essentially been doing everything right at the dish lately, and for the last several weeks especially. He’s following up a strong June (.300, 18 R, 7 HR, 18 RBI) with an even better July, as he is in the midst of a 10-game hit streak and has four straight with multiple hits. Only 12 men across MLB have more than Rendon’s 63 RBI. And while Miguel Sano and Mike Moustakas are both studs deserving praise, Rendon’s surge of offense right after the break makes it easy to wonder all over again how he didn’t make the cut to be an reserve 3B All-Star. I’m blown away by the fact that 7.5% of ESPN leagues and 5% of Yahoo leagues currently have Rendon available as a free agent.

Mark Trumbo (OF/DH, BAL) 3-10, 4 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K. Trumbo went 0-3 Sunday to break a 10-game hit streak that spanned the All-Star break. Friday’s game against the Cubs was where he did most of the damage encapsulated by this weekend stat line, but he’s generally off to a good start in July after a .229 June. He’s been quite stable in the .250s for average over the past 30 days or so, though, with it currently registering at .256. The homer count is now at 15, putting Trumbo on pace to break the 30-HR threshold without too much trouble. That is a drastically different tune than the melancholy one fantasy owners were being forced to listen to in April when he only had homered twice through baseball’s opening month. Thankfully, Trumbo also scores a fair amount, crossing the plate 58 times and knocking in 47 RBI with his boomstick. He is a trustworthy UTIL or a solid play at OF, and he has consistently hit cleanup or occupied the 5-spot in Baltimore’s lineup.

Chris Davis (1B/DH, BAL) 1-11, RBI, BB, 5 K. The stat line kind of speaks for itself. I admittedly don’t trust guys who are coming back from tricky oblique injuries, and I wasn’t too high on Crush to begin with, based on his low-average, medium-power profile. Fourteen homers are still fine, and he’s got three since June 1st despite only playing in 14 games during that span. But the anemic job at home against the Cubs—combined with the fact that his average of .219 was in the .260s in mid-May—doesn’t make me feel great about Davis. I’m sure he’ll improve, but it’s very easy to turn to someone more productive to not feel like you’re sacrificing a category. Trey Mancini had performed admirably in Davis’ absence, and Buck Showalter has shown us that he will find a way to get Mancini’s bat in the lineup, even if it’s as an OF or DH while rotating with Trumbo, Joey Rickard and Hyun Soo Kim. As extremely underrated 1B go, Tampa Bay’s Logan Morrison and Blue Jay Justin Smoak are still somehow only owned in just 70.2% and 84.3% of ESPN leagues, respectively (74% and 85% in Yahoo leagues). With their numbers, that is mind-boggling to me. Ditch Davis for one of those guys if you can, and I’m happy to defend that position.

Maikel Franco (3B, PHI) 5-13, R, 2 RBI, BB, K. The problem with Franco as a fantasy player in a roto format is that he can pull off the unenviable feat of going 4-5 Friday without himself scoring a run and then somehow follow that up with a dismal 1-8 showing over the next two games sans any RBI, even though plating runs was his strong suit to begin the year. Franco has 13 homers on the year, but the average of .224 is disappointing at best. The two doubles he hit during Friday’s game in Milwaukee would have at least helped you if you own him in a points league, but I simply cannot endorse him for use in 5×5 formats. If you’re looking for a 3B-eligible player with way more production than Franco through 325-plus at-bats who’s not too widely owned, Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison is your man. A side-by-side comparison shows that Harrison has 16 more hits with one fewer AB, six more runs and 10 SB despite being at a disadvantage from an RBI standpoint with just 29. Another viable option that upgrades you from Franco at nearly every metric is Nicholas Castellanos: 44 runs, 11 homers, 47 RBI and a .245 average while being widely available. Get your roster fixed if Franco remains on it.

T.J. Rivera (1B/2B/3B, NYM) 4-11, 4 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, K. With Neil Walker on the 10-day DL, the shuffle in the Mets infield has been a little tough to keep track of. The current configuration seems to have some sticking power, with Jose Reyes manning short and Asdrubal Cabrera shifting to 2B while Lucas Duda occupies first base on most nights, barring a bad BVP matchup. Wilmer Flores probably could have had starts at 3B locked up, except he hasn’t been as effective as Rivera of late, so the latter is appearing to have surpassed Flores on the depth chart at the hot corner for now. Rivera has done a little bit of the old yo-yo routine in bouncing back and forth between MLB and Triple-A this year, but he’s solidifying his claim to being a big-leaguer. He’s currently riding an 11-game hitting streak at the moment so it behooves you to pay attention if you need an average boost from a fantasy asset with multi-position eligibility. Through 185 at-bats, he has 26 runs, 25 RBI, five homers, one steal, and an excellent .303 BA.

Michael Conforto (OF, NYM) 2-12, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K. A flash of his early-season brilliance shone brightly Friday night, as Conforto just kept reaching base against Colorado. That was unfortunately just a nice prelude to a rough couple of games Saturday and Sunday. All things considered, Conforto is still having a fantastic year and should be poised for a strong second half if he can regain the power stroke that saw him homer 13 times through April and May. His average sits at .278 despite the medium-term struggles at the dish, and he does have 49 runs and 45 RBI to his credit. This is a test of fantasy owners’ patience, but he’s on pace to accomplish some career-bests this season and he’s going to be a dynamo again before too long who’s certainly worth hanging onto.

Jason Heyward (OF, CHC) 6-13, 4 R, HR, 6 RBI, BB, SB. Heyward lit it up at Camden Yards this weekend, launching his seventh homer of 2017 on Friday and managing two other XBH during the trio of multi-hit performances. He missed some time in late June with a hand injury but has performed decently since his reactivation, batting .321 through eight games in July. He’s not the most productive option on the FA market, but a .265 season average and a shot at generating some RBI from the Cubbies’ 7-spot could provide you with some moderate value. He’s not a recommended start, but it wouldn’t hurt having him to be able to plug holes in your OF on light baseball days or when your studs sit for maintenance.

Ben Zobrist (2B/OF, CHC) 3-9, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Zobrist has been back from the DL himself for slightly longer than Heyward, but the game has not been as kind to him since his return. Zobrist hasn’t been up to anything noteworthy in the fantasy realm since approximately late May, if we’re to be brutally honest. The two multi-hit outings he’s had in July are unfortunately evened out with three hitless performances. He hit .132 in 10 June games before sustaining his wrist injury, and he’s only hitting .194 so far this month. I’m not impressed, and the stats say you shouldn’t be either. A .219 BA with 25 runs and 26 RBI through 219 at-bats just isn’t doing anything for you. Add to that the fact that he’s effectively a third-stringer for Chicago at 2B behind Javier Baez and Ian Happ while also being a member of a platoon in the outfield, the playing time isn’t there to make it worth your while to own him.

Brandon Phillips (2B, ATL) 7-12, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, K. Phillips did some serious work this weekend, amassing 15 total bases for the Braves and plating four during a sweep of Arizona. The veteran 2B should be more than capable of trying to match his 2011 mark of 94 runs scored (third-highest total in his career) this season, as he currently has 45. Only 11 hitters in The Show have doubled more than Phillips, as he is tied for 12th with Jose Abreu, Evan Longoria, Carlos Santana, and Jonathan Schoop with 24. He’s consistently batted second in the Atlanta order, with leadoff man Ender Inciarte often becoming the recipient of Phillips’ 34 RBI. He’s hitting .291 and also has seven steals. I like Phillips as a starting 2B, although I could regularly use a few more homers from him.

J.D. Martinez (OF, DET) 5-11, 2 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, SB. Exactly the kind of box score you want to see from a top-tier OF fresh off the All-Star Break. Martinez is hitting .356 in July now, as he extended his hit streak to eight consecutive contests and owns a .308 average overall. Three July homers have his season total sitting at 16, which pairs up beautifully with 38 runs and 39 RBI: Martinez has accomplished all of this in just 198 at-bats. Simply remarkable. He is an absolutely phenomenal fantasy play regardless of matchup.

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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