Batter’s Box: Forgot About Trey

Scott Chu takes you through some of the top hitting action from Wednesday's games.

As I’ve mentioned many times, we’re becoming lost in a sea of power-hitting outfielders. One such hitter is Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles), who put together a solid display of power Wednesday night (2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB). After putting together back-to-back 24-home run seasons, Mancini has finally figured out a way to unlock more of his power and is on a trajectory to his first 30-home run season. While the juiced ball may deserve some credit, there are a few other things in his batted-ball profile that suggest his improvement in power and batting average are also based in adjustments and talent.

First and foremost, Mancini had previously been losing much of his power potential via the grounder. Even in his 24-home run seasons, he was pounding over 51% of his batted balls right into the infield dirt, and it’s incredibly difficult to find any consistent extra-base contact that way (as you might imagine). In 2019, he’s managed to take a nice chunk of those grounders and turn them into line drives. It’s not showing much on his overall launch angle, but you can certainly see it in his batting average and expected batting average, as well as his slugging. He’s also managed to make more contact on pitches outside the zone, and while that doesn’t always lead to solid contact, it’s certainly helped him avoid strikeouts. Perhaps the biggest improvement, though, has been his growth against breaking balls and offspeed offerings. He’s improved his quality of contact against those pitch types across the board, and in today’s landscape, that’s incredibly vital to a hitter’s success.

One of the things fantasy players have to learn to do in this era of increased power is identify the things that set players apart from their power-hitting peers, especially when they can’t steal bases (like Mancini). Mancini’s first base eligibility is nice, I guess, but while his stat line is fairly typical for a modern slugger (besides the improved batting average), the key is in the growth he’s shown as a hitter in 2019. That kind of progress is enough for me to highlight his name among the 30-home run crowd as a player of interest. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Mancini for the rest of 2019 as I prepare for the 2020 season (BECAUSE THERE IS NO FANTASY OFFSEASON, FOLKS), and I think you should too.

Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets)—4-4, 4 R, HR, 3B, 3 RBI, BB. The 23-year-old shortstop is one of the few signs of hope for the Mets’ future. He’s done a fine job of putting balls in play on his way to a .274 average with 10 home runs and 10 steals on the year and could push for a 15-home run, 20-stolen base season.

Donovan Solano (SS, San Francisco Giants)—4-5, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. There’s virtually no fantasy relevance here, but it’s good to see the 30-year-old journeyman have a nice day at the plate. It was a VERY productive trip to Colorado for the Giants, and virtually every hitter benefited from the Rocky Mountain atmosphere.

Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox)—3-5, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. His 213 wRC+ over the last 30 days is the best in baseball. The kid is having an incredible season, and I’m glad we get to finally see it. If there’s one thing to point out, it’s that he’s been at eight stolen bases since June 5 and has been caught three times since then. I don’t think he’ll provide any meaningful speed for the rest of the season.

Ramon Laureano (OF, Oakland Athletics)—3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 2B, RBI. We’re probably looking at your last chance to scoop him up. There are incredibly few situations where I’d expect an owner to be unable to make room for him, and if you think that’s the case for you, PLEASE comment below so we can verify.

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians)—3-4, 2 R, 2B, SB. Over the last 30 days, Ramirez has a .951 OPS, four stolen bases and seven walks against eight strikeouts. He’s unlikely to return the price you paid in April, but he has the talent to finish the season with 20 home runs and 35 steals, which is pretty darn good for a “down season.”

Eduardo Escobar (3B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-7, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI. The popular regression candidate continues to defy his expected stats. He has a batting average of at least .277 every month of the season so far despite an expected batting average of .248, and his .546 slugging percentage is 124 points above his expected slugging of .422.

Danny Santana (1B/2B/OF, Texas Rangers)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. That’s four home runs in his last four starts. Simply put, I am flabbergasted by what he’s done this year. I am 100% certain that Santana’s actual talent is not a .316/.351/.571 slash line (which is what he’s done), but I am willing to admit that the floor is likely higher than I anticipated. He’s worth owning in 12-teamers as a fourth or fifth outfielder, though the log jam in Texas will mean he’ll probably continue to sit one or twice a week.

Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros)—2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, SB. His two steals in July is more than he had in every prior month in 2019 combined. If Altuve is going to be considered a Top 25 hitter in 2020, it will require him to steal plenty of bases for the rest of the season. He certainly could, based on his history, but I’d prefer to watch from a distance than bet on it happening.

Mallex Smith (OF, Seattle Mariners)—2-4, 2B, SB. He’s staring down the barrel of back-to-back 40-steal seasons at this rate, and while it’s not coming with the great ratios he had in 2018 with the Rays, he’s still a very viable starting outfielder in most formats if you’re in need to speed. I’m personally not all that crazy about rostering most speed-only players, but Mallex isn’t a hitting black hole like Billy Hamilton or Jarrod Dyson (who I’ll discuss later). I’d anticipate something like a .250 batting average the rest of the way, which is far from a disaster.

Jurickson Profar (1B/2B/3B/SS, Oakland Athletics)—2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. One great day at the plate won’t be enough to win an everyday job, but it’s certainly a nice start. If nothing else, I’d slap him on my watch list. He has a bit of pop and speed to go along with his infield versatility and could be very useful if he manages to find his hit tool again.

Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI. His fantastic season is proof that the changes he made in 2018 are here to stay. His power, speed, and elevated batting average are the new normal, and he is one of the elite shortstops in a league full of great shortstops.

Mark Canha (1B/OF, Oakland Athletics)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. He’s got two hits in four of his last five outings and has been a pleasant surprise since winning a full-time job on June 26. He has an impressive .455 wOBA in that stretch along with a 15.6% walk rate. He’s worth a look in deep leagues for his power and the fact that he’s hitting in the middle of the Athletics order.

Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays)—2-2, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. The power is legit; we know that. The problem is the contact ability. Striking out 30% of the time is just not going to cut it, especially with the number of young outfielders the Jays have in their pipeline.

Jake Marisnick (OF, Houston Astros)—3-4, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, SB. He doesn’t play enough to be worthy of attention outside of AL-only, but he’s playing well enough to keep more fantasy-relevant players down (like Kyle Tucker or Derek Fisher).

Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, Kansas City Royals)—3-3, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB. I had been worried that the power would resemble 2018 instead of 2017, but with 12 home runs already and a .511 slugging, Whit is showing that he’s an elite second baseman who can hit close to 20 home runs while stealing a whole bunch of bases with strong ratios.

Jarrod Dyson (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—3-5, R, HR, RBI. His sixth home run set a career high for the speedster. He’s leading off quite a bit and can steal bases at a high rate, which is in part due to the big jump in walk ate since he joined the Diamondbacks. If you need steals, he’s good. Just don’t expect anything else.

Adam Jones (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—4-6, 3 R, 2B, BB. He’s not great in OBP leagues due to his unwillingness to take a walk, but he should have a solid batting average with decent power and counting stats now that’s healthy again.

(Photo by Mark Goldman/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.

12 responses to “Batter’s Box: Forgot About Trey”

  1. Tom says:

    I’m stacked at OF and am a bit concerned that Laureano’s 40% HR/FB rate and his pedestrian .333 xwOBA suggest this is more a hot streak than the real thing. Convince me I should drop a good player at a position of need to add him.

    • Scott Chu says:

      (1) He has a 40% fly ball rate, but only an 18.8% HR/FB rate. While that’s a little bit higher than I expected, it’s not that much different than what he did in the minor leagues.

      (2) While that number is a bit low, it’s not that much lower than Nolan Arenado’s .339, Max Kepler’s .337, or Yasiel Puig’s .338. If you look at this monthly xwOBA, it was .292 in April, .332 in May, .349 in June, and .430 so far in July. He’s grown as a hitter throughout the season.

      (3) A big part of his value is stolen bases, which isn’t accounted for in xwOBA or batted ball profile. His 28.7 mph sprint speed is pretty darn quick, though, putting him in the top 12% of the league.

      Did I do it? Or at least get you to look again?

      • Tom says:

        You did it! Thanks for correcting my oversight on the HR/FB rate.

        Love the work you do!

        • Scott Chu says:

          Thanks Tom! I would also have been very concerned about that kind of HR/FB%.

          Feel free to let me know how wrong I was if this doesn’t work out.

  2. Adam says:

    I have Betts, Harper, Ozuna, Yordan, Merrifield, K. Marte, for 4 OF spots. I don’t think I have room for Laureano.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Yeah, you probably can’t Adam, unless you have a REALLY deep bench and just want to keep him off of someone else’s roster. It’s a rare circumstance (and an enviable one). Someone ELSE in your league should probably scoop him up, though, with you hoarding all the good outfield talent.

  3. Steve K says:

    I have Mercado, Eaton, Conforto, Rosario and Domingo Santana

    • Scott Chu says:

      I’d take Ramon over at least three of those guys, Steve K, but the easiest ones to drop would be Mercado. He’s a good player, mind you, but I like Ramon’s blend of power and speed more than Mercado’s.

  4. MaxRo says:

    Hey Scott,

    My OF are Hoskin, Merrifield & Puig. Ozuna on DL. Abreu, Moustakas and Muncy other possible options. Would you drop any for Laureano?


    • Scott Chu says:

      I would not drop any of those six hitters for Laureano, Max. I suppose I should have mentioned the standard Yahoo format as the one that’s the most difficult to roster him in, as they only allow 3 OF spots. Abreu is the lowest of these guys on my list, but I’m not going to advocate cutting him unless you have a 10-team Yahoo league and are in desperate need of speed and you’re unable to make a trade. That’s a lot of “ifs”, though.

  5. Brandon says:

    Standard Yahoo 5×5, 3 OF spots and I had been considering Laureano for a looong time, finally, it was too late and he got scooped up a few days ago. Did I miss out? My team Blackmon, SMarte, KMarte, JUpton, and Kepler. Thanks

    • Scott Chu says:

      Yeah, those Y! Leagues really put folks in a tough spot with how few hitters they can have active.

      I think he’d be useful if you had a speed problem in place of Upton or Kepler, but those are both solid players in their own right. Honestly, he would have been valuable on your bench just to keep him away from other owners.

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