Batter’s Box: Hit You Like A Brox-ton Of Bricks

Keon Broxton has been one of the more, shall we say difficult(?) players to own in fantasy baseball this year, and one of the most talked about. He ended last...

Keon Broxton has been one of the more, shall we say difficult(?) players to own in fantasy baseball this year, and one of the most talked about. He ended last year on a ridiculous stretch (that was very BABIP-fueled) and a lot of people (including myself) thought that he could have a really good year this year. But it started off bad, and through July 21st, he was slashing .218/.294/.430. Sure, he had 17 stolen bases and 14 home runs, but that average and OBP was pitiful, and it got him sent to the minors. He got called back up on August 1st, and since then, he’s been slashing .273/.360/.659, and continued that Wednesday night going 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Now look, if you’re like me, and Broxton’s excellent power/speed combo is so tantalizing to you, you want me to tell you that he figured something out in the minors. That he’s cut down on the strikeouts, changed his approach, and that we can expect great things from him. Well unfortunately, I can’t tell you that, because that’s not what’s happening. Yes, his strikeout rate is down a couple points and his walk rate is up a couple points, and that’s nice, but he’s still striking out 36% of the time, which isn’t good. The streak isn’t BABIP-fueled either, as his BABIP is sitting at a reasonable .333 during that streak. No, you can thank his absurd 57.7% hard hit rate and 41.7% HR/FB rate for all of that. Now, it’s good to see his hard hit rate that high, even if it’s unsustainable, he’s hitting the ball harder, that’s good, so perhaps there’s still power to be sapped from him, and we know his excellent speed potential. But that hard hit rate and HR/FB rate will come down, and with the strikeouts, he’ll continue being the Keon Broxton we know and love (or hate). So why am I bothering talking about him? Because Broxton is prone to streaks. He’ll bat .197 for three weeks and then he’ll bat .340 with six home runs and five steals for like two weeks all of a sudden. Right now, he’s in the middle of a hot streak, and when Keon’s hot, he’s hot, and he’s available in around 83% of ESPN leagues, so if you’re pushing for the playoffs, Keon might be the one to help you get there while he’s destroying the ball. Just remember, he’ll cool off, so give him a short leash.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:

Yonder Alonso (1B, SEA) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Alonso had an awesome start to the year, coming into the All-Star Break slashing .275/.372/.562 with 20 home runs. But since then, he’s been slashing .242/.337/.385 with just three home runs, and that’s really concerning, especially the .385 slugging percentage given the whole attraction to him this year has been power. The thing is, while Alonso did make adjustments to his approach that lead to his increase in power, it had to slow down. He had a 21.7% HR/FB rate, that had to come down a bit, and it has so far. Now, since the All-Star Break, his hard hit rate has dropped a few points, which is somewhat concerning, but not overly. I think where he’s at now average-wise is about who he is, a .260s hitter who will likely end the year with around 30 home runs. Hopefully you sold high on him before the All-Star Break.

Josh Bell (1B, PIT) – 3-4, 1 R, 2 RBI. Josh Bell was supposed to be a guy who hit for a nearly .300 average with decent power, but this year he’s been hitting a mediocre average with better power, and it’s been odd. Now, the power is going to slow down, he’s not going to maintain a 19.8% HR/FB rate with just a 32.9% hard hit rate, and it seems like the average is creeping up, as he’s been slashing .330/.380/.545 over the last month. I think the average is going to keep coming up, and along with a good OBP and some decent power, Bell makes for an interesting pickup in the roughly 76% of ESPN leagues he’s available in.

Manny Pina (C, MIL) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. The catcher position is terrible, so you’ll take whatever you can get, and Manny Pina has been pretty solid while both Stephen Vogt and Jett Bandy have been out with injuries, slashing .288/.337/.463 over the past month. The average has been a bit BABIP-fueled, but if you’re struggling at catcher, you could do worse than chasing Pina while he’s hot, and he’s available in just under 80% of ESPN leagues.

Mikie Mahtook (OF, DET) – 1-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Mahtook has been an interesting surprise this season, with a good batting average and power that we really wouldn’t have expected out of him. The .300 batting average on the season is partially thanks to his .355 BABIP, and I would expect that to come down, but the power has been interesting. His hard hit rate has been jacked up to 41% and along with it, his HR/FB rate is 14.5%. Given his hard hit rate, that HR/FB rate is fairly reasonable, and while I don’t necessarily think he’ll have a hard hit rate over 40% the rest of the year, I think the power could be real, and even a slight decrease in power could mean he ends the year with 15-17 home runs batting in the .260s the rest of the way. He’s not a bad player to chase while he’s on his hot streak, and he’s available in around 86% of ESPN leagues.

Trevor Story (SS, COL) – 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 6 RBI. Hey, Story’s batting average is going to be awful thanks to his terrible strikeout rate, but there’s no denying his power, so you take the good with the bad. He’s going to have games like this where he’s invaluable to your team, but they’ll be in the middle of a .210 month like they are now.

Gerardo Parra (OF, COL) – 3-4, 1 R, 4 RBI. A lot of people want to pick up Gerardo Parra, and I get it, he’s been awesome. Over the past month, he’s been slashing .368/.404/.517, but here’s a big nasty-looking warning sign: a .380 BABIP and a career-high 14.5% HR/FB rate. Parra will slow down, but he’s still a decent hitter in the best hitter’s park in baseball. I still think he could hit in the .280s the rest of the way, but I don’t see him ending the year with much more than maybe 12-13 home runs, and he’s got no speed left. He’s a guy who will give you a good batting average and not much else in the way of counting stats. But if you want to ride the streak while he’s hot, be my guest.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

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