Batter’s Box: Hurricane Andrus

Scott Chu recaps Sunday's hitting action and provides some takeaways for a few hot and cold starts.

From 2009 through 2016, Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas Rangers) played in at least 145 games per season. In those 145 games, he averaged 4.375 home runs per season (35 total home runs in eight full seasons) and gained a fantasy reputation as a speedster with a decent batting average. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, 2017 came around and forced us to reevaluate his profile thanks to a 20-homer outburst that more than doubled his previous career high of eight. Most of us generally disregarded he change, though, as he spent half of 2018 on the shelf with injuries and ended the season with just six home runs in 428 PA. On Sunday, Andrus went 3-4 with 2 R, a HR, a 3B, 2 RBI, a BB, and of course, a SB. We only have Statcast data going back to 2015, but the only major change we see in his hitting profile is a somewhat minor uptick in barrels. The expected power metrics, such as xSLG, indicate that he has outperformed slightly but also indicate that much of this is legitimate. While I doubt Andrus makes it back to 20 bombs again, but he does have back-to-back combo meals and three home runs on the season, so 12 home runs isn’t out of the question at all. A 12-home run/25-stolen base campaign along with his .277 career batting average makes him a very interesting player who you can likely acquire for very a boring price.

Leonys Martin (OF, Cleveland Indians) 3-5, 2 R, HR, RBI. Our own Dan Richards did a write-up on Martin during the offseason and brought up some compelling points about his swing change and power/speed potential. Early returns suggest that he’s keeping some of the improvements to his walk rate, and Sunday’s deep fly was his third of the season. He’s available in 94.3% of ESPN league right now, so if you’re looking for a guy who can provide runs, power, and speed, or need a fill-in for an injured player, this is a great target that you can probably pick up for free.

Billy McKinney (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. The trade of Kevin Pillar has opened up some playing time for the young outfielder, and he’s shown enough to Blue Jays management to be moved into the lead off spot for three consecutive games, which he can probably keep for the time being, especially against right-handed pitchers. He’s got modest (12-15 homers) power and can walk a little, but he also has no speed. In the short term, AL-only and 15+-plus team leagues should take notice. Don’t get too excited, though he likely can’t keep the stronger, faster Anthony Alford down forever

Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox) 3-4, 2B, BB, SB. The strong start to 2019 continues for the former No. 1 prospect. He swiped his first bag of the year and has a .328/.371/.586 line through 62 plate appearances. The walk rate is down 4% from his career 10.5% mark, but he’s swinging more, making more contact, missing less, and striking out MUCH less, so I’m totally fine with that. The more this continues, the more likely it is that the breakout is happening.

Christian Walker (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks) 3-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI. Make it four home runs for the 28-year-old first baseman! Completely disregarded as a prospect at this point because of his advanced age, he’s taken full advantage of the playing time afforded to him by the departure of Paul Goldschmidt. There’s 25-homer potential in this bat if he can get most of the playing time, and the way he’s playing right now, he should get an opportunity to win the job. I wouldn’t look for more than a .245/.310/.440 triple slash, but in deep 12-plus teamers, that’s not awful for a guy you can grab on the waiver wire in 82.6% of ESPN leagues.

Jake Bauers (1B/OF, Cleveland Indians) 2-3, R, 2 RBI, BB. He was a draft day target of mine and ended up on a LOT of my teams for his on-base ability, 20-plus home run power, and double-digit speed that could be had in the back end of many drafts. The horrendous offensive start to the season for the Indians has kept his numbers down and he’s been relegated to the sixth spot in the lineup in recent games, but I have not given up home yet on the young lefty. He has a 6:9 K/BB ratio so far, and I’m very encouraged by the early reduction in strikeouts. Additionally, his xSLG, while not that great, shows that bad luck has sapped 66 points from his SLG and a rebound could be on the way. If you have room on your bench in a deeper 12-team format, he’s worth a stash.

Byron Buxton (OF, Minnesota Twins) 2-4, 2B, RBI. We’re still waiting for the uber-athletic Buxton to hit his first bomb, but he’s notched three stolen bases so far and, more importantly, has kept the strikeout rate down to 21.6%. Now we’ve seen short periods of success from Buxton before, sometimes for up to a month or so, just to see him plummet back to earth in disastrous fashion. That said, I’d keep an eye on the strikeout rate. If he can keep that up, a promotion from the ninth slot in the batting order is possible, and that could finally be a sign that he’s unlocking his massive potential.

Delino DeShields (OF, Texas Rangers) 2-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 SB. His five steals puts him in a tie for third in the majors in the category, and his low-strikeout, high-walk approach has always gave him lead off potential. He’s currently alternating between the one and nine spots, but if he can avoid injuries and slumps (a big if, based on his history), there’s 30-plus steals to be had. 96.3% of ESPN leagues have forgotten about DeShields, but you should add him for the big time speed, especially in an OBP league.

Manuel Margot (OF, San Diego Padres) 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. He has a hit in each of his past four starts, all of which have been in the leadoff role. He has six hits in those games and just one strikeout. Grabbing hold of the No. 1 spot in the order would be HUGE for his value and would also secure his job in the crowded Padres outfield, as some of his competitors are poorly suited for that particular job.

Cesar Hernandez (2B, Philadelphia Phillies) 2-5, R, HR, RBI, BB, SB. It has been a slow start for the scrappy second baseman, but this game showed what he can bring to the table: a bit of pop, bit of speed, and strong ratios. He’s boring enough that some of you may see him on their waiver wire, but luck has been a negative factor for him so far based on his xBA and xSLG. He has at least 15 stolen bases in each of the past four seasons along with a .277/.355 career batting average and OBP, so he’s a worthwhile middle infielder or low-end second baseman in 12-plus teamers as a member of the new and improved Phillies lineup, especially after 2018’s 19-homer performance.

(Photo by Andrew Dieb/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.

16 responses to “Batter’s Box: Hurricane Andrus”

  1. Chucky says:

    Several options available to me. In light of the Odor injury, Peraza and CHernandez are available, make a switch? For whom? Currently have Kiki holding down 2B.
    Yandy or Candi?
    Franmil or Bauers?
    12 team keep forever with no contracts.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Hey Chucky, thanks for stopping by.

      Assuming this is a fairly standard Roto or H2H Categories, I’d probably want to keep the young Odor, who is a bit higher for me than either Peraza or Cesar Hernandez. If you need SBs, I’d be OK with swapping Kike for either one. Both should have 30 HR+SB upside, with Peraza going 5 HR/25 SB and Cesar going more like 15 HR/15 SB. The batting averages will be quite similar, though Cesar has a 20-30 point edge in OBP due to his walk rate. I like his lineup a bit more as well.

      I think Yandy Diaz is a much more intriguing prospect than Jeimer Candelario, but his floor is also MUCH lower. I don’t expect Candelario to be a big impact in any format at any time — he looks more like a ho-hum 20 HR hitter with a low-to-average BA and OBP. His one big advantage is that he’ll play every day. Yandy needs to earn that while also hoping that Nate Lowe doesn’t steal time from him when he makes his debut. I like Cesar and Peraza ahead of Candelario as well, if that’s an option. Probably more than Yandy, too, at least for the next year or two.

      Give me Bauers over Franmil. I know people like Franmil’s power upside, but Bauers can be a 20/15 guy with a similar BA and OBP right now, and has pretty solid playing time for the foreseeable future in Cleveland. Franmil needs to battle out Myers, Margot, Renfroe, and eventually Cordero for playing time. Jose Pirela and Travis Jankowski aren’t big names, but they have scratched their way into playing time in the past as well. I’ll take the safe play and speculate on power elsewhere.

  2. theKraken says:

    I’m thinking this is the year that Buxton has finally figured out how to have consistent ABs. That said, he still has the injuries to contend with… He has figured thing out for much more than a month before, so it is always tough to tell. I am thinking that he looks a lot more comfortable this year. I am not sure about the massive potential in terms of fantasy, but he could be a good source of SB with a moderate contributions in other areas.

    • Scott Chu says:

      I think we saw the upside in 2017, where he had a ridiculous stretch from August 1 – September 4 where he slashed 348/.389/.652 with 8 HR and 9 SB. He was tearing the cover off the ball and also keeping the strikeouts down to 21.6%, which is necessary for him considering his unwillingness to walk. He followed that up with an 0-18 stretch with a ton of Ks, then rebounded a little to end the season with 3 HR and 4 SB over the last 4ish weeks. The ideal Buxton, the one that can hit 20 HR and steal 40 bags, is in there, but until he shows he can consistently avoid the heavy strikeouts, he’ll be relegated to the bottom 3rd of the order. Luckily, the slick glove will give him as many chances as a team can provide to find his major league eye.

  3. Play Ball says:

    Schoop or Cesar in a standard roto?

    • Play Ball says:

      Or Senzel when he gets called up?

      • Scott Chu says:

        As for Senzel, he’s an exciting young player and worth rostering if you can, but the playing time situation is likely to be less-than-ideal due to the crowded OF (Kemp, Puig, Schebler, and Winker) and the likely return of Scooter Gennett. If you’re not competing for the 2019 title, he becomes more appealing as a target.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Great question! These players were similarly priced on draft day (each usually around pick 175 to 200), but offer fairly different skill sets. In a standard roto, it’s really more of a needs-based question. Both should bat between .250 and .260 (Schoop might have a slight edge here). Schoop will likely hit 7-10 more HR and get 30ish more RBI thanks to the extra power, while I’d expect Cesar to steal 15 more bases and score 10-20 more runs because of his speed. If you already have a firm grip on speed, Schoop is a sensible add. If you could use a speed boost or already have all the power you need, Cesar is a fine choice. My draft day strategies usually left me a tad light on SBs, so I’d probably be adding Cesar.

      In an OBP format, this leans more towards Cesar, as his 40 point advantage in the category tips the scale firmly in his favor unless you’re REALLY hungry for the extra power and have no need for the speed.

  4. High 5 Ghost says:

    I’ve been eyeing Martin since reading that Dan Richards write up a month ago…would you drop Buxton for him in a mixed league that counts walks?I’ve already got T Anderson, Mondesi, and Betts so I feel like I have a handle on SB for now.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Dan wrote a great piece, High 5. I had already been targeting him, and it only made me want him more.

      Ultimately, this is a bit of a risk/reward decision. My gut reaction is to ask if you have an SP streamer to cut or something like that instead of Buxton, but assuming you HAVE to pick one, I think I’d play the waiting game with Buxton. Martin is still HEAVILY under the radar, and I don’t expect his ownership to fly up anytime soon. Buxton is a guy you probably wouldn’t be able to get back, and has a chance to be special.

      That said, if you HAVE to choose one RIGHT NOW (more of a thought experiment than a reality), Buxton is the upside play while Martin is the “safe” play. Martin is guaranteed the ABs and should get them towards the top of the order, which will eventually improve when Lindor returns and J-Ram finds his stroke. Buxton could hit 5 more HR than Martin and steal more bases (though you probably don’t need them). Walks are in Martin’s favor, but historically, he hasn’t been as good (the 8.7% in 2018 was a career high, though the 16.9% so far is promising).

      TL;DR – Put Martin on your watch list or drop someone else, but keep Buxton for now.

  5. John Connors says:

    Any love for Josh Donaldson? Two HR in the last two games. What are your thoughts on him ROS?

    • Scott Chu says:

      My colleague Jim Chatterton highlighted him in yesterday’s installment. If healthy (which is no small “if”), Donaldson has 30+ HR power with an excellent OBP. Assuming that the Braves capitalize on their young-but-talented squad, there’d also be a boatload of RBI opportunities. He was an elite fantasy asset as recently as 2017, when he hit 33 bombs in 114 games, and it’s not like he’s SUPER old — he’s 33. The upside is a top 6 fantasy 3B, the “mid-point” is a top 12 3B, and the floor is 100 or fewer games played due to injury. Those who own him should hold him, and those who don’t own him probably can’t acquire him for a buyer’s price. It’s a promising start, but not necessarily an actionable one unless you’re in a dynasty and want to cash in a prospect for a chance at the title.

      • John Connors says:

        Great reply, thank you! I have him and holding my breathe he stays healthy. We’ll see…

        Great OPB so far! And his exit velo is top 10 in MLB right now. Cheers to him staying healthy.

        • Scott Chu says:

          You’re very welcome! Glad it was helpful. And I’ll cheers to that — baseball is a better game when Josh Donaldson is playing it.

  6. Doug B says:

    Got an offer: I’d trade Kris Bryant and get Matt Chapman. I think my league-mate is looking to use KB’s OF eligibility since his OF is weak and mine… isn’t.

    It’s h2h cats: AB, R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, BB, TB, E, AVG, OBP, SLG, SLAM.

    Before KB’s shoulder injury/surgery I’d have said no for sure, but considering how important that shoulder is to his particular style of swing, and how hot Chapman’s been out of the gate, I’ve considering it.

    Seems pretty balanced to me honestly, which means he’ll be improving his OF while I’ll probably stay about the same, which seems like a bad idea. Why strengthen a competitor without really strengthening my own team? Maybe I should ask for a minor piece in addition that does improve my team in a small but meaningful way?

    Thoughts anyone?

    • Scott Chu says:

      I think your analysis is about right, Doug. I’m not sure you get any better in the short or long term if you make this move, so why do it? Bryant was a much more expensive commodity to acquire, and 60 PA doesnt change that a whole lot. I’d seek more for Bryant, like something that helps you, or reject entirely.

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