Batter’s Box: I Tried So Hard and Got Profar

Everything Chu thinks you need to know about Monday's best hitters is right here in the Batter's Box.

While Jurickson Profar (1B/2B/3B/SS, Oakland Athletics) managed to extend his hitting streak to four games with a strong performance on Monday night (2-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB), the real question fantasy manager must ask themselves is whether they’ll give Profar another chance to break their hearts in 2020. The 26-year-old has been a breakout candidate for as long as I can remember, and his solid (if unspectacular) season in Texas last year gave a lot of folks hope that he could provide versatile value throughout the season. Of course, that hasn’t been the case so far as he likely will fall short of the 20 home runs and 10 steals he put up last season and is currently batting .211/.284/.398.

For every prospect that flourishes (and in 2019, we’ve seen MANY flourish), there’s a guy like Profar who merely tantalizes and never performs. He still could, of course—prospect growth isn’t linear—but by the time he does perform (if he fact he ever does), it won’t be for the folks who spent the draft and/or trade capital to acquire him when he still had the prospect shine to him.

The toughest thing about Profar in evaluating him is that it isn’t just one obvious thing he needs to correct. His infield fly ball rate is way up this season (19.1%), his pull percentage is up to 49.2%, he’s grounding into WAY too many double plays, he’s struggling mightily against right-handed pitching (while being just barely above average against lefties), and his quality of contact, well, take a look at this chart:

He is probably well off of my radar for 2020 unless I’m in the reserve rounds of a 15-team league. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if I read an article or two that pointed out a few mechanical tweaks Profar makes at the end of the season that gives up hope once again that he could be a power/speed threat with multi-positional eligibility. That’s just the way things work in fantasy baseball. I also hope I’m wrong, because I like seeing people succeed. Prospect growth isn’t linear, and there’s a chance that he goes to some hitting coach who unlocks everything we’ve seen in Profar over the last several years. I mean, I won’t be betting on it (I mean, my heart can only break over the same guy so many times), but stranger things have happened.

Josh Phegley (C, Oakland Athletics)—4-5, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB. His overall numbers are pretty good, but they’re also a tad misleading. Over 50% of his production on the season comes from eight games that had three or more RBI. He’s been quite useless (from a fantasy perspective) in the other 81 games. He wasn’t really relevant in most mixed leagues, but even those in two-catcher formats can get rid of him if they see someone with better match ups out there.

Khris Davis (DH, Oakland Athletics)—3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. He has to hit close to .500 to his .247 on the season, and I’m pretty sure its the one thing that every baseball fan is collectively rooting for. His value has absolutely tanked, though, but he may be an OK rebound candidate in 2020 if he can get the ball off of the ground and back in the air again.

Freddy Galvis (2B/SS, Cincinnati Reds)—3-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. Since joining the Reds as their everyday second baseman, Galvis is slashing .404/.420/.702 with four home runs and 11 RBI in just 13 games. While the speed is no longer an asset, he’s hitting the ball harder and farther, which allows him to be useful in deeper formats as a middle infielder—especially considering that he was recently promoted to the second spot in the order.

Justin Turner (3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-5, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. He only hit nine home runs through the first three months of the season, but now has 15 combined in June and July. The batting average and counting stats have been fairly consistent all year long (except for the home runs) and most importantly he’s on pace to play in 140 games for just the second time in his major league career.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)—2-5, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI. He has multiple RBI in four of his last five games and will get close to 30 home runs despite missing about 30 games on the season. It’s great to see him hitting for power again after the rather disappointing 23 home runs in 2018, but the real shocker is the stolen bases. He already has four this month and twelve on the season. It might just be an outlier, but he does have above average sprint speed and stole bases in the minor leagues. I wouldn’t count on him contributing there in 2020, but the fact that he might is intriguing.

Kevin Pillar (OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-5, R, 2B, RBI. He never ever walks, but he has kept a very reasonable 14.5% strikeout rate which helps keeps his batting average from falling off of a cliff. He’s changed his approach a bit this season, swinging at 57.8% of pitches (career 52.4% swing rate) without losing anything in his contact rate. While ideally he’d find a way to swing at fewer than 47.4% of pitches outside of the zone, I’ll take the increased slugging he’s shown this season.

Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics)—2-6, R, HR, 3B, 7 RBI. His plate discipline has dramatically improved in 2019 as he has a 11.6% walk rate and just a 14.1% strikeout rate. He’s often overlooked due to the insane depth at shortstop, but he’s been a solid contributor in most formats.

Mike Ford (1B, New York Yankees)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. He’s slugging .582 in August, though it comes with a .239 batting average and .282 OBP. Those numbers should recover, though, as his .173 BABIP will almost certainly improve.

Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. This was his first home run since returning from the IL on August 13. He’s had a hit in 10 of his last 13 games, though the power has been mostly absent. From what we’ve seen in 2019, he’s just a guy you can stream at catcher if you need one.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds)—2-4, R, HR, RBI. He smacked his 36th home run into the video board in an impressive display of power. Tony Wolfe over at Fangraphs pointed out some of Eugenio’s struggles against breaking balls and offspeed offerings this season, which likely explains his increased strikeout rate. With the league-wide trend in throwing fewer fastballs, he’ll need to correct this soon to remain an elite hitter.

Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—0-5, 3 K. He’s capable of great things, but through 104 August plate appearances he has just a .115/.320/.231 batting line. Ouch.

Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves)—0-4, 3 K. Not what you like to see in his first game back from the IL in the friendly environment of Coors, but his owners are likely glad he’s back. He hit 6th in this game and that’s likely where he’ll stay for the remainder of the season, which does dampen his outlook a bit.

And of course, your daily minor league update from Shelly Verougstraete:

(oh, and by the way, if you want to ask questions about these guys I highly recommend either reaching out to Shelly on Twitter or heading over to our Dynasty section. My advice is extremely limited compared to those folks)

(Photo by Cody Glenn/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.

2 responses to “Batter’s Box: I Tried So Hard and Got Profar”

  1. Dave says:

    Hi Scott!
    Who is the best option at 2B to fill in for the injured JoRam?
    Matt Carpenter, Ryan McMahon, Cesar Hernandez, Nick Senzel

    • Scott Chu says:

      Depends on some level on your needs, but probably Nick Senzel. I think he has the most upside and talent. Cesar could be a consideration if you need a higher batting average/OBP floor, I guess, but Senzel is my pick.

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