Batter’s Box: It Takes A Brave Man To Play Ender’s Game

If someone had told me this morning that Atlanta OF Ender Inciarte has hit safely in 19 of his last 20, and that that stretch includes six multi-hit showings, I...

If someone had told me this morning that Atlanta OF Ender Inciarte has hit safely in 19 of his last 20, and that that stretch includes six multi-hit showings, I don’t know that I would have necessarily believed it at first. Is it because he’s playing for down-and-out Atlanta that we subsconsciously pay less attention to the accomplishments of the team’s fantasy stars? Or is it the unfortunate lack of power Inciarte brings to the table that sends our gaze elsewhere? To clarify, I’m well aware Inciarte is a run-scoring, base-stealing leadoff stud that needs to be utilized in all fantasy formats—especially roto—but even I didn’t expect this caliber of hitting efficiency from him. Regardless of why he’s been able to mount this streak relatively unnoticed, Inciarte went 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB last night. He took full advantage of the friendly dimensions of Coors Field to go yard for the first time since a home blast against the Cubs on July 19. Inciarte has gone 19-57 since the turn of the month, which has inflated his season average to a round .300. With 17 steals (caught five times), 77 runs and 20 doubles (what’s up, points league readers!), Inciarte can really do some damage for you as your remaining regular season H2H matchups wind down.

Let’s have a look at what else happened in the hitting world yesterday:

Jason Kipnis (2B, CLE) 3-9, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K. Batting just .200 since his return from the DL on August 6, he did all his damage Thursday during the first half of a doubleheader with the Twins. He had homered on Tuesday as well but went a cold 0-4 for the evening portion of the double feature. There’s nothing that excites me about his 5×5 résumé, honestly, and he’s not really done well enough in real life to justify his positioning so high in Cleveland’s batting order. To have just 35 runs, 29 RBI and 10 homers through 289 at-bats just doesn’t cut it for roto deployability. His soft contact is higher than it’s ever been at 21.2%, and his line drive rate of 19.7% is the lowest it’s ever been: Kipinis is not worth your time this year.

Yan Gomes (C, CLE) 3-3, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB. Gomes is another guy with a low average who has moments where he can do something special, but perhaps not frequently for you to risk a roster spot on. He’s only gone 7-30 this month, with a 1-15 stretch occupying the expanse between his games with home runs yesterday and August 8. Even at a position as thin as catcher is right now, Gomes is no better than a No. 2 option and even that might be a stretch. He admittedly has more RBI than teammate Kipnis with 37 in 32 fewer AB, but that’s just an offbeat trivia fact and not an endorsement of his efficiency.

Alex Avila (C/1B, CHC) 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K. Avila is doing just all right in Chicago. He’s batting just .207 since joining the Cubs earlier this month, but he’s homered three times in a slight uptick of power. I’ll take eight RBI in 10 games from the primary catcher who calls Wrigley home, as Willson Contreras is still rehabbing his hamstring and backup-to-the-backup Victor Caratini is not fantasy relevant at this juncture. A little average boost is all I’m looking for to assuage my concerns about Avila: he’s got a .266 BA on the year, so that’s not unreasonable to hope for in the medium term.

Ian Happ (2B/OF, CHC) 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K. Happ’s had a pedestrian second half that has seen his average dip by more than .020, but Thursday was really solid for the young utilityman who is just 78 games into his MLB career. He’s hit just four dingers since the All-Star break but has 17 overall. My main concerns with him are a swinging strike percentage of 15.9 and a K rate of 29.3%. He could definitely improve upon both his hard contact and his groundball rates, but the HR/FB ratio of 24.6% shows he has the chops to mash successfully for you in roto. His discipline and production will get better with time, and he’s still in the dawn of what should be a long career. Use him as a back 2B, but certainly keep him in mind come draft day next year no matter what.

Josh Donaldson (3B, TOR) 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, K. Get some. Donaldson’s batting .400 and slugging 1.000 in August with nine homers. In other words, jackpot.

Phillip Ervin (OF, CIN) 3-4, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB. This spark of offense coming from Cincy’s greenest outfielder unfortunately shouldn’t get your fantasy hopes up. He was able to snag a spot on the 25-man roster because C Devin Mesoraco is ailing (again), but I don’t think Ervin can avoid an optioning back to Triple-A Louisville when Scott Schebler returns from his stint on the 10-day DL with a left shoulder issue. Both Ervin and fellow OF prospect Jesse Winker are worth keeping tabs on for dynasty purposes, however.

Byron Buxton (OF, MIN) 2-7, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 K, SB. Buxton is actually averaging way better than you might expect right now. He is in the midst of a seven-game hit streak and has actually reached base (mind the wording, OBP leaguers) in 14 consecutive, thanks to a couple walks during his two most recent hitless outings. He’s got a .314 clip going for the month of August and a .234 mark overall, and Thursday saw him steal his 21st base. Counting stats are fringe at best, but 39 runs for a guy who should reasonably be your fourth OF are serviceable with all that speed working for you.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN) 2-3, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Suarez has the 15th-best wOBA in the second half among qualified hitters, and he’s also hit safely in eight of his last nine. He’s also hit four doubles in the last six Reds games, and he seems determined to keep his average up in the .260s after it had lingered in the .250s for much of July. He’s got 20 homers, 68 runs and 62 RBI, all of which are more than ample for a guy who is a locked-in backend starter at 3B in 12-team leagues.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS/OF, CIN)2-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, K, SB. Before yesterday, Peraza hadn’t stolen a base since June 20 despite having 16 on the season. He’s averaging .263, which is definitely on the high end of where his average has oscillated between all year long, but he’s been worked out of a starting gig at 2B by Scooter Gennett and merely backs up Zack Cozart at short. Peraza’s fantasy stock has dwindled in a major way as the 2017 campaign has drawn on, and a combo of 38 runs and 33 RBI just don’t cut it over 407 AB.

Josh Harrison (2B/3B/OF, PIT) 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, K. Harrison has been pretty consistently in the high .270s/low .280s range for the duration of the second half, and while I’d like the power to be a little more frequent he does have 57 runs to his credit. He shouldn’t have any problem matching his May/June feat of double-digit RBI, with eight in August already. Basically, he’s got a well-rounded résumé even though the run-scoring and average are his strongest 5×5 attributes right now. I’m liking the OF eligibility, and ultimately he’s a passable UTIL play if you’re scrambling amid slumps or injury woes.

Charlie Blackmon (OF, COL) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. The two hits that didn’t sail out of the ballpark were doubles. He’s just a monster, and I love him. I want him to use his CF speed more often and more wisely, though: he has just 11 SB on the season while being caught a surprising seven times. On pace for 35 homers and 138 (!!!!) runs, Blackmon is one of the few true set-and-forget guys you can rely on these days.

Tommy Pham (OF, STL) 2-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 K. It’s always satisfying to me when a guy’s season average almost exactly matches his average for the month: that manifests consistency and predictability that I find valuable in fantasy. Pham is exactly that: .312 in 2017, .311 in August. He hadn’t homered in a while, so that was good to see the power resume yesterday. I’m pretty jazzed about 66 runs and 16 steals on the year, too. He’s shaping up to be a sneaky good guy to draft in mid-to-late rounds next year.

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.

2 responses to “Batter’s Box: It Takes A Brave Man To Play Ender’s Game”

  1. Chris says:

    Just got Goldschmidt and Blackmon in my dynasty. Cost me Bryant, Wacha and Quintana, but getting effectively 2 first rounders for next year too hard to resist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login