Batter’s Box: Magi-Carp used Splash…

Scott Chu reviews a selection of Monday's best hitting performances.

…but nothing happened! Or at least, not much has happened this season. I was personally all over the breakout we saw from Matt Carpenter (1B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) last season. He walked 100 times, hit 42 doubles and 36 home runs, scored 111 runs and was in the top three percent of the league in barrel rate, expected slugging and wxOBA. Everything the 32-year-old was doing not only seemed legit—it was legit. I drafted in him MANY leagues this past March (especially in Yahoo, where he is also eligible at second base) and have been stuck with him in my starting lineup ever since. So far in 2019, he has resembled the weakest Pokemon far more than I’d like to see, slashing .227/.334/.401 at the top of the Cardinals lineup. The fact that he’s held on to the lead-off role, has shown strong plate discipline and the fact that he’s already stolen four bases for some reason (his career high is five) have been the faint rays of hope in an otherwise dismal outlook.

On the bright side, June has treated Carpenter slightly better, as he’s hitting .261/.340/.457 in 53 trips to the plate this month. Monday’s 3-4 performance with three runs, a home run, a double and an RBI was his first three-hit game of the season and may be a sign that things will continue to get better for the veteran infielder. Those in leagues where Carpenter is eligible at second base have had the easy decision to just hold him, as his positional flexibility and elite upside are well worth holding on to. He’s also easy to keep in points leagues due to his secure spot in the lead-off role and excellent plate discipline. Those in shallower rotisserie and head-to-head category formats (like a 10-team ESPN league) have it a bit tougher, but perhaps this improvement during June is enough to hold on to him for just a little while longer. If he slumps again and his June numbers don’t continue, it may very well be time to let him flounder away on the waiver wire and/or someone else’s team. I’m still preaching patience for now, though. While I refuse to use a Gyarados joke here, if Carpenter can find his 2018 mojo, that’s the kind of upside we’re talking about.

By the way, If you’re part of our fabulous Discord community, I’ll be hosting a one-hour live chat on Friday, June 21 at 6:00pm EST to discuss hitters, baseball, fantasy curling, being a ginger-Korean twin raised by deaf parents, or whatever the heck people want to ask about! Not a member of our fabulous Discord community? Then join us through our Patreon! We have live chats, community channels, staff/listener leagues and round-the-clock access to our staff for all of your fantasy baseball and football needs.

Cavan Biggio (2B, Toronto Blue Jays)—2-2, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB. Half of his 14 hits so far this season have gone for extra bases. It’s great to see his power shining through in the major leagues, and his two stolen bases through 19 games isn’t too shabby either. I don’t expect much recovery in the batting average as the season goes on, but those in OBP leagues can continue to expect a solid OBP. I doubt the 18.4% walk rate continues, as sustaining that kind of performance takes truly elite talent, but a double-digit walk rate is likely.

Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, BB. Welcome back to the Show, J-Up! Upton wasted no time showing us that he’s feeling just fine after missing a bunch of time with a a turf toe injury sustained back in late-March. He hit a home run in his first at-bat of the season, and the middle of the Angels order looks much more imposing with him in it. I would imagine that Upton will get time off now and again to rest his toe, but he should be considered a top 30 outfielder going forward.

Danny Santana (2B/OF, Texas Rangers)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, SB. Generally speaking, he’s a backup outfielder who has swung a hot bat and found some playing time. He’ll get some more with Hunter Pence hitting the DL and might continue to hit for average and steal some bases, which would have some mild value in a deeper league. The power is very limited though and he doesn’t walk at all, so if he starts getting cold or if a more enticing option appears on your wire, drop him. He’s outside of my top 100 outfielders, if you’re curious.

Shohei Ohtani (DH/SP, Los Angeles Angels)—2-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Over the last three weeks, Ohtani has hit third in every start and slashed .333/.395/.694 with seven home runs and two steals. He’s swinging at fewer outside pitches this season compared to last year and making more contact. I adore him as a hitter and there is a serious conversation to be had about where to draft him next season when he is pitching and hitting. First round? That’s a serious debate.

Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI. Back to back three-hit games and multiple hits in six of his last eight starts is a fine example of the promise in his young bat. He’s a top eight second baseman in fantasy and could even push into the top five if he moves up in the order and steals a few more bases.

Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals)—1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. A 30-home run season with a .250 batting average for an outfielder doesn’t have as much impact as it used to. I’d be slightly more intrigued if he showed the double-digit walk rates he had in 2017 and 2018, but with limited contact ability and speed, he’s just another power-hitting outfielder in a world that’s chock-full of power-hitting outfielders.

Brian McCann (C, Atlanta Braves)—3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. He’s not really playing against lefties, but he’s got nearly one-to-one strikeout to walk ratio and an impressive .884 OPS when he does play and is worth a stream when the Braves face a slew of righties in a given week. You can’t set and forget with him, though—he just doesn’t play enough.

Shin-Soo Choo (OF, Texas Rangers)—1-3, R, 2B, RBI, BB, SB. He’ll turn 37 next month, but he’s on pace for 10 steals and over 20 home runs to go along with his impressive .285 average and .386 OBP. Both of those ratios will likely drop 20 points or so based on his history and expected stats, but he’s a solid back-end outfielder thanks to the OBP and steals.

Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—4-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. He’s so, SO good. Every time I say someone is doing something that’s “amazing” or “incredible”, you can assume that Trout is probably doing just as good or better. He’s the #1 player in every format for the next five years, if not more.

Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. Don’t be fooled by the hot streaks. He’ll look like a difference maker for you for a few weeks at a time, but will then go into an ice cold slump that kills your production. The power uptick is interesting, I suppose, and he could get close to his career high of 26, but with such a low batting average and very little speed, he’s just another guy in 10- and 12-teamers.

(Photo by David Berding/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.

13 responses to “Batter’s Box: Magi-Carp used Splash…”

  1. theKraken says:

    The is no such thing as a season that wasn’t legit. Predictions can be be wrong, but what actually happens on the field over the course of 6 months is legit. The analysis is not legit in may cases. There is no truth in batted ball metrics – in the best case it aligns with reality and sometimes it is just garbage.

    • TruthInNumbers says:

      Except batted ball metrics have consistently been better predictors of future success than actual batting stats have. That’s been demonstrated over and over again. It’s hard to be really lucky or unlucky for 6 months but it happens.

      • Scott Chu says:

        The problem with reality is that it’s full of noise. Dozens of seemingly random occurrences impact the basic stats every single day. While reliability in baseball stats is generally misunderstood, it’s safe to assume that most stats have very little “stickiness” to them until we have significant sample sizes, and some stats will basically never “stabilize” in a single season (BABIP, for example).

        Batted ball metrics are pretty neat, though Kraken’s disdain for them is thoroughly documented. To Kraken’s credit, Statcast metrics are often over-used in the current environment. I’ve stated several times that these metrics can’t be looked at as especially predictive—stats only deal with the past, after all. They do, however, give us a better understanding of how much luck and statistical noise played a part in a player’s performance over time. That being said, there’s still a lot of noise that batted ball metrics cannot account for, such as an easy slate of pitching faced or just a good ol’ fashioned hot streak. Quality of contact metrics from Statcast are exceptional tools when reviewing past performance, though. They are far more useful than any of the “older” versions of batted ball metrics we had available. The stuff on xStats was also fantastic for separating batted ball classes (I hope someone picks the site back up at some point).

    • Orange WHIPs says:

      Not sure what is more surprising: that this troll works day after day, or that you have the time and investment to keep doing it every day.

  2. Jim says:

    Hey Scott, in a 6×6 OBP league I finally dropped Castellanos for Mercado (for now.) Think this could work out? Castellanos aside for PAs really isn’t bringing much. Ty!

    • Scott Chu says:

      You know, I actually don’t mind this move in your format. Castellanos isn’t all that great in OBP formats due to his low walk rate, and the increasingly bad offense around him limits his counting stats. For the last three years, he’s done an excellent job punching the ball into the outfield for doubles and triples (he’s faster than most people think). In years past, line drives have really fueled his success, but we’ve seen a big chunk of those line drives turn into fly balls this season. These fly balls aren’t exactly being scorched, either. Fly balls have a much lower batting average than other batted ball types and line drives have the best average, so this change is likely a big part of the batting average woes. You can actually see this a little in his drop in barrel rate and exit velocity as well.

      Mercado isn’t close to the hitter Nicky can be, but he’ll steal bases for you. Casetllanos is a likely trade candidate at some point, but it’s hard to predict who will be buying a poor-fielding outfielder who doesn’t hit 25 home runs or take a bunch of walks. Weirdly, a trade may not actually benefit him much, as he’d be unlikely to hit 3rd for a contender and Comerica Park’s spacious outfield has been a perfect venue to maximize the value of his line drives.

  3. Christopher Vazquez says:

    I’ve got chavis at 2nd who has been coming back down to earth. Is it worth adding keiston hiura and waiting for his call up or stick with chavis and pickup cease? Thank you

    • Scott Chu says:

      I’d stick with Chavis here, Christopher. He’s been pretty hot over this last 7 games, recording 10 hits and slashing .345/.406/.586 and is slowly climbing up the batting order again. A young hitter with his swing-and-miss tendencies is going to be very prone to hot and cold spells as he adjusts to major league pitching as as major league pitching adjusts to him.

      While he’s not as highly touted as Hiura and Cease, his path to 2019 playing time is MUCH more clear. Shaw has been taking plenty of walks since returning to the active roster, and while the power is still absent, he’s getting on base at a .375 clip, which the Brewers seem to like. I don’t see how Hiura comes back to any regular playing time without a trade or injury.

      If the White Sox were planning to call up Cease, I’d imagine they’d have done so by now. Per a recent article by NBC Chicago, the White Sox Brass will be taking their sweet time with Cease and don’t plan to use him until they feel “he’s ready”. His AAA numbers are far from spectacular and they don’t really have a realistic shot at the second wild card spot, so I imagine he won’t be called up until the Fall.

      TL;DR: Keep Chavis because he’s hot and will actually play.

  4. Andrew says:

    Don’t most (all?) leagues have Ohtani split up as separate hitter and pitcher players?

    • Scott Chu says:

      Nope! Only Yahoo does this. ESPN, Fantrax, and CBS have a single player for Ohtani that can be switched between pitching and hitting on any given day, with the only catch being that he can only accumulate pitching stats OR hitting stats on any given day—not both.

      Yahoo is unique in their approach, though recently they did allow the pitching Ohtani to be listed on the IL due to his Tommy John surgery.

      • Andrew says:

        Interesting. I’m a yahoo guy and didn’t realize other sites allowed this kind of flexibility. Pretty dope, and yes that would warrant a high draft pick. Thanks

  5. Swfcdan says:

    Haha I was about to say “but nothing happened” in comments after seeing the title, but you already covered it good job! Our age groups all played the early Pokemon games, nowadays you look at the games and there’s a million new Pokemon we’ve never even heard of.

    I have a bad feeling about Otani next year, just don’t feel anyone can hit and pitch successful in cohabitation (wrong word context who cares). Maybe he gets drilled on the hand while hitting and suddenly can’t pitch for 6 weeks, maybe he tweaks his shoulder on a swing. So many maybes when you do both, maybe I’m salty I dont own him in my keepers (definately am) but if I was the Angels I’d just let him pitch. He should’ve signed for an NL team so he could just hit when pitching!

    Finally when selling in a keeper which prospects do you tend to target, ones closer or ones with highest upside? Deciding between Kelenic and Luis Robert, leaning Robert because I don’t trust Mariners developing prospects but should that play a part?

  6. Jack says:

    I just dropped Jesse Winker for Garrett Cooper. I actually did so on Sunday just after games started, which means I was able to cash out on Winker’s big game at leadoff, which was nice. He went from 18 to 23 RBIs on the year after that game.

    As you know, Cooper is 28, a late-blooming guy who had a 1.000+ OPS in 2017 in AAA (before the juiced ball), had a cup of coffee in the majors that year with an .800+ OPS, then dealt with wrist injuries in 2018 which hurt his numbers, then made the roster for Opening Day, then got hurt, is now mashing for the Fish. Fun fact: not only did the Marlins rob the Yankees for Caleb Smith for some international signing bonus money and a guy named Mike King, the Yanks threw Cooper in on the same trade.

    Anyway…tell me why I blew it, or why I’m a genius. Your opinion matters to me, Scott.

    Although it’s easier because Joey Gallo gets back soon, and then Scooter Gennett joins the fray, so I really don’t need that OF spot at all assuming my guys stay healthy. Mookie, Joey, Yordan, Franmil, and Nick (Senzel) will have me covered.

    Speaking of Scooter, do you drop J-Schoop in a 12-teamer once Gennett returns esp with Senzel with 2B/OF eligibility? I told myself I wouldn’t, but I probably will. Dude was batting 9th the other day, is in a nasty slump. I need the roster spots for MOAR PITCHERZ, and Schoop is looking more and more like a replacement-level player anyway. I’ll let you know when I drop him because that’s when he’ll get hot again.

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