Batter’s Box: Mahtook Me A While To Take Notice

I feel as though I’ve done Detroit OF Mikie Mahtook a disservice by not realizing what a quietly decent season he’s been having. His counting stats are not eye-popping from...

I feel as though I’ve done Detroit OF Mikie Mahtook a disservice by not realizing what a quietly decent season he’s been having. His counting stats are not eye-popping from a fantasy standpoint, to be fair, but he’s still been able to achieve a lot throughout his 238 at-bats of the 2017 campaign. Most impressively, his average has ballooned of late to hover around .300 without much fanfare whatsoever. After a 5-14, 5 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 K performance against the Twins this weekend, Mahtook has a .298 average that’s been helped in droves by him having seven games with multiple hits in August. In going 0-5 Sunday, he actually snapped a streak of five consecutive with two or more hits. He’s more of a run-scorer, particularly when he slots into the 2-spot, although he has absolutely hopped around the Detroit order a bit: 35 runs on the year have outpaced his 27 RBI. To reiterate, the totals aren’t bonkers but he’s manufacturing a lot for the Tigers offense lately. Mahtook’s Friday homer was his eighth of the year, and he did steal his second base of the season on August 2 without having been caught once. He’s probably only a recommended start in deep leagues or AL-only formats, but he’s absolutely doing enough to warrant you having him on your fantasy radar.

Let’s survey what other noteworthy hitting happened around the league this weekend:

James McCann (C, DET) 5-12, 3 R, HR, 5 RBI, 2 K. Posting two multi-hit efforts from Detroit’s 7-spot during a weekend series versus Minnesota, McCann came through most impactfully with a grand slam on Saturday. He’s hitting .293 in August and .254 overall, and I’ve mentioned his name before as a go-to in times of need when injuries or poor production at an already thin position leaves you in dire straits. With the DL stints that some of the best fantasy backstops Willson Contreras and Salvador Perez are unfortunately serving, a guy like McCann can come in handy for you down the stretch. He’s the primary catcher in Detroit now that Alex Avila is a Chicago Cub and an obvious handcuff to own if you had Contreras. Matt Wieters is another serviceable option at C, with several more runs and RBI than McCann albeit with fewer homers (8 compared to 11) and a lower average (.241).

Eddie Rosario (OF, MIN) 7-13, 4 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K, SB. One of the hottest hitters is baseball and recipient of the AL POW award this week, Rosario dominated at Comerica Park these past several days. I had brought him up after his two-homer game Tuesday against the Brewers, and he did not disappoint with this series stat line. He owns a .296 average now after three multi-hit games, and he has scored at least one run in each of the past eight games for the Twins. I highly recommend snagging him while he’s hot, as Rosario is making a second-half surge that could prove very handy down the stretch and during playoff time. The .332 BABIP might convince some a cooldown is imminent, but he’s never had a lower BABIP than that during all his time in the majors dating back to 2015. His BB/K ratio and ISO are both improved, even though he’s stealing less frequently than he did a couple seasons ago.

Tim Beckham (1B/2B/SS, BAL) 6-13, 4 R, 3 RBI, BB, 3 K. Beckham continues to thrive as an Oriole. He’s taken what was a .259 season average in Tampa Bay and has hit a mind-boggling 26-53 (.491) since relocating to Baltimore to elevate that metric to .292. He snapped a 12-game hit streak by going 0-4 Sunday, but still, the guy is clearly comfortably settled in and slugging .868 on the month on the strength of 12 XBH. Fifteen homers and a dead-even 45/45 in runs and RBI round out his résumé; he hasn’t stolen a base since June 29.

Manuel Margot (OF, SD) 5-13, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K. He’s hit safely in six of his last seven and now has 12 homers on the year. Margot had a really strong July and is cooling off a bit with a .229 average in August, but a .274 average is tough to complain about overall. A pair of dual-hit games at Dodger Stadium were a nice contribution over the weekend, and while his run production is a little anemic, he can still serve a purpose if you need a solid plugin on Mondays, Thursdays or maintenance days for your three starting OF.

Cory Spangenberg (2B/3B/OF, SDP) 5-11, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, K. He’s got his homer count in the double digits now! Despite Sunday’s pair being his first bombs since July 20, five of his 10 overall have come in the four weeks since the All-Star break. Owner of a .271 average on the year, Spangenberg now has 41 runs and 38 RBI over the course of 314 AB. Despite having good baserunning speed, he hasn’t attempted to steal a base since July 29 and hasn’t gotten a swipe since Independence Day. With his multi-position eligibility, Spangenberg represents for me a guy that has Chris Taylor-esque potential in the future, and he is a bit reminiscent stat-wise of a Jedd Gyorko with just a lower tier of production. Not a dynamite starter, but he’s a serviceable streamer with upside.

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD) 7-11, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K, SB. A true 5×5 stuffing of the stat sheet that would have made for one helluva Vin Scully call is what Bellinger accomplished over the weekend. While hitting just one double and one dinger in seven hits on the series, Bellinger has still managed XBH over 55% of the time he’s registered a hit this season, which is frankly incredible. He has 34 homers (six in August) and eight steals (two in August). The .274 average—just like Margot’s—is perfectly fine as well, but it’s obviously the .620 SLG and resultant .972 OPS that comprises the majority of Bellinger’s appeal.

Justin Turner (3B, LAD) 3-11, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI. A fun fact about J-Turn is that he has the same number of stolen bases, walks and strikeouts in the month of August: two of each. That is over 43 AB, too. He now has six homers on the month for 17 overall and has posted a solid 14 RBI through his last 10 games. You know he is a dynamite fantasy asset when you’re looking at his average after a hitless Saturday and you catch yourself feeling bummed that it’s “dipped” to .344. He should be a keeper in all leagues that feature such an option for next year.

Howie Kendrick (1B/2B/3B/OF, WSH) 2-6, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K. It was just his second homer as a National since being traded from Philadelphia in late July, but Kendrick made this one count Sunday. His walk-off grand slam capped a 6-2 victory for Washington that had to be cathartic for the team after they lost the incomparable Bryce Harper to a bone bruise over the weekend. Kendrick’s season has been injury-riddled in its own right, unfortunately, but the 34-year-old veteran can still do some RBI and average work for you. Through 181 AB, he has four homers, 21 runs, 25 RBI all while batting a mouthwatering .348. He also has nine steals, which might surprise many.

Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS) 5-13, 3 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, BB, 2 K. Benintendi has a seven-game hit streak going, and five of those seven were multi-hitters. Three homers for a weekend series is especially sweet if you own Benintendi, and he also has five steals in August alone for 16 on the season. Going 16-35 this month has restored confidence in his fantasy stock after a brutal .222 July in which he only hit two home runs, and his average now sits at .279. Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts were prime beneficiaries of his pair of three-run shots Saturday, as he plated them both times. Saw this from Rotoworld via Yahoo: he has an impossibly awesome 1.345 OPS over the last two weeks. Yessir, I’ll be starting him today.

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.

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