Batter’s Box: Mr. Consistency

Scott gives a run down on the best hitting performances from Saturday, including a Jose Martinez appearance, the resurgent Steven Souza, and two guys you're probably sick of hearing about.

4 consecutive season of 30+ home runs. 3 consecutive season of 100+ RBI. 3 consecutive seasons of 90+ runs. 4 consecutive seasons of a .380+ OBP. 4 consecutive seasons of a .500+ SLG. 5 consecutive seasons of 140+ games, with 3 consecutive seasons of 155+ games. Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs) has been the epitome of consistency for both the Cubs and for fantasy owners, and that’s why we were so worried when he finished April with a .149 batting average, 1 home run, and just 9 RBI. Some wondered what was wrong, others wondered if the consistency was finally over. Even today, many are disappointed by the .264 batting average. Here’s the thing, though — while we are all quick to point out that April’s numbers are often given too much weight early in the season, we often forget about how much a full month of poor results can impact season-long numbers throughout the season. Since May 1st, Rizzo is hitting .287 with a .360 wOBA. He has 9 home runs, 36 RBI, and is playing much like the guy we always knew he was. Most of his poor numbers likely came from some bad luck — his .264 average is almost 30 points below his xAVG. Sometimes, the best time to target elite players, particularly in keeper formats, is when their season-long numbers are still kept down by a bad month. In the case of Anthony Rizzo, the projections suggest that he’ll end the year with 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, and 140+ games played. People will likely forget about the bad April by next season (if they haven’t already) and be unwilling to part with one of the most consistent assets in our game. Right now is the time to pounce if you want him, though, as many owners will simply look at the down numbers and think they’re selling a player who is getting older.

Steven Souza (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 2-4, 2 R, 3B, 2B, 3 RBI. Since returning to action July 5th, Souza is batting .287/.360/.500 with 10 runs, 17 RBI, 2 home runs and a steal over 89 plate appearances. His batted ball profile is just as impressive — he has a 33.9% line drive rate and a 44.6% hard contact rate. His miserable start to the season is still suppressing his total numbers, but we shouldn’t forget about his 30 bombs and 16 steals from 2017 so quickly. He’s a great asset in OBP leagues or for those who need power and speed, but don’t expect a high batting average.

Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – 3-4, R, 2 2B. It turns out the hype was real. During draft season, Yelich saw his ADP skyrocket once his trade to the Brewers was announced. We all were excited to see him leave the black hole that remained in Miami and join a better team in a better park. While he still hasn’t started lifting the ball more (his 20.4% fly ball rate is the 5th lowest among qualified hitters), he is on pace to surpass 100 runs, 25 home runs and should get close to 20 steals. Those figures, combined with his current .326 AVG, have somewhat quietly made him a top 10 hitter in standard leagues. While I doubt 28.8% of his fly balls will continue to leave the yard, I’m comfortable calling Yelich a top 20 hitter for the rest of 2018.

Andrew McCutchen (OF, San Francisco Giants) – 5-5, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. It’s great to see the 5 hits, though he’s no longer a top 50 OF asset in standard formats due to his pedestrian .264 AVG and lack of power — he’s on pace to miss the 20 home run mark for the first time since 2010. He’s still strong in OBP formats, though. He may be an undervalued asset in keeper/dynasty leagues for those making a playoff push.

Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers) – 2-3, R, HR, RBI, BB. He can’t stop, he won’t stop. We keep talking about him, but only because he keeps producing. 26.4% of ESPN leagues still have him on the wire, and while they probably aren’t your league, you ought to double-check.

Logan Morrison (OF, Minnesota Twins) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. This is more relevant for deep formats, but there is still a lot of power in this bat. I wrote about him back in mid-July, and since then, his luck has begun to turn around. He has 4 home runs in his last 10 starts and more will come.

Jose Martinez (1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. They let him play! This was just his 2nd start since July 29 and he made it count. Maybe, just maybe, if he can string a few of these together, he can work his way back into the line up on a semi-regular basis, but I wouldn’t count on it. I’m not opposed to dropping him in 12 team formats if something better pops up on the wire.

Matt Carpenter (1B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, 2 BB. I won’t try to explain it, as many have already analyzed it, but enjoy it while you can. His home run was his 28th and he has now officially tied his career high at 32 years of age in his 8th season in the Bigs. Good for him.

Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 3-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. He’s been the #4 shortstop in standard leagues over the last 30 days on ESPN’s player rater and the #1 most added shortstop in ESPN leagues over the last week. He’s having a nice little breakout this season now that he no longer shares the role, driven largely by a huge spike in hard contact — his 41.1% mark in 2018 is 11.6 points higher than his 29.5% career average. He’s not going to contribute enough counting stats or ratios to be a big impact, but as a fill in for a weak 2B/SS slot in 12+ team formats, you could do worse, especially when he faces a lefty (he has a .888 OPS against southpaws this season).

Phillip Ervin (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-2, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB. I won’t lie — I had no idea who this kid was until I wrote this. From what I gather, he’s a low-level OF prospect for the Reds who has found some playing time due to the rash of injuries in the Reds outfield and the trade of Adam Duvall. His minor league profile and prospect grades indicate he might be able to steal 4-5 bases over the course of the season with another couple of home runs, but I’d probably steer clear of him outside of NL-only formats.

Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. While his .290 average is almost certainly a mirage (xStats gives him an xAVG of .267), he’s still been much better at making contact both in and out of the zone, which has raised his overall contact rate by 6.9% and dropped his strikeout rate to a manageable 25.1%, down from 34.4% last season. He still swings just about as much as he did before, so this isn’t about patience — it’s all about contact. If he can keep this up, he should continue to be a top 5 SS for the rest of this season.

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.

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