Batter’s Box: Need More CowBell

Quite a night for Cody Bellinger eh? With a 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI night, Bellinger hit his 20th and 21st home runs of the year, making him the fastest...

Quite a night for Cody Bellinger eh? With a 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI night, Bellinger hit his 20th and 21st home runs of the year, making him the fastest player to reach 21 home runs in his career. It’s funny, for a short stretch, people were starting to get concerned about Bellinger, and understandably so. From May 30th to June 10th, Bellinger was batting .154 with just two home runs, it’s understandable that people would start thinking the league was catching up with him. Then, from June 11th through now, Bellinger has hit .389 with eight home runs. So the question is, what can you expect from Bellinger for the rest of the season? Is he really this good, or should you sell high? As a big-time power hitter, Bellinger is going to be prone to slumps like he had during that .154-hitting stretch, that’s just the nature of power hitters, but then he’ll have stretches where he destroys the ball. I think Bellinger is right now what he is the rest of the season: an average in the .260s, maybe the .250s cause that 34% HR/FB rate should come down a bit and his 30% strikeout rate won’t help, and tons of home runs. I’m betting Bellinger doubles his home run total by the end of the year while batting in the .260s the rest of the way. I don’t think you can sell high on him (unless someone’s stupidly buying this recent streak, thinking he’s a .300+ hitter), because I think we know what he is right now, and what he is is pretty awesome.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday night:

Carlos Santana (1B, CLE) – 2-2, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Carlos Santana hasn’t been nearly as good as I had hoped he be, but I see reason for optimism in the future. Through the end of June in 2014, Carlos Santana was batting .205 with 12 home runs, I remember, I owned him. The power was nice but not worth the miserable batting average, though you dealt with it because at the time he was catcher-eligible. Then, from July on, he hit .254 with 15 home runs, ending the year with a .231 batting average and 27 home runs. Now, that may not sound all that encouraging, but my point is, Santana will go on streaks like this, he’s a big power hitter. And looking at the peripherals, he should be ok. His BABIP is .239, that should rise a bit (though keep in mind that he’s a career .267 BABIP guy), his hard hit rate is lower than it was last year but not all that out of line with his career, and his HR/FB rate has dropped to 10.8%, which is low for him. He’s hitting just as many fly balls as he always does, just fewer of them are going for home runs, and oddly enough, he’s hitting more line drives. And most importantly, his plate discipline stats look pretty normal (aside from a minor drop in walk rate), so that OBP should rise (which is one of the things that makes him even more valuable in OBP leagues). I think we’re looking at 2014 all over again for Santana and I think he’ll bat in the .250s the rest of the way and end the year with 25+ home runs.

Justin Bour (1B, MIA) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. I’ve talked about Justin Bour a lot, so I’m only including him here to say that I don’t understand why he isn’t owned in basically every league. As of this writing, his ownership is around 60% in ESPN leagues, which is good, but it should be higher. I think by the end of the year, assuming Bour stays healthy, he and Cody Bellinger will have similar power numbers (with an advantage in average to Bour and an advantage in RBIs to Bellinger), and Bellinger is owned in over 80% of ESPN leagues. What I’m saying is, WHY DON’T YOU OWN JUSTIN BOUR?

Scooter Gennett (2B/OF, CIN) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Don’t do it. I know you’re thinking about it, I know. Scooter’s hit two home runs in two games and that four home run game isn’t too distant of a memory yet. Since that four home run game, Scooter’s had a 37.5% HR/FB rate, don’t trust him, I’m telling you. I will add this one caveat: he’s been really hot over the past couple weeks, and if you wanted to pick him up and ride the streak, I’m ok with that (in deeper leagues, I would imagine there’s better options in shallower leagues), but don’t believe him. I just want us all to sit here and acknowledge that this will end, ok? Ok. Good. Glad we had that talk.

Scott Schebler (OF, CIN) – 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. I’m including Schebler for a similar reason I included Bour, to re-emphasize the point that Schebler is really useful and only owned in 59% of ESPN leagues. That’s a good amount, but I feel like a guy who’s gonna hit 35+ home runs with a .250s average would be owned in more leagues.

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN) – 1-5, 2 RBI. So the Reds called up one of their top prospects in Jesse Winker and the question is: what should you expect and should you pick him up? Well I’ll answer the second question first, no you probably shouldn’t pick him up for a couple reasons. The first is the most obvious, he’s not up for long. The Reds outfield consists of Scott ScheblerAdam Duvall, and Billy Hamilton, and none of them are leaving anytime soon. Winker is up while Zack Cozart and Bronson Arroyo are on the DL, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Reds give him some work at DH while they’re in Tampa Bay and then send him back down to the minors. But, let’s say he gets a full time gig, what would you expect? Well he hasn’t shown much in the way of power or speed in the minors this year, but he’s got a good average and doesn’t strike out much. I think you would be able to expect Adam Frazier numbers from him, which is to say he’d be a better real-life baseball player than fantasy.

Andrew McCutchen (OF, PIT) – 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Cutch has been looking like his younger self lately, and it’s about time. McCutchen had been sitting in a nasty slump, but there was a reason people kept saying to keep the faith. From the beginning of the year through May 20th, Cutch was hitting .215 and everyone was saying “he’s done I quit I want to drop him.” And if you did, shame on you, because that .233 BABIP he had at the time has normalized and since then, he’s hit .333. Is he a .300 hitter? No. But .270s-.280s with another 10-15 home runs? You bet. Hopefully you bought low or held onto him.

Yangervis Solarte (3B/2B, SD) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Yangervis has been quietly having a pretty solid year so far and I don’t see any reason it won’t keep up. Looking at his peripherals, everything looks relatively stable. I’m not a huge fan of the drop in hard hit rate, but generally I don’t see any reason he can’t end the year with 20 home runs, and that’s right what he’s on pace for, and an average in the high-.260s/low-.270s seems reasonable too. He’s a useful deep-league guy.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. JBJ has been on fire over the past month, hitting .323 with five home runs, and after the slow start he had, it’s nice to see. He’s finally normalizing after his horrible start, and I think his current season line is what you can expect the rest of the season: an average in the .260s with a decent amount of home runs (I’m saying he ends the year with 20 or so). If he got dropped in your league, go grab him. He’ll have peaks and valleys, but you might as well use him during his peaks.

Ian Kinsler (2B, DET) – 1-3, 1 RBI. Kinsler’s been pretty bad this year. Not horrible, but not what you wanted, and I’ve had a lot of people ask me about what they should do with him. Kinsler’s numbers are interesting. When someone is struggling, especially someone at Kinsler’s age, you look at two things first: plate discipline and batted ball stats. His plate discipline stats all look right in line with his career, so it’s not that. What’s interesting is his batted ball stats. His power has been down this year, or rather more towards what he’s done in year’s before, as he’s only on pace for around 15 home runs, but get this: his hard hit rate is at a career high 39.7%. If you look further, you can see the source of the struggles: a 5.6% HR/FB rate, and a 15.7% infield fly ball rate, to go along with a .263 BABIP. Add in the fact that his pull rate has dropped significantly in favor of hitting balls to center field (never a good idea) and you can see what’s happening. He’s hitting balls hard, harder than ever before, but they’re all going to straightaway center field and dying in the outfield. And if they aren’t, they’re dying in the infield. Now, you have to think that a 5.6% HR/FB rate will correct itself, as will the BABIP, but unless he gets back to pulling the ball more, Kinsler’s going to be in trouble. I’m thinking he corrects himself a bit, but I think we’re looking more at 2014 Ian Kinsler (minus the steals) than last year’s Ian Kinsler.

Mike Zunino (C, SEA) – 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. Zunino’s been on fire the past month, hitting .338 with nine home runs. He’s always had great power, but that average is an illusion, supported by a .380 BABIP. He’s still striking out almost 40% of the time (that’s right, 40) and that average will plummet as long as he’s doing that (and he will). He could end the year with 25 home runs, he’s capable, but that average is going to probably be in the .220s the rest of the year, and that’s going to hurt. At the same time though, the catcher position is bare, and if you can support that bad average, he’s not a terrible pick.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

3 responses to “Batter’s Box: Need More CowBell”

  1. TP says:

    I will take the over on Zunino’s avg being .220

  2. Turp says:

    Speaking of catchers, any projection on what to expect from Ramos the rest of the way? Sincerely, a sad Lucroy owner. (seriously, how could he be this bad in a contract year?)

    • Ben Palmer says:

      I think Ramos could be solid assuming he stays healthy. I’d expect an average in the .260s with probably 10 home runs or so. I think he’ll have a lower average than Lucroy but better power

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