Batter’s Box: Ozzfest

Jim Chatterton touches on the top hitting performances from Saturday, including Braun's six hits over 18 innings.

The Braves are chock full of exciting young players, from Ronald Acuna Jr. to their slew of starting pitcher prospects. One who has been in the league since 2017 is still only 22. That player is Ozzie Albies. He had a fantastic 2018 campaign, finishing with over 100 runs. He also added 24 home runs and 40 doubles, all mostly while batting either first or second. The Braves had found a top-of-the-lineup hitter for years to come. Last year wasn’t perfect for Albies, however. His second half came with all sorts of struggles, especially September. He had a 67 wRC+ after the break, compared to his first-half 140. Not much had changed in his approach at the plate. His plate-discipline numbers essentially stayed the same. He just wasn’t hitting the ball as hard. There was a lot of concern coming into the draft this season because of these late struggles.

Albies, so far, has squelched those concerns. He has scored almost a run per game as the leadoff man while batting near .300. He’s been striking out less too. Last night he added bunch of RBI, going 2-6, R, HR, 5 RBI. As the Braves’ leadoff guy, the value is obvious. That offense can do damage, and if your one hitter is getting on base decently well, he’ll score. Albies has done exactly that. Remember, Albies is still only 22. The length of the season may have gotten to him. Now with that first year out of the way, he should know how to better pace himself and handle the grind that rolls around in July and August. He’s a great player in a great lineup, and that means production for your fantasy team.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the games and see which performances stand out.

Mitch Garver (C, Minnesota Twins) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Garver had been hot for a while and finally cooled off. He had been 0 for his last 14 before yesterday’s game. It’s going to be a bumpy ride all season for most owners in the catcher position. Garver’s days may be numbered as his expected stats are all well below his actuals. Just like any other season, keep an eye out for the next catcher to grab.

Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI, SB. After an incredible stretch last season, Carpenter is off to a rough start. Still below the Mendoza line, Carpenter is hitting like he deserves it. The struggles are mostly stemming from his inability to hit anything but the fastball. If pitchers keep throwing the junk, they should keep getting Carpenter out.

Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians) 2-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. It has been a rocky return from the IL for Lindor, mirroring the Indians offense so far. It is still only 11 starts for him, but he’s been striking out more often. Just give him more time to adjust and settle in.

Jeimer Candelario (3B, Detroit Tigers) 2-5, R, HR, 2 RBI. Candelario moved into the leadoff spot a couple of weeks ago, and he’s proving his worth there. Not including last night’s game, he’s generated at least one walk in each game except one (in which he went 3-for-5) since the move. Over that span he’s scored eight runs and added another nice game to that line last night. He isn’t much of a stolen base threat, but in deeper leagues he should be considered for his increased run total.

Adalberto Mondesi (2B/SS, Kansas City Royals) 2-4, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB. One of the most controversial figures of fantasy drafts this season, Mondesi has proved his worth. He added his league-leading sixth triple with a bunch more RBI and runs. He is only seven RBI away from his total last season in half the span. His hitting profile has been nearly identical to last year as well. Fantasy players have gotten what they drafted him for: a threat in almost all fantasy categories.

Alex Gordon (OF, Kansas City Royals) 3-5, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI. Gordon has kept his change in approach going. Honestly, it’s like he got Lasik or found out he needed to wear contacts over this past offseason. His whiff rate is down, his swing rate is up on pitches in the zone and down on pitches out, and he’s making a ton more contact. His K rate has plummeted over 10 points. If he isn’t owned in your league try to find some room.

Kelvin Gutierrez (3B, Kansas City Royals) 4-6, 2 R, 2B, RBI, SB. The Royals offense went off last night, and I could have added two or three more performances. I stopped at this rookie, as he’s not a name I’ve seen before. He was major piece in the Kelvin Herrera deal last season and was called up about a week ago. He’s been slotted in at third base and has hit well out of the gate. Keep an eye on this kid.

Brian McCann (C, Atlanta Braves) 2-4, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI. One of my favorite blurbs to write is the backup catcher blurb. McCann won’t get enough playing time over Tyler Flowers to warrant any fantasy moves, but his offense this season has been remarkable. His BB/K ratio of over one stands out as well as his .300+ average. If Flowers were to go down, McCann could be a much more interesting play.

Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. Bell continues his breakout year with another multi-hit game. That’s three of his last five. This time those hits were of the home run flavor. He’s continued to crush the ball and maintain a 50%+ hard hit rate. If he can find a way to whiff less and get back to his previous year’s K rate, he’ll take another step forward. He’s the real deal.

Alex Bregman (3B/SS, Houston Astros) 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. All the Astros brought out their good wood for the game last night, and Bregman was the best of them. Bregman isn’t hitting grounders, but he is getting under the ball a bit too much. That may be the only clear area he’s struggling in as he’s kept up his absurd BB/K of over 1.1. That’s how you know you can rely on him.

Michael Brantley (OF, Houston Astros) 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. The Astros signed Brantley last offseason because he’s one of the best contact bats in the league. That is exactly what he’s provided. He’s making more contact than last year, especially out of the zone. And with that contact, he’s producing. I’ll take that kind of hitter in the middle of the Astros lineup any day.

Yasiel Puig (OF, Cincinnati Reds) 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. We’re all waiting for Puig’s season to turn around. With the move to Cincy, he finally got his full time gig. But, it’s Cincy. How much does the town affect a player? As of now, Puig’s been inconsistent, going on a solid stretch and then turning in an 0-for-13. Overall, he’s swinging and missing more while swinging more often overall too. That is a recipe for strikeouts. A more successful season will hinge on how he handles that issue.

Michael Chavis (2B/3B, Boston Red Sox) 4-6, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Chavis is a prospect known for his power, and he’s delivered on that power in the early opportunity he’s had this season. These two homers put him at six in his 13 starts. As long as he’s in the Boston lineup, Chavis should be a must-own player. And if he keeps hitting like this in the bigs, he shouldn’t be going anywhere.

David Peralta (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) 2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Peralta broke out big time last year with 30 dingers, nearly double his previous career high. He started hitting the ball quite a bit harder spiking his HR/FB over 10 percentage points. So far this season, he’s split the difference on HR/FB, but that doesn’t mean the changes he made for 2018 haven’t carried over into this year. His batting profile hasn’t changed much from last year.

Ryan Braun (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) 6-8, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Only a marathon of a game can lead to a line like this. Braun remained consistent through the 18-inning contest to deliver the game-winner. Four of his hits had an over 100 mph exit velocity. He’s now 11 for his last 16 with two doubles and two home runs. That is quite a stretch.

Manny Machado (3B/SS, San Diego Padres) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB. Machado took it to his former employer last night with a couple of home runs, including a 425-footer. He’s had some struggles to start the year, especially with striking out. His contact rate on pitches out of the zone has dropped a solid 10 percentage points, spiking his swinging-strike percentage to 13.1. He’s still hitting the ball hard and has delivered eight homers on the year, four of which have come in the last four games. He may be turning things around.

(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)

Jim Chatterton

Jim has written for Razzball and now is a part of the Pitcher List staff. He is a Villanova alum and an eternally optimistic Mets fan. He once struck out Rick Porcello in Little League.

5 responses to “Batter’s Box: Ozzfest”

  1. Saint says:

    Great stuff Jim.

    I have a Domingo question. I grabbed him early and have benefited from his great start and lineup position in a decent Seattle lineup. He has cooled as of late, however I have no intentions of swapping him out at this time.

    My question is, how does his batted ball profile look and how do you like him moving forward?

    Thanks in advance for your response.

  2. Gene says:

    Matz and Pomeranz in Top 100…but no Martin Perez…do I detect a little slippage in the work ethic around here? LOL!

  3. Jim says:

    The real question this article raises is: Braun or Gordon if you only had room to stream one? 6×6 OBP

  4. TheKraken says:

    Albies has been scorching of late. Its not exactly a great time to validate his season numbers. He is Barry streaky to this point in his career. Prior to this streak it wasnt looking great. I dont know what he is or isn’t but a hot week isnt really the best time to claim victory if accuracy is the goal.

  5. TheKraken says:

    A better move than picking up McCann is picking up McCann and flowers. They platoon and you can get elite production for one extra roster spot. Its not a popular strategy but it works pretty well. Better than wasting a mid round pick on mediocre production imo.

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