Batter’s Box: Revved up like Jesus

Scott Chu covers a few highlights from Monday's batting lines.

Well, that’s one way to break out of a slow start. Jesus Aguilar (1B, Milwaukee Brewers), who came into the game with zero dingers on the season and on an 0-16 streak since April 19, went 3-4 with 2 runs, 2 HR and 4 RBI. It’s hard to point to many clear reasons why the quality of his contact is so far below the levels he showed at the beginning and end of last season. His plate discipline and approach numbers seem similar to last season, when he knocked 35 HR and drove in 108 runs. He’s also shown similar ground ball and fly ball tendencies to his breakout season. He did have a prolonged slump in the second half, but we also saw him turn it around in the last month. With no obvious changes to how he’s performing (besides weaker contact), we’re forced to wonder what to do with the top 100 pick we spent on his services. If you’ve been following along, you already know what I’m going to say—you have to hold him. Players struggle all the time. Some may never recover. That being said, the upside of Aguilar, which we saw last season, is far superior to that on most waiver wires in 12-team leagues, and even in deeper 10-team leagues. That 8th pitcher or 7th OF on your bench is much more expendable than Aguilar.

Michael Chavis (3B, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, 3 RBI. It has only been 35 PAs, but you have to love the .286/.429/.643 line the young Bostonian has brought to the table. Despite being a former 1st round pick, he wasn’t included in most top 100 prospects lists coming into the season due to his high strikeout tendencies and his limited playing time in 2018. Because his hit tool isn’t highly regarded, he’s probably not worth a major roster add in the 10-team formats, unless you have open roster spots brought on by injury, but those in deeper formats can give him a chance as a fill-in until their regularly scheduled 3B/CI is available.

Yandy Diaz (3B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, 2 RBI, BB. He’s still showing excellent plate discipline and hitting the ball really hard. He’s also still bashing balls right into the dirt more often than we would like to see, especially for someone who can hit as hard as he does. While a 31.2% ground-ball rate isn’t terribly exciting, it is a big step forward from 2018. His HR pace is almost certainly going to slow down based on his batted ball profile, but he will still be able to maintain an elevated HR/FB%, much like other hitters with similar profiles like Domingo Santana and Christian Yelich.

Ji-Man Choi (1B/DH, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. He avoided serious injury, which is good, and is still making solid contact when he plays. I’m somewhat concerned about the arrival of a certain first base prospect that I’ll touch on shortly, though, if only because it creates a bit of a log jam at 1B and DH. Interestingly, that prospect is also a lefty, so I doubt this turns into a full platoon.

Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – 1-4, R, HR, RBI, BB. Coming into the season, I said he’d struggle to find regular playing time and that Scott Schebler was a sneakier breakout pick. This is my time to admit that I was horribly wrong and that Winker is a lot better than I thought. 25 HR on the season is probably the cap, based on his power grades, but his awesome hit tool will make him very fantasy relevant, especially in OBP formats.

Nathanial Lowe (1B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 1-4, R, 2B, BB. A favorite of Garlando, one of our prospect gurus, Lowe’s surprise call up has started off fairly well, as he showed off some extra base power and took a walk. He’s more of a dynasty league asset, as I’m not sure how long this trip to the majors will last, but he’s worth speculating on in keeper and dynasty formats if someone hasn’t already beaten you to the wire.

Jose Peraza (2B, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-5, 2B, RBI, SB. Peraza was never going to hit the 14 home runs he had in 2018 again—he got by with an unusually high number of wall-scrapers. He’s probably more like the useful but unexciting 2017 version of himself, a speedster that hits 5 HRs with an OK batting average. That’s useful, but probably not what you paid to acquire him. If that’s true . . . I’m sorry.

Photo by Dan Sanger/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.

12 responses to “Batter’s Box: Revved up like Jesus”

  1. Jakesteens says:

    Winker’s power might be more legit than you think- it’s very well known amongst reds fans but not as well amongst a lot of other people he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury for several years and it finally healed when he took the second half of last year off. He’s said this is the first time he’s healthy in years. Throw in the GABP effect and I think he could definitely hit 30 if all goes right.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Good point about the shoulder woes, Jakesteens. I had sort of forgotten about them. He’s young, though he’s never hit more than 16 in any season in the minors. He’d need to get the ball in the air just a little more often, but after seeing that 104.5 mph, 415 foot blast off Edwin Diaz last night, I certainly can’t call you crazy. He actually had 3 batted balls that went 300 feet at a speed of 97 mph or faster, including a 102.8 mph, 338 foot shot, but the 2 non-HRs were simply loud outs.

      • Derek says:

        Do you view Winker as a guy who is sacrificing OBP for the sake of power? He has been the opposite of what I thought I was drafting, but if he can pair this newfound power with a .300 average and a bunch of walks, the ceiling is like a top 30 player isn’t it?

        • Scott Chu says:

          Well Derek, it’s true that when you swing harder, you’re more likely to miss. That said, his .210 BABIP is probably a bigger culprit than his swings, as his 23.1 O-Swing% is still quite low. We should see a rebound to something more like .360 or .370 if the BABIP gets closer to normal.

        • Scott Chu says:

          As for whether he can be a top 30 player . . . I don’t think so. Not because Winker can’t be good, but instead because he doesn’t steal bases, nor is he likely to get 100 runs or 100 RBI. Even the top 30 hitters is an INCREDIBLY talented group. Top 75 is possible — if he can approach 30 HR, he could be as valuable as, say, Michael Conforto? Maybe Marcell Ozuna (assuming he’s more a 27-30 HR guy than a 35+ guy)? Those comps put him closer to top 60-75 in most formats, and because I don’t expect him to stay in the 3/4 spot, he might be slightly behind those guys.

  2. Michael T says:

    Go pick up Jose Peraza if he was cut in your league. He was back at the lead off spot yesterday and his rolling 15 game averages are looking a LOT better for swing / contact metrics. He seems to be turning it around, and with the live ball, could be as useful as he was in 2018. With Winker hitting for power now (batted 4th yesterday!), maybe Peraza can stick at the leadoff spot? Until Senzel arrives? If Senzel arrives….

    • Scott Chu says:

      I don’t mind the add, Michael T, but it’s worth noting that he’ll be a drag in OBP, and I still don’t think he’ll get 10 HRs again. In 1569 career PAs, we’ve seen a batting line of .277/.313/.377, and I’m inclined to believe that’s probably what he is, considering his very limited power. This is a 5-7 HR, 20-25 SB player with a good average and weak OBP. That can play in almost any non-points format, but only if you need the speed. I think he’s waiver fodder in most points leagues, though — not enough total bases or counting stats to make an impact.

      As for the Reds batting order, they’ve been playing around with alternating R/L through the lineup, so it’ll be interesting to see if they keep that up. I think the slumps from Puig, Votto, and to a lesser extent, Suarez are messing with things a bit. Senzel and Gennett are also future monkey wrenches to consider. Winker’s safest place is probably leading off against righties and hitting 5/6 against lefties, while Peraza . . . will probably end up at 8/9.

  3. al says:

    14 team h2h points league:

    Which 3B would you rather have and start week in week out?

    J Aguilar 1B/3B
    Y Diaz 3B

    • Moelicious says:

      Diaz at the moment because Aguilar is splitting time with Thames. But Aguilar was excellent last year.

    • Scott Chu says:

      In a league that deep, you have to use Aguilar’s upside. Yandy is a useful points league player though, as he has strong plate discipline and should continue to hit for plenty fo total bases (even if the HR numbers stay a bit low).

      The primary issue, in a worst-case scenario, is that both could face playing time problems. The Rays have plenty of sluggers who they want to keep in the lineup, and Aguilar could find himself back into a platoon with Thames if he doesn’t turn it around.

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