Batter’s Box: Shiny Happy People

Ben Palmer takes a look at some of the best hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire

Ian Happ has been pretty hot lately. Over the past two weeks, he’s slashing .310/.535/.793, which is why he’s been a trendy pickup as of late (since a lot of people dropped him). Yesterday, he went 0-2, 2 R, 1 SB, which isn’t much of a performance, but it’s interesting and brings up a point about Happ that I want to talk about. You might look at Happ’s .250 average on the year and think that seems reasonable, given his .253 average last year. But when you see that it comes with a .400 BABIP and a .197 xAVG, there’s plenty of reason to suggest it’s not going to stick. Happ had a pretty bad strikeout problem last year, striking out 31.2% of the time, and this year it’s gotten worse, as he’s striking out 40.1% of the time. So why is he worth talking about? Because he’s also walking 14.8% of the time, which is why he’s got a .366 OBP on the year so far. He’s sort of more disciplined at the plate—his chase rate has gone down from 31.5% last year to 26.4% this year, he’s just whiffing a lot more, with a 17.7% whiff rate compared to 16% last year. That walk rate makes Happ very interesting in OBP leagues. That average is going to regress hard, but if he keeps walking almost 15% of the time, he could be a useful player. And it’s worth noting that his power is likely to stick—he’s got a .267 ISO supported by a 42.9% hard-hit rate. He’s available in 39% of leagues, and if he’s out there in an OBP league, I think he’s worth a look.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from yesterday’s games:

Ben Zobrist (2B/OF, Chicago Cubs) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI. It’s unfortunate that Zobrist’s playing time has been so inconsistent because he’s been really solid on the year so far. Over the past two weeks, he’s slashing .300/.417/.425, and if you’re in a deep daily league, he’s worth a look.

Gleyber Torres (SS/2B, New York Yankees) – 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Oh man, Gleyber Torres has been amazing. That’s four-straight games with a home run, and six over the past week, giving him a slugging percentage of 1.130 over the past week. I don’t know how the Yankees are going to keep him batting ninth if he’s going to keep hitting like this.

Justin Smoak (1B, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Smoak’s .255 average on the year is slightly disappointing given his .270 average last year, but he’s still hitting the ball hard—with a .194 ISO—and he’s walking well, with a 15% walk rate on the year. I doubt the average is going to get much better, but it’s hard to really complain about the production so far.

Austin Meadows (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – 2-4, 2 R, 1 SB. Austin Meadows has been awesome since he was called up, hitting .448 with three home runs and two steals. Obviously it’s a small sample size and the fact that he hasn’t taken a single walk yet isn’t great, but he’s on a major hot streak and is available in 71% of leagues, so go grab him.

Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB. Mookie is amazing, I just don’t even know what to say anymore.

Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Considering how much Hanley Ramirez was sucking and how good Moreland’s been this year, I’m not overly shocked that Hanley got DFA’d. Moreland’s in for more playing time now that Hanley’s gone—I don’t necessarily think Moreland’s that special of a player, but he can be a useful fantasy contributor with solid power and a decent batting average in a potent lineup. He’s available in 78% of leagues, so I think he’s worth a pickup in 12-team or deeper leagues.

George Springer (OF, Houston Astros) – 3-6, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Springer’s been killing it this year and there’s no reason to expect he’s going to stop.

Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros) – 2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI. I know, Jose Altuve hasn’t been hitting for power like we expected, but I think it will come. He’s got a 3.6% HR/FB rate despite a career-high 36.1% hard-hit rate. If someone is selling low, take advantage.

Evan Gattis (C, Houston Astros) – 3-4, 1 R, 2 RBI. Gattis has really been picking things up after a horrible start to the year, slashing .344/.389/.719 over the past two weeks. Given how terrible the catcher position is, he’s worth a grab if someone dropped him.

Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Anderson’s been slumping hard lately, slashing .195/.313/.268 over the past two weeks, and the home runs last night was his first in 13 games. The batting avearge leaves a bit to be desired, but the power and steals are still very useful. Anderson’s especially useful in daily leagues where you can take advantage of how much he crushes lefties.

Michael Taylor (OF, Washington Nationals) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Michael Taylor always ends up having a few games every year where you’re like “oh man, this guy has potential,” and then he just ends up sucking. He’s still got a massive strikeout problem that’s gonna limit his potential, so there’s nothing here for now.

Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers) – 1-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB. A nice game for Mazara who’s been slumping really hard lately, slashing .200/.267/.400 over the past two weeks. This is just some regression to the mean for him, he’ll still likely end up being the hitter he was last year.

Ronald Guzman (1B, Texas Rangers) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Guzman’s got a .692 SLG over the past two weeks, but I’m not totally ready to buy into him yet. He’s got a 31.9% strikeout rate, which isn’t great for his average, and a 23.1% HR/FB rate, which suggests he’s in for some power regression. He’s worth keeping an eye on though.

Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets) – 1-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. Conforto’s slashing .300/.378/.525 over the past two weeks—believe in the comeback. Also he’s available in 45% of leagues, so I’d say grab him.

Travis Shaw (3B, Milwaukee Brewers) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Shoutout to Travis Shaw, who’s finally breaking out of his nasty slump and slashing .304/.396/.761 over the past two weeks. He should be fine.

Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. That’s two-straight games with a home run now for Suarez, including one grand slam. Also, he’s leading the NL in RBIs with 40 despite missing over two weeks of the season, which is awesome.

Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Great game for Ahmed, but he’s still hitting .212 on the year and .189 over the past two weeks, so there’s nothing here.

Matt Kemp (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Is Matt Kemp for real? Eh, not so much. He’s got a .338 average on the year but that comes with a .402 BABIP—though it’s worth noting he’s also got a .291 xAVG. Oddly enough, he’s available in 51% of leagues, so he’s worth a pickup while he’s hot, even if he’s due for some regression.

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.

6 responses to “Batter’s Box: Shiny Happy People”

  1. Bob says:

    I had to drop Kinsler because well it’s Kinsler. I picked up Happ but my other options are M Carpenter or Marcus Semien. Any reason I should make a switch to either of those guys? Thanks.

  2. D says:

    What are you’re thoughts on Juan Soto ?

  3. TheKraken says:

    Matt kemp is legitimately swinging the bat as well as anyone in baseball outside of mookie betts. His regression will be injury related. He really is a great hitter. The problem with kemp is the lineup. His rbi and run totals are really supressed because of the mediocrity that surrounds him. I watch most of his abs and he isn’t getting lucky at all. He could have better numbers including double digit hr with some luck. If someone is selling (which is probably a given) then I’d buy for some mediocre younger player which is what I think he would cost. His approach isn’t hit ball as hard as I can in the air so I could see why predictive metrics dont love it, but he is hitting a lot of balls well and just getting under a lot more of them.

    • Ben Palmer says:

      I mean, I can promise you he won’t maintain a BABIP over .400, that’s going to regress. He may maintain an above-average BABIP, he’s got an xBABIP of .318, I think that sounds more on the conservative side of correct, but it’s not gonna stick close to .400, so there will be some regression to the mean.

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