Elvis Andrus has had quite a year so far, hasn’t he? He continued that on Monday night, going 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI. With those two home runs, Andrus now has nine on the year, which is a career high for him, and we haven’t even hit the halfway point of the season yet. In fact, so far this year, he’s on pace for around 20 home runs (and 40 steals), which would be completely unheard of for him. Andrus has always been a guy who hits near .300 and steals 30-40 bases for you with a good number of runs. He’s never been a power guy, but all of a sudden, he is now, and it’s fair to wonder about the legitimacy of it. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s real, and that Andrus’ value this year is immensely higher than it ever has been in the past. Andrus has changed his approach, most notably, he added a high leg kick that’s seemed to help him a lot. You look at his batted ball stats, his hard hit rate is at a career high 30% (he’s averaged 23.9% on his career), and with that has come a rise in his pull rate (a career-high 48.6% compared to his career average of 36.9%), and a rise in HR/FB rate (another career high at 9.7% compared to his career average of 4.3%). He’s turning on the power this year, and it all looks entirely sustainable. Do I think he’ll be a 20/40 player this year? I think it’s possible, but I doubt it. But I think he could end the year with 15 home runs, 35-40 steals, all while batting .280-.290 the rest of the way, and if he does that, that’s a pretty fantastic year.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:
Stephen Piscotty (OF, STL) – 2-4, 1 R. Stephen Piscotty has been coming on over the past month, batting .278 with four home runs and 14 RBIs over the past 30 days. He’s still available in 55% of ESPN leagues, but is he worth owning? It depends on the league. In a 10- or 12-team standard mixed league, I’m not rushing to pick up Piscotty. The RBIs should be decent and I think he could end the year with nearly 20 home runs, but with his .250-.260s batting average, that’s just not particularly special from an outfielder. However, if you’re in an OBP league, I’m a little more interested in Piscotty, as he’s a pretty good walker. While he’s got a mediocre batting average on the year, he’s got a good OBP, and could maintain a .350s OBP the rest of the year, which would sort of be like him hitting in the .270s or so from a batting average perspective. If you’re in a deeper OBP league, I’d take a look.
Willson Contreras (C/OF, CHC) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Three home runs in Contreras’ past seven games, which has helped mitigate Contreras’ awful week where he’s been batting below .200. The catcher position is an absolute wasteland, and everyone is looking to see what scraps they can scrounge up in the hopes that they turn into something good. Contreras is absolutely a catcher that needs to be owned (and he is in around 80% of ESPN leagues), but the numbers aren’t going to be all that special. What Contreras has done so far is pretty much what I expect from him the rest of the year. A batting average in the .250s-.260s, likely ending the year with nearly 20 home runs and 50+ runs and RBIs each. That’s useful, and if he were just an outfielder and not a catcher, virtually no one would own him, but as a catcher, that’s super useful, just know what to expect.
Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, CHC) – 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Javier Baez’s biggest issues haven’t really changed. He still strikes out too much and rarely ever walks, leading to a low batting average. However, he’s still useful as is, and I think that’s how he’ll stay. He strikes me as a .260s hitter who could end the year with 20 home runs or so. Fortunately he’s on the Cubs, so I’d expect more runs and RBIs than your average player, making him someone worth a look in deeper leagues (especially with that position eligibility).
Adrian Beltre (3B, TEX) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. I am so happy that Adrian Beltre is back and healthy (or as healthy as he can be). Two straight games with a home run now, I truly believe Beltre will be who I thought he was at the beginning of the year, which is a .280s/.290s hitter who could finish the year with 15-20 home runs. I’m just hoping he stays healthy (which I think he can).
Joey Gallo (3B/1B, TEX) – 1-2, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. Even though Adrian Beltre is back playing third base full time, the Rangers have figured out ways to fit Gallo into their lineup, and for good reason. His home run on Monday marked his 20th of the year, which is tied for fifth in all of baseball. Gallo is still available in around 65% of ESPN leagues, and I understand why. He should be owned, but only on a specific type of team, one that can handle the hit that Gallo will put on your batting average. He’s a real hard sell in points leagues given the strikeouts, but in head-to-head leagues, if you’ve got a team that can handle losing some average points each week, Gallo can be useful, because I would bet he ends the year (assuming he keeps playing full time) with nearly 40 home runs and 80 or so runs and RBIs, but that batting average probably isn’t going to be much higher than .200-.210. If you can handle that hit, he can be very useful.
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF, CLE) – 3-5, 2 R, 3 RBI. Lonnie Chisenhall has been an interesting player so far this year. As it stands, he’s on pace for nearly 30 home runs, which would be more than double anything he’s ever done before, and there’s some level of legitimacy to the power surge, but also a reason for caution. Chisenhall’s hard hit rate is at a career-high 32.8%, and with that has come a rise in HR/FB rate, which currently sits at 16.4%. What concerns me is that his pull rate hasn’t risen with those two stats. In fact, he’s hitting balls to center field more often than not, and that’s just about the worst place to hit them. The HR/FB rate signaled some regression already, but the fact that so many of his hits are going to center field signal it even more. More of those fly balls will start dying in the outfield and not going for home runs, which will lead to a decrease in his HR/FB rate and his average. I still think he could end the year with 16-20 home runs while batting in the .270s the rest of the way, but be warned that regression is coming.
Carlos Santana (1B, CLE) – 2-5, 3 R, 3 RBI. Santana’s run and RBI numbers have been pretty solid this year, but other than that, he’s been decidedly underwhelming, even in OBP leagues where he’s typically been a near-stud. I do have faith that he’ll get better though, and I think he’s a good buy low option. His .239 BABIP is low (though remember he’s a low-BABIP guy, just typically in the .260s/.270s, not .240s), as is his 10% HR/FB rate. What’s concerning to me is that his hard hit rate has dropped fairly significantly to 32.1%. He’s not the monster power hitter he was last year, but I still think he’ll the year with around 25 home runs, and I think the OBP will come up with the BABIP, as his walk rate is pretty much right in line with his career. And as the BABIP comes up, so will the average. If you can, I’d buy low.
Bradley Zimmer (OF, CLE) – 2-5, 2 RBI. Bradley Zimmer’s been pretty solid ever since he was called up from the minors, hitting .298 and showing a little bit of power and some good speed. I think Zimmer’s speed and power combo is legit, he honestly could end the year with 20 steals or so and probably 12-15 home runs, but that average is going to come down. First of all, that 22.2% HR/FB is definitely going to regress hard, as is his .386 BABIP. Once all those things come down, his average is probably going to be more in the .250s the rest of the way. In deep leagues, he’s worth a shot, especially while he’s still hot, but just know that regression is on its way.
Todd Frazier (3B, CWS) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. I’m still a Todd Frazier advocate, despite how bad things have been. Luckily the power’s kicked up lately, but the average has been really difficult to deal with. What’s strange is, if you look at his stats compared to years prior, everything looks basically the same. The hard hit rate, the pull rate, the HR/FB rate, fly ball rate, ground ball rate, it all looks the same with a few minor changes here and there. In fact, his plate discipline has even improved, as his walk rate has shot up to nearly 14%. The big thing has been the BABIP, which sits at a miserable .220, and that has to improve. He’s not going to be a big average guy, he never has, but I think he could bat nearly .240 the rest of the way, while still ending the year with around 30 home runs and around 10-14 steals. If he’s been dropped, I’d pick him up, and if someone is willing to sell him for virtually nothing, I’d take them up on it.