The Chicago Cubs may have won the war with fellow NL Central franchise Cincinnati this weekend, but Reds 3B Eugenio Suarez was definitely winning some battles along the way. With a composite stat line of 6-11, 5 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K, the Venezuelan at Cincy’s hot corner slapped two solo shots out of Great American Ball Park Saturday and bookended that feat with a double each on Friday and Sunday. He’s got a monstrous average of .371 that’s tied for fourth league-wide with White Sox OF Avisail Garcia, and his OPS of 1.200 ranks fifth in MLB. Suarez is already well on his way to outpacing the 17 HRs Steamer projected for him this year, as he already has five of them while enjoying a career-high 40% hard contact right now.
Let’s take a look at what else happened hitting-wise around the league:
Willson Contreras (C/OF, CHC) – 3-10, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 3 K. Speaking of Venezuelan natives, Contreras was productive for the Cubbies on Saturday. A grand slam had fantasy owners feeling pretty good, plus he tacked a double and two more runs on for good measure. He’s batting .269 on the year and has 10 RBI to this point.
Addison Russell (SS, CHC) – 3-11, 2 R, RBI, 3 BB, 4 K. Russell is doing a more-than-serviceable job as Chicago’s shortstop, currently spotting his owners a .257 average, two homers and two steals. The latest of his 13 RBI on the year plated Ben Zobrist Sunday T9, but Cincinnati would hold on to avoid the sweep. He’s been one of the best SS in fantasy baseball at this juncture early in the season.
Anthony Rizzo (1B, CHC) – 4-13, 5 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K. Short and sweet because his value is obviously astronomical: Rizz has a BA of .296 and hit a home run in each of the three games against the Reds. He stole two bases within the last week, so that’s worth salivating over as well.
Joey Votto (1B, CIN) – 3-12, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K. Votto is getting back on track after stooping to a troubling nadir in BA of .158 back on April 13. The Cincinnati star 1B now has a .229 average and 15 homers to his credit.
Matt Kemp (OF, ATL) – 3-13, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K. Kemp has had a comparatively slow rebound from his time on the DL, considering the high bar he set for himself with the small sample of strong performances to start the year. He reached base just once in nine at-bats between Friday and Sunday, but after an effective outing Sunday that included going yard T7 off Philly’s Zach Eflin in a losing effort, Kemp is batting .333 and will be just fine.
Brandon Phillips (2B, ATL) – 5-12, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, SB. Phillips has been one of the Braves’ hottest and consistently productive bats not named Freddie Freeman so far this year. He’s batting .343 and has hit safely in 10 straight games. His outburst Saturday was particularly notable, as Phillips hit his fifth double and second homer of 2017. He’s been slotting in primarily at the 6-spot but batted second Sunday.
Cesar Hernandez (2B, PHI) – 7-13, 5 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K. A big reason Philadelphia was able to sweep Atlanta over the weekend was the offensive output Hernandez contributed. Three multi-hit games and two of those with an XBH—including Home Run No. 4 of the season Sunday to put the Phils ahead for good—and this all amounts to a current BA of .338 and soaring fantasy value.
Maikel Franco (3B, PHI) – 2-12, 4 RBI, BB. He’s not where he should be yet this year (lingering at a .171 BA), but the production is slowly starting to trickle back in for Franco. Franco had an especially strong Saturday, when he secured the Phillies’ win with a two-RBI walk-off single in the tenth. He has an appealing 16 RBI on the year, which is tied for eighth-best in the league.
Aaron Altherr (OF, PHI) – 5-12, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 4 K, SB. Benefiting from Howie Kendrick’s time laid up on the DL is Altherr, who has been slotting in at both RF and CF for Philly and batting at the 2-spot after Hernandez. His weekend’s exploits included two doubles and he’s extended his hitting streak to seven games now. With a .364 average, two homers, six RBI, two steals and nine runs scored, he’s turning heads and trying to hang on to the ample share of playing time he’s received, regardless of injury news. Teammate Daniel Nava has a juicy .391 average but Altherr is getting a larger portion of starting work while Kendrick’s out and is therefore the recommended play for now.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. (OF, BOS) – 3-11, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K. Back from the DL and wasting no time in making an impact for the BoSox is Bradley, Jr., who homered for the first time this year Saturday. With a slash line of .280/.345/.480 through 25 AB spanning seven games, the fun is just getting started and he needs to be deployed across all leagues and formats.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS) – 5-9, R, RBI, K. Keeping JBJ company in the outfield is Benintendi, who is the owner of an attractive .347 BA and notched a perfect five-hit Sunday in five chances. Hanley Ramirez, by comparison, is only hitting .210 as Boston’s DH and finally managed to procure his first homer of the year Sunday off Kevin Gausman, but it came on on a day when Benintendi’s efficiency stole the show.
Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, NYY) – 6-13, 4 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 SB. Ellsbury has truly been a five-category stud so far this year. His accomplishments comprise a .333 average, two bombs, 4 RBI, 11 runs scored and the deal gets sweetened by six stolen bases now. He is the Yankees cleanup man, and you could be cleaning up in fantasy matchups if you’re fortunate enough to own him.
Starlin Castro (2B, NYY) – 4-13, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 5 K. He’s hit safely in seven straight, and Castro sent his fourth souvenir into the stands Saturday as part of an 11-5 onslaught at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. He has a .357 BA as the Pinstripers’ everyday 2B.
Aaron Judge (OF, NYY) – 4-14, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 K. This young man has already been a joy to watch from a perspective of raw talent, but he is getting a bit better in the plate discipline department already. The last few series have seen the 5-spot hitter’s average leap up to sniff the .280 range after being .250 just a week ago. Judge scored twice while managing to double off Jameson Taillon and also homer in a comeback win for New York. He’s hit safely in six of the last seven.
Andrew McCutchen (OF, PIT) – 3-9, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K, SB. I’m still hugely conflicted about McCutchen, as he has shown signs recently of being a mere shell of his former exceptional self. But the .265 average he’s worked toward is solid, and he had a really good weekend of relevant 5×5 fantasy prodcution against the Yankees. The Pirates host the Cubs for a three-game series next, so McCutchen will get to try his hand next against the likes of Brett Anderson, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester.
David Freese (1B/3B, PIT) – 3-11, R, HR, 4 RBI, 4 K. He’s somehow managing to still be under the radar, owned in just 25.5% of ESPN leagues and 14% of Yahoo leagues. Freese has a wonderful .315 average as Pittsburgh’s utility corner infielder while batting either cleanup or fifth. He notched at least one RBI in every game of the series against the Yanks this past weekend
Josh Harrison (2B, PIT) – 4-9, R, 2 K. Nothing too flashy for Harrison and modest run production, but you need to keep an eye on him for sure. Sporting a tidy .291 average, a single homer, three RBI and five runs scored to complement two steals, he’s currently shaping up as a viable backup 2B for those maintenance days your starter might need every now and again.
Steven Souza, Jr. (OF, TB) – 4-12, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 4 K. His Saturday double and Sunday homer have done Souza, Jr.’s slugging percentage the favor of a return back in to the .600-plus range. He was the feature of Friday’s Batter’s Box article, for good reason. Batting .347 and is now up to 17 RBI on the season.
Josh Reddick (OF, HOU) – 0-9, RBI, 2K. Don’t be deceived by his pair of explosive evenings against the Angels last week: Reddick is a feast-or-famine fantasy play that can doom you more often than he’ll save you. He sports a .283 average right now that’s largely inflated from his coming within a single of the cycle on Wednesday, but the risk is too high for the reward after we saw what he did in his ensuing showings. One homer, five RBI, a steal and nine runs are all he’s done in 53 at-bats. You have far better options available, I guarantee it.
Yulieski Gurriel (1B/3B, HOU) – 6-13, 2 R, 2 RBI, K. While Gurriel’s run totals are currently equal to or lesser than Reddick’s, the recency with which he’s amassed all of them is worth noting because he is trending upward after a slow start. If Reddick’s production is a heart monitor with blips of life showing up every so often, Gurriel’s looks like an exponential curve that’s steepening as we speak. He has three multi-hit games in his last five, and Friday’s contest at Tampa Bay featured a two-double performance to boot. 80% of his RBI and his only homer to date have all come in the last six days. Yuli is a recommended addition to your watch list to see if the acceleration in his offensive work rate is going to keep up.
Brad Miller – (1B/2B/SS, TBR) – 3-10, R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K. The RBI happened when Miller clobbered a triple in the first inning to score Evan Longoria on Sunday, but the rest of the weekend was a little tepid. He’s playing good, not great, fantasy baseball for you at the moment. The singular home run on the year is troublesome because he’s capable of far better than just that by now, but the .246 average is an encouraging sign of improvement after a dismal start.
Brian Dozier (2B, MIN) – 4-11, 3 R, 2 BB, K, CS. Not a bad weekend per se, but Dozier is another fantasy player who, for me, could be doing better and just hasn’t fired on all cylinders yet. He’s hitting .246 with two homers and five steals, which is all fine, but the two runs and three RBI are baffling to me. My logic there is he’s batting leadoff and has Max Kepler and Miguel Sano following him in the order mashing decently to help Dozier’s cause and not much to show for it all. Some would be quick to point out a low-ish BABIP of .278 but he’s dealt with sub-.300 BABIP his whole career: instead, I point to a flagging ISO of .130 and fewer flyballs overall. Dozier’s SLG hasn’t been this low since he debuted in the majors back in 2012. I have faith he can get back on track, but I know I’ve got more efficient guys at the position right now.
Justin Upton (OF, DET) – 4-11, 5 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB (IBB), K. His average is chilling at .277 right now, the highest it’s been since the Tigers’ season opener, and the series at Minnesota boosted his RBI tally to 12 on the year. Friday’s lone hit was a double to score Miguel Cabrera off the arm of Twins southpaw Hector Santiago.
Robinson Chirinos (C, TEX) – 3-5, 3 R, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K. He’s on the short end of the platoon stick with Jonathan Lucroy getting most of the starts for Texas, but Chirinos is making his limited playing time count. He’s a viable backup streamer if you can stay on top of what the Rangers lineup looks like for each game: more realistically, he’s not a bad DFS play even though he just won’t get the volume you’ll need for points or roto formats. A .389 average and four homers is tasty, though.
Rougned Odor (2B, TEX) – 1-12, R, 3 K, SB. He’s on a brutal skid right now. Despite the .187 average, patience has to be the name of the game. His BABIP is stupid low at .193, which won’t last. Hard contact percentage is still in the 30s, while line drives are just not happening for Odor. Stream somebody else if you have to while he works out his issues, but by no means should you be dropping him because of this temporary slump.
Kolten Wong (2B/OF, STL) – 4-9, 4 R, RBI, 3 BB (2 IBB), K, 2 SB. Wong had a generally solid series against Milwaukee: the steals were his first two of the year, and two of the four hits were doubles. His batting average needed the help, as it’s just now registering at .229, but the production and the respect at the plate with some intentional walks are good to see. Randal Grichuk is another Cardinal struggling in the average department at .231, but he is still contributing valuable hits when he gets them: he tallied a double Sunday to bump his total to six in 2017.
Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA) – 5-12, 4 R, RBI, BB, 2 K. Haniger continues to tear it up for Seattle. 16 RBI say you should already be paying attention to him, and two steals to go with four homers and a .321 average will intrigue you once you are looking more closely.
Taylor Motter (SS, SEA) – 2-12, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 2 K, SB. I will be anxiously awaiting news of what the Mariners do with Motter when Jean Segura returns from the DL Tuesday, because a grand slam in Sunday’s game was the best “I deserve to stay on the active roster” audition I’ve seen in a while. Motter has five jacks, 12 RBI and a .255 average to show for his 2017 campaign thus far, and the Seattle Times has speculatively reported that manager Steve Servais could elect to move the productive Motter either to 1B to replace Danny Valencia or to the outfield. Regardless, keep him in your sights because he’s doing big things out west and they’re not going to send him down Puget Sound to Triple-A Tacoma.
Tony Wolters (C, COL) – 3-7, 2 R, K. The Rockies C got a triple as well on Friday. Tom Murphy’s still on the DL, so I’m intrigued by the fact that Wolters is managing a .303 BA in 33 at-bats, even though he’s yet to drive in an RBI this season. He’s scored eight for Colorado himself.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, COL) – 4-11, 4 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB, K, CS. Excellent series for Blackmon, as his XBH efforts went a long way toward sealing the first sweep of San Francisco in Denver in 15 years. He notched both his third double and his third triple of the season during Sunday’s game, and his inside-the-park two-run homer Friday off Johnny Cueto was a beaut. A .270 average and 15 RBI has owners breathing easy.
Trevor Story (SS, COL) – 4-13, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 K. This is the Trevor Story we were expecting when he got healthy again. Sure, the .169 average is a total bummer, but the guy got his first career slam on Friday and added a solo shot to the equation in Saturday’s game. Run production is looking great, and while it’s clearly easier to go yard at Coors Field but we’ll let the youngster have this. Provided you have average accounted for in the rest of your lineup, Story’s power upside is tremendous.
Joey Bautista (OF, TOR) – 3-13, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K. Game-winning homer on Friday was Joey Bats’ first bleacher bomb of the season, and an unremarkable rest of the weekend still has his BA loitering around the low .130s. He’s killing his fantasy owners right now. He’s walked 11 times, scored eight and driven four RBI in.
Kevin Pillar (OF, TOR) – 3-14, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K, CS. The Blue Jays’ leadoff man has a sterling .315 average and homered in back-to-back games this weekend against the Angels.
Adrian Gonzalez (1B, LAD) – 3-9, R, 3 RBI, 3 K. He got two doubles and some ribbies on Sunday, but how does this man not have a home run yet this year? Batting .279 with a slightly-dipped 28% hard contact, and you’d have to think the bombs will arrive eventually.
Yasmany Tomas (OF, ARI) – 3-9, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB, K. Ten runs, 13 RBI, four homers and more to come with a .290 average in a dynamite lineup. It all says to me, “Sign me up.” No steals, but just get that covered elsewhere.
Ryan Zimmerman (1B, WSH) – 3-8, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K. On a day when Daniel Murphy would hit a grand slam, Zimm was doing work as well. He’s inflated his average to .387 on the strength of four multi-hit efforts in the last six Nationals games. You should own him and the 16 RBI he’s already brought to the table.
Michael Conforto (OF, NYM) – 5-11, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB (1 IBB), 3 K. Mentioned him last week, and as long as playing time is available Conforto will continue to rake. Try his .361 average and four homers on for size in deeper leagues.