Batter’s Box: Sup Pham

Jim Chatterton touches on the best hitters from Thursday's games and wonders how he may blossom into an MLB star when he turns 30.

It all started after moving to Tampa. That’s usually when most people’s turning points in their lives occur. After a move to Tampa when you hit your 30s. Everyone knows this, and that’s why Tommy Pham wanted out of St. Louis. Pham enjoyed a late-blooming breakout campaign in 2017, when he hit .306 and finished with a 20/20 season in only 128 games. However, in 2018, things did not start off so well. He was barely an average hitter by the time St. Louis decided to trade him to free up the outfield for their younger players. This move couldn’t have been any better for Pham as he went from a 101 wRC+ with the Cards to a 191 wRC+ with the Rays. This sent Pham’s fantasy value shooting up the charts for the next season.

So far, Pham has certainly lived up to his renewed expectations. Pham added 4-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, SB to his season line, pushing forward to the probable second 20/20 season of his career. He’s a curious case, as he is breaking out well after most players have passed their primes. Pham looks to keep improving as well. He’s making more contact while chasing fewer pitches, resulting in better walk and strikeout rates. In fact, Pham recently set a franchise record on-base streak at 48 games. This streak just came to an end but shows Pham’s dominance with the Rays. While he’s been on base, he’s also stealing more often, even on his older legs. Pham is an all around force to reckon with in fantasy. He covers all stats and could be one of the most underrated picks from the draft this year.

Let’s take a look at how the rest of the league played and if they need to rejuvenate their careers with a move to Tampa.

Christian Walker (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks) 2-5, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Back in the beginning of April, Walker had the opportunity to keep his hot start going when Jake Lamb became the sacrificial lamb. Walker had a rough week and a half but has been crushing pitching again over the past four games. He has added three homers and two doubles in those four as he’s continued to barrel the ball at a 24.3% rate.

Welington Castillo (C, Chicago White Sox) 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Castillo has found inconsistent playing time over the past couple years for reasons of injury and suspension. He’s back now and healthy starting a good chunk of games behind the plate for the White Sox. He had a long stretch of struggles to start off, however, in the past three games he’s added a double and his first two dingers. He’s known to have some power, especially for a catcher, as he swatted 20 in less than 100 games in 2017. If you are still in need of a catcher, grab Castillo as his bat is warming up.

Nicholas Castellanos (OF, Detroit Tigers) 3-4, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Still in a homerless drought to start off the year, Castellanos added two more doubles hoping to break his career high of 46 he set last year. He’s started the year striking out quite a bit more than usual and not barreling the ball as often. However, he had some well hit balls in this game including his out which was the only barrel he hit in the game.

Randal Grichuk (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. As Grichuk knocked his home run over the fence, he calmly laid his bat down to rest beside the baseline and jogged stoically around the base paths. After Statcast was introduced, Grichuk has always been atop the barrel percentage charts. So far this year, he’s taken a step back. As of now it seems to be an uptick in grounders and an overall lower launch angle. Can’t pimp home runs if you’re only hitting grounders!

Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Rosario is known for over performing his expected stats. Both last year and the year prior, his average and slugging has been a good deal higher than expected based on Baseball Savant. So far this year, the pattern continues. However, this year he is barreling the ball almost twice as often. He was hampered by a few injuries last year and he looks to be healthy with this strong start.

Joey Rickard (OF, Baltimore Orioles) 3-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Rickard did his best Pham impression while facing the Rays, almost going blow for blow with Pham at the plate. Rickard hasn’t seen early-season success like most Orioles. He’s been swinging a bit more in the zone but missing at those pitches too. When he does make contact, the ball has stayed on the ground. Rickard had a nice game but isn’t worth a look at this time.

Billy Hamilton (OF, Kansas City Royals) 2-3, 2 R, BB, SB. This is the kind of game fantasy owners dream of for Hamilton. Yes, he only stole one base. However, he got on three separate times. Every time he gets on base, he’s a threat to steal second and steal third. Right now, we only hope for those opportunities. If he can find those opportunities, the stolen bases will come.

Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B, Colorado Rockies) 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI. What a day for your first game coming of the IL. McMahon had something to prove after getting back in the lineup, where Garrett Hampson had been struggling in his place. McMahon took matters into his own hands to show that this spot is his. McMahon should be scooped up if the owner decided to drop instead of stash on the IL earlier this year.

Ryon Healy (1B/3B, Seattle Mariners) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB. Healy continues the wrecking crew that is the Mariners offense. Healy has performed well enough at the plate, with his five homers, but that average will still stay down in the low .200s. Healy has been hitting the ball exclusively in the air and popping out way too many times. He’ll have some games like this but expect many 0-fers as well.

Omar Narváez (C, Seattle Mariners) 3-4, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB. In his first season with the Mariners, Narváez has been starting nearly every game and has been proving that he should stick around in the lineup. In this hot Mariners offense it can be easy to hide some weaknesses though. Like Healy, the ball is always in the air, but he isn’t hitting the ball hard enough to keep it out of the fielders’ gloves. While his average is sitting nicely at .297, his expected average is an abysmal .168. Watch out!

Kole Calhoun (OF, Los Angeles Angels) 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Calhoun was one of the most intriguing players last year. He started the year having literally one of the worst first halves ever, then turned it around to be a top of the line hitter. Calhoun has started off the year fine by improving his hard hit rate but he’s still hovering around the Mendoza line. Will we see Jekyll or Hyde as the season continues?

(Photo by Cliff Welch/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.

11 responses to “Batter’s Box: Sup Pham”

  1. Johnny says:

    Would you drop Narvaez for Castillo?

    • Doug B says:

      Depends what you need. If you need AVG, go with Narvaez. If you need HR’s & RBI’s, go w/ Castillo. Bear in mind, the ChiSox are more likely to use more of a time-share behind the plate, so Castillo’s going to probably going to play less. On the other hand, Castillo’s getting a premium line-up slot regularly, and now that he’s heating up, that’ll probably be locked in when he plays.

      All in all, Narvaez’s production is a bit of smoke and mirrors if you look at his underlying stats, but he did fine AVG-wise with the similar peripherals last season. Don’t expect the same production you’ve been getting from him so far if you keep him though.

  2. Leather Tuscadero says:

    Who do u like for 2B ROS– McMahon, Moncada, Yuli Gurriel or Cesar Hernandez?

  3. J says:

    Fuck Kole Calhoun

  4. Grind_Crunch says:

    I’m wondering if I should drop Ian Desmond for Ryan McMahon or Cristian Walker or give him a longer leash?

    • John E. says:

      My exact situation; could use some insight?

    • theKraken says:

      I wouldn’t. You can’t trust those guys any more than Desmond.

    • Doug B says:

      Every meaningful peripheral stat for quite a while now shows Desmond is continuing a downhill slide.

      I like McMahon more than Walker, and I expect he’ll keep most of his playing time even after Murphy comes off the IL.

      Walker’s been underrated because he’s been blocked by a guy that was the most underrated superstar in MLB (for a long time, Goldy’s been getting more respect over the last year or so, mostly because of his horrid early-season slump last season… weird right?) and was relegated to mashing younger players in the PCL. He’s a sure bet for power, although K’s and streaks are to be expected. His playing time might not be all that safe all season long, but it’s looking a lot better than it did earlier this season.

      I like both of them a lot better than Desmond this season, but then again I’m a waiver-wire-warrior, and I figure I’ll be able to make up for a bad pick if necessary.

      • Doug B says:

        Put it this way: I missed one of my drafts, ended up with Desmond, and he was one of my very first cuts.

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