The .210 batting average still makes me dry-heave when I mull over Brandon Moss‘ viability as a fantasy asset. He gets the occasional outfield start, and he can sub in at 1B whenever the electric Eric Hosmer needs a rare maintenance day, but he almost always slots in at DH. Well, he’s almost been inefficient enough to designate for assignment rather than designate him as a hitter. Last night was a brief flash in the pan: he went 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K in a win over the visiting Seattle Mariners. Moss has his moments, but it would be a career-worst mark for a full season if he finishes the year with an average this low. His current BABIP of .261 is identical to his 2016 BABIP that saw him post the next-worst average (.225) of his time in the pros, so there’s no cop-out for his struggles at the dish to be written off as unlucky. Strikeout rate is an abominable 32.7%, and Thursday’s outing was his first multi-homer game since May 21; in a year where DHs and power guys are raking like crazy, I know I’ve been expecting a little more from Moss but he hasn’t kept up with the league norm. For perspective, with just one more at-bat, Atlanta C Tyler Flowers has 22 more hits, four more runs, five fewer HRs, and nine more RBI than Moss. Flowers’ counting stats are acceptable for a backup catcher off the free agency market, but I’m not wasting my time with Moss at his current level of production.
Let’s take a glimpse at what other hitters were doing notable things around the league yesterday:
Willson Contreras (C/OF, CHC) – 3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, K. Clearly one of the premier fantasy backstops in the game, Contreras has hit .276 so far this year with 18 homers, 65 RBI and three steals. The one thing that bums me out is that he is getting no help from the heart of the order as far as opportunities to score runs himself. Although the Cubs aren’t a terrible team with regard to stranding their own runners on base, the combination of an ineffectual Kyle Schwarber, an underwhelming Addison Russell, shell-of-his-former-self Ben Zobrist, and occasionally Javier Baez and Albert Almora, collectively does not follow cleanup man Contreras well. He has just 42 R, but he is still an everyday play regardless. Alex Avila is definitely playing second fiddle to the young Contreras now that he’s in Chicago after being recently traded away by the Tigers, so no true worries about a playing time debate there.
Paul Goldschmidt (1B, ARI) – 3-4, 4 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, BB. The boss who is Goldy had a 3-HR game for the first time in his illustrious MLB career Thursday. He is theoretically on pace to reach 35 jacks by the end of the regular season, and with a balanced 86 RBI and 85 runs, he will breeze into the triple digits in no time. I love watching him play, and I love watching him rack up fantasy stats for me even more. On power-happy days like these, everyone forgets he’s batting .320 and has 15 steals. Cross-category bliss as an owner.
Nick Williams (OF, PHI) – 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. The non-homer hits were doubles, and Thursday’s game is a little microcosm of how Williams is already making an XBH impact even this early in his career. He just crossed the 100-AB threshold yesterday, and he’s sporting a helpful .294 average, 21 RBI, five homers and 13 runs over that span. He had his solid stat line yesterday from the 7-spot, but he’s recently batted third and fifth in Philly’s lineup. So while versatility is definitely there for him to lineup wherever, being lower in the order might limit his run-scoring potential a hair. Loving the .265 ISO and the 27.5% HR/FB ratio, but the 44.1% hard contact and his very evenly distributed spray chart making him a threat to tally hits by pulling and going opposite are even more appealing. I’d highly recommend an add, and he’s worth an early look ahead for a savvy draft acquisition next season.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS) – 3-3, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB. Benintendi had had a rough end to the month of July with four hitless outings over his last five games. Manager John Farrell benched him over the past few Red Sox contests, but he came back to the lineup with a vengeance Thursday. Two doubles had points league owners smiling extra wide and relieved. His average leapt up from .262 to .268 with the perfect night, and Boston seems to generally be playing well as a team, so Benintendi should continue to play a major role in that if he can sustain Thursday’s comfort level at the plate. He bats second in the order.
Chris Taylor (2B/3B/SS/OF, LAD) – 3-5, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI, K. A .313 average, 13 homers, 13 steals, 51 RBI and 57 runs in one of the most exciting lineups and best overall clubs in baseball. What’s not to like?
DJ LeMahieu (2B, COL) – 3-3, R, RBI, 2 BB. A .323 average, five steals, 48 RBI, 67 runs on a Colorado team that’s way better than any of us could have imagined starting the year as injury-riddled as they were. What’s not to like? Having only four homers over a span of 403 at-bats is what I don’t like, but you know going into acquiring LeMahieu he wouldn’t be a power guy, so all is well.
Starling Marte (OF, PIT) – 3-5, 3 R. Thursday’s night of work against Cincinnati at PNC was Marte’s fourth multi-hit effort since returning from suspension on July 18, but he’s evened out that total with four hitless games too. He has yet to homer since coming back to the Pirates, but he has kindly stolen five bases for you if you were either wise enough to hang on to him or resourceful enough to snag him off the FA market in July. The bad news is that he’s got a .322 BABIP, so I’m not super sure if the .254 average is going to get too much better for you; that would be his worst mark since 2012 saw him average .257 through just 47 games in his first year playing in The Show.
Alex Bregman (3B, HOU) – 3-4, R, RBI, 2 SB. Flashing some speed against Tampa Bay from the 2-spot on Thursday was Bregman registering his 11th and 12th swipes of the season. He owns a .274 average and has gone yard 12 times as well. The 36 RBI don’t impress me much for 351 ABs’ worth of work, but he has scored 57 of his own to kind of offset that. He’s an excellent corner infielder play if your league has a 1B/3B spot, and after a .329 July and a current six-game hit streak Bregman is trending in the right direction for Houston.