Batter’s Box: Things Are Starting To Add Up

If you’ve owned Addison Russell this year, know that I sympathize with your frustration (I own him in a handful of leagues). But over the past month, things have been pretty...

If you’ve owned Addison Russell this year, know that I sympathize with your frustration (I own him in a handful of leagues). But over the past month, things have been pretty good for Russell, as he’s batting .301/.346/.521 since June 20th, and continued that on Wednesday going 4-4, 2 RBI. On June 20th, Russell was hitting .224/.297/.386 on the season and people were jumping ship. He was being dropped and given up on all over the place. But then, he started crushing the ball, and it’s fair to wonder which Addison Russell is the real Addison Russell? Well I can tell you that there was one major change over the past month: quality of contact. From the beginning of the season to June 20th, Russell’s hard hit rate was a miserable 27.2%, but from that point through yesterday, his hard hit rate shot up to 40%. Along with that has been an increase in HR/FB rate, a decrease in ground balls, and an increase in line drives. Now, I don’t think Russell is a .300 hitter, his .365 BABIP over the past month suggests the same, but I also don’t think he’s a .220 hitter, as his .270 BABIP from the beginning of the year to June 20th would indicate. I think this past month has been a positive regression to the mean for Russell, and I think he could hit in the high-.240s/low-.250s the rest of the year and will probably end the year with around 20 home runs. Essentially, I think we’ll see the final season line for Russell look almost exactly like his line from last year but with fewer RBIs, and that’s still a pretty serviceable shortstop.

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

Joey Gallo (3B/1B, TEX) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. That’s a Joey Gallo line if I’ve ever seen one, one hit and it’s a solo shot home run. Gallo is, I believe, the new Adam Dunn. He walks a lot, strikes out a lot, will hit 40 home runs and have a batting average around .200. Now, that can be a useful player in real-life baseball, but he’s a bit trickier in fantasy. Here’s what really interesting to me: over the past month, Gallo has been batting a miserable .189, but his OBP has been a ridiculous .412. If you’re in an OBP league and need some power, Gallo is pretty appealing to me. I don’t think he’s going to have a .400+ OBP the rest of the year, but I think one in the .320s, which is pretty much league average, is do-able, and if you can have a league-average OBP and 40 home runs, that’s useful. I would still prefer Lucas Duda to Gallo in an OBP league because Duda strikes out less and walks just as much (and will therefore have a higher OBP) but Gallo is intriguing in those formats (and likely available).

Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, CHC) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Baez has been killing it lately and Wednesday’s game makes two straight with a home run. Over the past month, Baez has been hitting .338/.378/.519. It’s fair to wonder if this is legit, and I think it is. Not the past month’s numbers, but his numbers on the season which have been nearly identical to the stats he had last year. The home runs have increased, which makes sense given the rise in hard hit rate, but I think Baez is going to keep being this useful all year. Now, if you’re in an OBP league, he’s rough to own because of how little he walks and the fact that he’ll likely have, at best, a league-average OBP, but in a standard league, he’s awesome and he’ll keep being awesome.

Alex Bregman (3B, HOU) – 2-3, 1 R, 1 SB. For such a highly-touted prospect, Bregman has been somewhat underwhelming. Now, he’s still just 23, and there’s room and time for improvement. In fact he’s made some improvement this year, cutting down his strikeout rate significantly and increasing his OBP. As of now though, I think what you’re seeing from Bregman is exactly what you’re going to get, which is still good to have. A .260 hitter who will likely end the year with around 15-18 home runs 15 or so steals. A solid all-around player who is, for some reason, available in around 43% of ESPN leagues.

Nolan Arenado (3B, COL) – 5-6, 3 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI. Look, we all know Arenado’s ridiculous, but I wanted to just mention this because of how insanely awesome of a game this was for Arenado. The guy is incredible. Is he the best third baseman in baseball? Yea, probably.

Trevor Story (SS, COL) – 3-4, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI. A question I’ve gotten a lot is “what do I do with Trevor Story?” Despite being owned in nearly 80% of ESPN leagues, most of his owners don’t really know what to do with him, and it’s entirely understandable given his .235 average on the year. Over the past month though, he’s been hitting .253, and I think that’s more where his average will be the rest of the year. I think his batting average and OBP will be about league average (which is .250s and .320s respectively) and I think he’s still end the year with 20-25 home runs. He’s still got a massive strikeout problem (35.4% strikeout rate as of now) and that’ll hurt the average, but the power is good, and I think the average will get a bit better.

David Peralta (OF, ARI) – 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. I’m not quite sure what there isn’t to like about David Peralta this year. In daily leagues, he’s great to own because when he’s starting against right-handers, he crushes the ball. Sure, the runs and the RBIs will be unspectacular, but the guy is slashing .318/.368/.483 on the year and he’s available in 76% of ESPN leagues. He’s going to end the year with around 15 home runs, 80 runs, 50-55 RBIs, and 10 steals while batting .300. How is that not more ownable? That’s basically a slightly-better season than Dexter Fowler had last year.

Chris Taylor (3B/2B/OF, LAD) – 3-4, 1 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI. Taylor’s been awesome this year, and that’s lead to him being a really popular waiver wire add, but let me throw a few numbers at you: a .410 BABIP, a 19.6% HR/FB rate (career average is 9%), a 30.8% fly ball rate (career average is 34.9%), and a 43.4% ground ball rate (career average is 41.1%). So he’s hitting fewer fly balls, more ground balls, with a drastically elevated BABIP and an elevated HR/FB rate. Now if you want to point to the increased 34.2% hard hit rate to justify the HR/FB rate, sure, but he’s still not a nearly 20% HR/FB rate guy. That, and the BABIP, will come down. I think he’s more of a .260s/.270s hitter the rest of the way and I’m betting he doesn’t get to 20 home runs on the year. He’s going to regress, but enjoy the streak while it lasts.

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.

One response to “Batter’s Box: Things Are Starting To Add Up”

  1. The Kraken says:

    A 4-4 day over a thirty day span which includes several off days and the all-star break will go a long ways to inflate those splits #addisonRussell

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