Batter’s Box: Welcome to Magical Orlando

Jim Chatterton travels the wide world of baseball to find the best hitters from Saturday's games.

Orlando: a place that is supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy and that anything can happen. There is so much to do and so much to see. But this isn’t an ad for that city in Florida, this is a dive into why Orlando Arcia is having his best season yet. It’s not too difficult for Arcia to be having his best season of his career right now. He’s about to turn 25, yet has played one full season and two shortened. That full year season was fine, I guess, with 15 homers and 14 stolen bases. Fine enough for a young shortstop, but not enough for true fantasy relevance.

What’s changed this year to make it his best? He’s still hitting around .270. More importantly, he hasn’t left the back of the Brewers line up. Batting seventh, eighth, or ninth, can be a deathblow to any promising fantasy player. There are just not enough scoring opportunities to produce the runs and RBIs needed to be a valuable asset to a fantasy team. Nick Gerli outlines this a bit in his offseason post about plate appearances. Unfortunately, Arcia doesn’t make up for that loss in stolen base totals or average. For all the negatives, however, it doesn’t change that he has made drastic improvements.

To begin, he is chasing pitches out of the zone significantly less often, bringing his O-Swing% down from 38% to 30% and while increasing his O-Contact% six points. This change has lead to an already surpassing of last year’s walk totals and also easily in reach of his career high. It’s made him more selective with his hitting too. He’s never hit the ball hard but he’s already barreled more balls than last year as well. This was most evident in last night’s performance as he went 2-6, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB. Three of his batted balls surpassed 100 MPH with two traveling over 400 feet for home runs. Arcia has stepped forward this year, especially in May, as one of the most improved hitters from last year. It’ll be hard for the Brewers to find room for him at the top of the lineup, but if Arcia can keep up his nearly .400 OBP from the past month, he may have a shot to hit in front of Yelich.

Let’s travel the rest of this wide world of baseball to find the rest of the best from Saturday.

Marwin Gonzalez (1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins)—2-5, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Gonzalez had a stand out year in 2017, but it was the versatility that drew in the Twins. He’s looking plenty like 2018 Marwin and not 2017 Marwin. He has been hitting the ball harder but more of his hits have been on the ground. Expect more of the 2018 version for the remainder of the year.

Buster Posey (C/1B, San Francisco Giants)—1-2, 3 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB. Posey returned from a concussion a few weeks ago and has been more like classic Posey over those 12 starts. However, he did leave the game with a potential leg injury yesterday. More worrisome, he has been swinging and missing on pitches out of the zone way more than usual lifting his consistent K rate a few percentage points.

Brandon Belt (1B/OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-3, 2B, 4 RBI, BB. Belt drove in a handful of runs with his single and double who has seemed to be starved of those opportunities batting fourth in the lineup. That’s the Giants’ lineup I guess. Belt has been hitting more grounders and less line drives last year with a profile more similar to his 2017 output. If you would like to see what to expect rest of season, look no further than that stat line plus a few more games without injury.

Renato Nunez (1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)—2-4, R, HR, RBI. There he goes again. Another home run for one of the hottest players in the game right now. Eight home runs in his last 12 games.

Brian Dozier (2B, Washington Nationals)—2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. Dozier started to turn things around a bit in May pulling his average up above .200 for the season. He is still hitting the occasional home run, but hasn’t been stealing any bags. His “improved” play in May still does not warrant a fantasy consideration.

Gerardo Parra (OF, Washington Nationals)—3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, SB. Parra has done all this seasons’ damage while in a Nats’ uniform. It has only been 1o starts and he is hitting .350 with three homers, 12 RBIs, and three stolen bases. The problem is playing time. He is only playing every couple of games and is not an everyday starter. For a fantasy outfielder, that is not enough especially in head-to-head leagues. For a deep roto, he may be worth a shot until the new team magic wears off.

Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves)—2-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. I love calling attention to new Going Deep articles when those players are hot. Go check out Nick Gerli’s piece on Swanson that was posted two days ago!

Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-5, 2 R, HR, 3B, 4 RBI, 2 SB, BB. He does everything! A homer, triple, and two stolen bases?? This is going to be quite the MVP race.

Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—4-7, R, HR, 3 RBI. Marte is back again in the Batter’s Box lineup! This time with some power instead of speed. A 408 foot home run off Josh Hader should do the trick. I have a feeling Marte is finding his 2019 groove.

Edwin Encarnación (1B, Seattle Mariners)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Encarnacion has been one of those quiet players that I haven’t heard anything about this year. He’s a player that just always is who he is. Again, this year he is on pace for at least 30 home runs in eight straight seasons. He has been hitting the ball less on the ground and pulling the ball more but regardless of the small changes he’s made over the last handful of seasons, he still puts up 30 something dingers and 100 RBIs.

Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. This boggart has become many pitchers’ greatest fears. He has had a great season so far, but since May he is hitting .330 with a 164 wRC+, seven homers, and 27 runs. He has increased his fly ball rate and hard hit rate from last year while also maintaining his 15 % HR/FB rate. He has cut back on swings and is making more contact, being more selective, resulting in better contact.

Dexter Fowler (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. After last year’s anomaly of a season which ended in a foot fracture, Fowler has been looking to bounce back to his 2017 form. Fowler has consistently been a solid offensive presence with an OPS in the mid .800s in both 2016 and 2017. He has always been a patient hitter and a decent line drive hitter. These trends picked back up this year with a 14% walk rate and a staggering 31.2% line drive rate. Fowler has been tucked away in the back of the lineup so it may be difficult to find those run scoring opportunities for fantasy purposes though.

Josh Reddick (OF, Houston Astros)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. With his second homer in as many games, is it time to care about Josh Reddick for fantasy? He’s playing everyday with the Astros, is hitting above .300, and has a 121 wRC+. He had a much better start to the season than his last month, where he struggled to do much outside of those last two games. Reddick’s been fine but not enough to stand out from so many other outfielders.

Bryce Harper (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Speaking of a struggles last month, it was hard for Phillies’ fans to get behind Bryce Harper until the last few days of May. In the last five games, Harper is hitting .500 with nine RBIs, where he’s hoping to kickstart his June and the rest of the season. He is still having a strong season, just not the Harper season many were hoping for to start his new contract. He’s striking out significantly more this year due to missing way more pitches out of the zone.

(Photo by Jimmy Simmons/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.

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