Batter’s Box: The Francisco Treat

Jonathan Metzelaar reviews the notable hitting performances from yesterday, including big nights from Francisco Cervelli, Nicholas Castellanos, and Cesar Hernandez.

Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire

I owe Francisco Cervelli an apology. Not just because I mentioned in previous Batter’s Boxes that he probably calls his mom after games and exclaims to her in Italian about how well he performed (I found out recently that he actually grew up in Venezuela). No, I would never apologize for an insensitive cultural generalization. What I owe him an apology for is for not believing in him. For not thinking that he could ever become a useful fantasy catcher. The fact is, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was Caracas. Which is in Venezuela. Which is where he’s actually from. See? I’m learning things.

After his 3-4, R, HR, 2B, 6 RBI, BB performance last night, Cervelli is now slashing .292/.390/.943 on the year with three homers and 18 RBI. He’s always shown an ability to make good contact and get on base, but his career 49.6% groundball rate has held his power contributions back. He’s been lifting the ball much better this year though, pairing an excellent 19 degree launch angle with league-average exit velocity. If he maintains this loft in his swing, I could see him getting into the mid-teens in home runs. Considering he bats in the heart of the Pirates lineup and can put the ball in play, Cervelli may be an underrated catching option this year.

Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers): 4-6, 3 R, 3 2B, 2 RBI – Call him George Constanza because Cabrera was taking advantage of the double-dip yesterday, piling on the stats throughout the doubleheader. Miggy’s 61% groundball rate thus far is a little concerning, but most of his other peripherals seem to be rebounding to where they were prior to his injury-plagued 2017 season.

Nicholas Castellanos (3B/OF, Detroit Tigers): 4-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB – Castellanos is benefitting from a .375 BABIP at the moment, but sometimes you can sustain something like that when you’re making 52.3% HARD CONTACT BAH GAWD. His line drive rate is almost 30% at the moment, and his strikeout rate has dropped so far, so it would seem the breakout for Castellanos continues.

Andrew Stevenson (OF, Washington Nationals): 4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI, BB – Congratulations to Andrew Stevenson on winning the weekly raffle to be the Washington Nationals‘ left fielder. Andrew not only went home after the game with some great memories, but he received a signed Dusty Baker jersey. Talk about a dream come true.

Matt Adams (1B, Washington Nationals): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 6 RBI – Back in my day Matt Kemp was Fat Kemp, and Matt Adams was Fat Adams, and they were both kind of bad, and that was the way I liked it. Now they’re both skinny and doing well, and it’s forcing me to confront a lot of my own deep-seated emotional issues, which I resent. Anyway, Adams now has a .896 OPS on the year, though playing time will continue to be sporadic as long as Ryan Zimmerman is in the picture.

Didi Gregorius (SS, New York Yankees): 3-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB – That is now four games in a row in which Didi has homered, and he’s already up to nine home runs on the season. His average exit velocity is actually below league average, but he’s launching the ball at just the right angle, in just the right spots to make it work.

Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves): 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI – Albies had been in a miniature slump for the past week, hitting just .214. Facing a lefty was just what the doctored ordered though. Albies is now hitting over .500 against lefties this year, but just .214 versus righties.

Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – It seems that Betts does everything in bunches, as five of his eight homers have been packed into just two games.

J.T. Realmuto (C, Miami Marlins): 2-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – Realmuto’s hitting .385 with four homers over the past week, and should continue to produce for the Marlins until Derek Jeter wakes up in a cold sweat one night and realizes he forgot to trade him before the season started.

Jeimer Candelario (3B, Detroit Tigers): 3-6, 5 R, HR, 2B, RBI – Candelario now has seven hits over his last 18 at-bats. He’s been pairing a good contact rate with some solid power, and is worth keeping an eye on now that he’s batting near the top of the Tigers batting order.

Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox): 0-3, 2 BB, 2 SB – Though he’s been scuffling over the past week, hitting just .115, he has managed to steal three bases to bring his season total up to five. He’s pulling the ball on the ground half the time, which is not a good combo for a left-handed hitter who is going to be facing defensive shifts, but he’s walking more and striking out less than he did last season.

Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves): 3-5, 2 R, 2 SB – I imagine watching Ender Inciarte hit is a thing of beauty when your team isn’t on the receiving end of the punishment he inflicts. He does it all: he chokes up on the bat, he fouls pitches off, he bunts for hits, he sneaks grounders through the shift. It’s Votto-esque at times. And recently he’s been unleashing another weapon once he gets on base: his wheels. Inciarte now has nine steals on the year after accumulating 21 in 2017 and appears to have the green light on the basepaths this year.

Brandon Belt (1B, San Francisco Giants): 2-4, R, 3B – Belt is hitting .385 over the past week with five homers and probably like 450 foul balls. I think he may be working together with some of our nation’s top psychologists to figure out exactly what he needs to do each year to make people believe in him despite the fact that he has never put together a full, amazing year.

Cesar Hernandez (2B, Philadelphia Phillies): 3-4, 2 R, 2B – Watching Hernandez in his at-bats against Zack Greinke yesterday, you could tell he was locked in and has an incredible sense of the strike zone right now. His excellent 17.5% chase rate bears this out, and he’s swinging at less pitches overall, getting himself into good counts and working walks. He should be a great source of runs the rest of the year, and a definite target in OBP formats.

Miguel Rojas (SS, Miami Marlins): 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB – I’m a little intrigued by Rojas, to be honest with you. At 29 years old he’s no prospect, but his career 12.3% strikeout rate and 6.6% whiff rate tell me he has elite contact ability. The problem is that that’s mostly been his only tool to this point thanks to a 54% groundball rate and hard contact percentages that hovered around 20% every year. This year, however, he’s making much more hard contact (36.4%). His three home runs this season match his total from the last three seasons combined (677 at-bats). If he’s discovering his power stroke and can pair it with his already impressive ability to put the ball in play, he could be a useful deep league shortstop.

Daniel Robertson (SS/3B, Tampa Bay Rays): 2-3, 2 R, 2 2B, BB – The enigma that is Daniel Robertson continues to wind himself into even more byzantine structures. That’s a really confusing, abstract way of saying that Robertson has been hot this year and is walking more than he’s striking out (12:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio). I think the power will likely be capped around 10 homers over a full year, but he’s been hitting .417 over the past week and you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Leonys Martin (OF, Detroit Tigers): 3-10, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – Whoever was responsible for writing the code for the 2018 Leonys Martin robot apparently accidentally keyed in “30 homers” instead of “30 steals,” and now Martin is some kind of baseball mashing juggernaut instead of the speedster I was expecting he’d be.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

15 responses to “Batter’s Box: The Francisco Treat”

  1. Bob says:

    In a keeper league I’ve been hold Domingo Santana, but was thinking about dropping him for Michael Taylor. He’s finally getting on base decently and running a ton, contributing in other categories too. Thoughts?

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I’d be okay with that in a standard league if you need speed. I see Santana as a 28 HR/12 SB guy and Taylor as a 15 HR/30 SB guy, and I think their batting averages will likely be pretty similar.

  2. Let's Play Two says:

    I’m in a standard, season-long 5×5 roto league. Not a keeper or dynasty league. I’ve been getting inquiries on Acuna. One in particular is I give away Acuna for Thor. I’m leery to give up Acuna for his 5-cat potential, especially in the SB dept where I’m not sure I have enough.

    Position players: 1B Freeman/Abreu; 2B Merrifield/Schoop (DL); 3B Moose; SS Bregman; OF Trout, Judge, Springer, Pollock, Acuna; UTIL Story

    My SP: Kluber, Severino, Bauer, Godley, Corbin, Pivetta, E-Rod

    Would you give up Acuna in this deal?

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Yeah, I’d take that deal, you seem to have enough OF depth to absorb the loss of Acuna and adding Thor to your rotation would give it a big boost.

      • Let's Play Two says:

        Thanks…so you think I’m good on SB w/o Acuna?

        • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

          Yeah, Trout, Merrifield, Pollock, Bregman, Springer, and Bregman should chip in a decent amount. Story’s been running more as well, and you can always grab another speedy outfielder off the wire to fill Acuna’s spot if you’re still concerned.

  3. Hercules Unchained says:

    Bob- do you like Matt Kemp or Carlos Santana ROS?

  4. Vinny says:

    -Jonathan, I’ve said it before but you are one of my favorite reads on here, where I find myself reading blurbs for guys I don’t even own- The batters box you did the other day about Scooter & the Trevor Story Brady Bunch bit was great.
    -I know it’s too early to hit the panic button on Matt Carpenter but i’m missing out on young/productive guys and he was never an integral part of my team anyway (I have Votto/Bregman manning 1st & 3rd; 12 team points league). Would you consider dropping him for any of Dahl, Belt, Kingery (would need to use waiver claim) ?

    Even if you don’t get around to answering this, your work is appreciated and hilarious!

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Vinny! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, know that I’m thinking of you and your kind words. I appreciate you taking the time to read.

      I think I’d be fine with dropping Carpenter and gambling on Kingery there. I’m starting to think that Carpenter’s shoulder issues from last season and this spring training are still present. And even the healthy version of Carpenter from the past couple of seasons hasn’t been anything super special (270 AVG, 22 HR is nothing great). I think Carpenter and Belt are actually pretty similar players as well, though Belt’s inability to compile a full season of at-bats and Carpenter’s position eligibility has me leaning Carpenter there.

  5. John says:

    Any chance I should be dropping Puig for Leonys Martin?

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      I wouldn’t be making that move just yet. I would however suggest shopping Puig for another buy-low player that fills a need, and then picking up Leonys to fill Puig’s vacated spot on your team.

  6. Let's Play Two says:

    Who has a bigger year this year in counting stats for a standard, 5×5 season-long roto league using R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG…Schoop, Story or Acuna and in what order? I have a deal in place Acuna for Thor, but trying to see if I can get a different top 10 SP by including either Schoop or Story with Pivetta and E-Rod instead of Acuna. Available OF in free agent pool is really thin on quality, wheras there are decent infielder options.

    Roster: 1B Freeman / Abreu; 2B Merrifield / Schoop; 3B Moose; SS Bregman; OF Trout, Judge, Springer, Pollack; UTIL Acuna, Story; SP Klub, Severino, Bauer, Godley, Corbin, Pivetta, E-Rod

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