Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 5/14/24

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Andrew Vaughn (CHW): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.

Where No Man Has Vaughn Before

If you drafted Andrew Vaughn to your fantasy team this spring, you probably thought you were getting a pretty safe 20 home runs with a respectable average, somewhere in the .260 range. Sure, the counting stats would suffer in an awfully weak White Sox lineup, but it was production you could bank on… or so it seemed.

Vaughn’s start to the season has been something both he and his fantasy managers wish they could forget. After two straight years with above-average production at the plate, Vaughn’s 2024 started with 158 plate appearances of just a 60 wRC+. He entered yesterday’s double-header with an ugly .207/.266/.290 slash line and just one home run.

Despite a hitless showing in game one, Vaughn locked in for the nightcap. He finished 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB and provided all the offense as the White Sox prevailed 4-0 to split the doubleheader with the Nationals.

No matter what opposing pitchers threw at him, Vaughn didn’t miss. Every time he put a ball in play–even the one out he made–was hard hit, an encouraging sign given that so far this year, Vaughn’s HardHit% has tumbled nearly 10 percentage points. Both of Vaughn’s big flys traveled over 400 feet, the first coming against a Mitchell Parker splitter and the second against Jackson Rutledge sinker that stayed in the middle of the zone.

With an increased strikeout rate and a barrel rate that’s been more than cut in half, I’m hesitant to dub yesterday’s performance the sign you’ve been waiting for that Vaughn is truly snapping out of this early-season funk. If you’re in a twelve-teamer and need corner infield help, he’s likely worth a look. In anything shallower than that, you can comfortably wait to see if things start clicking for Vaughn in more than just one game.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:

Matt Olson (ATL): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.

Olson clobbered everything Jameson Taillon threw his way last night, smoking a 105 mph double and a 108 mph home run against the Cubs’ righty. The homer sailed 432 feet into the Georgia sky for the second furthest-hit ball of the day. I know it’s been a discouraging start for Olson’s fantasy managers as even after yesterday’s showing he’s still hitting just .218 with five home runs, but he’ll turn things around soon and you may have seen the beginning of it last night. His batted-ball profile looks largely the same as last year with a few added flyballs. His HR/FB rate has dropped 20 points down to 11.8%, but his 90.4 mph FB EV is 80th percentile and his 15.3% barrel rate is 94th percentile. He’ll be just fine.

Josh Naylor (CLE): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.

Naylor’s been one of the biggest breakouts in fantasy this year. He was already a solid hitter but has reached a new level in 2024. Yesterday’s home run was his 12th of the season meaning he’s well on his way of shattering his previous career-high of 20 in 2022. Naylor’s also nearly doubled his walk rate from 6.7% to 11% and moved his barrel rate from below average up to nearly the 80th percentile of all hitters. In his age-26 season, I’m buying into this being a legit transformation and not a flash in the pan.

Josh Lowe (TBR): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

After posting a 20-homer 32-steal season last year, Lowe carries high expectations into 2024. He finally made his season debut last Monday and has started all but two of the Rays’ games since. Lowe smashed a Nick Pivetta cutter to get things going yesterday for his first home run of the year. He’s somehow still available in 60% of ESPN leagues as compared to just 13% of Yahoo! leagues. Take a couple of seconds and make sure he’s not sitting out there on your waiver wire.

Adolis García (TEX): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

García got the better of a Ben Lively slider yesterday, hooking it just fair down the left-field line for his ninth home run of the campaign. García’s contact numbers look right in line with what we’ve come to expect from the Cuban slugger, and that means elite batted-ball metrics. On the other hand, we’ve seen García chase more pitches than he did last year, lowering his walk rate from a career-high of 10.3% down to 6.1% so far. A big part of that change is García being significantly more aggressive. He swung at 33.1% of first pitches last year compared to 52.9% in 2024.

Sal Frelick (MIL): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.

Combo meals are getting a little expensive for my taste these days, but that didn’t stop Frelick from ordering one last night. The light-hitting Brewers’ outfielder launched his first homer of the season against Quinn Priester and also swiped his fifth bag against him. Frelick’s cracking Milwaukee’s starting nine most days, but his .243/.321/.314 line is only useful in NL Only and maybe 15-teamers. His batting line sure was nice yesterday, but his full-blown diving catch maybe even better.

Trey Lipscomb (WSN): 3-3, R, RBI, BB, 3 SB.

Lipscomb’s not going to hit his way onto your fantasy team, but he may just run his way there anyway. The Nationals’ rookie third baseman is hitting .260/.339/.298 and while his peripheral numbers don’t suggest more power is coming, his 10 stolen bases make things pretty interesting for those of you with a Need For Speed™. Washington has the second-most stolen bases of any ball club, so as long as Lipscomb keeps playing, he’ll keep stealing. The whole team has a perpetual green light.

Alex Bregman (HOU): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

Bregman’s two-homer game on Monday night just wasn’t enough for the two-time All-Star. He got greedy and went yard again last night, pulling a JP Sears four-seamer into the Crawford Boxes and then adding a double later in the game. Christian Otteman featured Bregman in yesterday’s Batter’s Box write-up, but I want to re-emphasize that even though his Statcast X-stats are a sad shade of blue, I would hold tight here or make a buy-low trade offer. Bregman has produced for years with meager batted-ball metrics and I think at the end of the year we’ll look back and see yet another standard Bregman season of solid production across the board.

Giancarlo Stanton (NYY): 2-5, HR, R, RBI.

It’s only fitting that the undisputed king of Baseball Savant’s new Bat Tracking Leaderboard flashed that incredible bat speed so soon after it launched. Stanton nuked a 114 mph home run off of Chris Paddack yesterday, his ninth homer of the season. Stanton’s plate discipline is getting ugly in his age-34 season. Both his 34% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate are career lows, but when he makes contact he’s still crushing baseballs. His 116 wRC+ is a nice bounceback after last year’s struggles.

Will Benson (CIN): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Another unfortunate TJ Friedl injury has kept the door open for Benson to stay at the top of the Reds’ lineup against righties, and that alone is a big boost to his fantasy value. After yesterday he’s up to five home runs and eight stolen bases, but you have to stomach an almost unbelievable 39.2% strikeout rate to get those solid counting stats. The .193 average certainly stings too. I think he’s worth a spot in most roto or category leagues, but if your points league dings you for strikeouts, Benson is probably better left unrostered.

Cole Tucker (LAA): 2-3, 2B, 3B, R.

Could this be the Start of Something New? Or will Tucker Stick to the Status Quo and only play once every few days? I think We’re All In This Together in recognizing that despite his .267/.343/.433 slash line, Vannesa Anne Hudgens’ husband is best left on the waiver wire.

Joey Meneses (WSN): 4-4, 2 RBI.

Early this season Meneses set a new career-high Max Exit Velocity of 114.2 mph, well above his previous high of 110.9 mph in 2022. It caught my eye in the season’s first few weeks and I thought maybe a change to his swing would make him rosterable again in fantasy. Alas, that hasn’t come to fruition. Despite his 74th percentile hard contact rate, Meneses has just a 67 wRC+. His four-hit showing in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader was certainly a good time though. It was his first four-hit game of the season and fourth of his career.


Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from every fantasy league format you can imagine to the unending greatness of Mike Trout. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

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