Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 5/21/24

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday's games.

Bobby Witt Jr. (KCR): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, SB.

As Luck Would Have Witt

On a Tuesday full of big performances, no one shone brighter than Bobby Witt Jr. Kansas City’s resident superstar lit up the Tigers’ pitching staff with a 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, SB line, further cementing his ascent to becoming one of the baseball’s top players.

Witt wasted no time settling into things yesterday, taking a Casey Mize four-seamer and lining it 104.3 mph for a single in his first at bat. Mize took a different approach in their second matchup by avoiding fastballs, but it didn’t matter. Witt absolutely destroyed a splitter, crushing it 468 feet for a three-run home run. It was the third-furthest-hit ball of 2024, bested only by fellow certified mashers Aaron Judge and Mike Trout. Witt’s second home run was a little less glorious, but was still impressive in its own right: a 108.6 mph, 425-foot solo shot to dead center.

Over the season’s first 50 games, Witt’s slashing an incredible .304/.362/.546 with 7 home runs, 45 runs, 31 RBI, and 16 stolen bases. His 3.2 fWAR is the second-highest in the league, trailing only Kyle Tucker who’s in the middle of his own ascension to superstardom.

Witt may not get all the recognition he deserves by playing ball in a flyover state, but he shouldn’t be overlooked in discussions about the game’s top players. He leads the league in runs scored and sits fourth in stolen bases. Both his .386 wOBA and 148 wRC+ are top-20 marks. Each of his xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, Avg. Exit Velocity, Barrel%, and Hard-Hit Rate are 90th percentile or better. Witt’s 30.4 mph sprint speed is the best mark in the bigs, and in an area that gets overlooked in fantasy circles, his 8 Outs Above Average are the third-most.

If you got lost in that mountain of top-tier statistics, it’s ok. Witt has quite the resume. It’s not a secret that he’s a phenomenal talent, but that may be underselling things. He very well may be the best player in baseball.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:

Dylan Moore (SEA): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

With J.P. Crawford returning after nearly a month-long IL stint, Moore’s playing time moving forward is a big question mark but he did everything he could to make a statement to stay in the starting lineup. He sent two balls over the Yankee Stadium wall yesterday, crushing one to left to open the scoring in the third inning and pushing one to right to cap off the Mariners’ win in the final frame. Moore’s .243/.350/.504 slash line and 146 wRC+ are the best of his career and it’s come with a serious decline in strikeout rate. He’s punching out at a career-low 24.1% clip. Moore’s positional flexibility should allow him to stick in the starting lineup, so don’t drop him if you’ve been riding out this surprising hot streak.

Kyle Tucker (HOU): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Tucker took over the MLB home run lead with his two-homer showing last night, pushing his league-leading total to 17. He’s never topped 30 in a season before, but he’s on pace to obliterate that personal best. His 201 wRC+ is the second-best in baseball and his Statcast lollipops must be cherry-flavored because they’re nearly all bright red.

Byron Buxton (MIN): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

After years of injuries keeping Buxton from showcasing his elite fielding prowess in centerfield, Buxton finally started the year fully healthy. If you thought that would mean a big season was in store just like I did, the last seven weeks have been a massive disappointment. Buxton recently returned from a brief IL stint and entered last night hitting just .250 with one home run and no stolen bases. Well, things may finally be turning around for the Twins’ electric speedster as he went deep twice last night and finally swiped his first bag of the year. He’s available in 66% and 88% of Yahoo! and ESPN fantasy leagues, so if you need a waiver pickup with huge potential, he’s your guy. Fair warning: his career-worst 2.7% walk rate and 18.5% SwStr% have me seriously concerned.

Maikel Garcia (KCR): 4-5, 2 3B, 3 R, RBI.

Here we are on our fifth player in the write-up and Garcia’s our first one that didn’t go deep twice. Needless to say, yeterday was a huge day at the dish around the league and Garcia was no exception. He now owns a nine-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 20 of his past 23 contests. Don’t look now but he’s breaking out in a big way. In 515 plate appearances last year he went deep four times and stole 23 bags, this year, he’s already at 5 home runs and 11 stolen bases. He’s also nearly doubled his barrel rate from 3.9% to 7.6%.

Mark Vientos (NYM): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Yesterday’s Mets/Guardians matchup featured five players leaving the yard, but we’ll focus on Vientos here. He’s spent most of the season in Triple-A, but was recalled on May 15th and has started four of seven games since then, stealing playing time at the hot corner from the struggling Brett Baty. Vientos’ .360/.407/.720 line is impressive, but it’s only over 27 plate appearances. Until he sees consistent starts he’ll be hard to roster in fantasy, although he’s not a bad power option to stash in NL-only or other deep fantasy formats.

Jon Singleton (HOU): 1-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

Since José Abreu’s demotion at the end of April, Singleton has staked his claim to the starting first base gig in Houston. Singleton has homered five times and collected both 14 runs and RBI over that stretch. If you need corner infield or power help for your fantasy squad, he’s still available in 95%+ of both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. He has one of the most enticing power profiles of any player widely available. His 115.4 mph MaxEV is the 13th-best in baseball.

Jarren Duran (BOS): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB.

Duran hasn’t had the power surge the way some hoped we’d see this draft season, but he’s been an above-average bat nevertheless. Yesterday he took a Zack Littell slider and hammered it 110.9 mph, 427 feet to straight-away center to tie things up in the sixth inning, moving his season numbers to .271/.342/.462, good for a 122 wRC+. Although he’s bumped up his barrel rate from 5.3% last year to 8.1% this year, he’s only left the yard three times. He does have 11 steals already, so despite his lack of progress in the power department, he’s still a worthwhile fantasy asset who carries the upside for continued development.

Matt Chapman (SFG): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, RBI.

After a season of top-tier batted ball stats and mediocre results in 2023, it seems like Chapman’s peripheral numbers are regressing to the mean this year. His hard-hit and barrel rates have fallen from the 98th+ percentile to the 60th+ percentile, but he did show off a bit yesterday. Each of his four batted-ball events was hard-hit with two going for extra bases. He’s now hitting .243/.303/.411 with six home runs. His 5 stolen bases are already a new highwater mark.

Michael Harris II (ATL): 1-5, HR, R, RBI, SB.

Harris is our third and final combo meal of the day. He hit his fifth home run of the campaign against Javier Assad in the fourth inning before collecting his seventh stolen base off Tyson Miller and Miguel Amaya in the seventh frame. After flirting with a 20/20 season in back-to-back years, Harris is on track for a repeat performance in 2024. It’d be nice to see the 23-year-old reach a new level in his third go-around at the big league level, but nearly all of his underlying statistics are similar to or worse than what we’ve already seen from him. One exception is that he’s pulling the ball much more often, but he’s also been pounding baseballs into the ground. If he can start lifting them more or even just get his barrel rate back near his 10% standard, we could see him go from a 20-homer bat to threatening 25+.

Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter/X)

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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