Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 5/22/23

Breaking down the notable hitting performances from yesterday's games.

The Lourdes Day

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (ARI): 4-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

When I was younger, “wisdom” always sounded like something that old people invented to make themselves feel better about the fact that they could no longer bench press 200 pounds or drink more than three beers without needing a week to physically recover from the experience. Like, give me a break, grandpa. You can’t read anything that’s not in 36-point font and exposed to a direct light source, but you’re trying to tell me that aging isn’t so bad because of this slow-cooked knowledge called “wisdom” that only people your age have access to? We’ve got the internet now, pop-pop! We’ve got infinite wisdom right here in our pockets!

But now that I’m a bit older—and currently three days into my own dire battle to recover from a pair of IPAs I drank over the weekend—I’m starting to think I may have jumped the gun a little bit. Like yeah, sure, wisdom maybe isn’t quite what it used to be back when technology didn’t exist. But there is a certain level of know-how you gain from lived experiences that can’t quite be replicated by a well-edited Tik Tok. And in the realm of fantasy baseball, that know-how can come in handy—especially when it gives you insight into the tendencies of certain players.

Take Lourdes Gurriel Jr., for instance. His 4-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI might look intriguing in the eyes of a young pup. As might his .404/.469/.825 triple-slash over his last 15 games—and the fact that it’s accompanied by 6 home runs and 13 RBI during that span.

But for old fogeys like me who have lived through the Lourdes Gurriel Experience already, we know how these things work out in the end. Because Gurriel Jr. has an annual habit of putting together the most torrid hot streaks known to man, before inevitably coming back down to earth. Like in September 2021, when he slashed .301/.359/.634 with 7 homers and a 160 wRC+. Or September 2020, when he put up an even more absurd .369/.394/.653 slash with 7 homers and a 180 wRC+.

See, when you’ve been around the block a few times, you don’t get surprised quite the same way as you used to. And sure, I might need to carry around eyeglasses so that I can read the menus at restaurants now. And yeah, maybe I feel a little more self-conscious buying Funko Pops at Gamestop than I used to. But I’ll tell you one thing. When Lourdes Gurriel Jr. goes nuclear, I’ll know it’s not because he’s suddenly ascending to superstar status. I’ll know this is just what he does from time-to-time. And I’ll be able to plan accordingly.

I guess you can call that wisdom.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Monday

Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, BB.

This was Yordan’s 14th career multi-homer game, tying him for second on the all-time list among hitters through their first 410 career games (credit: Sarah Langs). Alvarez’s peripherals aren’t quite as ethereal as they were last season, but I think those who roster him will be able to live with the “pedestrian” 18% barrel rate rest-of-season. A healthy Yordan is truly a thing of beauty.

J.D. Martinez (LAD): 4-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

The buy-low window on Martinez may be closing soon. Yes, there are some indications that age is continuing to catch up to him. For instance, he’s rocking a career-high K% and whiff rate, which is being fed by poor performance against fastballs. That said, he’s also hitting the ball harder than he has in almost five years, while also pulling the ball in the air a tad more to make the most of it. I wouldn’t expect vintage Martinez rest-of-season, but .265 with 30+ homers and high-end counting stats is nothing to sneeze at.

Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Kelenic’s xwOBA has taken a bit of a nosedive in May, partially because the Hard Hit rate is now slightly less Herculean, and the strikeout rate continues to hover around 30%. Performances like these are great for allaying the fears of those who roster him, but I do think there’s going to be some volatility with Kelenic throughout the year. Just take the good with the bad and enjoy what will likely be a very solid year.

Matt Vierling (DET): 3-4, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.

Vierling has gotten into a bit of a groove over the past week, hitting .346 while striking out just twice over 28 at-bats. The quality of contact is actually quite solid (41% HH) for someone who strikes out as infrequently as he does (20% K-rate). He hasn’t pulled or lifted the ball enough to take advantage of it power-wise, but I think there might be something worth looking at here for those in deeper leagues.

Tucupita Marcano (PIT): 2-3, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB, SB.

Marcano’s hot-hitting over the past week (.316 AVG) has helped him partially usurp the shortstop role from Rodolfo Castro, and this combo meal likely buys him a few more starts in the coming days. This performance is as fun as saying “Tucupita Marcano” out loud, but skills-wise there’s not much to see here long-term.

Paul DeJong (STL): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI.

That’s back-to-back 4-RBI performances for DeJong, who has now driven in 11 runs over the past week with four home runs. The lack of plate appearances introduces a decent amount of noise to his numbers so far, but it’s at least worth noting that DeJong is posting one of the highest Hard Hit rates of his career right now at 49%, and he just crossed the 50 batted ball threshold where that number starts to gain some credence. A batting average of .250 is likely the high-water mark here, but he’s also got a hold of the shortstop job at the moment and could easily eclipse 30 home runs over a full season, so it’s likely worth the gamble in most formats.

Corey Julks (HOU): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Julks continues to put up somewhat palatable surface numbers despite sporadic playing time to this point in the season. Nothing in his peripherals suggests he’ll come anywhere close to the 30/20 season he posted in the minors last year, and the fact that he hasn’t managed to carve out a full-time role in the outfield even with Brantley on the shelf likely means he’ll remain an afterthought for fantasy purposes.

Whit Merrifield (TOR): 4-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Um, excuse me sir, your nickname is “Two-Hit Whit,” so you’re gonna have to ease up a little bit to stay on brand. As much as I’d like to believe that he’s back to being vintage Merrifield, I don’t get the sense from looking at his peripherals that he’ll be able to reach those heights again. A 30 SB season with single-digit homers and a mediocre batting average has value though.

Jose Caballero (SEA): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Caballero’s rise through the minors has been a bit of a slog, and he’s been older than the other players at each respective level for the past few years. That said, he did exhibit an ability to make contact with good plate discipline and a bit of speed before getting the call, and that’s translated pretty well in the early going. The power he’s flashed won’t stick around, but he’s done enough to wrest the second base job from Kolten Wong—at least for now.

Mickey Moniak (LAA): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

Another day, another game-winning hit from Moniak. He’s likely locked down a strong-side platoon role with Taylor Ward at this point, and should continue to hit leadoff when he’s in the lineup. His talent has been undercut by sky-high strikeout rates in the past, and he’s currently rocking a 40% K-rate at the moment, so things don’t look super promising long-term. But he’s hot right now, so there’s no harm in riding it out and seeing where it leads.

Bryan De La Cruz (MIA): 4-4, 2 R.

De La Cruz has shown himself to be an incredibly adept line-drive hitter during his time in the majors, and he’s kicked that into a new gear this season with a truly bonkers 35% line drive rate this year. While that mitigates some of his contact and plate discipline issues, his upside is fairly limited until he can those under control. That said, he’s been Cruz-in’ for over a month now, so keep on riding it out.

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."

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