Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 5/6/23

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Belt Buster

It was a weird day when Brandon Belt announced he would be playing for a team other than the San Francisco Giants for the 2023 season.

Belt, drafted by the Giants out of the University of Texas in 2009, had long been the face of the franchise, in addition to being a productive hitter at the plate. Belt contributed to two World Series victories in 2012 and 2014, and has been the team’s “unofficial” captain in his final couple of years in Giants black and orange.

However, all things must come to an end, and the Giants, looking to build the team in a different direction, decided to part ways with Belt at the conclusion of the 2022 season. As a result, Belt signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays worth $9.3 million.

It hasn’t been a great start for Belt though in Toronto.

As of Sunday, Belt is only hitting .194 with an OPS of .608. This includes only one home run in 75 plate appearances. In addition, his walk rate is down to 10.7 percent this year. That is still good at the surface level, but not good when combined with a 42.7 percent K rate, which gives him a BB/K ratio of 0.25, which would be the lowest of his career if the season ended today.

Belt has not only turned into a more free-swinging whiffer, but he isn’t showcasing the power he once had in San Francisco that helped him produce a 29-home run season in 2021.

At 35 years old, Belt’s struggles with the Blue Jays may be tied to him simply nearing the end of his career.

He has struggled with injuries throughout his time in the Majors, which was a big reason why he never hit more than 20 home runs in a season until a couple of seasons ago. The fatigue of trying to constantly recover from those injuries may simply be coming to fruition, and it may be time for Belt to hang it up, especially if this season doesn’t get any better for him in Toronto.

Granted, there’s still a long season ahead, so there’s hope that Belt can catch fire and look like the dark horse MVP candidate that he once was back in 2022. Nonetheless, the Blue Jays are seven games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East division, despite a 20-14 record as of Sunday.

If Belt doesn’t improve, the Jays will certainly go out and find a first baseman/designated hitter who can certainly do the job via the trade market.


Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

TJ Friedl (CIN): 2-4, 3B, HR, R, 4 RBI.

Friedl continues to generate little buzz outside of Cincinnati, but he is having a tremendous season once again. In 124 plate appearances, he is hitting .324 with a .853 OPS and has been a regular in the number two hole in the Reds lineup. Friedl doesn’t possess a ton of pop (only a 3.3 percent barrel rate), but it seems he can take advantage of Great America Ballpark’s hitter-friendly dimensions when needed. He is posting a .971 OPS at the GAB this year and all three of his home runs this year have come at home.


Ezequiel Tovar (COL): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

The 21-year-old shortstop got off to a slow start this year as he hit .213 with a .580 OPS in April. May though has been a much different story, as he is hitting .353 with a 1.213 OPS in 18 plate appearances this month. Against the Mets, Tovar continued that hot streak by collecting three hits, including his second home run of the year. Tovar entered the year with some pop and speed potential, but he hasn’t gotten a stolen base at all this year. With his hitting trending upward, it would be nice to see the stolen base numbers turn around as well for fantasy managers who roster him.


Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (ARI): 4-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.

The younger Gurriel has been a tremendous acquisition for the Diamondbacks this year, as he is hitting .300 with a .809 OPS in 119 plate appearances. Granted, the exit velocity is a bit down from 2022, but conversely, the barrel and hard-hit rates are up, which are both positive signs. On Saturday, he not only collected four hits in the cleanup spot for Arizona but also his third home run of the year, which tied the game in the bottom of the ninth against the Nationals. If the Diamondbacks want to be postseason-bound, Gurriel is going to be a part of that process.


Keibert Ruiz (WSH): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

It has been a tough recent stretch for Ruiz, even though the Nationals have been surprisingly okay at 13-20. He was on an 0-for-17 stretch going into Washington’s game with Arizona before hitting a home run in the top of the ninth to give the Nationals the lead for a brief period of time. Ruiz continues to minimize strikeouts at the plate with a 9.2 percent K rate, and his barrel rate of 7.1 percent is higher than his 2022 mark as well. Is he an option in one-catcher mixed leagues though? Probably for now, though he is hanging on by a thread.


JJ Bleday (OAK): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

He only has 17 plate appearances with the A’s since coming over to Oakland after being traded for A.J. Puk, but Bleday is showing why he was a first-round pick. He is hitting .375 with a 1.225 OPS, and he hit his second home run of the year at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday, which essentially gave the A’s the cushion they needed for a 5-4 win. Bleday’s hard-hit rate is nearly 20 percent higher than a year ago, and his K rate is 10.6 percent lower as well. He is available in nearly 98 percent of Yahoo leagues and 99 percent of ESPN leagues, according to Fantasy Pros, as of Sunday.


Jorge Soler (MIA): 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Another day, another titanic home run from Soler. Against the Cubs’ Drew Smyly, he hit one 395 feet with an exit velocity of 103.3 MPH for his seventh of the year. Soler is not posting much in the batting average category, as he is only hitting .224 in 129 plate appearances. On the other hand, his slugging is .483 and he is posting a .785 OPS as well. In OBP or OPS leagues, Soler is proving to be a valuable fantasy asset to rosters.


Dylan Carlson (STL): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.

The Cardinals are a mess at 10-24, and losing another one at Busch Stadium to the Detroit Tigers certainly doesn’t help. A big issue has been trying to find the right rotation in the lineup and outfield, and Carlson has been involved in the Cardinals’ struggles in that particular area. For the year, the former Cardinals’ top prospect, is hitting .234 with a .650 OPS, which isn’t good by any means. On the other hand, he hit his second home run of the year on Saturday, and his exit velocity, barrel, and hard-hit rates are all up from a year ago. Is Carlson trending back on the right track? The Cardinals are certainly hoping so, as the “boo birds” have been out frequently amidst their rough start.


Thairo Estrada (SF): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Things didn’t start well for the Giants in 2023, and it still is relatively bleak with a 15-17 record entering Sunday’s games. However, they have won four in a row, including a 4-1 win Saturday at Oracle Park over the Brewers. A catalyst for the Giants recently has been Estrada, who hit a home run off Brewers starter Colin Rea in the third inning. Estrada not only has five home runs for the season but is also hitting .336 with a .907 OPS in 133 plate appearances.


Bryce Harper (PHI): 2-5, HR, R, RBI.

The legend of Harper continues to grow. He not only has recovered at a miraculous pace from Tommy John surgery but hasn’t missed a beat at the plate either. In 18 plate appearances, Harper is hitting .375 with a 1.069 OPS to boot. On Saturday against the Red Sox, he hit his first home run of the year, a 396-foot bomb off of Boston starter Corey Kluber. It’s been a disappointing start for the reigning NL pennant winners, as they are 15-19 as of Sunday. With Harper back in the lineup though, expect the fortunes in the W-L column to change this summer.


Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)







Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O'Brien is a high school educator and baseball blogger based in the Kansas City metro area. In addition to writing for Pitcher List, he writes about the Kansas City Royals at his own blog, the Royals Reporter, which can be found at royalsreporter.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login