Danny the Champion of the World
Danny Jansen (TOR): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Danny the Champion of the World just so happens to be my favorite Roald Dahl book so it felt apt to use the title here for Toronto’s goggles-wearing catcher. Tonight’s top hitter was a tough one to pick; no one had a truly awe-inspiring game. I went with Jansen so that we can learn a little bit more about the Blue Jays backstop and no one else hit two home runs. Checkmate.
A 16th-round pick in the 2013 draft out of West High School in Appleton, WI, Jansen is a rarity in that he decided to go pro with a 16th-round selection instead of taking his talents to college. He has played catcher since he was 18 in the Blue Jays organization and has become very good behind the dish in his career. He is definitely more known for his defense, but Jansen is a bit of a threat at the plate, especially in the home run department.
I’ve always seen him as a poor man’s Jonathan Lucroy. He had a great year offensively in 2022, slashing .261/.339/.516 and 15 home runs across 72 games. This year, his offense is down, but with catcher being very dry as always, I’ve been able to find use out of Jansen in a few leagues. He isn’t going to give you a ton of average, but the pop is there. He also plays in one of the best lineups in the MLB, so he will produce when he is in the starting lineup.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday
Ian Happ (CHC): 3-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Ian Happ was a home run short of the cycle in Thursday’s Cubs win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Happ is on pace to have a very Happ year. His home runs are a little bit down but his slash line is right in line with his career numbers (slug is a bit down). In 4 or 5 outfielder leagues he is a no-brainer. He is going to continue to give solid production on offense, but his power may be down for good. I’m not sure I even see another 20-home-run season. Let’s hope I’m wrong! I usually am.
Chris Taylor (LAD): 1-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Chris Taylor was in the running for the featured hitter of the day. In Thursday’s game, he hit a game-tying grand slam eventually leading to an extra-innings Dodgers win. Taylor came up in the bottom of the 10th with two on and could’ve sealed his fate as the June 16, 2023, featured hitter for PitcherList, but instead, he struck out. Taylor is not what he once was and the strike-out issues are back and in a big way. The Dodgers need him to turn it around if they plan on playing deep into October.
Mickey Moniak (LAA): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Is Mickey Moniak actually good on offense or is the former first-overall pick teasing us? Another strong game Thursday night with a home run and two singles make it feel like he may be figuring things out. Being a first-overall pick has to be hard on the ole brain once you get into the minors. The 2016 top 5 draft picks are a sight to behold: Mickey Moniak (Phillies), Nick Senzel (Reds), Ian Anderson (Braves), Riley Pint (Rockies), and Corey Ray (Brewers). Moniak’s had an encouraging start to the 2023 season, and it makes sense why he was the first overall pick. Let’s see if he can keep producing; he’s a player to keep an eye on.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 1-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.
I think Shohei Ohtani only hits opposite-field moonshots. At least, that’s what he would want you to believe since that’s what he’s done over the last two nights. Thursday Ohtani hit a monster oppo taco and backed it up with two walks. He now leads the majors in home runs and, oh yeah, he pitched tonight too, going 6 innings, allowing 2 runs, and striking out 3. He’s the best baseball player on the planet right now, and he may go down as the best ever. We should all take a second to remember how special this is.
Manny Machado (SD): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Thank goodness Manny Machado is healthy. I went all in on him in more than a few leagues and the early returns made my heart hurt. He’s one of the premier talents in the game and on Thursday he showed why. Manny clobbered a three-run dinger in a loss against the Cleveland Guardians. He’s back, and so far so good. I feel a hot streak coming up for the future Hall of Famer. Yes, he’s a future Hall of Famer.
José Ramírez (CLE): 3-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
Speaking of future Hall of Famers, José Ramírez is back on the list. He was last week’s featured hitter and he was hungry for more, apparently. Thursday Ramirez had a very complete offensive performance with 2 singles, a double, a walk, and a bag. He’s in the “there’s not much else to say category,” in fact, he is one of the poster children for the category. He’s really good.
Ketel Marte (ARI): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
I think I’ve already apologized to Ketel Marte for putting him on my second base bust article in the off-season. Well, Ketel, I just want to say I’m sorry once more. Marte hit a three-run home run to put the Snakes up early in Thursday’s contest, but they did end up falling short to the Phillies. I’ve always gotten Carlos González vibes from Ketel, both in play style and injury history. If Ketel is the second coming of Cargo, yes, please.
Christopher Morel (CHC): 3-3, 3B, R, 2 RBI.
Morel is heating back up, and I for one, am happy about this. The man has all the tools in the world, he just needs to improve his chase rate this much (my index finger and thumb are so close together). Thursday’s 3-3 game with a triple is just what the doctor ordered for Morel. The power speed combo here is tantalizing. If he can gain consistency, he could be a top-50 fantasy player.
Matt Olson (ATL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Does Matt Olson have a nickname? He seems like a guy who would have a nickname. Or maybe we anoint him the new mayor of DDC (ding dong city) with Travis Shaw out of the game. I’m sure Shaw would pass down his sash. Olson is another in the “not much else to say category.” The man hits a lot of home runs and strikes out a lot as well. Keep starting him because he and his Braves are really really good.
Ezequiel Tovar (COL): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
It’s Tovar time, but the Rockies still lost to the Braves. Ezequiel Tovar started off the year very slow but has picked it up in May and June, slashing .267/.294/.459 with 5 home runs. These numbers don’t jump off the page but remember, this cat is 21. The Rockies are bad once again, which should be put on a banner, but they have some bright spots in their lineup and one of them is Tovar.
Bryson Stott (PHI): 2-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.
I saw someone compare Bryson Stott to Chase Utley on Twitter the other day, and I just don’t see it. Sure, they both play the same position and are both Phillies, but is Mac from Always Sunny writing Stott love letters? Well, not yet at least. The Phillies are playing good ball and Stott is a major reason for this. Thursday he hit a single and a home run helping the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks 5-4. He looks like an important piece in their lineup for years to come. Maybe Mac will soon be writing Stott love letters, and Stott will be impressed with Mac’s speed.
Luke Raley (TB): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Two truths in this world, Chewbacca is real, and when Luke Raley is in the Rays lineup he hits dingers. Raley had a solo home run and a single on Thursday bringing his slash up to .258/.343/.570 with 11 home runs. Those 11 home runs are impressive considering he’s only played in 52 games. He is in a heavy platoon, but when he does get the nod to start, he always seems to hit the ball over the fence.
Keibert Ruiz (WSH): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
The young Nationals catcher is putting up a decent 2023 season so far, even if his numbers may not excite. Thursday he knocked a solo home run against the Astros in a win that kept them from getting swept. The Nats in 2023 are of course a much different team than the champion 2019 squad, but Dave Martinez and Co. are hoping that Ruiz is a big piece in their team getting back to relevant.
Adley Rutschman (BAL): 3-5, HR, R, RBI.
Going to sneak in Adley at the end here. He has been beyond impressive to start the 2023 season. He’s one of those rare young players that feels like he’s been in the league for decades because of how comfortable he looks on both sides of the plate. Thursday Adley hit a home run and two singles in a close win over the Blue Jays. He’s already a stud, but it feels like he is only going to get better.