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Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 7/15/23

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Siri-ously Legit

Jose Siri (TB): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

When the Rays acquired Jose Siri from Houston at the Trade Deadline last year, it wasn’t quite clear what kind of role Siri would have on this Tampa roster long term.

At the very least, the Rays knew they would be getting a stellar defender in center field. Last season, between Houston and Tampa, Siri was worth 15 outs above average, according to Statcast data. That was the third-best mark for outfielders last season, behind only Daulton Varsho and Trent Grisham.

While the defense was stellar, the offense was more of a mixed bag.

Siri had a solid 21-game stint in Houston in his first stint in the big leagues in 2021. He hit .304 with a .956 OPS in 49 plate appearances and also had four home runs and three stolen bases.

Unfortunately, things went south in his first full season at the Major League level in 2022.

Siri struggled with the Astros last season at the plate in 147 plate appearances before being traded. He only hit .178 with a .542 OPS, and he struck out 48 times while only walking nine times (good for a ratio of 0.19). The free-swinging approach limited him to a reserve role in Houston, which made him expendable at the Trade Deadline. Even though he got more regular playing time after being traded to Tampa, the approach didn’t translate into him having a major offensive impact down the stretch last year.

His batting average with the Rays improved to .241 and his OPS also rose to .659 in 178 plate appearances with Tampa. He also provided some occasional pop (four home runs) and speed on the basepaths as well (eight stolen bases). However, he still struggled with strikeouts and walks, as his BB/K ratio actually regressed to 0.18 after being traded.

This year though, Siri has been a revelation at the plate, especially on a power end.

This season, Siri has hit 18 home runs, which included two coming today in game one of a day-night doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium against the Royals. In addition to a career-high in home runs, Siri is posting a .804 OPS, highlighted by a .536 slugging over 214 plate appearances.

Granted, there are some concerns when looking deeper into his profile, which is a big reason why he is available in nearly 87% of Yahoo leagues and 95% percent of ESPN leagues, according to Fantasy Pros.

Siri ranks in the bottom percentiles of the league in both whiff and K percentages, which magnify his questionable free-swinging approach and ugly 0.20 BB/K ratio. While his max exit velocity (89th percentile) and barrel rates (95th percentile) are impressive, his average exit velocity (42nd percentile) and hard-hit rate (43rd percentile) are not nearly as eye-popping or encouraging.

And yet, Siri keeps raking, keeps swiping bases (seven), and keeps on being a threat for this Rays lineup, despite only hitting .219 and posting a .268 OBP, which makes him a tough play in both average and OBP leagues.

Nonetheless, there’s a legit 25-30 HR and 15 SB threat in Siri, who’s probably on the waiver wire in most leagues. For fantasy managers in deep leagues or in dire need of outfield help, he could be a difference-maker, especially since his stellar glove (86th percentile in OAA) will continue to give him at-bats in the second half of the season.

 

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.

Acuña may run away with the NL MVP award by the end of July. Against the White Sox, he hit his 22nd and 23rd home run of the year and stole his 43rd base as well. He is currently hitting .332 with a 1.005 OPS, and his strikeout rate of 11.8% is 11.8% lower than a season ago. Opposing pitchers haven’t been able to solve Acuña at all this season, and at this rate, it’s doubtful that they will in the second half either.

 

Bryce Harper (PHI): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, SB.

The Phillies swept their Saturday doubleheader against the Padres, and in the Phillies’ 9-4 win, Harper had a stellar overall performance. He hit his fourth home run of the year, and stole his sixth base as well, all while collecting two hits and two runs to boot. Harper has only played in 59 games this season after recovering from off-season surgery. However, he is looking nearly 100 percent, and he may be moving to first base soon, which will only solidify more regular plate appearances for Harper as the Phillies fight for a playoff spot.

 

Cody Bellinger (CHC): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.

It’s still uncertain whether Bellinger will stay in Chicago, as Jed Hoyer is mum on whether the Cubs will be “buyers” or “sellers” at the Trade Deadline. If they do decide to be “sellers,” Bellinger could net quite a return. In their 10-4 win over the Red Sox, Bellinger collected two hits, four RBI, and hit his 12th home run of the year. On the year, he is hitting .305 and posting a .893 OPS, which are his best marks in those categories since his 2019 NL MVP season. Considering he is a free agent after this season, it is likely that Bellinger won’t have much longer in Wrigleyville.

 

Kyle Farmer (MIN): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

After hitting .263 and hitting 16 home runs in 2021 with the Reds, it’s been a steady decline each season for Farmer over the past two years. This season, Farmer is only hitting .250 and is posting an OPS of .698, which is 34 points lower than his mark in 2021. He did hit his fifth home run of the year on Saturday and collected three hits and three RBI, so perhaps Farmer may be on the way to getting back to that 2021 form. The Twins will need his bat if they want to keep pace with the Guardians in the AL Central race.

 

Trent Grisham (SD): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.

It was a rough Saturday for the Padres, losing both games on Saturday in Philadelphia. In their 6-4 loss, Grisham had a solid day, as he hit a home run and was responsible for driving in three of the Padres’ four runs. Grisham continues to be a fringe fantasy option, as he is only hitting .217 and has nine home runs and nine stolen bases in 335 plate appearances this season. And yet, he will have days like this that will tempt deep-league fantasy players.

 

Whit Merrifield (TOR): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Whit continues to do “Whit” things. He ranks in the bottom third percentile in average exit velocity and bottom fourth percentile in hard-hit rate this season. On the other hand, he is hitting .291 this year and has six home runs, with his latest coming today. Once again, Merrifield could be a double-digit home run player and push 30 stolen bases, all while hovering near .300 on a batting average end. That’s serious value, even with fantasy managers expecting the shoe to drop at some point for the 34-year-old utility player.

 

CJ Abrams (WSH): 2-5, 3 R, 2 SB.

The Nationals have moved Abrams to the leadoff spot, and it’s starting to pay off. Abrams not only had two hits, but two stolen bases as well in the Nationals’ 7-5 win over the Cardinals. In 23 plate appearances since being moved to leadoff, he is hitting .476 with a 1.119 OPS along with a home run. With eight home runs this year and 16 stolen bases, Abrams could be pushing a 15-HR and 30-SB season by the conclusion of 2023. Don’t be surprised to see him emerge as a “sleeper” middle infield pick in fantasy drafts next offseason.

 

C.J. Cron (COL): 2-3, HR, R, RBI.

Cron has only played in 49 games this year, but he may be turning it around after being sidelined most of the year due to neck muscle spasms. In July, he is hitting .333 and posting a .922 OPS in 31 plate appearances. This also includes two home runs which are two more than he hit in May and June combined. The .251 average and .736 OPS for the year don’t look great, but he appears to finally be healthy, which means that he may finally be living up to his fantasy draft season hype (even if it is coming later than hoped).

 

Henry Davis (PIT): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

The Pirates are slowly playing themselves out of the postseason race, as they are now 41-51 after their 3-1 loss on Saturday to the Giants. However, they are letting their young stars get time, with 2021 first-overall pick Davis being a primary example. On Saturday, Davis hit his second home run of the year, and he is currently slashing .269/.360/.385 with a .745 OPS in 89 plate appearances. The barrel rate isn’t great at 5.5%, but he is posting a 40% hard-hit rate, which means that his power may be coming around in the second half. With improving power and catcher eligibility, he may be a play in not just keeper and dynasty leagues, but redraft ones as well.

 

Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/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.

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