Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 7/3/24

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

Very García

Luis García (WSN): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.

The very first article that I ever wrote for Pitcher List posited the existence of a phenomenon known as “The Joe Schmoe Effect.” The idea behind it is that people who play fantasy baseball unconsciously assign more value to players who have cool names. Having a guy named Gunnar Henderson or Blaze Anderson on your roster is fun—when they’re good. And the concept cuts both ways. Someone named Joe Smith or Josh Bell has to work that much harder to garner your attention, because their names don’t quite jump off the page in the same way.

Luis García Jr. is a great example of The Joe Schmoe Effect in action this year. For one thing, there are two other players on MLB rosters who share his first and last name—so the Schmoe is very strong with him right out of the gate. But also, last night’s 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB performance set him on pace for a potential 20/20 season with 80+ RBI and a palatable batting average, yet he remains rostered in less than 20% of leagues on Yahoo.

García Jr. has always flashed barrel rates that hinted at 20-homer power, but until this season his 50%+ groundball rates have held him back from reaching that power potential. This year, however, he’s elevating the ball more than he ever has. Considering his ability to make contact at an above-average clip, and the fact that he plays for the stolen base-happy Nationals, there’s an outside shot of García Jr reaching the 20/20 threshold this year. So don’t let The Joe Schmoe Effect cloud your judgement.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday

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

Yordan had been quietly compiling his customarily excellent numbers this year. Then the calendar flipped to June, and he—along with the rest of the Astros—started going supernova. Alvarez is up to a .372/.442/.752 triple-slash over his last 30 games with 10 home runs and 3 stolen bases, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Riley Greene (DET): 3-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

This is the year Riley Greene truthers foresaw as prophecy this preseason, as Greene has finally tapped into his plus power after two lackluster seasons in terms of home run output. He’s already up to a career-high 15 home runs now. And if anything, his elite bat speed (74.6), barrel rate (12.9%) and Hard Hit rate (47.5%) point to him underperforming in the category. If there’s one knock here, it’s that Greene may be elevating the ball a little too much—at the expense of his BABIP and, consequently, his batting average. But I think most folks who roster Greene will happily take that tradeoff at this point.

Ryan O’Hearn (BAL): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

It’s been fascinating to watch the Orioles’ battalion of elite young players fight over playing time scraps because Ryan O’Hearn of all people has had a stranglehold on regular at-bats all season. But here we are. O’Hearn has accomplished the seemingly impossible task of transforming himself from a Big Boppy Boi into one of the most elite contact hitters in baseball this year. Sporting truly exceptional Z-Contact (89%), Whiff (19%), and Strikeout (9%) rates—and doing so while maintaining a still-solid 40.9% Hard Hit rate—is very impressive. This all looks legit.

Rowdy Tellez (PIT): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Everybody has their personal collection of inconsistent players who perpetually suck them into believing a breakout is coming ever time they string together a few good games. Tellez is one of those guys for me. And look, it’s been a great stretch—he’s smacked 3 homers over the past week, and is now hitting .319 over his last 30 games. He’s got a prime lineup spot, a hot bat, and a history of being able to hit 30+ bombs. You could do worse than roll the dice on him in deeper leagues.

Ceddanne Rafaela (BOS): 2-5, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI.

There’s no denying the production has been there for Rafaela up to this point. He’s pacing towards a 20/20 season with 100 RBI. But he’s simply not making the most of his elite speed—having been caught 6 times now on 16 stolen base attempts. And the poor quality-of-contact paired with his free-swinging approach makes me feel like a cold spell is coming. Frankly I’d be selling high here.

Yainer Diaz (HOU): 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, BB.

Yainer has really salvaged his season over the past month, going from one of the more disappointing catchers drafted this year to one of the hottest bats in the Astros’ lineup. He’s now batting .304 over the last month and .419 over his last 7 games. And though the power still hasn’t shown up yet, he’s posting better Hard Hit numbers than he did last year, when he hit 23 home runs in just 377 plate appearances. If he can get back to elevating the ball the way he did last year, he could return to being in the conversation as a top-5 catcher for fantasy.

Brent Rooker (OAK): 3-4, HR, R, RBI.

Brent Rooker is still doing Brent Rooker things—swinging out of his heels to generate absurd power (51.8% Hard Hit) at the expense of any consistent contact (35% Whiff). He’s buoyed by a .358 BABIP at the moment, so as was the case last year: Enjoy it while it lasts, and don’t be surprised when the bottom falls out.

Noelvi Marte (CIN): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Noelvi exploded for three hits upon being activated from suspension last week… and then his bat went quiet. It’s nice to see him get on the board in the power department here, but ultimately the sample size is too small at the moment to get any meaningful insights into what kind of player Marte is going to be post-steroid use.

James Wood (WSN): 2-3, R, RBI, BB, SB.

Wood swatted two batted balls over 108 MPH in this game—one of which resulted in a groundout. Wood has the tools to be a fantasy behemoth, but keep tabs on his strikeout and groundball rates over these next few weeks, as these are the red flags that could undermine his ability to perform at an elite level in the majors.

Jackson Merrill (SDP): 2-5, RBI, SB.

In a season where practically every top hitting prospect has floundered, Merrill has been a resplendent golden star. This performance lifted Merrill’s line to .339/.361/.644 over his last 15 games, and it’s encouraging to see him swipe a bag after his aggressiveness on the basepaths started to wane in recent weeks.

Brooks Lee (MIN): 2-4, RBI.

It was a promising debut for the Twins’ top prospect, who got the start at third base with Royce Lewis finding his way back to the IL. It appears Lee will get the bulk of the playing time at third in Lewis’s absence, and there’s a decent hit tool with some pop here. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

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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