Fantasy Baseball Daily Hitting Recap: 7/8/23

Breaking down notable hitting performances from yesterday’s games.

Duran, Duran

Jarren Duran (BOS): 3-5, 2B, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB.

As anyone who follows prospects knows, sometimes prospect development takes time and isn’t always linear.

A top-5 prospect in the Red Sox system from 2020 to 2022, according to Baseball America, expectations in Boston were high for the toolsy and athletic outfielder who was drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 draft out of Long Beach State. It was thought among Red Sox fans that Duran could be a multi-threat in centerfield for years to come, not to mention soften the blow of the club losing the outfield core of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts, who helped lead the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2018.

Duran made his debut in 2021, but unfortunately, it wasn’t an easy rookie or sophomore season for the former Beach product.

In 33 games and 112 plate appearances in 2021, Duran slashed .215/.241/.336 with only two home runs and two stolen bases. He was particularly plagued in his first season in the big leagues by a high K% (35.7%) and low BB/K ratio (0.10). That said, hopes remained high that with some adjustments, Duran could see better results in 2022.

That proved to be far from the case.

The batting average (.221) improved slightly, and his OPS did rise from .577 in 2021 to .646 in 2022. On the other hand, his K rate remained high at 28.3% and his BB/K ratio only improved to 0.22 in 58 games and 223 plate appearances. In addition, his counting stats proved to be paltry, as he only hit three home runs and stole seven bases, despite having nearly double the number of at-bats from his rookie season.

Not surprisingly, Duran was pretty much an afterthought in most fantasy drafts.

His overall preseason ranking according to Fantasy Pros aggregate data was 580th, which included him being ranked 574th in NFBC leagues and 455th overall in Fantrax formats. Those rankings seem about right for a guy who didn’t have a clear-cut role in the Boston outfield going into Spring Training.

Despite the meager expectations and disappointing first two seasons in the Major Leagues, Duran has put it together in year three.

In 69 games and 249 plate appearances, Duran is slashing .319/.365/.520 and is finally showing the speed-power combo as a hitter that made him such an intriguing prospect a few years ago. He already has hit five home runs, and he has stolen 17 bases in 18 attempts. In fact, his stolen base total through 69 games this year is nearly double his number from his first two seasons combined.

On Saturday against the Athletics, Duran had one of his best games of the 2023 season. He not only collected three hits, but hit a home run, scored three runs, netted three RBI, and grabbed his 17th stolen base of the year. That’s a line that Red Sox and fantasy managers who roster him can be happy about.

There’s still a lot of the 2023 season to go, and at 26 years old, there still is a lot of room for Duran to grow and become more of a long-term mainstay in the outfield in Boston.

Duran is still available in nearly 63% of Yahoo leagues and 89% of ESPN leagues.

After the All-Star Break, it’s likely that those numbers will be a lot smaller.

And it makes sense, especially if Duran can continue this pace and perhaps be a 15-HR and 30-SB outfielder with an average of around .300 by the conclusion of this season.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Saturday

Giancarlo Stanton (NYY): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Injuries have once again limited Stanton this season, as he is hitting .208 with a .716 OPS in 158 plate appearances. That said, Saturday showed what kind of fantasy potential Stanton holds, as he hit two home runs and collected three RBI in a 6-3 win over the Cubs. Stanton is posting a .338 xwOBA, which is 34 points higher than his actual wOBA. Thus, some positive regression may be due soon, if he can stay healthy.


Josh Jung (TEX): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The Rangers rookie earned his first All-Star spot, as the fans voted him in over other big names like Matt Chapman of the Blue Jays and José Ramírez of the Guardians. Jung has been solid in all aspects of his game, as evidenced by his 2.6 fWAR, .829 OPS, and 19 home runs this season. That said, he is striking out at a 28.3% clip, and the walk rate of 6.2% isn’t nearly high enough to make up for those strikeouts. Against the Nationals on Saturday though, Jung hit home runs 18 and 19, which should quiet the naysayers for now.


Willy Adames (MIL): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

It hasn’t been a great season for Adames, as he is only hitting .209 with a .709 OPS, the second-straight season in Milwaukee where his batting numbers have tumbled (he had a .756 OPS in 2022 after posting a .818 OPS in 2021). The Brewers lost thanks to Elly De La Cruz’s heroics on the basepaths, but Adames kept the Brew Crew in the game thanks to two home runs and three RBI. Adames will be a free agent after 2024, and if he wants to either be an extension candidate after this season or be a sought-after free agent in two years, he’s going to need to have a strong stat line after the All-Star Break.


Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 3-5, 3B, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.

The Royals’ offense has been one of the worst in baseball and has especially been bad after Vinnie Pasquantino went down for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury. Witt on the other hand has been one of the lone bright spots, as he continues to show power (14 home runs) and speed on the basepaths (27 stolen bases) while seeing improvement in his batting average (.280 average in June). Kansas City needs a whole lot of help both in the short and long term. That said, Witt is proving that he is getting better in his sophomore season and could be due for a big second half.


Josh Bell (CLE): 3-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

It seems like Bell is finally turning a corner in Cleveland after a slow start in 2023. Bell posted a .787 OPS in June, and he also hit four home runs, which is the most he’s hit in a month thus far this season. Against Kansas City on Saturday, Bell had a three-hit day while also collecting two RBI in the Guardians’ 10-6 win. The Guardians are back over .500 and in the thick of the AL Central race with the Twins as of Sunday. If the Guardians want to pull ahead of Minnesota in the division, they will need Bell’s production.


Joey Meneses (WSH): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

It’s not as if Meneses has been “bad” this season for the Nationals, coming off his breakout 56-game stretch in 2022. He still is hitting .284 and he has collected 45 RBI this season. However, the power just hasn’t been there in his sophomore season. He only has five home runs in 353 plate appearances this season. Last season, he had 13 home runs in 113 fewer plate appearances. For a first baseman, that kind of home run total isn’t going to cut it, especially in fantasy play (he is rostered in 46% of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday). Meneses did hit his fifth on Saturday, so it’ll be interesting if Meneses can tap into his dormant power after the All-Star Break.


Michael Conforto (SF): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Austin Slater’s pinch-hit heroics will be remembered, but Conforto’s performance in the Giants’ 5-3 win over the Rockies shouldn’t be forgotten. Conforto had three hits, two RBI, and a home run, the latter being his 13th of the season. It’s been a year of ups and down for Conforto after a full season off, as he is only hitting .235 with a .749 OPS this year. On the other hand, he has played in 76 games this year, and for him, staying healthy is a victory in itself. If Conforto can stay on the field, he could be due for a nice second half, especially now that he has shaken off the rust after not playing a single game prior to this season since 2021.


Alek Thomas (ARI): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

After being demoted to Triple-A Reno in May, Thomas has been on fire since returning to the Diamondbacks on June 19th. In the month of June, Thomas hit .300 with a .792 OPS in 41 plate appearances. July has been more of the same for Thomas, as he is hitting .333 with a .933 OPS in 15 plate appearances. Thomas has always flashed Gold-Glove caliber leather (77th percentile in Outs Above Average), but it’s nice to see the bat come around after a short stint in Reno. If Corbin Carroll’s shoulder injury is a long-term deal, the Diamondbacks will need Thomas to keep this up in the second half in order to maintain their lead in the NL West.


Jordan Walker (STL): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

It’s been a disappointing year for the Cardinals overall, as they are 15 games under .500 as of Sunday. One Cardinal who hasn’t been underwhelming though is Walker, who is having a good rookie season, even if he is not getting the shine that Carroll, Jung, and Gunnar Henderson are receiving (mostly because they are on winning teams). In 198 plate appearances, Walker has hit eight home runs and he is slashing .287/.348/.464 with a .812 OPS. The barrels haven’t necessarily been consistent (8.0% Barrel rate) and neither has the sweet-spot percentage (27.7%). The exit velocity though has been, as he ranks in the 93rd percentile in max exit velocity and 91st percentile in hard-hit rate. Some continued adjustments could make him a second-half fantasy masher.


Photo by 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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