I Want Andy
Andy Ibáñez (DET): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
The rebuilding Tigers are in a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” mode, and one of the players they’ve given some run to this year is Andy Ibáñez. You may remember the 30-year-old utilityman from his limited run in Texas the last two seasons. He compiled exactly 400 plate appearances as a Ranger and slashed an unremarkable .258/.306/.384.
Detroit claimed Ibáñez off waivers in November and gave him a few chances to be an everyday player, but the results have been similar to what we saw from him in Texas and he’s slipped back into a utility role off the bench.
Last night was Ibáñez’s best game of the season. He beat up on Cubs’ starter Drew Smyly and put up a 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB line in the Tigers’ 8-6 victory. Both of Ibáñez’s home runs came against Smyly’s knuckle curveball, and both times they were hung over the heart of the plate. Turns out that’s not something you want to do as a pitcher. Ibáñez launched both pitches over 400 feet to left field and is up to nine home runs and a .248/.281/.427 slash line this year.
On the positive side, Ibánez is barreling the baseball more than ever at a 9.7% clip, but it’s come with a plate discipline trade-off. He’s making better contact, but both his strikeout (19.3%) and walk (4%) rates are the worst we’ve seen from him in his short big-league career.
If Ibáñez was playing every day, he may be worth a look in super deep and AL-only leagues, but until he does he’s not worth a fantasy roster spot. He’s only started four of the Tigers’ last nine games.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Osleivis Basabe (TB): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Basabe has taken over the starting shortstop duties for the Rays with Wander Franco on the Restricted List and has performed admirably in his first taste of MLB action. He tagged Daniel Bard for his first career home run in Tampa Bays’ big 12-4 win over Colorado last night. Through his first 36 plate appearances, Basabe is slashing .303/.361/.485. Those numbers sat at .296/.351/.426 in 426 Triple-A plate appearances with four home runs and 16 stolen bases. He could be worth a look if you need speed and middle infield help in 14+ team leagues, but the rookie isn’t on the fantasy radar yet in shallower formats.
Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 3-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.
Ozuna is on an absolute tear right now. He has multiple hits in three of his last four games and at least one hit in 18 of his last 19. All three of his hits yesterday came against Tylor Megill and were absolutely scorched–a 114.1 mph single, a 105.8 mph double, and a 104.9 mph homer. It’s not often your worst-hit ball of the day makes it over the outfield wall.
Dansby Swanson (CHC): 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI.
The Cubs couldn’t claw their way out of an early deficit against the Tigers but it wasn’t for a lack of effort, especially on the part of their star shortstop. Swanson knocked in four runs with his big blast coming off of a Reese Olson slider that he pulled 389 feet down the left-field line. Of all the big-name free-agent shortstops last winter, it feels like Swanson is the only one not disappointing his new club. He has a 112 wRC+ and 3.9 fWAR during his first year in Wrigleyville.
Daulton Varsho (TOR): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI, SB.
The lone combo meal of Tuesday night belonged to Varsho. He saw a 98 mph Grayson Rodriguez fastball and crushed it to right-center field to give the Blue Jays an early lead. They’d eventually win 6-3 in an extra-inning affair in Baltimore. Varsho added his 15th stolen base of the year after singling in the eighth inning. Despite increasing both his line drive and fly ball rates this year, Varho’s overall production has fallen. He had a 106 wRC+ in 2022 and that’s down to just 85 this season.
Bryce Harper (PHI): 2-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Harper has struggled most of the year to look like his usual self as he’s trying to bounce back from Tommy John surgery he had in November, but it’s starting to look like he may recapture his MVP form at the perfect time for the Phillies. He spoiled Kyle Harrison’s MLB debut, taking the high-ranked prospect deep in the first inning last night. Harper entered Monday with a .309/.392/.632 slash line in August, and after his big fly last night he’s up to six homers this month.
Trea Turner continued his Philly resurgence and walked off the Giants with a two-run single lined off the glove of Camilo Doval. The Phillies have taken the first two games of a very important series for the NL Wild Card race.
Kole Calhoun (CLE): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Did you know Calhoun has become the starting first baseman and three-hole hitter for the Guardians? Yeah, I didn’t either. The early returns in his new home are positive, as he’s slashing .306/.370/.469, and most importantly his 32.1% strikeout rate from last year has nearly been cut in half all the way down to 16.7%. It’s only been 54 plate appearances, but it’s a player you may want to add to your watch list in deep formats.
Mookie Betts (LAD): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, BB, 2 SB.
It turns out that well-known professional bowler Mookie Betts is also pretty dang good at baseball. The seven-time All-Star is up to 10 stolen bases after his two swipes last night. He also has 34 home runs, 86 RBI, and 103 runs. His .300/.397/.598 slash line is his best since his 2018 MVP season.
Ben Rortvedt (NYY): 2-2, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Rortvedt has stepped into a part-time share of the catcher role in the Bronx with Jose Trevino on the IL. His solo home run was all the offense the scuffling Yankees’ lineup could muster last night as they fell 2-1 to the Nationals. It was the team’s ninth straight loss, their longest streak since 1982. In 51 plate appearances, Rortvedt is hitting just .136/.255/.295, so even in deep two-catcher formats, you can safely avoid him.
Carter Kieboom (WSH): 1-3, HR, R, RBI.
Kieboom was once one of baseball’s premier prospects, but a lot has changed in the last few years. The young third baseman struggled mightily in limited big league time from 2019-21 and then missed the entire 2022 season after having Tommy John surgery. He’s been working his way back ever since and finally made his 2023 MLB debut last night, taking Carlos Rodón deep to open the scoring in the third inning. Kieboom slashed .264/.360/.429 in 34 Triple-A games, so there may be something to monitor here. He’ll turn 26 in a few weeks, so he’s still young enough that he’s just now entering his prime years, and Washington has no reason to not give him a shot to see if there’s still some potential in his bat. Kieboom may be worth a flier in 15+ team formats, but otherwise, you can just put him on a watch list and keep an eye on him from afar.
Logan O’Hoppe (LAA): 1-3, HR, R, RBI.
O’Hoppe teed off on a Graham Ashcraft slider, pulling a pitch on the outside corner 392 feet and just over the left-field wall. The Angels’ rookie catcher just returned from a lengthy IL stint–he last played in April–so if you need catching help there’s a good chance he’s available on your waiver wire. It was just a limited 59 plate appearance sample, but O’Hoppe was slashing .283/.339/.547 before his shoulder injury and could be a fantasy difference-maker down the stretch.
Seiya Suzuki (CHC): 2-3, R, BB.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Suzuki and the idea of a sophomore-season breakout back in draft season, and it looks like he may finally be delivering on the excitement. On the season, he’s slashing .263/.335/.427 which is in line with what we saw from him last year, but recently he’s caught fire. He has hits in five straight and 10 of his last 11 contests with four home runs over that stretch. His groundball rate is up nearly five points this year to 44.6%, but it’s finally ticking down recently as he’s started to elevate the ball more often.