Gary Sanchez (NYY): 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI.
What are we supposed to do with Gary Sánchez? On one hand, anyone reading this column is certainly aware of the power potential in his bat—he has five home runs and six doubles in June after going 2-3 with two doubles and two RBI on Sunday, and that hot streak has bumped him up to the eighth-best catcher on the season so far according to FanGraph’s auction calculator, though it’s certainly been a bumpy ride.
It’s hard not to cling to a catcher-eligible bat with 30-HR upside, especially one who could force his way into the middle of a strong lineup, but the extended brutal stretches are absolutely maddening. The strikeout rate and batting average will always make you cringe a little, but at what point is the power worth it for a guy who has been so tempting to cut at times.
Now I’m not going to analyze what to do in two-catcher leagues, AL-only leagues, or 15-team leagues —you just hold your nose and leave him in there. In single-catcher 10- and 12-team leagues, though, I think it’s a bit more interesting.
Well, it can be, anyway. Obviously, you hold him right now while he’s hot, but what you should do when his next 4-40 stretch with 20 strikeouts requires a bit of thought (and don’t think it won’t happen, because it’s very plausible).
Benching him is at first the most obvious option; however, rostering two catchers in a one-catcher league is just not palatable to me unless you have unreasonably deep benches. The only real options in shallow formats, then, are to roll him out or cut him.
Rolling him out in very active leagues or leagues where you are power-starved is totally fine—I get it. No one else at the position offers what he can offer. That said, if you already have plenty of power, I recommend looking at your opponents in the standings. Are the others chasing/ahead of you hurting for power? How many points do they stand to gain if Gary gets hot? If they are already high in the power rankings, then it’s unlikely they can get a whole lot from what Gary can offer, and you may be safe to let him go and find something better.
Of course, that assumes you project Gary like I do—as a top-eight overall catcher who will have three-week stretches of being a top-five catcher and being a bottom-five catcher. I personally just don’t want to take those hits from the catcher spot and prefer milder options or streaming, so I dangle Gary in trades where I have him for a Toby with a few nice starts coming up every time he gets hot.
I’m not necessarily saying that Gary is no good or that you need to cut or trade him—at this moment, he’s obviously raking. It’s more like I’m saying that you’ll likely run into a scenario in the next 1-2 months where Gary isn’t being very good and you’ll want to cut or trade him, and that’s OK.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday:
Wilmer Flores (SF): 4-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.
Flores has been settling in as the regular third baseman for the Giants while Evan Longoria recovers from a sprained shoulder, with a hit in each of his last nine appearances including three home runs, 13 combined runs and RBI, and zero strikeouts. While Flores is unlikely to be someone you will consider rostering long term in mixed leagues, his moderate power, strong plate and contact skills, and eligibility at first, second, and third could be very helpful in deeper leagues until Longoria returns.
Brandon Crawford (SF): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.
His 16 home runs on the season are the second-most in a single season for his entire career. And it’s June. He’s been a top-10 shortstop so far on the season and there’s no choice but to keep riding the wave until it crashes on the shore (which hey, maybe it won’t!). No one is likely to desire him in a trade, so just keep him plugged in.
Kolten Wong (MIL): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Wong is back and doing Wong stuff—hitting for some average with a bit of pop and speed. He’s best utilized as a middle infielder in deep leagues, but he could be a streamer in 12-teamers in pinch, especially with some softer matchups against Arizona and Colorado on the horizon.
Byron Buxton (MIN): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
This is just what he can do when healthy. I wonder if the steals will come down as he fights through injuries, but the hitting will be there when he plays. It’s who he is now.
Luis Arraez (MIN): 3-5, R.
Arraez is a .300 hitter—in fact, he’s a .319 hitter through his first 169 games in the majors. The question is whether he can find any power at all, and while he’ll never do much more than 10 home runs, I do think he can get there. He’ll be tough to start in shallow 10- and 12-teamers, but once you get deeper than that, he really ought to be on your watch list for contact and runs scored, and I do think a little speed and power is in there, even if it’s not showing right now.
Raimel Tapia (COL): 2-4, R, BB, SB.
The once-heralded prospect has continued to cut down on the strikeouts and hit for a good batting average, much in the same vein as 2020, only this time with more power! Not a ton of power, mind you—I’m not expecting more than 10-12 home runs by the end of the season, but 10-12 home runs and 18-20 steals with a batting average that threatens .300 is a pretty strong fantasy outfielder. The speed, batting average, and potential to score 80 runs or so make him a top 40-50 outfielder for the rest of the season.
C.J. Cron (COL): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Coors doesn’t just add free home runs, folks—it’s a giant ballpark. Using Statcat’s Expected Home Runs by Park (which admittedly doesn’t account for the air density factor in Colorado, only the dimensions), his batted balls would have left the yard up to five extra times in other parks. It has helped his batting average quite a bit due to the giant power alleys, but at this stage, Cron is more like a top-20 to top-25 first baseman for the rest of the season.
AJ Pollock (LAD): 3-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, BB.
The batting average is still there in his limited action, I suppose, but with speed not being much a part of his game, limited power, and plenty of days off, I don’t really think you can roster him outside of 15-team leagues.
David Fletcher (LAA): 2-4, 2B, R.
While he hasn’t hit a home run or stolen a base, Fletcher has turned it on in June, slashing .361/.391/.443 with five doubles and 20 combined runs and RBI. The problem for fantasy managers is that he’s hitting ninth instead of first, which makes it really hard for a batting average guy to produce. He’s hard to recommend as anything more than a last-bat-on-the-roster guy in deep leagues until he can go back to leading off, but with Justin Upton still sporting an OPS over 1.000 since taking over that role, it may be a long wait.
Ketel Marte (ARI): 3-4, 2 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.
While he only has one home run on the month and one stolen base, at least Marte hits near the top of the order. While he’s showcased a little power lately, hitting four doubles in his last three games, it’s been almost three weeks since he smacked a dinger, and he’s looking a lot more like a 15-home run guy than a 20-home run guy with each passing day.
Daz Cameron (DET): 2-5, 2 RBI, SB.
He’s striking out a ton and not taking any walks, but he is hitting and running! He has a hit in four straight starts and two steals in eight appearances, so those in deep leagues might take a flyer for the speed while he’s hot. I can’t recommend him for much more than that, though—the plate discipline is too scary.
Akil Baddoo (DET): 1-2, 3 BB, SB.
Baddoo notched his fourth consecutive start where he’s gotten on base at least twice and extended his hitting streak to eight games. Baddoo has walked more than he’s struck out in June, which has helped him steal three bases this month, and his .441 OBP since May 1st leads all hitters with at least 100 plate appearances in that stretch. It’s hard to believe that this is the same hitter who had a .242 OBP in April, and his incredible growth should have him firmly on your radar in OBP formats.
Trey Mancini (BAL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
If you’re not rooting for Mancini, do you even like baseball? He’s a top-5 to top-10 first baseman the rest of the way for me. This is awesome.
Kyle Schwarber (WSH): 3-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.
Make it now nine home runs in ten games for Schwarber, which is as many as he hit all season before these ten games. He’s a notoriously streaky hitter who got off to a terrible start to the season, but his 30 home run upside along with the strong OBP numbers he’s posted throughout his career means he probably ought to be rostered in more than just 58% of Yahoo leagues. It’s worth noting that he’s been battling some sore knees and left this game after his third knock, and we aren’t 100% sure if anything will come out of that for this week.
Enrique Hernández (BOS): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
He’s hitting much better over his last 10 games, slashing .275/.370/.475, and continues to lead off about half of the time. That’s fine, I guess, for 15-team leagues, but I’d only be thinking about him in most mixed leagues when I have an opening at one of his positions and the Red Sox are facing several weak lefties. The latter doesn’t apply for at least the rest of the month, so I’m mostly out on him for now.
Whit Merrifield (KC): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
He has multiple hits in five of his last six starts and continues to be one of the most consistent hitters in the game. The Royals are about to start a long road trip, and starting Friday, they’ll face some soft pitching in Texas and Boston, so you should have plenty more reasons to smile about Merrifield in the near future.
Paul Goldschmidt (STL): 4-7, HR, 4 RBI, BB.
I had hoped that the Votto-esque plate discipline would stick around after we saw it in 2020, but he’s mostly been average in 2021 in all things. The five steals have been a nice surprise, and the .306/.368/.548 batting line in June is closer to expectations, but it’s otherwise been a disappointing season so far. The fact he bats third for the Cardinals means I probably am not selling low here—I’m more just kinda bummed in the leagues where I plugged him in as my starting first baseman. It’d hardly be a shock if he turned it around and finished as a top-10 first baseman, but my expectations have dropped from top-12 to top-15.
Carlos Correa (HOU): 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB.
He’s healthy, on a 30 home run, 90 run, and 90 RBI pace, and is hitting .296. I’m not going to say anything about the elephant in the room that rhymes with “smealth” and say that when he’s in the lineup, he’s a top-10 fantasy shortstop.
Abraham Toro (HOU): 4-5, R, RBI.
Toro has done well to produce in a very small sample so far in 2021, hitting a home run, stealing a base, and taking two walks to one strikeout in nine games. He looks like he has the first shot at playing time at third while Alex Bregman is out, and he could be out for an extended period with a quad injury, and he has an OK prospect pedigree as the third-best prospect in a thin Astros system who raked in triple-A before his call-up, but he’s probably not more than a flyer in 15-teamers right now.
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