I See London, I See France

Scott Chu reviews 18 of Sunday's top hitting performances.

Ty France (SEA): 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI.

After a scorching hot start to 2021, Ty France cooled off in a big way before hitting the IL earlier this month. Most fantasy players likely let him go once he went down, and rightfully so, as he was slashing just .196/.295/.330 for the month prior to the injury and while France had some preseason hype, he wasn’t the type of player who ought to sit on a roster during a month-long slump.

Since his return from the IL, France has been on fire. Sunday’s two-hit performance where he smacked a double and drove in three runners was his third two-hit game of the week, and while the power is slightly lacking, it was good enough to ensure he stays in the middle of the order for a little while longer, especially when combined with his very strong plate discipline.

Now, I’m not sure France projects as the type of guy who stays on a 12-team mixed league roster for an entire season, as he’s unlikely to make it to 20 home runs and he doesn’t really provide speed. That being said, just because a player’s long-term outlook isn’t particularly rosy doesn’t mean they aren’t fantasy-relevant.

Over the course of a season, there are as many as one hundred players who move in and out of the fantasy conversation due to bumps in playing time, moving up in the order, or just being on a hot streak. Conversely, those players often go cold, move back down in the order, or lose playing time. I think it would be a grievous mistake to assume that just because a player doesn’t have long-term value it means they aren’t worth your attention. I firmly believe that in 10- and 12-team formats, it is absolutely necessary to burn and churn your way through the bottom 10-20% of your roster, if not more.

Players like France are essential to that strategy of keeping a fresh lineup. He’s been hitting well over the last week, and while his upcoming series against Oakland may be mildly tough, we know that a hot France is capable of being a real impactful player. He’s certainly not a must-add, but if you’re in a 12-team and deeper league and have a need for an infielder, France is as good of a speculative add as any.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday:

Dylan Carlson (STL): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

The power hasn’t quite been what we dreamed about in his first 86 big league games, but he’s taken a lot of steps in the right direction in 2021 compared to his 2020 debut. The 23% strikeout rate and 11% walk rate are very much in line with what we saw in the minor leagues (as opposed to the 29.4% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate in 2020), and his .270 batting average, .359 OBP, and 50 combined runs and RBI make it clear that this kid belongs in the majors. While he only has just a 32.8% hard-hit rate and 14 extra-base hits in 51 games, there should be no doubts about Carlson’s tools and upside.

Ketel Marte (ARI): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.

Marte’s home run on Sunday was his first since returning from the IL on May 19th, and just his second extra-base hit. The Diamondbacks still seem to trust Marte as their everyday centerfielder, but both they and fantasy managers are desperate for another stretch like he had in his first five games of the season. He’s only played 17 games, so there’s no reason to panic or anything, but when put in context with his full career, we have to hope that 2019’s breakout is less of an outlier than it currently appears to be.

Josh Reddick (ARI): 3-5, 2B, R, RBI.

In his first ten appearances as a Diamondback, Reddick has a .324 batting average and .459 slugging with 12 hits (including five doubles) and has been working mostly out of the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup. There’s not much 12-team appeal or upside here for a full season, but his ability to hit for contact and his average-to-above-average defense means he’ll likely continue to steal at-bats against righties and be worth a look in 15-team and deeper leagues for managers with bad injury luck so far.

Mauricio Dubón (SF): 2-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

Dubón is mostly known for his positional versatility and strong hit tool, and while his power isn’t likely to become a standout tool anytime soon, those in 15-team and deeper formats would likely appreciate his flexibility as more and more players wind up on the IL each day. He’d need to be hitting and running a lot more to be worth considering in a 12-teamer for a full season, but don’t be shocked if there are short stretches where he’s worth streaming even in shallower formats throughout the year.

Austin Slater (SF): 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI.

The batting average is nothing to write home about, but Slater already has seven home runs and seven steals on the season. He’s actually been on quite a tear since the start of 2020, and in his last 73 games has twelve home runs, 15 steals, and a solid .823 OPS. His elevated strikeout rate is a bit of a concern, and he sits two to three times a week, but with three dingers in his last five appearances, he may be due for some extra playing time.

David Fletcher (LAA): 2-4, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI.

I’ve been a big fan of the slap-hitting Fletcher since he debuted in 2018 due to his excellent contact skills and versatility, but 2021 has been a step in the wrong direction. His .265 batting average isn’t a problem on its own, but when you combine it with the fact that he’s hit zero home runs this season and has been demoted to the ninth spot in the lineup, it has been hard to consider him in anything less than a 15-team format. If there’s a silver lining, it’s over his last eight games he’s walking twice as often as he strikes out and has a 1.000 OPS (although that number is a bit misleading as he has both a .500 OBP and .500 SLG). The hot streak and positional flexibility mean there are probably plenty of 12-team managers who could use him right now, and while I’d much prefer to see him batting first, the fact he’s hitting at all is a step in the right direction.

Kyle Seager (SEA): 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

The .222 batting average and .291 OBP are not good at all, but if you hold your nose a bit and get in closer, you can see that he has 19 home runs in his last 104 games. He’s only hit 30 home runs once in his career (2016), but with the power that has resurfaced since the start of last season, a healthy Seager is a real threat to reach that mark again.

Whit Merrifield (KC): 2-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, SB.

His .374 slugging on the season is nothing short of a disappointment (especially when you realize that he hit three home runs in his first four games and has just one home run since) but he’s made up for it with 15 stolen bases. While his current pace resembles his 45 steals from 2018, it’s likely more realistic to expect him to be closer to 30-35 and consider anything above that to be a happy surprise. A final line of 15 home runs, 30 steals, and a .275-.280 batting average is very much in play and would once again make him one of fantasy’s most valuable second baseman.

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

Tellez has been relegated to a pinch-hitting role for the smoking hot Blue Jays thanks to a surprising performance from Randal Grichuk and a baffling inability to hit righties. In fact, the 26-year-old first baseman’s reverse split (meaning he’s a lefty who hits better against lefties) has held through 720 career plate appearances. Platoon splits data from a single season isn’t all that meaningful without specific context, but at this point, we have to assume there’s something about it. It’s a bummer, though, as his only real path to playing time right now would be against right-handed pitching.

Mike Zunino (TB): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Low batting average? Yup. 35% or higher strikeout rate? Yup. Tons of power? Yup. Then this all checks out as vintage Mike Zunino. His slumps will bury your team in a 0-4 with three strikeouts wasteland, but his hot streaks come with a plethora of home runs.

Gary Sánchez (NYY): 2-3, RBI, BB.

At this point, I think I just want Sánchez to turn into Mike Zunino, because at least then I can stop dreaming about the past and accept him for what he is—a fringy, streaky catcher in single-catcher leagues with a painful batting average and 25 home run upside.

Edward Olivares (KC): 2-4, R.

It was the 2021 debut for the 25-year-old outfielder, and the Royals wasted no time in plugging him right into the sixth spot of the order. Their confidence was rewarded with two hits, and while Olivares isn’t the type of prospect worth spending significant FAAB on in 12-teamers, he should at least be on your watch list after hitting five home runs and swiping seven bags in just 20 minor league appearances.

Webster Rivas (SD): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.

The 30-year-old backstop finally made his MLB debut on Friday, and if nothing else, it’s awesome that he got his first two hits (and his first home run) in his second game. The minor leagues are a long, perilous journey for many players, and there are few who have spent as long as he did waiting for his shot. Swing away, Rivas. I’m rooting for you.

Cedric Mullins (BAL): 2-4, 3B, SB.

May wasn’t quite as good as April for the O’s centerfielder, but two things are now clear—first, he’s an everyday player in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. Second, his floor doesn’t look nearly as low as I feared, as even though he posted just a .392 slugging for the month, he still swiped six bags and did just enough to hold on to the leadoff spot. As long as he’s batting at the top of the order and posting an OBP above .330, he’s locked into all of my 12-team and deeper lineups.

Nick Madrigal (CWS): 2-4, 3B, R, RBI.

I received zero joy saying this on the Hacks & Jacks podcast that dropped this morning (which I think of as the spiritual successor to On the Barrel), but Madrigal’s solid .315 batting average in his first 75 games isn’t all that useful in a 12-team league because it comes with virtually nothing else. He has just three stolen bases and one home run so far in his major league career, and until he starts running or batting first, I’ll have to consider him nothing more than a short-term injury replacement in 12-teamers.

Jonathan Schoop (DET): 2-3, R, 2 BB.

Schoop has quietly put together a really nice 15-day stretch, slashing .322/.412/.525 with three home runs as a mainstay in the heart of the Tigers’ order. His season-long outlook is something like a 20-23 home run hitter with a middling .250-.260 batting average, but 15-team managers shouldn’t hesitate to activate him if they need an extra bat somewhere in their lineup (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t right now?).

Charlie Blackmon (COL): 3-4, 2 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

This was the best game of the 34-year-old veteran’s season so far, and while his .250 batting average and .381 slugging so far suggest his goose might be cooked, his .310 expected batting average and .481 expected slugging suggest he may be more unlucky than washed up. Those stats shouldn’t be taken entirely at face value, as Statcast doesn’t incorporate direction, and Blackmon’s heavy pull and groundball rates suggest that the shift is cutting him down a bit, but if nothing else, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for one of the last few vestiges of the Rockies’ roster over the last decade.


Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter)

Scott Chu

Scott Chu is a Senior Fantasy Analyst here at Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. He's also the inventor of Fantasy Curling (as seen the Wall Street Journal) and co-host of the Hacks & Jacks Podcast on the PL Podcast Network, and 4x FSWA Award nominee for Best Fantasy Baseball Podcast. In addition to being a fantasy analyst, he's a dad of three, animal lover, Simpsons fanatic, amateur curler, a CODA, and an attorney.

6 responses to “I See London, I See France”

  1. larry womack says:

    Hi Scott,
    Need a streaming hitter-choices


    Just need production-leaning Olivares because of speed-but still needs to hit.


    • Scott Chu says:

      Hey Larry! Olivares is certainly the best bet for a steal, but in terms of overall production, I love the Twins schedule this week (@BAL, @KC) and would probably lean Refsnyder (assuming he’s OK after slamming into the wall today) or Larnach.

  2. Chris says:

    One note on France, he got hurt in late April, so his poor numbers were due to injury. Your article almost makes it sound like he slumped, then got hurt.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Hey Chris, thanks for reading and for the feedback.

      It’s true that the poor numbers were almost caused at least in part by that wrist injury on a diving play on the 25th (and he’d been hit by a pitch a few days earlier, though he was still hitting after that), but the fact is he did stay in the lineup for 11 games before hitting the IL, and oh boy was it ugly. He slashed .096/.217/.115 while attempting to play through it, and I’d wager a guess that many fantasy managers dropped him either before he hit the IL or shortly after due to that ugly stretch.

      While it was a very understandable slump, a slump is still a slump, and it started 11 games before he hit the IL, and I tried to use hitting the IL instead of saying “when he got hurt” to make a clearer timeline, and I’ll continue to try to use deliberate phrasing in the future.

  3. Mike Honcho says:

    In a single catcher 12 team roto, who do you want between G.Sanchez and Narvaez?

    • Scott Chu says:

      Hey Mike — For this week, give me Narvaez. He’s at home all week against the not-so-intimidating pitching staffs of Detroit and Arizona.

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