In Jazz, It’s the Notes You Don’t Play That Matter

Scott Chu covers a selection of Sunday's most successful sluggers.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MIA): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. finally hit his first home run since July 10, going 2-4 with that home run and another run scored, and while he hasn’t successfully stolen a base since July 11, perhaps that’s the next slump he can break free from. I’m not sure I’m comfortable trotting Jazz out there in 12-team leagues right now due to his very limited production and the fact that we are running out of time for him to break out, but at least this was something that suggests he’s heading in the right direction.

I think one of the hardest things to do in fantasy leagues at this time of year is to let go of players who you know or feel are going to be good players, but who can’t help you this season. Players like Jazz, who have tantalizing upside but who have fallen into a rather deep rut, can make or break your late-season comeback. Those 12 home runs, 11 steals, and .254/.313/.429 batting line makes it all too easy to leave Jazz in your 12-team fantasy lineup, but the harsh reality is that he’s hitting .250/.295/.386 since July 1 with just three home runs and one steal—and he’s been caught four times.

It sounds so harsh to say this about one of the more promising prospects in the game right now, but in 10- and 12-team redraft leagues, you just have to let these guys go unless you can point to something that makes you truly believe the change is coming. It’s OK if that thing isn’t perfectly tangible. It may be something as simple as the last several games of at-bats you’ve watched, or the volume of his contact in some live games you attended, but it has to be something.

If there isn’t that something, and you’re not one of the rare few who are sitting on a giant lead heading into the end of the season, it’s time to move on. The draft capital you spent is long gone, and the projections we had in March are no longer applicable. Go ahead and improvise.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday:

Tommy La Stella (SF): 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI.

While La Stella has been limited to a platoon role after his return from the IL due to the emergence of several surprise stars in San Francisco, the scrappy infielder has done what he does best in limited plate appearances—put the ball in play. In fact, in his last 33 plate appearances, he has just one strikeout and three walks. Without a full-time role, La Stella just can’t do enough to justify a roster spot in mixed leagues, but should a larger role open up, he becomes very interesting in 15-team leagues due to his contact skills.

Wander Franco (TB): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.

Over his last nine games, Franco now has three home runs, two doubles, and 18 combined runs and RBI to go along with a sparkling 9.8% strikeout rate and a 7.3% walk rate. While his .244 batting average on the season leaves a bit to be desired, it’s largely a product of the number of balls he’s hitting into the ground. That said, he put just as many balls in the air as he did on the ground over this eight-game stretch, and all of these little improvements bode well for his chances to become the player we believe we can be sooner rather than later.

Luke Voit (NYY): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

While he did hit his second home run since coming off the IL back on August 8, Voit’s 38.7% strikeout rate and .207 batting average over this 31 plate appearance sample is a bit troubling due to the way the Yankees have assembled their roster since the Trade Deadline. With Gio Urshela and Anthony Rizzo due back soon and Gary Sánchez starting a rehab assignment, the Yankees’ need for Voit shrinks considerably, and he’s not as versatile (or as left-handed) as his teammate Rougned Odor. While I am not sure fantasy managers in deeper leagues can cut Voit yet, I think it’s about time to think about what it would take for you to make that move.

Rougned Odor (NYY): 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI.

There will be no room for Odor in this lineup by the end of this week. If he remains with the big league club, expect him to play less than three times a week.

Max Kepler (MIN): 2-3, 2 2B, 3 R, 2 BB.

The 15 home runs and eight steals from Kepler have been nice, but a .210/.300/.430 batting line doesn’t pay any fantasy bills in the outfield. The plate discipline has improved significantly so far in August, as he’s walked almost as much as he’s struck out in 51 plate appearances, but the upside is not high enough to justify the 40% rostership on Yahoo or the 56% rostership on ESPN. While he has been the 62nd best outfielder on the season per FanGraphs auction calculator, I would think of him largely as a situational play in 10- and 12-team leagues due to his rather low counting stats and ugly batting average.

Yonny Hernandez (TEX): 2-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB.

It’s weird to see a player in the majors who never slugged .370 at any stop in the minor leagues, but Hernandez’s speed and on-base skills have kept him moving along in the Ranger’s organization. Hernandez does a nice job avoiding strikeouts and taking walks and should be able to maintain a .340 or better OBP in the majors, but the double he hit Sunday is going to be outside of the norm for his production, and he’ll need a strong wind blowing out to hit a home run. This is a speed-only play for 15-team managers who are desperate.

Josh Rojas (ARI): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Rojas has regained the power stroke he found early in the season with four straight games with an extra-base hit and his first home run since June 28. His versatility makes him useful in many 12-team scenarios, even if he isn’t particularly good at any one thing outside of batting average. A final line of 15 home runs and 12 steals would be great, though I also expect it to come with fewer than 75 runs scored or 50 RBI. He’s very much a poor man’s Jake Cronenworth with a bit more speed and a lot less of just about everything else.

Jake Cronenworth (SD): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.

The new-age Marwin Gonzalez keeps on keeping on and should end the season with about 20-22 home runs, five or six stolen bases, and a healthy .270-.280 batting average. He’s been a top-10 first and second baseman and a top-12 shortstop all season long.

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD): 4-5, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI.

After yet another IL stint for his troubled shoulder, Tatis came back as strong as ever. While the injury may continue to worry fantasy managers, it is abundantly clear that a healthy Tatis is the best fantasy hitter in the land for 2021.

Will Smith (LAD): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.

It’s great to see Smith playing more than we may have expected during the preseason, as this was already his 97th game for the Dodgers. He’s been fantasy’s second-best catcher on the season (though he’s WAY behind Salvador Perez, who has over 100 more plate appearances than Smith) and is likely the top catcher in dynasty formats (unless you’re trying to win now).

Justin Turner (LAD): 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.

At this point, I think we just need to lock him in for about 130 games, 22-25 home runs, a .290-.300 batting average, and plenty of counting stats until he retires.

Trea Turner (LAD): 3-4, 2B, 4 R, RBI, BB, SB.

This was his second stolen bag for the Dodgers in eight starts, which makes me feel much better than I felt when the Dodgers originally acquired him. They don’t need to take risks on the basepaths in LA due to the strength of the lineup, but the fact that they still allow Turner to run is very encouraging for his fantasy outlook.

Max Muncy (LAD): 2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.

Time will tell for sure, but the improved strikeout rate combined with the continued power and run production suggests that this is the best Max Muncy we’ve seen yet. A 35 home run season with over 90 runs and 90 RBI is possible, and if it comes with his current .272/.402/.550 line, he’ll be as coveted as ever on draft day next season.

Phil Gosselin (LAA): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.

In AL-only formats, Gosselin is a great find as he’s batting fourth for the Angels right now. I mean, I really want to let that sink in. Phil Gosselin, who plays on the same team as Mike TroutShohei OhtaniJustin UptonJared WalshJo AdellBrandon Marsh, and Anthony Rendon, has hit second, third, or fourth in each of his last 10 starts. There’s very little power here, so there isn’t much to go after in most mixed leagues, but it’s still just a crazy thing to think about.

Corey Dickerson (TOR): 2-4, HR, 3 R, RBI.

Dickerson feels as though he’s been in the league forever (and to his credit, it’s because he has been in the majors since 2013). At this point in his career, some of the power has evaporated and he’s probably best utilized exactly in the way the Blue Jays seem intent on using him—as a sixth or seventh hitter against right-handed pitching. That’s probably not going to be enough to sustain a lot of mixed league production, but AL-only and DFS managers should be more than happy with what they get from the aging slugger, which is likely to be a couple of doubles and home runs and a .270 batting average.

Teoscar Hernández (TOR): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB.

Perhaps we aren’t saying enough about the season we’re seeing from Hernández, who now has 17 hits, three home runs, eight runs scored, and 12 RBI over his last eight games. As of this morning, Hernández is the third-best fantasy outfielder of 2021 according to the FanGraphs auction calculator and should remain a top-10 option for the rest of the season.

Santiago Espinal (TOR): 3-4, SB.

As with many guys I’ve discussed today, there’s very little power in this bottom-of-the-order bat, but we should give credit where credit is due, as this unheralded middle infielder has a .289 batting average and .343 OBP through his first 100 major league games (250 plate appearances). Those ratios are extremely empty due to his lineup spot and limited power, but if nothing else, he does help keep that Toronto lineup turning over for the big bats at the top.

DJ Peters (TEX): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

The 25-year-old outfielder is a classic three true outcomes type of hitter, and Sunday night was a display of what his 70-grade power is capable of. While it will be difficult for Peters to succeed at the major league level with his very limited hit tool, dynasty managers should at least keep an eye on his strikeout rate. If he can bring it under 30%, he might be able to be a useful contributor in deeper formats.

Kyle Schwarber (BOS): 2-4, 2 2B, R.

His first two hits in Fenway had exit velocities over 100 miles per hour and traveled over 360 feet, and while they both ended up as a double, it’s easy to see the upside in his bat in Boston. I’m not sure he’ll get to 35 home runs due to the time he lost to injury, but he should get comfortably over 30 and continue to hit closer to .250 than .220.

Myles Straw (CLE): 2-4, R, RBI, BB.

The speedy leadoff man has been excellent in a Cleveland uniform, slashing .317/.386/.444 with 12 runs scored and three steals since July 31. His run-scoring potential isn’t close to what it was in Houston, but he should slap enough singles to remain relevant in roto leagues with at least 12 teams.

José Ramírez (CLE): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Rafael Devers is doing his best to make it a contest, but it’s hard to imagine any other third baseman being at the top of the third base rankings coming into next season than J-Ram. While Devers may be more consistent with the bat, he simply can’t bring the speed that Ramírez has, which is absolutely critical in many fantasy formats. We’re looking down the barrel of his second 35 home run, 20 stolen base season, after all, and that’s a pretty exciting thing.

Austin Riley (ATL): 3-5, HR, 2 R, RBI.

So this is what the next level of Riley looks like. Riley clearly made great strides with his eye and pitch recognition, and it has allowed him to really unlock the vast amounts of power he’s had in his bat since the beginning. Keep an eye on the strikeout rate, as pitchers will continue to make changes to their approach that Riley needs to adjust to, but the current results are obviously very encouraging.

Matt Chapman (OAK): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.

We can’t get too excited yet, but in his last five games, Chapman has six walks, eight hits, and three home runs. He’s been truly dreadful all season long, but would it really be that crazy if he hit .250 the rest of the way with 10 more home runs? I’m not saying he will, I’m just saying it’s not like we all don’t think he could. After all, he hit 10 home runs in 37 games in 2020, and he’s going to play about that many games (plus maybe a few more) before 2021 is over.

Jonathan India (CIN): 3-5, HR, 3 R, RBI.

India is neck-and-neck for me with Trevor Rogers for NL Rookie of the Year thanks to his 15 home runs, eight steals, and .280/.395/.465 batting line. He’s already looking like a top-10 second baseman for fantasy (as that is about where he sits at this moment), and his above-average plate discipline suggests he can continue to put up those kinds of numbers and finish no lower than 13th by the time the season ends, as he currently sits ahead of more established names like Eduardo Escobar, Brandon Lowe, and Ryan McMahon.


Featured Imaged by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter).

Scott Chu

Scott Chu is a Senior Fantasy Analyst here bat Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. He's also the inventor and mascot for Fantasy Curling (as seen the Wall Street Journal) and a 3x FSWA Award Finalist. In addition to being a fantasy analyst, he's a dad, animal lover, Simpsons fanatic, cartoon connoisseur, amateur curler, a CODA, and an attorney.

2 responses to “In Jazz, It’s the Notes You Don’t Play That Matter”

  1. King Donko of Punchstania says:

    “…The harsh reality is that he’s hitting .250/.295/.386 since July 1 with just three home runs and one steal.”

    Chisholm has 90 PA since July 1. I think it’s hasty to give up on a guy at that talent level who hasn’t had the opportunity for regular at-bats.

    • Scott Chu says:

      No one is giving up on Jazz, but lots of teams can’t afford to wait. 2B and SS aren’t that deep, and a lot of his upside was tied to steals – something he just isn’t able to do effectively right now.

      A 10- or 12-team redraft manager, which is the majority of leagues, and particularly one without a MI spot to fill, is in a very tough spot if Jazz is their 2B or SS and time is running out. Many playoffs start within 3 weeks.

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