Leave Room For Jesus

Your daily recap of all of yesterday's most interesting hitters.

I hear that phrase and I’m immediately transported to awkward 6th-grade dances with matronly teachers admonishing terrified new teenage couples while they dance to I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing (or in my case stood off to the side waiting for them to play the Bob Seger song I requested; I was real cool I swear). Don’t worry—this will be much more fun than those were, or at least less painful because in this case you’ll actually want to do exactly as they say. Anyways, this past offseason it went largely unnoticed when the Miami Marlins took a shot on a cheap reclamation project in Jesus Aguilar and it has paid huge dividends for them so far. After hitting his fourth home run of the season (2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI) Aguilar has been on an absolute tear through 10 games hitting .306/.341/.694 with the aforementioned four home runs, seven runs, and eight RBI while batting in the heart of a surprisingly potent Marlins lineup. He’s absolutely someone you should be looking to add, especially if you are hurting at first base or need a slugger for your UTIL slot.

Aguilar got his first real shot in 2017 when he debuted with the Brewers and hit .265 with 16 HRs in 311 PAs. It was a solid rookie year but there was still plenty of concern about sustainability over his ugly 30.2 K%. He silenced those concerns the following season where he fully broke out his .274/.352/.539 with 35 HRs and 108 RBI in 566 PAs. He won a lot of leagues that year. Heading into 2019, though, many folks were skeptical of Aguilar’s continued success due to worries about holes in his swing, his pull-happy approach, and overall contact issues. They were proven at least partially correct as Aguilar’s numbers cratered to the tune of a .236 AVG with just 12 HRs in 369 PAs. Something seemed off with Aguilar all year as his BBL%, Pull%, FB%, and HardHit% all took big hits while his SwStr%, O-Swing%, and GB% all increased. Most everyone moved on from Aguilar as a flash in the pan and he went largely ignored in drafts this year. This may have been a huge mistake.

In a game that is becoming increasingly focused on large men hitting the ball very hard in the air, Aguilar has always stood out. Even in a down year in 2019 almost all of Aguilar’s Statcast numbers were above average but so this year he has taken that to a whole new level:

That’s a whole lot of red. Take note especially of the xStats. Not only is he crushing the ball but the xStats back up the results as well. It’s also worth noting that Aguilar has seemingly cut his K% all the way down to 12.2%. It’s obviously a small sample of 41 PA but that’s already starting to approach many of the stabilization points we start looking for and they’re looking more and more legit by the game. I would expect some level of regression for his average and K% but so long as he continues to hit the ball that hard with an increased Pull% and FB% I wouldn’t expect the power to go anywhere and so long as he continues to hit in the three- and four-hole in the Marlins lineup he should be able to put up decent counting stats as well. Aguilar is barely rostered in most fantasy leagues and he’s shown in the past just how high his upside is. If he’s able to put up numbers that resemble his 2018 season he could represent a huge value for your teams, like win-your-league type of value. That’s a Jesus I absolutely want to leave room for.


Here’s how everyone else did on Sunday:

Jesse Winker (OF, CIN) – 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBIWinker smashed his first home run of the year on Sunday. Finally granted the everyday role we’ve wanted him to get, he has made the most of it so far this season by getting on base at an elite rate and was batting fifth for Reds yesterday. In OBP leagues he’s a must-add but should be a valuable player for any roster so long as he continues to get everyday playing time.

Brandon Lowe (2B/3B/OF,  TB) – 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBILowe has been the Rays best hitter so far this season and with his home run on Sunday he continues to show that last year’s All-Star campaign was no fluke. So far this season he’s managed to cut way down on his strikeouts, swinging strikes, and chase rate all of which could indicate the slugger’s maturation as a hitter. He’s a must-add if still available in your leagues.

Starlin Castro (2B, WSH) – 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI – We were waiting for some power from the heart of the Nationals lineup and on Sunday Castro delivered with a two-run homer. He’s been fantastic as the #3 hitter for Washington so far hitting .357 with six runs and three RBIs. Now that Juan Soto is back, I expect Castro to continue putting up good counting numbers, especially once Trea Turner gets right.

Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL) – 4-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI – After a slow start that was the subject of much handwringing Acuna has been absolutely en fuego as he technically hit three home runs yesterday since the Braves played a doubleheader (he had a homer in the first game as well). If you were patient with Acuna he rewarded you on Sunday.

Freddie Freeman (1B, ATL) – 3-4, HR, 2B, 3B, 3 R, 3 RBI – Elite hitters gonna hit. That works, right? Anyways, while the batting average might be down, Freeman’s performance this season has been a clockwork reproduction of his elite 2019 season in terms of OBP and SLG thanks to an improved walk rate and five doubles to go along with his three home runs along with elite counting numbers.

Mitch Moreland (1B, BOS) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI – It’s hard to justify rostering Moreland when he doesn’t play every day but every year he gets super hot at the plate for a stretch and I always want to pull the trigger, especially in daily leagues when he faces righties. If you’re desperate at first base thanks to injuries or poor performance, you could do worse than Moreland as last year he had a wRC+ above 100 every month he played last year (minus June and July where he was injured and only played in six games). He’ll play most games and is hitting .323 so he might be in the midst of that patented Moreland hot stretch.

Manny Machado (3B, SD) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI – While Machado is struggling a bit behind the plate in terms of average, he’s had no issue muscling the ball over the fence as evidenced by his double dong day on Sunday. The average will come but in the meantime enjoy the home runs and counting numbers Machado is putting up in what might be the hottest lineup in baseball right now.

Christian Yelich (OF, MIL) – 2-3, HR, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB – You gotta love seeing this. That makes three home runs in his last four games and it’s looking like Yelich might be turning things around. You knew he would but it’s still encouraging to see.

Keston Hiura (2B, MIL) – 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI – This is another encouraging homer. Hiura has been striking out at a troubling 33.9% rate but .250 with three home runs feels about right for Hiura and so I’m not too worried especially since he’s still stealing bases.

AJ Pollock (OF, LAD) – 2-3, HR, R, 3 RBI – Sunday’s home run is just another feather in the cap for Pollock’s epic run to start the season as he is hitting .311/.354/.667 with four home runs, six runs, and nine RBI. You know there’s likely an injury coming at some point for Pollock, but when he plays he’s very, very good. Batting sixth with Bellinger, Turner, and Muncy in front of should provide for plenty of RBI opportunities when he does play. He’s still available in a lot of leagues and I would highly suggest picking him up.

Wil Myers (OF, SD) – 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI – The Wil Myers Redemption Tour continues! Now hitting .278 with five home runs on the season after Sunday’s home run, Myers has been fantastic so far this season. The 35.0 K% terrifies me but the xStats back up the production and so long as he’s in the elite tiers for his Statcast numbers I have a hard time playing the Doubting Thomas too hard.

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, SD) – 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI – What can I say, the hot stay hot. Hitting his eighth home run on Sunday, Tatis Jr. continued his MVP-caliber campaign with a vengeance.

Cavan Biggio (2B, OF TOR) – 1-3, HR, R, RBI, BB – The hits haven’t been coming for Biggio this season but when he does get a hit it has gone over the fence. The rest will come but in meantime enjoy the four home runs and be patient.

Rafael Devers (3B, BOS) – 1-4, HR, R, RBI – As someone who has shares of Devers in multiple leagues, his 449 ft. bomb on Sunday was really reassuring. It’s been a rough start to the season for the Red Sox as a whole, including Devers. Hopefully, this is a sign he’s about to get going.

Garrett Hampson (2B, OF COL) – 1-4, R, BB, SB – Perhaps even more encouraging than the stolen base is the fact that Hampson led off for the Rockies for the third consecutive day. If he sticks in that spot with Blackmon, Story, Arenado, Murphy, and Dahl hitting behind him that could be the catalyst for the breakout season we’ve been waiting for from Hampson.

Jon Berti (3B, SS, OF MIA) – 1-3, R, 2 BB, SB – Berti may not be hitting yet but he is walking at an 11.8% rate and this makes his second stolen base on the season. If you have the roster spot to spare and need stolen bases Berti might be a good pickup to fill in that gap, especially once the bat comes around.

(Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)  

Daniel Port

Daniel is a Fantasy Baseball writer, Brewer, and Theatrical Technician, located in Denver, Colorado. A lifelong fan of baseball and the Cleveland Indians since before Albert Belle tried to murder Fernando Vina, he used to tell his Mom he loved her using Sammy Sosa's home run salute, has a perfectly reasonable amount of love for Joey Votto and believes everything in life should be announced using bat flips. If you want to talk baseball, beer, or really anything at all you can find him on twitter at @DanielJPort !

5 responses to “Leave Room For Jesus”

  1. theKraken says:

    What kind of breakout could you possibly be expecting from Hampson? 1 for 4 with a single is not update worthy unless you are just pumping shares which I think you are. I mean why not Matt Kemp hitting 4th behind those same guys? I think he also went 1 for 4.

    • Daniel Port says:

      Thanks for the comment! It’s less about the specific output for the day and even days if we’re being honest (although he has scored a run in five straight games and that ain’t nothin). Often the key to a breakout happening is simply getting the opportunity. 3/4 of the battle in fantasy is opportunity. Batting leadoff means two things, 1) That he will get dramatically more plate appearances then if he wasn’t leading off. If he keeps the job that
      could lead to an extra PA per game which could add 30 to 40 at bats to his end of year total which leads to more chances for hits, home runs, runs and stolen bases.
      2) That he will have the teams best hitters hitting behind him which as I mentioned is quite the murders row of hitters. If he can get on base at his .367 OBP clip he’s going to score a ton of runs.
      So in this case batting leadoff in Coors for the Rockies is a huge potential change in his value simply by playing there let alone how he performs. At least that’s the thought process. I do also like Matt Kemp when bats 4th in that lineup but that was only because Nolan Arenado got a day off. The opportunity isn’t there in the same way.

  2. Ray says:

    Hi Daniel. I think it was lat week you said to run (don’t walk) to get a certain catcher. Can you tell me who that was? Thanks for all you do!

    • Scott Chu says:

      Ah, that was me, Ray!

      Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Austin Nola. Kiner-Falefa keeps stealing bags and plays every day since he’s actually the starting 3B. Nola picked up the C eligibility and is widely available (for now). Decent contact ability and enough pop to take advantage of his every day playing time. Both are starter worthy if you don’t have a top catcher.

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