Naquin and Afraid

Recapping yesterday's notable offensive performances.

Tyler Naquin (NYM): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

This is the point in the season where you can really start to feel lost as a fantasy manager if your team is still struggling to push its way up the standings. All around your roster, you see the husks of men you hoped would be carrying you to your next fantasy title. Look, there’s Nick Castellanos, staring at you listlessly from your OF1 slot. And hey, there’s Tyler O’Neill, still clinging mercilessly to your roster while muttering, “You spent a third round pick on me… you spent a third round pick on me.” It’s a scary time of year. You can really start to feel exposed. Stranded. Scared. The walls closing in all around you. The hope of things ever getting better starting to fade.

Sometimes, in moments like these, you have to make a reckless leap of faith and hope that someone—anyone—will step up and save you. Perhaps someone as random and unheralded as a… Tyler Naquin? Well, let’s be real—even after going 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI yesterday, the prospect of Naquin not only securing regular at-bats but becoming an impact player for fantasy managers is quite low. But, it’s not exactly impossible.

Recall that Naquin has been quite prone to blistering hot streaks throughout his career. Last year he sandwiched several mediocre months between an April where he posted a 135 wRC+ with six homers, and an August where he posted a 207 wRC+ (!!!) while hitting .386. In his rookie season, he also posted three months with an average above .330, and again had a month of production that registered a wRC+ over 200. The point being, sometimes these are the risks you take as the season winds down, with the hope of catching lightning in a bottle.

I mean, maybe Naquin finds himself in a strong-side platoon for the rest of the year. And maybe he carries your team on his broad shoulders to the promised land. And maybe you’re glad you defied all reason and grabbed him. Or, maybe he rides the bench forever, and all hope dies with his playing time. Who knows? But sometimes in life… we must dare to dream.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday:

Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. 

Ohtani left Wednesday’s game with a forearm cramp. “Somebody call an ambulance,” he shouted. Panic set in, and people started to scramble. Then, suddenly, wryly, he looked up and smiled. “But not for me!” He laughed, then grabbed his bat and hit two taters. And all was well again.

Ryan McMahon (COL): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI, BB.

It’s been a disappointing year in the power department for McMahon, as this was only his ninth home run of the season. On the bright side, his peripherals are almost exactly in line with where they were last season when he popped 23 homers, and his barrel and pull rates have actually gone up, indicating he may be getting a bit unlucky with his batted balls this year. He’s hitting .318 over the past week, so here’s hoping this is the start of a turnaround.

Seth Brown (OAK): 2-2, HR, R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, SB.

Seth Brown has been on a nice little heater lately. Over his last 100 plate appearances he’s hitting .274 with seven home runs and a .538 SLG. He whiffs enough that the average will likely come down a tad going forward, but 25+ home run pop over a full season with double-digit stolen bases makes the overall profile relatively palatable. He’s a borderline consideration in 12-teamers, especially while he’s hot.

Ramón Laureano (OAK): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.

Break up the A’s! Oh, what’s that? They’re breaking themselves up by selling off all their assets for pennies on the dollar? Huh. Well, at least Laureano is still around, and quietly posting a 20/20 full-season pace. Like with his teammate Brown, the average likely won’t ever creep above .250, especially if he continues putting the ball on the ground so much, but he has the power and speed profile to make him worth a roster spot in 12-teamers and deeper.

Chas McCormick (HOU): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

McCormick has actually flashed some decent power this season, hitting 11 home runs in 265 plate appearances backed by an impressive 11.4% barrel rate. His xwOBA has also been hovering around .400 for the past few weeks. Unfortunately he doesn’t quite have a path to an extended slate of at-bats at the moment, and likely whiffs too much to possess much upside anyway.

Brandon Lowe (TB): 3-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

It would appear that Brandon Lowe’s back issues are squarely behind him at this point. Though his Hard Hit rate is down a bit overall, it’s been trending up over his last few plate appearances, and he’s showing some moderate improvements in his strikeout and whiff rates. We may not see that 40-homer-type power this season, but some of that may be mitigated with a slightly higher batting average over these final months.

Randy Arozarena (TB): 4-5, 2B, 2 RBI, SB.

This was a fun night for Arozarena, and he’s having a solid month—and solid season—by all accounts. It’s really just a shame that a guy with his tools is struggling more than ever to elevate the ball (52.7% groundball rate, 27.8% Sweet Spot rate). The uptick in stolen bases this year certainly helps though, and it’s hard to complain too much about a guy who has an outside chance at sniffing a 20/30 season.

Alec Bohm (PHI): 1-2, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Bohm has been crushing the ball over the past month, hitting .386 over his last 114 plate appearances. And now the power is starting to come around, as this was his second home run this week. He has the pop and the swing profile to keep this rolling.

J.D. Davis (SF): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

It will be very interesting to see whether the Giants can find a way to turn Davis and his absurd 57.9% Hard Hit rate into something truly special. The strikeout rate (31.3%) and groundball rate (49.6%) have always been his bugaboos, but he certainly got off to a decent start in this game, hitting an opposite field home run off of Clayton Kershaw.

Daniel Vogelbach (NYM): 2-4, HR, R, RBI. 

Vogelbach continues to rake as a Met, pushing his average up to .333 with the team while smacking his second home run in only 38 plate appearances. After the game, Vogelbach is quoted as saying “I hit my home runs in bunches, just like I get my donuts.” Do with that information what you will.


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

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