Ruf and Ready

Scott Chu covers the most interesting hitters from Sunday.

Darin Ruf (SF): 3-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, SB.

Darin Ruf is playing like a man trying to earn more playing time, and while the recent moves by the Giants will make it tough for him to crack the lineup, his performance since the start of 2020 makes it clear that he can be productive. He went 3-4 with a double, home run, three RBI, and a stolen base, and in his 291 plate appearances since returning from the KBO last season, Ruf has a .943 OPS with 17 home runs, three steals, and a 14.8% walk rate. He’s going to continue to sit against righties, but those in deep leagues or DFS should be ready to fire him up whenever a lefty is on the mound.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday:

Yuli Gurriel (HOU): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.

We almost certainly will not see another 31 home run season from Gurriel, but for the 37-year-old to be slashing .324/.388/.490 through his first 99 games is incredibly encouraging, and he looks a lot like the Gurriel we saw from 2017-2018. He’s been a top-five first baseman to this point, and while I wouldn’t project him to be much better than top-15 to top-20 going forward, he’s still worth holding in virtually all formats.

Abraham Toro (SEA): 3-4, 2 2B, R.

It’s probably not enough for players to forgive DiPoto for trading the beloved Kendall Graveman, but Toro is hitting .500 in his five games as a Mariner and has reaffirmed why many considered him an intriguing prospect despite very little major league success. Toro has an above-average hit tool and above-average speed and was absolutely raking in Triple-A, hitting .352/.485/.593 over 68 plate appearances with a stunning 16.2% walk rate to just an 11.8% strikeout rate. I’m not sure that he’s 12-team redraft material at the moment, but he could definitely be a streamer in those leagues when the matchups are right (FYI, they won’t be right this week as he heads to Tampa and the Bronx to finish the Mariners’ road trip).

Dylan Carlson (STL): 3-5, 2 2B, R, RBI, SB.

Carlson has been a mild disappointment to those expecting a breakout season for the Cardinals’ top prospect, as it currently looks like he’ll finish the season with fewer than 20 home runs and less-than-impressive ratios to go with it. On the plus side, he continues to lead off for St. Louis despite his inconsistency and while he’s not a factor in 12-teamers this season, he could easily be one as soon as 2022.

Edmundo Sosa (STL): 3-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.

The reserve infielder had an awesome night for the Cardinals, hitting his third home run and putting up his second three-hit game of the month. This is not really actionable from a fantasy perspective outside of very deep NL-only dynasty leagues (I guess) but hurray for Sosa.

AJ Pollock (LAD): 4-5, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI.

Pollock extended his current hitting streak to 11 games and has a hit in 19 of his last 20 games. During those 20 games, he’s hitting .447 with five home runs, three steals, and an incredible 1.264 OPS. It remains to be seen how the addition of Trea Turner will impact the batting order from day to day, but it currently looks like there’s going to be a bit of a log jam in the outfield with Pollock, Chris TaylorMookie Betts, and Cody Bellinger all looking for playing time. All four of them are capable of playing any outfield position, and there’s no way the Dodgers can afford to sit Pollock right now, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. There’s a non-zero chance that Bellinger becomes a platoon player with Taylor and Pollock, or even a utilityman filling in for his right-handed teammates against right-handed pitching.

Ha-seong Kim (SD): 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

The addition of Adam Frazier was a dagger to the heart of Kim’s playing time hopes, even with Tatis on the IL. Kim has strong skills, even if they haven’t shown themselves in his stat line, but the current state of the Padres’ roster means Kim is likely droppable in all non-dynasty formats, as the roster may not really clear up for him until 2023 unless there are some trades or unforeseen demotions.

Jake Cronenworth (SD): 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.

We now have seen exactly 160 games from Cronenworth at the major league level, and the results are pretty darn good—19 home runs, seven stolen bases, and 100 runs scored with a .283/.353/.479 line. This feels a lot like what to expect by the end of 2021 as well, making him a top-10 option at all three bases.

Starling Marte (OAK): 3-4, 2 R, BB, 3 SB.

He now has seven steals in his last six games, and if there was any doubt that he’d get the green light in Oakland, it has been thoroughly erased. As was highlighted in this 2017 article over at Fangraphs, hitting second is just about as good as leading off for stolen base opportunities, and Oakland can’t rely entirely on hitting guys around. In roto formats where steals remain at a premium, Marte is a top-10 outfielder.

Rafael Ortega (CHC): 4-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI.

Ortega had an incredible weekend for the Cubs, going 8-13 with four home runs, a double, and even stealing a base. Now that the dust has settled from the trade deadline, Ortega looks like the new lead-off man for the Cubs for the near future, and while his major league track record is unimpressive, those in deep leagues looking for speed might want to give Ortega a closer look.

Robbie Grossman (DET): 1-2, 3B, 2 R, RBI, BB.

After slumping for most of June due to issues with strikeouts, Grossman turned things back around in July. He’s been walking a ton and hitting for power, and also got back in the habit of stealing some bases. He’s actually running just about as much hitting third as he did leading off, and he’s probably Detroit’s best fantasy outfielder due to his 20 home run and 15 stolen base upside. I’d say he’s something like a top-60 to top-75 outfielder for the rest of the season (maybe a little higher in OBP), and if you’re in need of a little power and speed in the outfield, Grossman is available in about half of leagues.

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

Olivares has 39 plate appearances on the season, slashing .270/.308/.432, which is impressive considering how much the Royals have jerked him around by calling him up and immediately sending him down. The trade of Jorge Soler should open up a little bit of time for Olivares to platoon a bit in the outfield, but it looks like we may have to wait until 2022 to see what he can do with full playing time.

J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 5-6, 2 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI, SB.

Realmuto is showing off the best OBP of his career so far in 2021 and is on pace for 20 home runs, 10 stolen bases, and about 150 combined runs and RBI. He’s not the first fantasy catcher drafted because he’s flashy—it’s because he’s basically a lock to do this kind of stuff and finish as a top-three catcher every year. That kind of consistency is really hard to come by, especially at catcher.

Alec Bohm (PHI): 2-5, R, 2 RBI, BB.

After a sluggish start to the season, Bohm has figured out to make more contact, hitting .319/.390/.420 since June 1st. He’s only hit three home runs and stolen one base in that stretch, but the consistent contact is a big plus, and hopefully, he’s able to turn that increased contact into more power. He’s probably just outside of my top-20 third baseman at the moment, but a power surge or two could change my mind.

Jean Segura (PHI): 2-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, BB.

Boring ol’ Jean Segura is going to Segura his way into another 10 home run, 10 stolen base season with strong ratios and OK counting stats. He’s the perfect example of a guy who is really valuable in deep leagues for his consistency but probably not a great 10- and 12-team contributor due to the low ceiling.

Yadiel Hernandez (WSH): 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

The trade of Kyle Schwarber gives Hernandez an opportunity to play every day, and in a minor surprise, the Nationals have slotted him into the cleanup role behind Soto and Bell. Hernandez has shown plenty of power in the minor leagues and is slugging .465 so far in 61 major league games this season, so he’s worth a look for power-hungry managers in deeper formats.

Tyler Naquin (CIN): 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB.

Naquin continues to play most days for the Reds, batting somewhere between the fifth and seventh spots in the lineup. While he was red hot to start the season, things have cooled off considerably for Naquin, as he’s hit just .233/.296/.333 since July 1st with just one home run and one stolen base. He’s droppable in all mixed leagues.

Max Schrock (CIN): 5-5, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.

Schrock has taken advantage of his very limited started opportunities, putting up a hit in five of his last six starts with three multi-hit performances. Schrock has a decent hit tool, but very little power and mostly average speed, so even if he gets more of an opportunity, it won’t move the needle in most fantasy formats.


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.

6 responses to “Ruf and Ready”

  1. larry womack says:

    Hi Scott,

    As a Bellinger owner are you thinking he will be riding the bench more?

    Also would you pickup Pollack over Bader, Iceman M. Chapman, Renfroe, Cesar H, or Aguilar

    Always good to read your write-ups.

    • Scott Chu says:

      Thanks Larry!

      It’s hard to predict exactly what will happen in L.A, but SOMEONE has to lose playing time in the outfield when Turner comes back, and I can’t imagine they will move Taylor or Pollock to pure platoons. If Bellinger does platoon (which is very possible), he’d be on the large side of it, and of course, if he suddenly becomes Cody Bellinger again he’ll force the Dodgers to platoon someone else.

      Pollock has been so much better than those guys, and while his upside isn’t quite as high, his floor is much higher. He’s probably the one I’d add for now, at least until Turner returns and messes up the starting lineup.

      • larry womack says:

        Who would be your first drop for Pollock

        Thank you for your answer

        • Scott Chu says:

          You bet! Assuming that was your roster, my first drop is probably Renfroe. My guess is that he moves to a platoon with either Schwarber or Cordero, and hits at the bottom of the order. Hes hitting .207 since July 1 with just 4 HR – he’d need to be swatting 6+/month to balance out those ratios.

  2. larry womack says:

    Hi Scott,

    Hopefully you will have a chance to read my question.

    I have a trade offer-My Cruz for Arenado.

    Both players seem to be banged up a little bit. The move for Cruz to Tampa could suppress his home runs a little. Arendado dose not seem to be the same player these days. Not sure if I should pull the plug on Cruz just yet.

    What do you think?


    • Scott Chu says:

      Hey Larry – Unless you’re just dying at 3B and have a strong replacement for Cruz at DH, I’d keep Cruz.

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