Wilmer Flores (SF): 4-6, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Wilmer Flores, have yourself a day. Just one game removed from hitting his tenth dinger of the season, Flores follows it up with his seventh double-bomb game of his Major League career, finishing Sunday with four hits in six at-bats and four RBI. All four hits were recorded as the hard-hit variety, with only his two outs registering under 98 mph. This was a nice change of pace for Flores, whose season-long hard contact rate of 24.4% is nothing to write home about (the league average is 26.4%). Sunday’s barrage of hard hits marked just the 16th time all season Flores had registered more than one hard hit in a game (out of 79 games played).
Despite the lack of hard-hit skills, Flores has found himself to be an intricate piece to the San Francisco puzzle as he fills in at multiple position around the diamond, and in many games finds his way to more than one position before the final out. Heading into Sunday’s matchup, Flores has started an equal number of games at the two corner positions (21), and about half as many at the keystone (11) while finding his way into the lineup 15 times in the DH slot. The added positional flexibility makes him rosterable in many formats, despite the flux in playing time he’s seen throughout the year.
Flores’ reverse splits from his career have held him back from being an even more valuable fantasy piece for sure, as Flores tends to start every other game the Giants are set to face off against a right-handed starter, while starting batting in the two-hole when his team faces off against a southpaw. Flores has enjoyed a relatively positive career against lefties, slashing .273/.322/.490 with a 117 wRC+ through 989 plate appearances, while his 2264 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers has resulted in a perfectly average .262/.313/.414 slash with a 100 wRC+. So it’s understandable why Gabe Kapler would keep putting Flores out there to face the left-handed throwing starters every chance he’s got, despite the .213 batting average he’s been able to muster through the 2022 season.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Sunday
Carlos Santana (SEA): 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI.
The new scenery narrative strikes again as Carlos Santana scores his 9th run for the Seattle Mariners in just his 12th game with his new club. It took Santana 28 games to start the 2022 season to cross home plate that many times, but that very well could have as much to do with the rest of his lineup as it does with his own lack of success. Santana has started at first base for the Mariners in every game he’s been available since his trade away from Kansas City and as he seems to have a firm hold on their cleanup spot in the order, he should continue to enjoy every opportunity to build on his new found success, as long as his health may allow.
Freddie Freeman (LAD): 4-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Breaking news: Freddie Freeman is still very good at baseball. Sunday marked his third four-hit game in a Dodgers’ uniform but just his second multi-hit performance in the month of July. Yes, this is me grasping at straws trying to find a negative thing to say about the guy whose player page is just covered in red (yes, red is good in this example).
David Bote (CHC): 2-2, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB, SB.
It only took 11 games, but David Bote finally threw himself his own welcome back party, smoking his first home run of the season and setting his new max EV of 107.8 mph off his eighth inning double. Bote found his way on base in all four plate appearances, collecting his second walk of the season in the first inning and leading off the sixth by leaning into one and getting hit by Alex Vesia. Sunday marked just his second start in which Bote has made it the entire way without striking out, knocking his K% down to 36.7% through his first 30 plate appearances of the season. The part-time Cubs’ infielder is going to have to pull together a few more games like Sunday to move up fantasy watch lists.
Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT): 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB.
Hey there, look who it is. If it feels like it’s been a while since Hayes made this list, you wouldn’t be wrong. After all, Sunday marked Hayes’ first three-hit performance since May 30th and his fifth inning solo-shot was just his fourth of the season. Despite a 32.6% hard contact rate, Hayes hasn’t been able to turn that hard-hitting approach into fantasy relevancy this season. Though, along with his low strikeout rate of 22%, he may be able to maintain that .320 BABIP for a while, which at least will give him more opportunities to repeat his Sunday performance and set him up for a turnaround in the second half of the season.
P.J. Higgins (CHC): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
With the recent injury to Willson Contreras and the string of southpaws the Cubs have faced off against over the weekend, P.J. Higgins has put together a nice little run of starting in four of the last five games. Now Contreras is ramping back up and the Cubs aren’t expected to see another left-handed starter until Sunday, so this may very well be short lived for Higgins, who has filled in at first base and behind the plate in that time. If the first inning grand slam on Sunday was the most noise Higgins makes the rest of the way, no one would be too surprised, but if another injury would make more room for more playing time fantasy teams should take note.
Austin Riley (ATL): 3-6, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Another day, another multi-hit game for Austin Riley. Oh huh. Riley has now put together multi-hit performances in nine of his last 11 games, knocking out five bombs in the process, including his 410 foot blast on Sunday. Fantasy managers will easily overlook the 25.7% strikeout rate as long as Riley maintains a top 10 hard contact rate (35.8%), leading to a continuation of his top tier fantasy counting stat totals.
Tyler Stephenson (CIN): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Well this was a welcome return to Cincinnati, as Tyler Stephenson records five hits in his first two games back from injury, knocking out his sixth homer of the season in the process on Sunday. Stephenson wasted no time getting comfortable, starting both games behind the plate and sitting in the middle of the Reds’ lineup upon his return. There’s little-to-no reason to hold him back from being plugged right back into starting catcher positions of just about every fantasy format moving forward.
Albert Pujols (STL): 3-4, HR, R, RBI.
Hey now, you’re an All-Star, get your game on, go play. Well, though there’s no guarantee Albert Pujols will see playing time in the All-Star game, he is still officially an All-Star and produced like one on Sunday. The once perennial All-Star has seen 15% of his plate appearances come in the form for pinch hitting, so at best it should be expected to see him make an appearance next Tuesday as a curtesy in the same situation.
Korey Lee (HOU): 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI.
Good things come in threes like, say, your first three major league hits or your first three RBI. Since being called up from AAA to fill in for the injured Jason Castro at the start of July, Lee has only started two games while serving as a pinch hitter in two others, so this sort of production will be sporadic at best.