The Mighty Yordan Rolls Through Winder and Sands

Josh Thusat breaks down last night's hitting performances.

Yordan Alvarez (HOU): 3-5, 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Yordan Ruben Alvarez defected from Cuba to Haiti in 2016, where he met his fellow teammate Yuli Gurriel. He eventually ended up in Florida, where the Astros could have signed him, but there was an obstacle caused by the signing penalties of another player’s contract.

In the end, Alvarez signed with the Dodgers.

Think about that journey in 2016, from Cuba to Haiti to a big-league ball club. How did he end up in Houston? Later that same year, LA traded their future elite hitter to the Astros for relief pitcher Josh Fields.

Hey, they needed pitching. We’ve all been there. But the commissioner in your fantasy league might veto that trade today.

Well, yesterday Alvarez clobbered a fastball to deep centerfield for a home run against Josh Winder in the third inning. Then in the ninth inning, he cranked another one. This time, Cole Sands tried to sneak a changeup by him.

It didn’t work.

With that second homer (his tenth) Alvarez is second in the league in home runs behind Aaron Judge. They would’ve been tied today, but Judge hit one out yesterday too. Alvarez is also second only to Judge in Hard Hit%. Across the board, the numbers are elite. He’s in the 97 percentile or higher for exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, Barrel %, and BB%. Even his xBA is in the 93 percentile.

It’s important to note that his BABIP currently sits at .230, so he should get…better. That .250 AVG will rise. For reference, his career average is .288. Last year his BABIP was .320 and he hit .277.  And while he is slugging a wonderful .545, his xSLG is .673.

He’s a buy high hitter in any fantasy league.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.

Giancarlo Stanton (NYY): 3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, BB.

He’s still Stanton. The 32-year-old Bronx Bomber hit two bombs yesterday, pushing his home run total for the month of May to five. If you don’t know, yesterday was May 12. He was definitely the Player of Thursday if we gave out such an award. Dylan Cease had only given up one home run before yesterday’s game. In his previous 18 innings, he’d only give up three runs, and that includes a game against the high-scoring Angels. But no matter. His xBA is 27% higher than it was last year, but his BB% is down by half!

Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-4, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.

If you have Judge on your fantasy baseball team, it’s been fun. After his home run last night, he leads the league in that category. He’s also 5th in RBI (26), 5th in runs (24), and 2nd in SLG (.635). He’s tied for the league in Hard Hit % and Barrel %. The 30-year-old is now batting .296/.359/.635 in 128 plate appearances. Oh and don’t worry, he also has two stolen bases. Does that mean we’re hoping for a 60/10 year?

Jose Altuve (HOU): 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Altuve returned from the IL on May 2nd, and he has crushed four homers since. The 32-year-old hit his fifth homer off Chris Archer in the third inning yesterday and is now batting .250/.349/.472. He is firmly entrenched as the leadoff hitter in Houston, where the offense is starting to show off, scoring 32 runs in the last 7 days.

Mark Canha (NYM): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Canha is currently hitting .313 in 93 plate appearances, which is impressive. But his xBA is .271 and his .393 BABIP shows it’s unsustainable. His career BA is .247. He’s more of a deep league add for fantasy baseball purposes, but he’s seen time batting second in the lineup and sixth. Considering the Mets have been doing so well, and with talents like Marte, Lindor, and Alonso around him, he can be a worthy streamer.

Kyle Tucker (HOU): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.

The suspended Wednesday game carried over to Thursday for the Astros, which explains why he had a 3-for-7 line. He now has five home runs and eight stolen bases to go along with an .807 OPS. Interestingly, his BB% is up to 14.6%, which is the highest mark of his career. Perhaps he started the season being a little less aggressive, or he has needed to wait out pitchers pitching around him, and force them back into the zone. In any case, he now seems to be the player most managers hoped for when they drafted him.

Bryce Harper (PHI): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI.

We learned yesterday that Harper has a small right UCL tear. That means he must avoid throwing. Fortunately for the Phillies, the DH now exists in the National League, which means they can slot their all-star hitter in the lineup still.  As if to show that the unfortunate news will not hamper his production, he launched his seventh home run of the season. He has an OPS of .881 on the season.

Tyler Stephenson (CIN): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.

Did you know that this young 25-year-old catcher has a 1.036 OPS in his first 72 plate appearances? He has four home runs on the year, and last night he hit one off JT Brubaker. It was a slider that floated over the middle of the dish, deep in the heart of plate country, as if on a tee. He rocked it. He’s rocking it. If he had one more home run, he would be tied with Sal Perez, but Stephenson leads Sal in all the other categories. This early in the season, he’s a must-roster.

Josh Donaldson (NYY): 2-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

I’m running the risk of putting too many Yankees in my hitter roundup this morning, but on a day when New York scored 15 runs, it’s hard to avoid. Donaldson’s homer came off Tanner Banks in the 8th inning of yesterday’s rout. It was his 5th and his first since April 23rd. Donaldson is hitting .224/.345/.378. We can see the patience is still there. He hit .247 last year, and his xBA puts him around there. His xSLG is .456, which is closer to his number from last year too.

Brad Miller (TEX): 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Brad Miller hit one out against Royals pitcher Taylor Clarke in the 7th inning of a 3-1 victory for Texas. The 32-year-old qualifies for 1B, 2B, 3B, and OF in my home league, and it has made him invaluable in slightly deeper leagues. The Rangers signed him to a two-year deal in the offseason. Here’s some math. He hit 20 home runs in 377 plate appearances. On his current pace, if we assume 377 plate appearances again, he’ll hit 24.8 home runs this season. He hasn’t had more than 400 plate appearances since 2017.

Yoán Moncada (CWS): 1-5, HR, R, 3 RBI.

Amidst the 15-7 slugfest last night, it is worth noting that Moncada had his first home run of the season. The 26-year-old landed on the IL to start the season because of an oblique strain. Last year, Moncada hit .263/.375/.412. His GB% was starting to climb last year, but his contact % increased from the COVID-shortened 2020 season. He also stopped running. In 2019, he stole 10 bags. Last year, he stole 3 bags. But he is still a young player entering his prime baseball years.

Dylan Carlson (STL): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

The 2016 first-round pick hit his second home run of the season off Cionel Pérez yesterday. It’s been a tough start for him in 2022, but he’s now batting .314 in the month of May. He has 859 plate appearances at the major-league level, and we sometimes see hitters figure things out between 800-1,000 at-bats. The good news is the K% is down to 16.5% from 24.6% in 2021. The BB% is down too though. He’s had some possible issues with bad luck as well, with a BABIP of .253.

Jorge Mateo (BAL): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

Jorge Mateo has 107 at-bats on the season. Sometimes, I see a number like that and think, well, if he gets 600 at-bats on the season, can I take the current numbers and extrapolate? If so, then he ends up with 72 Runs and nearly 50 RBI. He’ll hit 12 homers and steal nearly…54 bases! Okay, so he probably won’t steal 54 bases will he? His sprint speed is in the 99th percentile. With a walk rate of 4.4% leading to a .277 OBP, it seems unlikely. Just for reference, last year the league leader in stolen bases was Starling Marte with 47. He had an 8.2% walk rate and a .383 OBP. But Mateo did hit one out last night, his second of the year.

Cody Bellinger (LAD): 1-5, HR, R, RBI.

Bellinger’s K% is higher than it’s ever been in his career at 32.2%. He struck out four times in Monday’s contest. But last night he went 1-for-5 with one punch out and a home run. It came off a Zach Wheeler fastball in the bottom of the third, and it’s his 5th homer of the year. We can probably deduce that it’s a mix of strikeouts and home runs, as he sits just above the Mendoza Line with a .420 SLG and .467 xSLG.


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

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