by Ray Kuhn
We know we aren’t going to have full slates of action to start off the week, but it was hard to complain with Monday’s schedule. There were eight games, enough action to keep us occupied, and everything was in the evening. That meant, we had all day to set our rosters for the week; well for better or worse depending on the jockeying you have to do to field a healthy lineup. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from the night in baseball:
1) A First For Bauers
It took five games, but Jake Bauers went deep for the first time in his career on Monday. We have been waiting all season for Bauers promotion, and he had the best game of his young career last night. The first baseman went 2 for 3 with two walks, that all important first career home run (a two run shot), and his third double of the season. Bauers also walked twice, and his now hitting .263 after hitting .279 with five home runs and 24 RBI prior to his promotion. In his career, Bauers is a .276 hitter in the minor leagues but, especially for a corner infielder, he has yet to truly develop home run power. While he is worth an add in just about all formats, I would temper my enthusiasm with Bauers depending on how deep the league is.
2) Another HR for Teoscar
One bright spot in Toronto’s otherwise trying season is the emergence of Teoscar Hernandez. Based on how the rest of their season is going, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hernandez didn’t start the season in the major leagues, but he certainly isn’t going anywhere at this point. On Monday, Hernandez went deep for the 11th time this season, a two run shot that brought his RBI total to 31 in 49 games. Hernandez is hitting .265 on the season as a whole, with his preferred spot being at the top of the order 15 games. However, while his his 22.9% strikeout rate isn’t all that crazy in today’s game, that and his 5% walk rate don’t scream “lead-off hitter”. But based on his success, Hernandez should be there all season.
3) A Bright Spot in Miami
When it comes to the Marlins, there aren’t many, but Brian Anderson is making a case for being a bright spot this season. Over his last 30 games, entering play on Monday, Anderson has been on a tear with a .333 batting average. That only got better last night as the third baseman went 3 for 4 to bring his average for the season up to .310. Anderson drove in two runs to bring his RBI total up to 31 as he doubled twice, 12 overall, and hit his fourth home run of the season. It was just the fourth game of the season for Anderson batting in the second spot in the order, but the third baseman has spent the entire season squarely in the middle of Miami’s batting order.
4) Benintendi is Getting Closer
While I wouldn’t say he was terrible in April, Andrew Benintendi didn’t exactly earn his ADP either as he hit .274 with just one home run and 15 RBI. He did walk 15 times, against 17 strikeouts, so it wasn’t like he was truly struggling and needed to be relegated to the bench, but he really wasn’t doing much of anything at the plate either. However, he did right the ship in May by hitting .349 with six home runs and 23 RBI while carrying that momentum into June. With another two hits last night, Benintendi is now hitting .298 on the season, and after two more walks, his on base percentage checks in at .382. This looks like the player who was coming off the board in the first few rounds of drafts.
5) Three More Hits for Heyward
Don’t look now, but Jason Heyward is a productive offensive player so far this season. Now, we know that we can never tie what he does on that side of the ball to his contract, but that doesn’t mean we should also dismiss Heyward from the fantasy conversation. With the three hits he picked up last night, two singles and a double, Heyward is hitting a respectable .281 on the season. There still isn’t much power to speak of, after his three RBI night he has just 28 on the season, and in 49 games he has scored just 24 runs. Granted, 35 of those games have had Heyward batting either seventh or eighth in the order, but last night was his 10th game of the season batting second. I wouldn’t look to Heyward to be a savior for your outfield, but with a .383 batting average in his last 15 games, he shouldn’t be ignored either.
6) We Got What We Came For
All Carlos Carrasco needed to get back on track, was to face the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander cruised through seven shutout innings on Monday without incident as he picked up his eighth victory of the season. Carrasco struck out 11 batters as he allowed just two hits and one walk to lower his ERA to 3.90 on the season. The home run ball certainly has been an issue for Carrasco so far this season, 11 allowed, and after allowing 11 earned runs over 9.1 innings (spanning two starts) it has been nice to see the right-hander bounce back with 14 innings of one run ball. However, Carrasco’s home run to fly ball rate of 12.5% is right in line with his career mark of 12.7% although his 35.9% fly ball rate is elevated compared to his career; 31.1%. What is troubling though, is the spike in hard contact for Carrasco this season (per Fangraphs) as it jumped from 29.3% to 36.4% with his soft contact rate seeing a corresponding drop. With both a FIP and xFIP of 3.40 though, we can expect to see Carrasco continue the success.
7) Ozuna Takes One Deep
So far this season, it hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions for Marcell Ozuna to his new home in St. Louis. But as of late, Ozuna has picked things up and is showing why the Cardinals acquired him last winter. After going 2 for 4 on Monday, Ozuna is hitting .347 in his last 15 games and that has brought his average for the season up to .282. Now, we just need the power and run production to follow suit. Last night, Ozuna did take a step in that direction as he hit his seventh home run of the year which was a two run shot that brought his RBI total up to 34. The lack of overall power from Ozuna is troubling though as his ISO has dropped from .237 last season to .124 so far in 2018. While we can call 2017 a career year, I wouldn’t write Ozuna off just yet.
8) Descalso Keeps on Producing
Over the last few weeks, it has been hard to miss Daniel Descalso on your waiver wire. Well, that was at least until another owner snapped him up. The utility man was getting playing time in Arizona, he was producing, and the Diamondbacks just continued to roll him out in their lineup. And the crazy thing, is that Descalso hasn’t really stopped hitting. Last night, batting lead-off, he went 2 for 5 with two runs scored, three RBI, and his second triple of the season. That has been a normal night for the utility player who is now batting .265 on the season with 34 RBI in 162 at bats. We are at the point now where I wouldn’t exactly write this off as a fluke, .284 with four home runs and 19 RBI in his last 30 games, and instead look at it as a player taking advantage of his chance at regular playing time. While I wouldn’t overpay to acquire him, Descalso does need to be owned.
9) LeBlanc Does Enough to Get the Win
Target Wade LeBlanc. It almost looked too easy last night. Stack right-handed bats in the Angels lineup against the journeyman southpaw. Instead, LeBlanc picked up his second victory of the season while limited the Angels to just two runs in five innings of work. Both runs did come on solo home runs in the first inning, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but after that LeBlanc only allowed two more hits and two walks while striking out five. The southpaw now has 13 games, 54 innings, and eight starts under his belt with Seattle this season and he is posting a 3.00 ERA. But before you rush out to grab LeBlanc, just remember he really is only a streaming option at best and you don’t know when the next implosion will come. His FIP of 4.27 and xFIP of 4.60 provide the warning shots, and his 87.8% strand rate should naturally regress closer to 75%. I’m also not a fan of his ground ball rate, 33.9%, and I would likely take my pitching shots on someone with a little more upside.
10) Trout Is Simply Insane
At this point, it’s easy to take Mike Trout for granted. He really just is that good, but he also suffers with the majority his games starting at 10 pm on the east coast. Now, no one is saying that Trout is underrated or flying beneath the radar, but he is on a pretty impressive home run pace so far this season. After going deep twice last night, Trout is up to 21 home runs so far this season to go along with his .304 batting average and 41 RBI. This is why you can’t question his status as the number one overall pick.