by Ray Kuhn
Yesterday was our typical Wednesday with a full day and night of action on the field. Things were a bit interesting from a fantasy perspective though, especially if you played DFS, as two teams (Cleveland and Colorado) each scored 19 runs. Let’s take a look at some of the individual performances of note from a busy day around the league:
1) Cron Continues to Show off the Power
C.J. Cron was always one of those interesting players at the end of drafts if you were looking for power production, but then he always came up short. This season in Tampa Bay though, is going different for Cron as he has found his way into the lineup everyday, but more importantly he has stayed. Yesterday, Cron had a three hit game in Detroit, but of greater importance to fantasy owners, he went deep for the 18th time this season. The three run shot was the critical blow in the game for Tampa Bay as Cron put them up for good. His .253 is nothing special, but it also isn’t a liability and it allows you to enjoy his 46 RBI without their being too much of a drain on your overall production. The main difference we are seeing with Cron compared to a year ago is playing time, as he is already at 359 plate appearances after 373 in all of 2017.
2) A Four Hit Day for Stanton
If you see Giancarlo Stanton had four hits in a game, you would generally set the over/under for total bases at six or seven; conservatively. Unless you took the under last night, you would have lost, as all four of Stanton’s hits were singles. The Yankees’ won 9-0 so that wasn’t an issue, but fantasy owners drafted the outfielder for his power production. Overall this season though, that hasn’t been an issue, and now at .276, the batting average is starting to come around. Stanton drove in two runs which brought his RBI total to 54 for the season, and over his last 30 games, the outfielder is hitting .336. I’d say he is adjusting to New York just fine.
3) Ramirez Lost Out
I totally understand wanting to rest Jose Ramirez after the Indians jumped out to a monstrous lead on Wednesday, but that decision caught him two more at bats. And based on the way Ramirez has been going as of late, you don’t know what he could have turned those two at bats into. As it was, Ramirez went deep in consecutive innings last night as part of Cleveland’s initial offensive explosion. We are just past the halfway part of the season, and Ramirez is already at 27 home runs, and after his two and three run shots yesterday, he reached 65 RBI. That, along with his .293 batting average and 19 stolen bases, makes it hard to say there is someone else better from a fantasy perspective so far this season. At the very least, Ramirez needs to be in that discussion.
4) Aguilar Celebrates
Yes, the National League has plenty of first baseman on their All-Star team, but Jesus Aguilar also deserved to go. Last night, he celebrated winning the vote for the final spot by continuing the production that put him in that position. Aguilar picked up three more hits, two doubles and a single, and drove in three runs. After last night, his average sits at a comfortable .307 on the season, but the more important thing, is Aguilar’s emergence as a run producer as he is at 67 RBI on the season. Actually producing is a big part of it, but Aguilar is also receiving (both due to injury and then earned) regular playing time. We have noticed a big spike in his power, as Aguilar’s ISO went from .240 last season to .333 so far in 2018. Aguilar has also managed to decrease his ground ball rate by about 9% while adding some more line drives (roughly 3%) and fly balls to go along with a roughly 4% decrease to his strikeout rate. The only problem, is that at this point, it is too late to invest.
5) No Luck for Jake
At this point, there is nothing left to say. Honestly, all we can hope for, is that everyone who earns Jacob deGrom gets credit for quality starts, and it’s unclear whether he will actually win a game again this season. Last night brought with it, eight shutout innings at home against the Phillies, and the Mets couldn’t manage to push across one run while he was in the game. deGrom scattered just five hits and one walk while striking out seven, as his year of dominance continues with an ERA to dropped again; this time to 1.68. After giving up 1.25 home runs per nine innings last season, deGrom has been able to lower that to just 0.51 so far in 2018 while also walking about half a batter less per nine innings.
6) Sale Continues His Dominance
If we are going to talk about the potential National League starter for the All-Star game, how can we ignore a possible opponent. All Sale did this time was strike out 12 batters and not allow a run over seven innings of work. The southpaw limited Texas to just six hits and one walk, but the difference, is that his team came through for him with a few runs. That meant Sale was able to pick up his 10th victory of the season while seeing his ERA drop to 2.23. At this point, we are running out of superlatives about the left-hander who is striking out 13.12 batters per nine innings, as his FIP of 2.15 says to just sit down and enjoy the rest of the ride.
7) Albies Still Has It
We knew that Ozzie Albies wasn’t going to be able to maintain his early season pace all year, but at the same we knew it wasn’t a fluke to some degree. However, the buzz surrounding him has died down, and it’s due to lack of production. Yes, he stopped hitting a home run what seemed like everyday, but after going deep twice yesterday, Albies does have six home runs in last 30 games, and there is nothing wrong with that production from your middle infielder. On the season, Albies has 20 home runs with 54 RBI (he drove in four all together yesterday), and he is hitting .288. That includes a .336 mark in his last 30 game, but it’s really over his last 15 games (.426 average) that Albies has gotten cooking again
8) Davis Continues to be a Run Producer
At this point, we need to recognize the fact that the A’s are playing a lot better than most expected them to. There are multiple factors as to why, and one of the biggest is the run producer outfielder who bats in the middle of their batting order. As long as you can stomach his .250 batting average, it could be a lot worse in today’s climate, there is a lot to like about Khris Davis’ production. On Wednesday, he had two extra base hits, his 19th double and 1st triple of the season, and drove in another three runs. That gives Davis 63 RBI on the season as he looks to get to the century mark for the third straight season.
9) Cargo Goes Deep, Twice
It was a home run barrage for the Rockies on Wednesday, and even their pitcher (German Marquez) got in on the action. In fact, the only pitcher really to shut Colorado down was Arizona catcher, yes catcher, Alex Avila who threw two scoreless innings. Prior to that point, Carlos Gonzalez turned back the clock as he went deep twice. The Gonzalez of his prime is officially gone, but now he does just enough to keep you on the hook in most leagues. There is also enough production there, that if he is on your waiver wire, he looks like a truly interesting target. Yesterday, Gonzalez’s two home runs, 10 on the season, were part of a six RBI day. While he is hitting a respectable .275, the problem, is that even though he hits in the middle of the order and receives relatively regular playing time (244 at bats), he has just 38 RBI on the season. We should note though, that over his last 30 games, Gonzalez is hitting .302, so he should be owned in all leagues.
10) Marco Shuts Things Down
One of the bright spots for Seattle this season has been the emergence of Marco Gonzales. The left-hander continued his strong season last night with seven shutout innings against the Angels. That gave Gonzales his 10th victory of the season as all Los Angeles managed was two hits as they struck out four times. Overall, the left-hander has a 3.41 ERA on the season, and he is getting close to being match-up proof. The fact that Gonzales strikes out 7.78 batters per nine innings does hold him back slightly, but you also have to like the fact that he is very stingy when it comes to walks; 1.75 per nine innings. With a 3.26 FIP and 3.47 xFIP you can feel comfortable with a moderate investment in Gonzales for the rest of the season.