by Ray Kuhn
Whatever the intent happened to be, it’s hard to really excuse what Jose Urena did on Wednesday. And after the stretch that Ronald Acuna has been on, hitting the rookie phenom square on the elbow is certainly going to garner a great deal of attention. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from a busy day around the league.
1) Abreu Drives in Three
As far as first baseman go, Jose Abreu doesn’t exactly stand out as an elite option. Of course playing for the White Sox doesn’t help his cause, but Abreu and his production don’t just “jump off the page at you”. But while he may not be a difference maker, his production his steady and quite useful. On Wednesday, that continued as Abreu went 3 for 5 with a two run homer and three RBI. For the season, he is hitting .268 with 21 home runs and 73 RBI. Those aren’t numbers that will win you your league, but they do provide a solid statistical backbone to your team.
2) Heyward Doubles His Fun
Don’t look now, but Jason Heyward is actually having a productive offensive season. We know enough not to expect power production from the outfielder, but he is even spending time batting second for the Cubs. After a 3 for 5 day on Wednesday, Heyward is batting .281 for the season, and that includes a .286 average in his last 30 games. After two doubles, a run scored, and two RBI yesterday, Heyward already compares favorable to last season’s production. Now, since he doesn’t hit for power, his value is still limited to that of a fourth or fifth outfielder, but his 20 doubles are more than last season’s 15 while he has already scored more runs than he did in 2017 (60 compared to 59). He’s not someone who requires a true investment, but if you need outfield help, don’t leave him on the waiver wire either, as long as you aren’t looking for much upside.
3) Segura Has an Empty Day
Games like this are always nice for the batting average, but Jean Segura’s four hit game will likely go unnoticed. That’s because all four of hits were singles, and he didn’t steal a base, score a run, or pick up an RBI. But with the shortstop now hitting .314 on the season, you aren’t going to get many fantasy owners who have an issue with Segura. And the fact that he was batting third on Wednesday was also interesting, even if he didn’t come through with any RBI’s. In fact, in seven games so far this season batting third, Segura is hitting .452, but he has just three RBI; compared to 56 for the season.
4) Welcome to Philadelphia
Activated off the disabled list, Wilson Ramos wasted no time in making his presence felt in his new home. This production towards the bottom of their lineup, Ramos hit from the sixth spot yesterday, is exactly what the Phillies envisioned when they acquired the catcher at the trading deadline. Ramos had a three hit night on Wednesday (two doubles), but most importantly, he scored three times and drove in three runs. On the season, Ramos has 56 RBI and a .303 batting average, and I would look for him to receive all of the playing time he can handle down the stretch.
5) Nimmo Sets the Table
The lead-off hitter often sets the table for the rest of the lineup, yes I know, that seems like common sense, but that theory certainly stood out for the Mets on Wednesday. New York exploded for 16 runs with every player getting at least one hit, but it was Brandon Nimmo who led the team with five. Nimmo had a perfect day at the plate, and came around to score three times while also driving in three runs. He saw his batting average jump back up to .263 on the season while finishing a home run shy of the cycle. While he has cooled off from his earlier hot stretch, the overall body of production, 21 doubles, eight triples, 39 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 342 at bats isn’t too bad at all.
6) Smith Gives Us the Wrong Production, But he Tried
When you see that Mallex Smith hit lead-off, had three hits and scored twice, you immediately wonder how many bases he stole. In the case of last night though, Smith came up empty handed. It wasn’t for lack of trying though, as he was thrown out stealing for the ninth time this season; against 25 stolen bases. However, the speedy outfielder did continue his success at the plate with his 20th double of the season, two runs scored (46 in total) and two RBI. What was shocking, was the rare power outburst as Smith went deep for the second time this season. Don’t expect to see that again this year, but you have to like the offensive production, spot in the batting order and his .297 average. Over his last 30 games, Smith is hitting .354 with 10 stolen bases, and that is why he is on your roster.
7) Culberson Emerges in the Middle of the Lineup
When you think of Charlie Culberson, you don’t think of a number five hitter. At least on a good team that is. However, that is what we saw in Atlanta on Wednesday. In fact, it was the fourth time that Culberson found himself hitting fifth this season, and in those games, he is hitting .714. That includes his 3 for 4 effort from last night, but regardless, the utility man has been a productive player for the Braves this season and he has some fantasy value. Culberson doubled twice and scored two runs on Wednesday to bring his average for the season up to .296, but over his last 30 games, he is hitting .341 with five home runs and 16 RBI. If you look even more recent, Culberson’s average only gets better, and there is no reason not to ride this hot streak; at a minimal investment of course.
8) The Great White Shows His Power
The Astros bounced back in a big way on Wednesday, and Gerrit Cole got more than enough run support as he picked up his 11th victory of the season. It’s not exactly surprising to see Evan Gattis go deep twice or Carlos Correa get things started with a bases clearing double, but we shouldn’t let Tyler White fly under the radar. Over the past two seasons, White has been on the shuttle between Houston and Triple-A, with a lot of time spent in the minors; especially last season. So far in 2018, White has been one of the beneficiaries of Houston’s injury problems, and he has (also thanks to his versatility) taken advantage of the situation and become a productive member of the Astros. Last night, White went deep twice (both two run shots) giving him seven home runs and 15 RBI in 77 at bats along with a .286 batting average. If you are searching for power, he could potentially be a sneaky source of it as long as he is in the lineup.
9) Don’t Forget About Curtis
With the Blue Jays not exactly pushing for a playoff spot, it wouldn’t be surprising if Curtis Granderson was dealt in August for the second straight season. While he would likely lose some playing time, the outfielder’s value could go up in daily leagues since he would be in a better situation. Last night, he showed that there is still some pop in his bat as he had the big blow in Toronto’s victory with a grand slam. It was the 11th home run of the season for Granderson, in just 285 at bats. With a .235 batting average and 35 RBI, there isn’t much that screams fantasy contributor here, but in the right situation, the veteran outfielder still has some value as there is some pop still left in his bat.
10) Bader Picks up Three Hits
Getting a crack at regular playing time appears to agree with Harrison Bader, and there is no reason not to expect that to continue at least for the remainder of this season. Now, we just need the Cardinals to move the outfielder up out of the eighth spot in the batting order. Last night, Bader went 3 for 4 with his 11th double of the season while scoring a run and driving in his 22nd run of the season; in 246 at bats. Overall Bader is hitting .280 so far in 2018, but over his last 15 games (49 at bats) that mark jumps to .327. With 12 stolen bases on the season, Bader could be a solid source of speed down the stretch since is bat is making the case for regular playing time.