Let’s look at one-year stats to get a better sense of the hitter pool than perhaps the 2018 stats alone. We’re going from May 29, 2017 through Monday’s action for these stats.
Gary Sanchez seems mildly disappointing this year for those who invested a premium pick in a catcher. But in the last year, he’s been one of the most productive hitting catchers in history. He has 41 homers and 111 RBI with 96 runs and a .261 average. There have only been 21 catchers in history with more than 111 RBI in a full-season, according to Baseball Reference. And only Victor Martinez in 2007 has topped that mark since 2000. That .261 average is a better barometer for him going forward than his .215 mark this season. And note that last year at this time, Sanchez had just four homers. Like most power hitters, he’s streaky.
Cody Bellinger had been a tremendous disappointment, especially in the average category. And his OPS is just about league average after crushing it last season at just age 21. But in the last calendar year, Bellinger still has 37 homers while hitting .255. Just eight players have hit more jacks. While Bellinger is no doubt slumping, trading him right now is likely selling low. He’s made the adjustment on inside pitches (.090 well-hit vs. league average of .065 according to Inside Edge) but now is struggling with outside pitches (.020/.066), which he crushed last year (.099). At some point, and probably soon, he’ll find the happy medium and hit both sides of the plate.
J.D. Martinez is just unreal with 55 homers and 134 RBI while hitting .309 despite 167 strikeouts. The people who said Giancarlo Stanton was worthy of a top two pick this year probably should have been saying that about Martinez instead.
Justin Upton is also much better than his 2018 ADP during the past calendar year with 103-37-121 and a .274 average and 12 steals. Yahtzee!
Scooter Gennett has 34 homers, 116 RBI and is hitting .310. This is a guy who hit 35 homers in his first four seasons. Oh, he’s leading the league in hitting in 2018 (.347). Did I mention 10 steals the past calendar year, too? So much for regression.
Didi Gregorius has 33 homers and 103 RBI the past year. That’s nine more RBI and one less homer than Francisco Lindor.
Eddie Rosario is an elite performer with 32 homers and 98 RBI while hitting .299 and also swiping 13 bags. That’s first-round value, which few view Rosario as being.
Jose Altuve has been a big pick of regret in the early season. But for better context note he’s hitting .354 the last calendar year with 221 hits (surplus hits for the slot matter more than batting average, remember) and he’s scored 113 times with 21 jacks and 86 RBI. He has 28 steals (five caught). I’d expect Altuve to perform near these levels going forward. Note a recent inevitable hot streak, which included hits in 10 straight plate appearances, has given his 2018 stats much better return relative to ADP.
Odubel Herrera and Jose Ramirez have the next highest averages after Altuve. But the only other player with more than 200 hits is Dee Gordon (204). It’s really the hits that give Altuve his batting average value, with about 70-to-80 more than the average .255-.260 hitter gets in his average at bats. Add 70-for-70 to your team at the end of the year and see how much that moves your overall batting average.
We talk about Paul Goldschmidt so much. My bottom line is that he’s hit the ball well much better than the league rate and should thus be fine. In the last calendar year he’s 104-31-99 with a .262 average. He has only eight steals in the period so you can reasonably write off that part of his game.
Buster Posey has just seven homers the past year. And while he’s hitting .308 (a marked topped by only 11 players), he’s scored just 62 runs. He’s turning into Joe Mauer. In fact he is Mauer, who is hitting .305 with five homers the last year (64 runs). I thought Posey’s absence of power in the second half last year was injury related and he’d bank 15 this year. Instead he’s on pace for about six.
Kris Bryant is tied for 77th in RBI with 77 the past year. That’s behind C.J. Cron and Ryan Healy. He also has left the yard just 26 times (tied for 54th). He is ninth in OPS, which helps you in your OPS leagues.
Some players who are badly underperforming their rep in OPS, which of course doesn’t count in our game but nonetheless is usually a good barometer for fantasy value: Chris Davis (.620), Rougned Odor (.647) and Ian Kinsler (.672).
Just 25 players have 20 or more steals. Rajai Davis with 31 in just 320 plate appearances is tied for fifth most. But since teams could not care less about steals today, Davis barely plays for the Indians. Jose Reyes and Cameron Maybin are other players like this. And we talked last week about how non-playable Billy Hamilton is in reality. So the pool for steals is even more shallow than we feared.
Byron Buxton has 27 steals with 14 homers with a .253/.302/.413 slash line. I think all of his owners would sign for that now. This is about as good as it gets in finding a suitable sample of productive at bats for Buxton in his career. His slash this year is .159/.187/.205 with 27 Ks and 3 BBs. His OPS+, which adjusts for park and where 100 is exactly league average and higher is better is…. nine. AP style says you have to spell out Buxton’s OPS+.