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Hot Hitter Rundown

Hot Hitter Rundown

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Follow @Rotoworld_BB and @RyanPBoyer on Twitter.

 

You should always have the big picture in mind when it comes to your season-long fantasy baseball leagues. Putting too much stock in a small sample size might cause you to make a decision that hurts you in the long run. That said, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be taking stock of what’s happened in the immediate past. It can be useful when it comes to weekly or especially daily lineup decisions, waiver wire considerations, tracking who might be coming into more playing time, etc.

 

The Rotoworld Player Rater is a handy tool that’s among the extensive offerings in Season Pass. Each week, I’ll be using the Player Rater to look at the hottest hitters, position by position, over the last week, and providing commentary.

 

*The following data is based on 5x5 Roto scoring and covers games played from April 16-22.

 

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Catcher

 

Rank
Player
Tm
Pos
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
R
OBP
VAL
#1
Yasmani Grandal
LA
C
0.50106
3.79673
-0.39908
1.12550
1.41820
1.53049
7.97
#2
Yadier Molina
STL
C
0.50106
0.77354
1.34813
1.47501
0.36191
1.09839
5.56
#3
Wilson Ramos
TB
C
0.50106
0.77354
-0.39908
1.47501
0.89006
1.05234
4.29
#4
Kurt Suzuki
ATL
C
0.50106
1.63731
-0.39908
1.08922
0.89006
0.39729
4.12
#5
J.T. Realmuto
MIA
C
0.50106
0.77354
-0.39908
1.07109
0.89006
1.06792
3.90
#6
Luke Maile
TOR
C
-0.61620
1.20543
-0.39908
1.33432
0.89006
1.24590
3.66
#7
Brian McCann
HOU
C
0.50106
0.77354
-0.39908
0.56275
0.89006
1.24002
3.57
#8
Yan Gomes
CLE
C
0.50106
-0.09022
-0.39908
1.21177
-0.69439
0.60344
1.13
#9
Elias Diaz
PIT
C
0.50106
-0.09022
-0.39908
0.80785
-0.16624
0.40229
1.06
#10
Gary Sanchez
NYY
C
-0.61620
0.34166
-0.39908
0.72157
0.36191
0.58788
1.00

 

The Dodgers have moved the red-hot Yasmani Grandal up to the No. 3 spot in their batting order for each of their last four games. He drove in a whopping 11 runs this past week and is hitting the ball harder than ever while still managing to improve his contact rate. We know Grandal can be streaky, but Austin Barnes owners have to have little optimism right now. Barnes has started just one of the last 10 games … After popping 18 home runs and driving in a career-high 82 runs last season, Yadier Molina has already slugged six bombs and driven in 16 in 2018. Molina’s backup, Francisco Pena, has started just one game this season, and that was because Yadi was serving a suspension. He’ll turn 36 at midseason, but Molina continues to be a workhorse and a very productive one … Wilson Ramos entered last week with a sub-.400 OPS (you read that correctly), but he finally showed signs of life with a 1.209 OPS, four RBI and his first home run. I remain bullish on Ramos as he further distances himself from knee surgery. He’s been hitting the ball really hardJ.T. Realmuto returned from a back injury to go 5-for-12 with a home run and four RBI in his first week. The catcher’s ceiling is certainly lowered by being in the Marlins’ lineup and playing half his games at Marlins Park, but he’s still going to be an upper echelon fantasy backstop. Plus, if he has a big first half there will surely be trade interest in him …

 

First Base

 

Rank
Player
Tm
Pos
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
R
OBP
VAL
#1
C.J. Cron
TB
1B
3.85282
2.50108
-0.39908
1.89707
0.89006
1.40822
10.15
#2
Brandon Belt
SF
1B
3.85282
1.63731
-0.39908
1.22991
1.41820
1.02908
8.77
#3
Mitch Moreland
BOS
1B
1.61831
2.93296
-0.39908
1.59756
0.36191
1.21857
7.33
#4
Eric Thames
MLW
1B
1.61831
1.63731
1.34813
0.70344
0.36191
1.14240
6.81
#5
Miguel Cabrera
DET
1B
0.50106
1.20543
-0.39908
2.00148
0.89006
2.60030
6.80
#6
Ryan Zimmerman
WAS
1B
1.61831
1.63731
-0.39908
0.61716
1.41820
0.33534
5.23
#7
Jesus Aguilar
MLW
1B
0.50106
1.20543
-0.39908
1.59756
0.89006
0.93626
4.73
#8
Cody Bellinger
LA
1B
0.50106
0.77354
-0.39908
0.10882
2.47450
0.46395
3.92
#9
Matt Olson
OAK
1B
0.50106
1.20543
-0.39908
1.24805
0.36191
0.92528
3.84
#10
Joey Gallo
TEX
1B
1.61831
0.34166
-0.39908
-0.43579
0.89006
0.71460
2.73

 

C.J. Cron got off to a sluggish start with his new team, but the power started to show up over the past week. Cron has tallied multiple hits in five of his last six contests, and he’s gone deep four times and driven in eight runs over that span. He’s mostly batted cleanup for Tampa Bay this season but was moved up to the No. 2 spot for the last three games. Cron’s 24/2 K/BB ratio isn’t pretty to look at, but while he’s never drawn many walks, his career numbers say the strikeout rate should go down … The plate appearance didn’t end with one of his three hits on the day, but Brandon Belt broke a record with a 21-pitch at-bat against the Angels’ Jaime Barria on Sunday. He would homer in his third plate appearance, giving him longballs in four straight games. Belt hadn’t done much other than draw walks prior to the four-game stretch, but hopefully this is the beginning of a power surge for him. We’re still waiting to see Belt’s first 20-homer season … Miguel Cabrera had to exit a game last week with a back issue, which is especially worrisome for a guy who battled through a pair of herniated discs last season. However, he returned to the lineup the next day and finished off the week by going 9-for-19 with his second dinger of the season. I remain worried that the 35-year-old will continue to break down physically, and the fact that his flyball rate this season has plummeted is also a concern. Miggy’s hard-hit rate remains quite good, however …

 

Second Base

 

Rank
Player
Tm
Pos
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
R
OBP
VAL
#1
Javier Baez
CHC
2B
2.73557
2.93296
-0.39908
3.03630
2.47450
1.98101
12.76
#2
Yoan Moncada
CWS
2B
1.61831
1.63731
6.58977
0.47647
0.89006
0.84482
12.06
#3
Jed Lowrie
OAK
2B
1.61831
2.93296
-0.39908
1.65197
0.89006
1.12643
7.82
#4
Asdrubal Cabrera
NYM
2B
0.50106
2.06919
-0.39908
2.52796
0.89006
1.59427
7.18
#5
Daniel Robertson
TB
2B
1.61831
0.77354
-0.39908
1.49315
1.41820
1.66405
6.57
#6
Whit Merrifield
KC
2B
2.73557
1.20543
-0.39908
0.63530
1.41820
0.88548
6.48
#7
Cesar Hernandez
PHI
2B
-0.61620
0.77354
3.09535
0.61716
0.89006
0.72338
5.48
#8
Jose Altuve
HOU
2B
-0.61620
1.63731
-0.39908
1.52942
0.89006
1.50948
4.55
#9
Isiah Kiner-Falefa
TEX
2B
-0.61620
0.34166
1.34813
1.51129
-0.16624
1.09604
3.51
#10
Robinson Cano
SEA
2B
1.61831
1.20543
-0.39908
0.39020
0.89006
-0.39757
3.31

 

No one in baseball has been hotter at the plate than Javier Baez. Over his last 10 games, Baez is sporting a ridiculous 1.369 OPS with seven home runs and 19(!) RBI. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has moved Baez’s scorching-hot bat up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the last four games, and Baez is 9-for-21 at the dish in those contests so he’s surely going to remain there a while. Baez has also cut down on his strikeouts so far and is drawing more walks, although the latter is mostly due to four intentional free passes. I’m confident in predicting plenty more peaks and valleys from Baez as we’ve come accustomed to, but he is still probably a good bet for his best year to date in his age-25 season … I’ve received multiple questions on Twitter this month about dropping Yoan Moncada, and the frustration is understandable. Through his first 12 games this season he had a .608 OPS, 42.1 percent strikeout rate and had yet to steal a base. However, he then went on a stretch of four straight tilts with a stolen base and he also went deep in back-to-back games and drove in six runs. I don’t think Moncada is close to a finished product and I expect the strikeouts to continue coming in bunches, but he’s drawing plenty of walks and it’s very encouraging that he’s finally showing an inclination to run … Daniel Robertson kind of fell off prospect radars after a couple underwhelming seasons in his first two years in the Rays’ system, and he did little last year in his first exposure to the majors. However, the former first-round pick is starting to show signs of progress in his age-24 campaign. Among players with at least 50 plate appearances, only Bryce Harper and Joe Mauer have a better walk rate than Robertson’s 22.8 percent mark. He also went deep twice this past week and tallied his first career four-hit game on Sunday. His offensive profile has seemed nondescript, but Robertson is young enough that we can’t rule out him having developed some new skills. He’s hit in the top-five in the Rays’ batting order each of the last five games …

 

Third Base

 

Rank
Player
Tm
Pos
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
R
OBP
VAL
#1
Christian Villanueva
SD
3B
1.61831
1.20543
1.34813
2.50982
1.94635
2.29553
10.92
#2
Miguel Andujar
NYY
3B
1.61831
2.06919
-0.39908
3.14071
1.41820
2.47648
10.32
#3
Jose Ramirez
CLE
3B
3.85282
1.20543
-0.39908
1.87893
0.89006
1.74329
9.17
#4
Jeimer Candelario
DET
3B
1.61831
2.06919
-0.39908
2.66865
0.89006
2.27158
9.12
#5
Travis Shaw
MLW
3B
1.61831
0.34166
-0.39908
1.22991
1.94635
2.61737
7.35
#6
Rafael Devers
BOS
3B
1.61831
2.06919
-0.39908
1.51129
0.89006
0.81819
6.51
#7
Mike Moustakas
KC
3B
2.73557
2.50108
-0.39908
1.03922
0.36191
0.09702
6.34
#8
Nolan Arenado
COL
3B
1.61831
0.77354
-0.39908
2.08776
0.36191
1.74310
6.19
#9
Ryan Flaherty
ATL
3B
0.50106
1.20543
1.34813
0.96667
-0.16624
1.51288
5.37
#10
Yangervis Solarte
TOR
3B
2.73557
1.63731
-0.39908
-0.64461
1.94635
-0.34457
4.93

 

The Padres look like they might have stumbled onto something with Christian Villanueva. After scuffling for a week-plus following his three-homer game back on April 3, Villanueva has put together a nine-game hitting streak during which he’s batted an absurd .517/.622/1.034 with four longballs and 10 RBI. Villanueva was striking out a ton in the first couple weeks of the season, but his whiffs are way down and he’s started drawing walks during his hitting streak. Opposing pitchers are sure to eventually pick up on Villanueva’s dead-pull approach and start pitching him differently, and some major BABIP regression is due. That said, the 26-year-old is hitting a bunch of balls in the air and is also making hard contact … Miguel Andujar went back to the waiver wire in many leagues after a 3-for-28 start at the plate. Those who practiced patience have been rewarded with a 13-for-24 stretch over his last six games which included a pair of dingers and seven RBI. Gleyber Torres has been promoted and Brandon Drury (migraines) will probably return before long, but Andujar has certainly earned everyday at-bats at third base for the Yankees for now … Jeimer Candelario’s home run totals in the minors were rather pedestrian for a third baseman, and he failed to go deep in his first 12 contests this season. However, over his last eight games Candelario has popped three dingers while sporting a 1.202 OPS. The Tigers’ offense to this point has at least showed a pulse and the 24-year-old has started and batted second in every game so far this season … Three of Yangervis Solarte’s five home runs this season have come in the nine games since he took over at third base for Josh Donaldson (shoulder). Solarte has batted either third or fourth for the Blue Jays in all of those tilts and he’s also walked more times than he’s struck out this season. The former Padre might not have a set position when Donaldson returns, but he’s versatile enough to still see plenty of playing time …

 

Shortstop

 

Rank
Player
Tm
Pos
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
R
OBP
VAL
#1
Manny Machado
BAL
SS
4.97008
2.50108
-0.39908
2.89561
2.47450
2.60152
15.04
#2
Carlos Correa
HOU
SS
1.61831
2.06919
1.34813
3.66718
1.41820
3.37708
13.50
#3
Trevor Story
COL
SS
0.50106
1.63731
3.09535
2.12403
-0.16624
2.36502
9.56
#4
Didi Gregorius
NYY
SS
2.73557
2.06919
-0.39908
1.49315
1.94635
1.47499
9.32
#5
Marcus Semien
OAK
SS
0.50106
0.34166
3.09535
0.49461
3.00265
0.45518
7.89
#6
Adeiny Hechavarria
TB
SS
0.50106
1.63731
-0.39908
2.38727
1.41820
1.95785
7.50
#7
Paul DeJong
STL
SS
2.73557
2.06919
-0.39908
0.59902
0.89006
0.44995
6.34
#8
Jean Segura
SEA
SS
-0.61620
1.63731
3.09535
0.26765
0.89006
-0.89846
4.38
#9
Dansby Swanson
ATL
SS
0.50106
-0.09022
1.34813
0.73971
0.89006
0.47666
3.87
#10
Corey Seager
LA
SS
-0.61620
0.77354
-0.39908
1.12550
1.41820
1.35562
3.66

 

The Orioles are 6-16 and already a whopping 11.5 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East. But, while the team’s prospects for 2018 are looking bleak, their best player looks to be in for a monster walk year. Manny Machado on Sunday tallied the second two-homer game in his last four contests and trails only Mike Trout in taters with his eight this season. The 25-year-old’s already-great strikeout rate has dipped to 15.2 percent while his walk rate has been upped to 12.1 percent. Machado’s 52.8 percent flyball rate would also easily represent a career high. The three-time All-Star is a good bet to be traded in a few months and odds are it will be to a less favorable home park, but I doubt Machado’s fantasy owners are sweating that (nor should they be) … Trevor Story batted cleanup for the Rockies in their first two games of the season but also spent plenty of time batting as low as seventh while going through ups and downs. The good news is it was mostly ups this past week, as the shortstop went 9-for-20 at the plate while adding a home run and a couple steals. Story has his OPS up over .800 for the first time this season following a three-hit effort Sunday. Story is still striking out in a third of his plate appearances, but he’s also still hitting a ton of flyballs and showing more speed in 2018 … Both of his stolen bases and one of his home runs came this past week and Marcus Semien has compiled three multi-hit efforts in his last four games. Semien also continues to bat first or second every day for a good A’s offense and he’s always drawn his fair share of walks. The 27-year-old not only boasts a solid power/speed combo, but he could also be an underrated source of runs …

 

Outfield

 

Rank
Player
Tm
Pos
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
R
OBP
VAL
#1
Mookie Betts
BOS
OF
3.85282
0.77354
-0.39908
1.61570
2.47450
1.56785
9.89
#2
Teoscar Hernandez
TOR
OF
2.73557
2.50108
-0.39908
1.40687
2.47450
1.11823
9.84
#3
George Springer
HOU
OF
0.50106
2.50108
-0.39908
1.14364
4.05894
1.28706
9.09
#4
Mike Trout
LAA
OF
2.73557
0.77354
1.34813
2.00148
0.36191
1.86885
9.09
#5
Michael Taylor
WAS
OF
0.50106
0.34166
4.84256
0.72157
1.41820
0.84859
8.67
#6
Mitch Haniger
SEA
OF
2.73557
2.06919
1.34813
1.51129
0.36191
0.64453
8.67
#7
Lorenzo Cain
MLW
OF
0.50106
-0.09022
1.34813
1.49315
3.53079
1.86885
8.65
#8
JaCoby Jones
DET
OF
1.61831
1.20543
1.34813
1.63383
1.94635
0.49739
8.25
#9
Rhys Hoskins
PHI
OF
1.61831
2.50108
-0.39908
0.86226
1.41820
1.95785
7.96
#10
Ender Inciarte
ATL
OF
-0.61620
-0.52211
4.84256
1.77452
0.89006
0.99216
7.36

 

Teoscar Hernandez has wasted no time in letting his presence be felt since the Blue Jays called him up on April 13. The 25-year-old has put up a 1.138 OPS over his first eight games for Toronto and has belted homers in three of his last five contests. Hernandez has started every game since his promotion and been cemented into the No. 2 spot in the lineup. With Hernandez’s emergence, the slumping Randal Grichuk has started just two of the last five games and Steve Pearce has gone back to only playing versus lefties. Rough patches are likely for Hernandez with his propensity to strike out, and his playing time would be uncertain when he does slump. However, Toronto is not going to pull him out of the lineup when he’s playing like this … I avoided Michael Taylor in drafts this spring because I didn’t buy the bit of progress he made as a hitter last year and I thought top prospect Victor Robles would eventually take his job. Well, Taylor has indeed been a disaster at the plate so far with a .609 OPS, but he’s kept his fantasy value afloat by tying for NL lead with eight stolen bases and Robles is out indefinitely with an elbow injury. Robles’ injury should buy Taylor some time, but I still wouldn’t want to count on him this season … Mitch Haniger might have had a true breakout last season if not for injury, and he’s having a huge April for the second year in a row. The 27-year-old homered for the third straight game Sunday, and his 22 RBI so far have been bested only by Jed Lowrie and Javier Baez. Haniger is also striking out less, walking more and his batted ball data is looking strong. He’s unlikely to bat higher than sixth when the Mariners are healthy, but that’s about the only thing we can complain about … It’s fewer than 50 plate appearances so I’m going to draw any big conclusions, but JaCoby Jones’ strikeout rate is at 19.1 percent so far this season after he had an unsightly 42.2 percent rate last year. The 25-year-old also boasts a robust 45.5 percent hard-hit rate and has already stolen three base and ripped a couple dingers. We saw the extremely low floor with Jones in 2017, but he’s always been an elite athlete with a potentially intriguing power/speed combo. I’m keeping my expectations low but will be tracking his progress …

Ryan Boyer

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. He can also be found on Twitter.