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Hot Hitter Rundown

Hot Hitter Rundown: April 8

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: April 10, 2019, 3:56 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 March 20-April 7 (it will normally be just seven days).

Editor’s Note: Stay ahead of the competition from wire to wire with rankings, customizable projections, trade evaluator, exclusive columns and more in our Season Pass. And start using optimized lineups on Yahoo!, DraftKings and FanDuel with our DFS Toolkit!

Catcher

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Gary Sanchez

NYY

C

3.69959

1.67440

-0.55032

0.07392

0.75913

5.66

#2

Willson Contreras

CHC

C

1.43300

1.03409

-0.55032

0.96892

1.13005

4.02

#3

Austin Barnes

LA

C

0.67746

0.39379

-0.55032

1.23743

1.13005

2.89

#4

Omar Narvaez

SEA

C

0.67746

0.71394

-0.55032

0.26216

1.13005

2.23

#5

Jorge Alfaro

MIA

C

1.43300

0.71394

-0.55032

0.33318

0.01731

1.95

#6

Willians Astudillo

MIN

C

-0.07807

0.07364

-0.55032

1.31769

0.75913

1.52

#7

Wilson Ramos

NYM

C

-0.83360

0.71394

-0.55032

1.72189

0.38822

1.44

#8

Yasmani Grandal

MLW

C

-0.07807

-0.56667

0.69102

0.61092

0.75913

1.42

#9

Alex Avila

ARZ

C

0.67746

0.39379

-0.55032

0.49370

0.38822

1.40

#10

Blake Swihart

BOS

C

-0.07807

0.07364

-0.55032

0.77144

0.01731

.23

No one in baseball has barreled more balls this season than Gary Sanchez, who sits atop Statcast’s barrel percentage at 23.3 percent. He’s also sporting a ridiculous 72 percent flyball rate in the early going. The combination of those two things is obviously going to lead to a lot of home runs, and on Sunday Sanchez parked three over the fences at Camden Yards. “The Kraken” has hit twice as many home runs as any other catcher so far and while that pace isn’t going to continue, a return to the 30-homer plateau is looking likely … Willson Contreras is also off to a good start in his quest for a bounce-back season, putting up a shiny 1.381 OPS through his first eight contests. He’s homered in three of his last four games and has walked (six) more times than he’s struck out (five) this season. The early batted ball data is also encouraging. Contreras’ hard-hit rate fell off to a lowly 28.9 percent in 2018, but so far in 2019 it’s sitting at 52.9 percent … The bounce-back theme continues with Austin Barnes, who is nipping at Contreras’ heels with a 1.327 OPS. After drawing three walks Sunday, he now has six free passes on the year versus just two strikeouts. The 7.7 percent strikeout rate so for is particularly encouraging after that mark unexpectedly spiked to 28.2 percent last year. Barnes isn’t going to play as often as we’d like. However, after splitting starts with Russell Martin in the first six games, he’s been in the lineup for three of the last four contests. He’s batted eighth in all of his starts this season, which obviously isn’t ideal … Speaking of guys who aren’t going to play as much as we’d like, cult hero Willians Astudillo has made just three starts this season and accumulated a mere 17 plate appearances. In spite of that, he still ranks sixth on this list thanks to an absurd .500/.529/.929 batting line. The 27-year-old has more plate appearances than both Jason Castro and Mitch Garver thanks in part due to his ability to play multiple positions, but it remains difficult to see a major uptick in playing time here. That said, he’s still a worthy second catcher even with limited at-bats.

First Base

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Rhys Hoskins

PHI

1B

1.43300

2.95501

-0.55032

0.97816

1.50096

6.32

#2

Pete Alonso

NYM

1B

1.43300

2.31470

-0.55032

1.73113

0.75913

5.69

#3

Jay Bruce

SEA

1B

2.94406

1.99455

-0.55032

-0.83033

1.87187

5.43

#4

Paul Goldschmidt

STL

1B

2.94406

1.67440

-0.55032

-0.56183

0.75913

4.27

#5

Jose Abreu

CWS

1B

1.43300

1.67440

-0.55032

0.35166

1.13005

4.04

#6

Christian Walker

ARZ

1B

1.43300

0.71394

0.69102

0.34242

0.75913

3.94

#7

Carlos Santana

CLE

1B

-0.07807

1.35425

-0.55032

1.99963

1.13005

3.86

#8

Max Muncy

LA

1B

1.43300

1.99455

-0.55032

0.06468

0.01731

2.96

#9

Brandon Belt

SF

1B

1.43300

1.35425

0.69102

-0.19458

-0.35360

2.93

#10

Freddie Freeman

ATL

1B

-0.07807

0.39379

-0.55032

1.99963

1.13005

2.90

Rhys Hoskins went 6-for-10 with a couple homers and seven RBI in the Phillies’ series win over the Twins this past weekend and is behind only Cody Bellinger in the National League with his 13 RBI. A move back to his natural position of first base this season I think can only help him at the plate, and, of course, there’s also the fact that he has Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and Bryce Harper hitting in front of him … The Mets’ decision not only to carry Pete Alonso on their Opening Day roster but also to immediately throw him into the No. 2 spot in their lineup was refreshing, and he’s made the club look wise so far with a 1.256 OPS and three long balls. Only the aforementioned Gary Sanchez has a higher barrel percentage this season than Alonso’s 21.9 percent mark (he’s just ahead of some dude named Mike Trout). Alonso does have a 32.4 percent strikeout rate, and I’m sure we will see stretches where he whiffs too much and pulls his average down. The power is most definitely real, though, and the Mets’ lineup looks strong … Jay Bruce labored through an injury-riddled 2018, most notably being sabotaged by a bout of plantar fasciitis. It led to him being written off in drafts this spring, which, in hindsight, looks like an overreaction considering he was a top-20 outfielder both in 2016 and 2017. Bruce is healthy now, and while his average is lagging at .184, he’s already slugged five homers and settled in as the Mariners’ cleanup hitter. The 32-year-old also ranks 19th in barrel percentage (13.3 percent) and only Sanchez has a higher flyball rate than Bruce’s 69.2 percent mark … Christian Walker has consistently posted big power numbers in the minors but hasn’t really received a long look at the major league level. Until now, anyway, as he’s going to be the Diamondbacks’ everyday first baseman for the next six weeks with Jake Lamb (quad) going down. Walker ranks seventh in baseball with his 17.9 percent barrel rate and he’s batting fifth in an Arizona lineup that’s packed a surprising amount of punch so far. Strikeouts have been an issue in the majors and at times in the minors, and Walker figures to go back to playing only versus lefties when Lamb returns. He’s certainly a viable short-term power play, though.

Second Base

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Kolten Wong

STL

2B

1.43300

1.35425

1.93236

2.08913

1.50096

8.31

#2

Ketel Marte

ARZ

2B

1.43300

2.31470

1.93236

0.55838

1.13005

7.37

#3

Dee Gordon

SEA

2B

-0.83360

0.71394

5.65638

0.45040

0.38822

6.38

#4

Enrique Hernandez

LA

2B

1.43300

1.35425

-0.55032

1.35465

2.24278

5.83

#5

Jonathan Villar

BAL

2B

0.67746

0.07364

1.93236

1.28362

1.13005

5.10

#6

Ozzie Albies

ATL

2B

-0.07807

-0.56667

1.93236

2.00887

0.01731

3.31

#7

Adam Frazier

PIT

2B

-0.07807

-0.24652

1.93236

0.98740

0.38822

2.98

#8

Derek Dietrich

CIN

2B

1.43300

1.35425

-0.55032

0.22520

0.38822

2.85

#9

Starlin Castro

MIA

2B

0.67746

0.07364

-0.55032

0.82688

0.75913

1.79

#10

Jose Altuve

HOU

2B

-0.07807

-0.24652

0.69102

0.54914

0.01731

.93

Whether it was fair or not, the narrative has been that Kolten Wong never really got a fair shake from former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, as Matheny would often sit Wong against lefties or at the first sign of a slump. There were even a couple demotions to the minors. Wong has had the backing of current skipper Mike Shildt, and it’s probably no coincidence that the second baseman has batted .333/.401/.513 over 179 plate appearances dating back to last season since Shildt took over (he hit .251/.321/.377 in 2,143 plate appearances with Matheny as manager). The bad news for Wong is that Shildt has had a static lineup and not moved Wong from the lower third of the order in 2019. His upside is capped until that changes … Ketel Marte began to pick it up at the plate in the second half of last season with a .841 OPS and it’s carried over into this season with a .831 OPS, three home runs, 11 RBI and two stolen bases through his first 10 games. Yes, he’s yet to draw a walk, but with a 9.9 percent walk rate and 13.9 percent strikeout rate from 2017-18, plate discipline shouldn’t be a concern. Marte has mostly hit sixth this season but has batted second in two of his last four games … After using Enrique Hernandez as a super utility player all over the field in previous seasons, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided late in spring training that he would keep Hernandez at second base. Perhaps settling in at one position has helped the 27-year-old be more comfortable at the plate, as he’s put up a healthy .367/.474/.733 batting line with three dingers, eight RBI and 10 runs scored in the early going. Hernandez has also walked (seven) more than he’s struck out (five), ranks 30th in baseball with an 11.8 barrel percentage and is hitting the ball in the air more than ever (46.2 percent flyball rate). He bats lower in the order versus righties but is no longer just a lefty masher, as 14 of his 24 bombs since the beginning of last season have come against right-handers. Sure, it would be nice if Hernandez wasn’t a zero in the stolen base department, but we could be looking at a four-category breakout here.

Third Base

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Anthony Rendon

WAS

3B

2.18853

1.67440

-0.55032

2.08913

2.98460

8.39

#2

Yoan Moncada

CWS

3B

0.67746

2.31470

-0.55032

1.36389

1.87187

5.68

#3

Ryon Healy

SEA

3B

1.43300

2.31470

-0.55032

0.19114

1.87187

5.26

#4

Yandy Diaz

TB

3B

1.43300

0.07364

0.69102

0.71890

1.13005

4.05

#5

Maikel Franco

PHI

3B

1.43300

1.99455

-0.55032

0.70042

0.38822

3.97

#6

Manny Machado

SD

3B

0.67746

0.39379

0.69102

0.53990

0.75913

3.06

#7

Matt Chapman

OAK

3B

1.43300

0.71394

-0.55032

0.28988

0.75913

2.65

#8

Asdrubal Cabrera

TEX

3B

1.43300

1.03409

-0.55032

-0.56183

0.75913

2.11

#9

Alex Bregman

HOU

3B

-0.07807

-0.24652

0.69102

1.27438

0.01731

1.66

#10

Justin Turner

LA

3B

-0.83360

1.03409

-0.55032

0.82688

1.13005

1.61

One of the most encouraging early-season performances has come from Yoan Moncada. After striking out in over one-third of his plate appearances last season, Moncada has just an 18.9 strikeout rate in his first eight games this year. He’s also been scorching the ball when he makes contact with a 12.5 percent barrel rate, a 1.052 OPS and a couple home runs. He has yet to attempt a stolen base, and at this point it’s looking like Moncada just isn’t going to be the threat on the basepaths that his speed and minor league numbers suggested he’d be. That said, he could really take a step forward if he can keep the whiffs down at a reasonable rate … The Rays were intrigued enough by Yandy Diaz’s batted ball data and excellent plate discipline to trade for him over the offseason, and he’s made the move look wise so far with a 1.061 OPS and three long balls over his first nine contests. The number to keep an eye on here is Diaz’s flyball rate. It sits at 33.3 percent right now, which is pedestrian on the surface but a big jump for a guy known to be a groundball-heavy hitter. If Diaz can get even close to a league-average flyball rate, we could see his power take off. He hasn’t batted lower than fifth for the Rays yet this year … Maikel Franco came out of the gates with three home runs and eight RBI over his first four games, and although he’s cooled off a bit since then he’s still sitting on a 1.260 OPS. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has, surprisingly, not fiddled with his lineup at all, which hasn’t been great news for Franco since he’s been stuck in the No. 8 spot ahead of the pitcher. It’s helped his on-base percentage with a whopping six intentional walks already, but obviously the counting stats will be hurt in the long run if he doesn’t move up.

Shortstop

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Tim Beckham

SEA

SS

2.18853

2.31470

-0.55032

2.29585

3.35552

9.60

#2

Javier Baez

CHC

SS

2.18853

1.35425

1.93236

0.18190

1.50096

7.16

#3

Tim Anderson

CWS

SS

0.67746

0.39379

0.69102

2.90387

1.13005

5.80

#4

Trea Turner

WAS

SS

0.67746

0.07364

4.41504

0.58320

0.01731

5.77

#5

Nick Ahmed

ARZ

SS

-0.83360

0.71394

1.93236

0.91638

2.24278

4.97

#6

Elvis Andrus

TEX

SS

-0.07807

0.39379

1.93236

1.83911

0.38822

4.48

#7

Dansby Swanson

ATL

SS

1.43300

1.67440

-0.55032

0.97816

0.75913

4.29

#8

Gleyber Torres

NYY

SS

1.43300

0.39379

-0.55032

1.64163

1.13005

4.05

#9

Freddy Galvis

TOR

SS

1.43300

0.71394

-0.55032

0.99664

0.38822

2.98

#10

Marcus Semien

OAK

SS

-0.07807

-0.24652

0.69102

0.93486

1.13005

2.43

We’ve seen nice runs from Tim Beckham before, but during other hot streaks he’s usually still showing awful plate discipline. That’s not the case here, though, as he boasts a 14.9 percent walk rate and 17 percent strikeout rate through 11 games. There does seem to be a discernable change in approach, as Beckham’s swing percentage is way down, both at pitches inside and outside the strike zone. It’s fair to have doubts that the changes stick – especially when we’re talking about such a small sample size – but I’ll be tracking him … Speaking of players with a history of awful plate discipline, Tim Anderson had a weekend to remember versus the Mariners, going 10-for-13 with a couple home runs. He’s drawn just one walk so far but also struck out just twice, good for a 7.7 percent strikeout rate that’s less than a third of his career rate. Anderson does have a nice 11.5 percent barrel rate so far but has also benefitted from an lol-worthy .571 BABIP. He’ll remain a nice power/speed guy, but just don’t delude yourself into thinking he’ll hit for average … Dansby Swanson in 2019 has toned back the aggressiveness he displayed at the plate in 2018 and it’s been a best-case scenario for him so far with a 1.201 OPS and three home runs, not to mention as many walks (six) as strikeouts (six). He also comes in at 28th among 301 players with an 11.8 percent barrel rate and on Sunday earned a move up from the eighth to the sixth spot in the batting order (and he homered in that contest). Maybe it’s that Swanson is finally healthy after being plagued by a wrist issue last season. Maybe his offseason work with Hall of Famer Chipper Jones is paying off. Or, maybe it’s too soon to draw any conclusions and he’ll revert back to the guy who had a sub-.700 OPS in 2017 and 2018. We’re talking about a 25-year-old former top prospect, though, so this is all very encouraging.

Outfield

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Cody Bellinger

LA

OF

4.45513

4.55577

0.69102

3.40682

4.83916

17.95

#2

Domingo Santana

SEA

OF

2.18853

3.59531

3.17370

1.11386

2.24278

12.31

#3

Christian Yelich

MLW

OF

2.94406

2.95501

0.69102

1.55213

2.61369

10.76

#4

Mike Trout

LAA

OF

2.94406

2.63486

0.69102

1.53365

0.75913

8.56

#5

Jason Heyward

CHC

OF

1.43300

1.35425

1.93236

0.98740

1.13005

6.84

#6

Trey Mancini

BAL

OF

2.18853

1.67440

-0.55032

1.18488

1.87187

6.37

#7

Lorenzo Cain

MLW

OF

-0.07807

-0.56667

3.17370

1.74037

1.87187

6.14

#8

Whit Merrifield

KC

OF

-0.07807

0.07364

3.17370

0.99664

1.87187

6.04

#9

Joey Gallo

TEX

OF

2.18853

2.31470

-0.55032

0.06468

1.87187

5.89

#10

Mallex Smith

SEA

OF

-0.07807

-0.24652

4.41504

0.07392

1.50096

5.67

Cody Bellinger has been the most valuable hitter in fantasy so far this season, and by a wide margin. The 23-year-old’s chase rate is way down at 17.7 percent and his swing rate on pitches in the strike zone is up at 70.2 percent. In other words, he’s laying off the junk he can’t do anything with and attacking pitches he can handle. Which is kind of the point of hitting, isn’t it? Bellinger’s strikeout rate obviously isn’t going to stay down at 12.8 percent, but this is a mega talent whose ceiling is just about as high as anyone’s in the league … It was a lost season in 2018 for Domingo Santana, but a change of scenery is looking like just the thing he needed. The 26-year-old leads the American League with his 15 RBI and cranked four home runs while going 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts. His strikeout rate (25.9 percent) is likely to rise back up closer to his career mark (31.6 percent) and with it will come a drop in average. That said, Santana is still young and went 30-15 two years ago. Those that plucked him late in drafts appear likely to turn a nice profit … Jason Heyward’s inclusion on this list is a good reminder as to how quickly your numbers can rise or fall early in the season. Entering the weekend series versus the Brewers, Heyward’s OPS was .558 and he had yet to homer or steal a base. His OPS is now at 1.033 and he has three homers and two steals. Heyward’s flyball rate is way up in the early going at 51.9 percent, so it will be interesting to track whether he can keep that going … Joey Gallo is creaming the ball when he makes contact – as he’s always done – with a 15.8 percent barrel rate that ranks 12th in baseball. He’s also making more contact thus far and drawing a boatload of walks with a 26.3 percent strikeout rate and 26.3 percent walk rate. We can’t count on it happening, but Gallo is going to be a fantasy star if he can just keep his average around the .250 mark it’s at now.

Ryan Boyer

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