Oracle Report: The Hits Keep Coming
Ray Flowers is on the case taking a look at some surprising numbers with the men that wield the lumber at the dish.
Batters who are excelling at the dish are the topic de jour of this piece. Which fellas are tearing it up at the dish giving you nice bang for your buck in the fantasy game? Somehow I've been drawn to catchers in this piece, so you should be paying particular attention if you need help behind the dish. I'll also touch on a new leadoff man, a couple of power hitting outfielders, a few surging middle infielders and share some of my photos from my recent Hawaii trip where my savage tan brought the ladies from mile around to bask in my warm glow.
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Dustin Ackley has finally woken up. Over the past 10 games he's batting .425. Progress. At the same time he's not taken a walk or stolen a bag over those 10 games. Baby steps as they say. He's even seeing some time hitting leadoff now with James Jones struggling at the dish. A sneaky solid finish for Ackley? Perhaps.
Chris Carter has his faults but of late he's been pretty darn locked in. Over his last 10 games he's hit two big flies, has driven in nine runs and has scored seven times thanks in part to a .372 OBP. A flawed hitter who is on pace for 30 homers (he has 21), he's a sneaky play right now that could be on waivers because he's only hitting .214 on the year with only one steal.
Yoenis Cespedes won the homer derby at the All-Star game yet again, and he's been hot over the past two weeks hitting .324 with three homers and 10 RBIs. Of course, he's continued to be plagued by minor health issues which should make you nervous about counting on him down the stretch. Might also be worried about the .254 average, .303 OBP and two steals as well. A run producing power hitter he is. A fantasy force who contributes across the board he ain't.
Austin Jackson is finally hitting. What, you didn't think he would? I know you didn't think he would given the daily questions about dropping him. Over the past two weeks he's hit .370 with eight runs scored and eight RBIs. Not surprisingly his success can be tied to his move back to the top of the order where he's hit for years. On the season he's hit .271 with a .328 OBP. In the 24 games that he's been in the leadoff spot he's hit .333, scored 18 runs, and has an OBP of .368. Guess we know where he's comfortable though I've never really understood why it mattered that much to batters because after the first inning does it really matter where one hits in the order?
John Jaso is batting .379 with 10 RBIs in his last nine games. Sounds like his minor knee flare up is no big deal either. Over 152 games with the Athletics he's hit .279 with 11 homers, 59 RBIs and 68 runs scored over 537 at-bats. He's also sporting a rather impressive .373 OBP. He's only a second catcher in mixed leagues but he's a darn good one at that.
Carlos Santana is en fuego. It was only a matter of time. Over his last 11 games he's hit a mere .415 with a 1.480 OPS. No typo there – a 1.480 OPS. He's gone deep a whopping six times, has 13 RBIs and has scored nine runs in those 11 games as well. After the hot run here is where he ranks amongst all catchers: first in homers (20), third in RBIs (50), second in runs (48) and second in OPS (.827). Wait, wasn't he just terrible all year? Talent almost always wins out eventually. We're seeing it blossom with this youngster.
Seth Smith is hitting .400 the last two weeks and I've been getting questions about him as a result. All things considered he's been fantastic this season hitting .295 with a .392 OBP and .512 SLG for the Padres. However, if you're in a traditional 5x5 fantasy league he's been nothing more than a 5th outfield option. He has the same amount of homers as Garrett Jones (11). He has one fewer RBI than Jonny Gomes (31). He's scored 42 times which is the same number as Jackie Bradley. That puts things into perspective does it not?
It's July 29th and Kurt Suzuki leads all catchers with a .309 batting average. He hit .242 in 2010, .237 in 2011, .235 in 2012 and .232 in 2013. Totally makes sense what he's doing this year. Well, maybe not. Can't expect it to continue given his track record, but at the same time nothing really stands out in the negative... other than four years of atrocious work with a bat in his hand. There's also the following. His 0.93 BB/K ratio is better than his combined mark the past two years (0.90). His .329 BABIP would be his first season over .280 since 2008. His 23 percent line driver rate would be a career best (19.2 for his career). Think of it this way when looking to break down how successful he's been this year. His current batting average is .309. His career OBP is .315. Been great but it's certainly possible that a slowdown is on the horizon.
Stephen Vogt has hit .368 with a .579 SLG over his last 10 games. On the year this “nobody” has hit .361 with a .931 OPS over 155 plate appearances. Last season in 148 plate appearances he hit .252 with a .695 OPS. Oddly, he's only hit one more homer (five to four) and driven in only seven more runs (23 to 16) despite all the success. Can't count on that .375 BABIP continuing, and it also is pretty shocking to see only 15 strikeouts through 147 at-bats. He makes a fine catcher two in mixed leagues but don't get greedy. The gravy train could dry up at any moment. Just make sure you are aware of that.
Neil Walker is continuing to have one heck of a season. Over his last 10 games he's hit .342 with a .419 OBP that has led to 10 runs scored. Walker already has 15 homers, one from his career best, and with 48 runs scored and 49 RBIs he's well on his way to a 4th straight season with at least 60 in each category. Dump in his .279 batting average and you've got a very solid middle infield option in mixed leagues.
Ben Zobrist took a loooooong while to get going but going he finally is. In the month of July Zobrist has hit .333 with a .432 OBP. That's cooking. The hot run has brought his average up to .269 and his OBP to .360 (career .263 and .355). He's two homers and three steals away from a 6th straight season double/double effort, so don't let his total of eight homers and 29 RBIs fool you – he's well worth using at the moment thanks in no small part to his solid strike zone discipline (1.00 BB/K ratio).
HAWAII TRIP PHOTOS
I don't know how many of you follow me on Twitter though I cannot fathom why you wouldn't considering I'm the most awesomenest person in the entire Twitterverse to follow. For those of you that don't, or for those of you that did but didn't catch my pictures from my trip to Hawaii, here are some highlights.
Diamond Head in the distance pic.twitter.com/8XMgTHgGTh
If loving a mai tai is wrong...pic.twitter.com/f1TfY9Dxdp
Lounge required pants. So they loaned me a pair. Didn't quite fit... pic.twitter.com/lUviM3ER9r
The sun goes down on my final night...pic.twitter.com/lV2tYqiuP2
View from my room on Oahu...pic.twitter.com/cZgzjPQecj
Answering emails... pic.twitter.com/ReDcDo8cKT
Breakfast on the ocean...pic.twitter.com/ZAcLjGXnqi
Grabbing a cocktail at the lounge before heading out... pic.twitter.com/XPOtK7lsKv