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Hot Hitter Rundown

Hot Hitter Rundown: April 22

by Ryan Boyer

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 15-21.

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

J.T. Realmuto

PHI

C

1.26833

3.96579

-0.38781

1.65981

1.97892

8.49

#2

Omar Narvaez

SEA

C

2.26649

1.69870

-0.38781

1.73637

1.97892

7.29

#3

Mitch Garver

MIN

C

1.26833

1.24529

-0.38781

0.17322

-0.17655

2.12

#4

Willson Contreras

CHC

C

0.27016

0.79187

-0.38781

0.84601

0.36231

1.88

#5

Welington Castillo

CWS

C

1.26833

0.79187

-0.38781

0.31422

-0.17655

1.81

#6

Christian Vazquez

BOS

C

1.26833

1.24529

-0.38781

-0.32635

-0.17655

1.62

#7

Kevan Smith

LAA

C

0.27016

-0.11497

-0.38781

0.82990

0.90118

1.50

#8

Yadier Molina

STL

C

-0.72800

1.24529

-0.38781

0.98702

0.36231

1.48

#9

Pedro Severino

BAL

C

1.26833

0.33845

-0.38781

0.29811

-0.17655

1.34

#10

Yasmani Grandal

MLW

C

0.27016

-0.11497

1.09175

-0.31024

0.36231

1.30

Four games in Colorado is often enough to get a player going at the plate, but the truth is J.T. Realmuto was starting to perk up before that. He finished last week with a whopping 11 RBI in seven games, hitting a couple homers and posting a 1.030 OPS. Realmuto has been a fixture in the No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ lineup behind Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. It’s not a bad place to be … The Omar Narvaez-for-Alex Colome swap is looking like a win-win in the early going, as Colome has pitched well as the White Sox’ closer and Narvaez has some of the best numbers at catcher following a big week. He popped three homers against the Indians and Angels and also walked (six) twice as much as he struck out (three). Something to keep an eye on is Narvaez’s flyball rate, as it’s shot through the roof so far this season at 53.8 percent, which is nearly double what his rate was coming into 2019 (29.3 percent). If the 27-year-old continues to loft the ball while still maintaining his above-average plate discipline, he’s going to be one of the better hitting catchers in the game … James McCann played a lot the first week of the season with Welington Castillo seemingly still fighting off a late-spring back injury. Castillo has seized control of the White Sox’ catcher job since then, though, starting nine of the last 13 games. Last week he rewarded those that stuck with him with his first two dingers of the season. We can’t necessarily count on health, but the power will be there for Castillo when he’s on the field …

First Base

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Justin Smoak

TOR

1B

2.26649

3.51238

-0.38781

2.81606

2.51779

10.72

#2

Christian Walker

ARZ

1B

1.26833

0.79187

2.57130

3.56541

0.90118

9.10

#3

Paul Goldschmidt

STL

1B

1.26833

1.24529

-0.38781

1.39391

1.44005

4.96

#4

Ryan McMahon

COL

1B

1.26833

1.24529

1.09175

0.18933

0.36231

4.16

#5

C.J. Cron

MIN

1B

1.26833

1.24529

-0.38781

1.11191

0.36231

3.60

#6

Carlos Santana

CLE

1B

-0.72800

0.33845

1.09175

1.23680

1.44005

3.38

#7

Eric Thames

MLW

1B

1.26833

0.79187

-0.38781

1.07969

0.36231

3.11

#8

Pete Alonso

NYM

1B

1.26833

-0.11497

-0.38781

0.34644

1.97892

3.09

#9

Matt Adams

WAS

1B

1.26833

1.69870

-0.38781

0.56401

-0.17655

2.97

#10

Freddie Freeman

ATL

1B

0.27016

1.24529

-0.38781

0.09666

1.44005

2.66

Justin Smoak has caught fire after fighting off a nagging neck injury, putting up a 1.325 OPS with four home runs, 13 RBI and a 6/10 K/BB ratio over his last 11 contests. Three of those long balls have come in his last four tilts. His strikeout rate (18.3 percent) is probably due to rise, although he’s sporting easily the lowest swing rate (36.2 percent) of his career, so maybe not? Smoak is an underrated bat, especially if you’re in an on-base percentage league … Christian Walker immediately went into a tailspin at the plate as soon as Jake Lamb’s quad injury pushed him into the everyday lineup. He’s come roaring back with a vengeance, though, going a ridiculous 15-for-25 with three homers over his last five games. Walker is swinging and missing a lot even in the midst of his good runs, and I worry that all of the strikeouts could lead to more bad streaks than good. There’s also Lamb’s eventual return to consider. However, there’s no disputing that when Walker makes contact, he crushes the ball. The 28-year-old ranks fifth in baseball with an average exit velocity of 96.1 mph, and he’s 16th with a 13.2 percent barrel rate … Welcome back, Ryan McMahon! McMahon slugged a pair of home runs and drove in five runs in his first game back from the injured list last week, although he managed just one hit in three contests after that to finish out the four-game set versus the Phillies. Daniel Murphy (finger) is ahead of schedule and poised to return soon, so McMahon and Garrett Hampson will go back to fighting for at-bats at second base. McMahon has been the preferred option versus righties, though, and while he’s done very little at the plate other than the one big game, Hampson has done a lot less …

Second Base

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Danny Santana

TEX

2B

0.27016

0.33845

4.05085

0.48745

1.44005

6.59

#2

Jonathan Villar

BAL

2B

-0.72800

-0.11497

5.53040

-0.40291

1.44005

5.72

#3

Tommy La Stella

LAA

2B

2.26649

1.24529

-0.38781

1.23680

0.90118

5.26

#4

Eric Sogard

TOR

2B

-0.72800

1.24529

2.57130

1.89348

-0.17655

4.81

#5

Jonathan Schoop

MIN

2B

1.26833

1.24529

-0.38781

0.61234

0.90118

3.64

#6

Brandon Lowe

TB

2B

1.26833

1.24529

-0.38781

-0.16924

0.36231

2.32

#7

Cesar Hernandez

PHI

2B

0.27016

0.33845

-0.38781

1.01923

0.90118

2.14

#8

Yolmer Sanchez

CWS

2B

-0.72800

-0.11497

1.09175

0.97091

0.90118

2.12

#9

Ozzie Albies

ATL

2B

0.27016

1.24529

-0.38781

-1.04348

1.97892

2.06

#10

Robinson Cano

NYM

2B

0.27016

0.79187

-0.38781

1.51880

-0.17655

2.02

Danny Santana took Rougned Odor’s (knee) spot on the Rangers’ roster a week ago and he’s slid right into Odor’s role as the everyday second baseman and No. 2 hitter, as well. He’s off to a fine start with a .910 OPS, one home run and three stolen bases. Santana hasn’t been fantasy relevant since his rookie year back in 2014, and I’m certainly not counting on any long-term viability here. That said, the 28-year-old is a viable roll of the dice with the possibility that he could provide a little short-term burst of speed … Tommy La Stella had his second two-homer game of the season on Sunday and with six bombs over his first 21 contests has already set a new career high. The home run ball has never been La Stella’s thing, although he has posted a career best 41.5 flyball rate and 45.3 percent hard-hit rate thus far. I still think he has a better shot to help in batting average more than anything else given his excellent plate discipline, but you’re basically looking at a Joe Panik-type ceiling here (when Panik was good) and even that’s probably unlikely … Brandon Lowe has been scorching the ball over his last 11 games, putting up a .310/.362/.762 batting line with five home runs, 12 RBI and one stolen base. The strikeout rate (34.1 percent) is worrisome, and it’s actually been higher during his recent hot stretch (36.2 percent). Lowe is also going to sit often against lefties. There’s plenty to like here, though, as he’s a middle-of-the-order bat versus righties who boasts good power and some speed (not to mention multi-position eligibility). Lowe’s 52.1 percent hard-hit rate ranks 14th in baseball …

Third Base

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Yoan Moncada

CWS

3B

2.26649

1.24529

1.09175

0.61234

0.90118

6.12

#2

Asdrubal Cabrera

TEX

3B

1.26833

2.15212

-0.38781

0.97091

1.97892

5.98

#3

Alex Bregman

HOU

3B

2.26649

1.69870

-0.38781

0.84601

0.90118

5.32

#4

Hunter Dozier

KC

3B

2.26649

0.79187

-0.38781

1.37780

0.90118

4.95

#5

Yandy Diaz

TB

3B

1.26833

0.79187

-0.38781

1.62759

1.44005

4.74

#6

Brandon Drury

TOR

3B

1.26833

0.33845

-0.38781

1.37780

1.44005

4.04

#7

Maikel Franco

PHI

3B

1.26833

1.69870

-0.38781

1.01923

0.36231

3.96

#8

Jose Ramirez

CLE

3B

0.27016

0.33845

2.57130

-0.68491

1.44005

3.94

#9

Josh Donaldson

ATL

3B

1.26833

0.79187

-0.38781

0.47134

0.90118

3.04

#10

Nolan Arenado

COL

3B

1.26833

0.33845

-0.38781

0.34644

1.44005

3.01

Yoan Moncada has set out to be more aggressive so far this season and the strategy has worked, to say the least. While his walk rate is way down at 5.7 percent, so is his strikeout rate at 25.3 percent. He’s creaming the ball when he makes contact with an average exit velocity of 95.5 mph (seventh in baseball) and a barrel rate of 13.8 percent (14th in baseball). He’s also stolen a couple bases over his last seven games (although he’s also been caught twice). Perhaps my biggest regret during draft season is not coming away with any Moncada shares, as I’m buying into his breakout … Hunter Dozier is a guy who, admittedly, wasn’t really on my radar coming into the season, but it’s time to take notice of what he’s doing. The former first-round pick looks to be taking a major step forward with his plate discipline, as he’s cut his strikeout rate to 20.5 percent while upping his walk rate to an impressive 14.5 percent. He was doing the same thing in spring training, too, with a 13/8 K/BB rate and four homers. Dozier has been much more selective with a 36.8 percent swing rate after coming into 2019 with a rate over 50 percent, and he’s been more patient while also hitting the ball harder (47.2 percent hard-hit rate) and in the air (47.2 percent flyball rate) more than ever. After beginning the season hitting seventh, Dozier has been third or fourth for the Royals in each of his last seven games … Naturally, Brandon Drury is starting to heat up just as whispers of a Vladimir Guerrero Jr. promotion get louder. Drury might have been the worst regular in baseball through his first 14 games with a .346 OPS and 43 percent strikeout rate, but he posted a 1.213 OPS, hit his first two homers of the season and cut his whiff rate to a more digestible (albeit still high) 28 percent this past week. Drury is no roadblock for Vlad Jr., though, and he could just shift over to second base …

Shortstop

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Trevor Story

COL

SS

0.27016

0.79187

5.53040

1.25291

1.44005

9.29

#2

Tim Anderson

CWS

SS

0.27016

0.33845

5.53040

1.36169

1.44005

8.94

#3

Javier Baez

CHC

SS

1.26833

1.24529

-0.38781

2.03448

3.05666

7.22

#4

Fernando Tatis Jr.

SD

SS

0.27016

-0.11497

4.05085

1.25291

0.36231

5.82

#5

Paul DeJong

STL

SS

0.27016

0.33845

1.09175

1.64370

1.44005

4.78

#6

Andrelton Simmons

LAA

SS

-0.72800

1.24529

-0.38781

2.70727

1.44005

4.28

#7

Scott Kingery

PHI

SS

1.26833

1.69870

-0.38781

0.58012

0.36231

3.52

#8

Adalberto Mondesi

KC

SS

-0.72800

1.24529

2.57130

-0.29413

-0.17655

2.62

#9

Jorge Polanco

MIN

SS

0.27016

-0.56839

-0.38781

0.86212

1.97892

2.16

#10

Gordon Beckham

DET

SS

0.27016

-0.56839

1.09175

0.70501

0.36231

1.86

Trevor Story stole four bases last week and now leads the National League with five pilfers on the season. A repeat of last year’s 27-steal outburst might still be asking a bit much, but he’s a legitimate burner. Oh, and Story has belted five home runs already, as well … Speaking of stolen bases, Fernando Tatis Jr. joined Story in posting a three-steal game last week, pushing his total on the year to four. The wunderkind is also batting .378/.415/.730 with three homers during his current 10-game hitting streak and has batting leadoff for the Padres in each of his last four contests. The hard-hit rate? It’s 49.1 percent. Yes, please … It was fair to suggest coming into the season that Paul DeJong was out of place as a No. 3 hitter, but he’s certainly looked comfortable there so far with a .982 OPS, four home runs, 11 RBI and 19 runs scored. He’s even stolen a couple bases, doubling his career total. Perhaps the most encouraging part of DeJong’s start is a 17.9 percent strikeout rate, which is nearly 10 percentage points lower than the career 26.5 percent rate he had coming into the season. I do have some doubts that he can maintain this, however, given that his swinging strike rate in 2019 (11.6 percent) is actually up a bit from 2018 (11 percent). He’ll continue to have plenty of RBI opportunities while batting behind Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt, though …

Outfielder

Rank

Player

Tm

Pos

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

R

VAL

#1

Christian Yelich

MLW

OF

7.25731

6.23288

-0.38781

2.15938

3.59553

18.86

#2

Joey Gallo

TEX

OF

3.26465

3.96579

-0.38781

2.79995

3.05666

12.70

#3

Eddie Rosario

MIN

OF

5.26098

3.05896

-0.38781

0.50356

3.05666

11.49

#4

Marcell Ozuna

STL

OF

2.26649

1.69870

1.09175

0.20544

3.05666

8.32

#5

Billy Hamilton

KC

OF

-0.72800

-1.02180

8.48951

0.08055

1.44005

8.26

#6

Mike Tauchman

NYY

OF

2.26649

2.60554

-0.38781

0.97091

2.51779

7.97

#7

Dwight Smith Jr.

BAL

OF

1.26833

3.05896

1.09175

1.51880

0.90118

7.84

#8

Joc Pederson

LA

OF

3.26465

1.69870

-0.38781

1.25291

1.97892

7.81

#9

Clint Frazier

NYY

OF

2.26649

2.15212

-0.38781

2.03448

0.90118

6.97

#10

Cody Bellinger

LA

OF

1.26833

1.69870

1.09175

1.75248

0.90118

6.71

Are you guys surprised to see Christian Yelich’s name here? What an insane week for the reigning National League MVP, as he started things off with a three-homer game on Monday and then went on to rip five more over the boards for a glorious 1.950 OPS during the Brewers’ seven-game homestand. I was one of many predicting some regression with Yelich’s power, assuming his absurd 35 percent HR/FB rate from last year was unsustainable. I still think it is in spite of an utterly ridiculous 40.6 percent HR/FB rate so far in 2019, but what I didn’t count on was Yelich turning into a flyball hitter. His flyball rate this season is sitting at 45.1 percent, which is a whopping 20 percentage points above his previous career high. That number will probably come down, but if he can even be league-average when it comes to hitting the ball in the air, he will continue to be a truly special hitter and a fantasy superstar … Eddie Rosario is up to nine dingers on the season after a six-homer week during which he put up a 1.231 OPS. The Twins outfielder is top-15 in the majors with a 13.8 percent barrel rate and continues to do a great job of making contact with just an 18.8 percent strikeout rate … Marcell Ozuna was a guy I was avoiding in fantasy drafts this spring, fearing that his shoulder issue would continue to be a problem. While his throws from the outfield are still painful to watch, Ozuna seems to be unaffected by the shoulder at the plate with eight homers and 16 RBI across his last 13 games. He didn’t hit his eighth home run last season until June 13. Ozuna is top-20 in baseball with a 12.5 percent barrel rate and he’s even drawing walks this year with an 11.3 percent walk rate that would easily be a career high … With all the injuries the team is dealing with, Clint Frazier is set to play a more prominent role for the Yankees than was expected coming into the season. He batted cleanup for them Sunday and went deep for the second game in a row, giving him a three-homer week with a 1.263 OPS. The 24-year-old had fanned at a 30.6 percent rate coming into this season but has that number down to 20.9 percent so far in 2019 …

Ryan Boyer
Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.