Derek Dietrich swats three homers and other fantasy nuggets

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/cincinnati/" data-ylk="slk:Cincinnati Reds">Cincinnati Reds</a>' <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9391/" data-ylk="slk:Derek Dietrich">Derek Dietrich</a> gives a bow after going yard three times Tuesday. (AP Photo)
Cincinnati Reds' Derek Dietrich gives a bow after going yard three times Tuesday. (AP Photo)

Derek Dietrich hit three homers and recorded six RBI during Tuesday’s win, giving him four long balls over the last two days, and he’s sneakily up to 17 on the year now. After the Marlins designated him for assignment during the offseason (Miami ranks last in wRC+ by a wide margin this season, so it’s not like its offense is overloaded), the Reds signed him to a minor league deal. He’s rewarded fantasy owners who’ve used him lately, as each of Dietrich’s last six hits have been homers.

It's easy to say Dietrich is playing over his head (his 172 wRC+ nearly matches his .176 BABIP, which is fun), as his inflated HR/FB rate is going to come down, but he’s continued his trend of swinging for the fences (11.4 SwStr%) from last season, when he also quietly hit 16 home runs in fewer than 500 at-bats in baseball’s toughest place to hit, Marlins Park.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, has increased home runs for left-handed batters by 24% over the last three seasons, which is more than Coors Field. Dietrich is multi-eligible (1B,2B,OF), has been moved to the cleanup spot recently with Joey Votto injured and sports a Barrel% (17.2) that ranks in the top 5% of the league. He’s up to 12 homers in just 64 at-bats during May and is still available in nearly 60% of Yahoo leagues.

QUICK HITS

Austin Meadows, Tampa Bay Rays

He homered for the third straight game Tuesday (although he failed to record a steal for the third game in a row), and he’s now batting .356/.428/.696 on the year. Meadows is still learning the league (and a whole new set of pitchers in the AL this season) but is on pace to hit 37 home runs and record 19 steals despite spending 20+ days on the IL. Batting average is down league wide, so he’s been a huge help there (and owns an expected BA that’s in the top 4% of the league). Quite simply, Meadows has been one of the most profitable players so far in 2019. Teammate Avisail Garcia had a pretty sweet inside-the-parker Tuesday night as well.

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox

After another dominant performance Tuesday night in which he struck out 10 batters (while inducing 26 swings and misses), Giolito now sports a 0.98 WHIP on the season and has seen his ERA drop from 5.32 to 2.85 over his last five starts. Not much more can be said about him at this point, as the former top prospect continues to show increased velocity and has made huge strides this season (11.5 SwStr%). He was overwhelming Tuesday, one start after shutting out MLB’s top offense in Houston, so there’s little reason to question whether this is for real (his 2.83 FIP ranks sixth among starters). Giolito will look to keep it rolling in a favorable home matchup against Cleveland’s inept offense next time out. Congratulations if you added him.

Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves

He hit another homer Tuesday, giving him six long balls over his first 52 career at-bats. Riley is also batting .365 with 16 RBI, so it’s hard not to be thrilled if you own the rookie right now. Still, realize his big start at the plate has come with a 19:2 K:BB ratio. Put differently, his 34.5 K% would rank third-worst if he qualified, but Riley’s exit velocity (95.3 mph) would rank third-best among all hitters. He’s certainly going to be an exciting player, that’s for sure, and hopefully the Braves move him up from sixth in their lineup soon.

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Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

He went hitless Tuesday, lowering his season line to .248/.301/.383. The hope was hip surgery would return some power for Posey, but instead he’s stuck on two homers this season, with his last long ball coming May 5. Posey‘s exit velocity is fine and his Hard Hit% (45.2) is actually his highest since the advent of Statcast, but his K% (16.7) is a career-high and his BB% (6.7) is a career-low, which isn’t a great combination at this stage of a career. He’s stayed mostly healthy and has hit almost exclusively third or fourth in SF’s lineup, and yet he’s on pace to score just 37 runs this season, so homers aren’t the only counting stat in which he’s hurting fantasy owners. Good production from the catcher’s position has been hard to come by, and Posey has been no exception, as he’s threatening to see a decrease in home runs for the fifth season in a row.

Mallex Smith, Seattle Mariners

He’d been slumping yet again after getting recalled from the minors until a huge four-steal game on Memorial Day (I’m still bitter he was on my bench on my Main Event team, which you can hear me complain about on our latest Yahoo Fantasy Baseball podcast), and he followed that up with three hits and two RBI on Tuesday night. He even moved to the leadoff spot with Dee Gordon still on the IL. Smith hit .296 and stole 40 bases in 480 at-bats last season, and he’s still available in nearly 70% of leagues.

Harold Ramirez, Miami Marlins

He’s batting .413 after recording three more hits Tuesday, giving him multiple knocks in six of the last eight games. Ramirez was once a top-100 prospect who was batting .355 in Triple-A, so he’s now on the radar in deeper leagues if you’re looking for outfield help. But he’s in a tough park, doesn’t possess much power, and the safe bet is his .500 BABIP drops.

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