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Fantasy Baseball Takeaways: Case for adding Brandon Belt

·4 min read
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Brandon Belt has huge double header

Belt hit two homers with seven RBI during Tuesday’s double header, raising his OPS from .731 to .844 while enjoying Coors Field more than Jake McGee did. If anyone deserves a pass for a slow start to the year it’s Belt, whose offseason featured heel surgery and contracting both COVID and mono. He just barely returned to the field before the season began. Belt is likely to remain injury prone now in his mid 30s, but he’s well worth adding in the 85% of Yahoo leagues in which he’s available.

Belt’s 172 wRC+ last season ranked fifth in baseball, and he’s on pace to finish this year with 33 homers, 97 RBI and 11 steals despite the sluggish start. Oracle Park has remained neutral so far, and it should only get more favorable for hitters as the weather warms. In fact, San Francisco has actually been a big boost for homers for left-handed batters this season, which has now been the case since the park changed its dimensions in 2020 (good news for those who added Mike Tauchman or are waiting for Mike Yastrzemski’s return). Finally freed from home confines that destroyed lefty power, Belt should have real fantasy value as long as he stays on the field.

Giancarlo Stanton is hot

Stanton had four hits and homered Tuesday and is hitting .477/.489/.818 over his last 10 games (raising his OPS 317 points over that span). As per usual, he had Tuesday’s hardest hit ball (117.4 mph) — he leads MLB in max exit velocity, average EV and Hard Hit% all by significant margins. While it’s certainly nice to see Stanton have a .271 expected batting average, I wouldn’t necessarily expect a barrage of homers forthcoming. Here are Stanton’s GB:FB ratios starting from 2015 until now: 0.77, 0.92, 1.13, 1.23, 1.33, 1.77, 1.65. And his launch angle (degrees): 15.7, 13.9, 11.1, 11.6, 7.9, 8.3, 8.8.

Now that includes a 2017 season in which he clubbed 59 homers in an extreme Miami pitcher’s park, but that’s a pretty strong trend of becoming a full-blown ground ball hitter. His current 55.9 GB% ranks top-15 in baseball (Randy Arozarena sports an MLB-high 68.3 GB%(!) 👀. This just means Stanton’s home run potential appears more capped than when he first came from Miami to New York, but it’s good news he’s hitting the ball hard and most importantly, has remained healthy. His counting stats should start really improving along with the rest of the underperforming Yankees lineup.

Shane McClanahan’s encore

Fantasy baseball’s hottest recent pickup made his much-anticipated second start Tuesday night, holding an Angels offense that entered leading MLB in wRC+ (albeit without Anthony Rendon) scoreless over four innings. The quick hook was especially discouraging given his modest pitch count (63), which hopefully isn’t a sign of things to come (although a combo of him and Luis Patino would likely continue to produce great results for Tampa Bay). McClanahan threw the five fastest pitches in baseball Tuesday night (all 100+ mph), also producing eight swings and misses on 32 sliders

McClanahan has produced the best CSW in baseball this season over his two starts and is clearly the real deal, with volume being the only question when it comes to his fantasy value over the rest of the year. He remains available in nearly 80% of Yahoo leagues.

Dinelson Lamet returns to the mound

Lamet returned from a forearm strain Tuesday and tossed two scoreless innings. Those came with four hits and zero strikeouts, however, at home against a Pirates offense entering with the third-worst wRC+. Moreover, his velocity was noticeably down (-3.0 mph on his fastball and -2.1 mph on his slider from his previous start). It was nice to see him back in action and willingly throwing his slider, but Lamet is as big of an injury risk as any player in the league moving forward. I’d be aggressively attempting to trade him if at all possible (his next start comes in Coors Field). Do I have any confidence in Lamet staying healthy over the rest of the season? No way Jose!

Follow Dalton Del Don on Twitter