Fantasy baseball analyst Dalton Del Don takes a look back at Monday's MLB slate and offers up his top observations.
• Marcus Semien went homerless again Monday and now sits with a .439 OPS on the season. Signing a huge contract as a 31 year-old coming off a career-best season that was aided by a collection of extremely favorable home hitter’s parks that even included minor league venues that made Coors look like Citi Field, Semien wasn’t exactly a shocking candidate to regress in 2022. But no one saw him going from 45 homers to zero six weeks into the season. Among 169 qualified hitters, Semien entered Monday night ranked last in wRC+ (29); meaning he’s been baseball’s worst hitter.
• Seiya Suzuki doesn’t have a multi-hit game since April 28. Since swatting four homers over his first 28 ABs in the majors, Suzuki has hit none over 78 at bats. Put differently, since pitchers have adjusted following the first 10 games of Suzuki’s MLB career (40% of which came in Coors Field), he’s posted a .562 OPS with a 31.4 K% while being caught on twice as many SB attempts as he’s been successful. Since Suzuki has also played extremely poor defense, Cubs fans have every reason to be at least mildly concerned. But fantasy managers can be encouraged by his still bullish projections, although they vary wildly (Steamer projects a 145 wRC+ ROS, while THE BAT X projects a 121 wRC+). Either way, it appears Suzuki’s fantasy value peaked early.
• Trevor Story homered and stole a base Monday and appears to be over his massive slump. After not homering over his first 25 games with his new team in Boston, he’s gone deep twice (with three stolen bases) over the last five games. It’s nice to see, but early Park Factors reveal a dramatic downgrade in home environments as expected.
• Josh Hader struck out the side while throwing the most 98+ mph pitches during any appearance of his career Monday night. He’s yet to allow a run this season, sports a 0.53 WHIP and is on pace to record 63 saves.
• Tommy La Stella made his 2022 debut Monday night, returning from offseason Achilles surgery. The Giants are suddenly getting healthier in the infield with Evan Longoria also returning recently, but San Francisco will find ABs for La Stella all over the place (the team thought enough of his bat to use him at DH and in the leadoff spot during his return Monday). What Giants batters lose in volume with the team’s aggressive approach to platooning they gain in efficiency, and La Stella has posted a 125 wRC+ with truly elite peripherals against righties since 2019. La Stella is 2B/3B eligible and just 1% rostered in Yahoo leagues, but that’s going to rise significantly soon.
• For those searching for stolen bases, here are some waiver wire possibilities. Vidal Bruján’s path to playing time has opened even further with Brandon Lowe joining Manuel Margot on Tampa Bay’s IL, while Eli White remained in the leadoff spot Monday (for the first time this season against a right-hander), when he recorded his fifth steal over the Rangers’ last six games.
• Josh Lowe has an ugly 45.7 K% back in Triple-A, but that also comes with a 160 wRC+. In 11 games, he has six homers/steals and 17 RBI, which will pay the fantasy bills. With Manuel Margot and Brandon Lowe both going on Tampa Bay’s IL, Lowe may get another chance with the Rays sooner than expected. He’s available in 90% of Yahoo leagues.
• Jakob Junis is a sneaky pickup for those in deeper fantasy leagues, as he remains widely available (just 7% rostered in Yahoo) despite a new opening in a Giants rotation that routinely produces helpful fantasy stats. With Anthony DeSclafani moving to the 60-day IL on Monday, Junis has a spot in SF’s rotation until at least late June. Freed from Kansas City, Junis has some intriguing underlying stats (he’d rank top-10 in CSW if he qualified) during his early season small sample, so he’s worth adding in pitching-starved fantasy leagues given his new situation and team.