It took a minute to get back here, but here we are. So much to talk about it. Where to begin, how about the home run chase? Aaron Judge is continuing his one-man wrecking crew. Easily the most home runs over the last month at 13, Kyle Schwarber has been sorta close at 10 but his slash line is much less impressive. Everyone else is bringing up the rear at 7 or less. It’s hilarious.
This trade deadline had everything! The Juan Soto Sweepstakes unfolded in an interesting yet kinda predictable way, really, only 4-5 teams even had a better’s shot at him, and 3 teams had a realistic shot. Soto, now a Padre, fortifies a lineup that really only needed one more good hitter to really be dangerous after Tatis comes back (could be rehabbing this weekend). And not only did they land the big fish, they also swiped Josh Bell and Brandon Drury. Wow. Now they are able to push Cronenworth down the lineup and it has nothing to do with him personally. They deep fam. The lineup they rolled out there last night was Profar, Soto, Machado, Bell, Crow, Drury, Alfaro, Grisham, Kim… and once Tatis comes back, whew, forget about it. Enough swooning about the team… the players!
Juan Soto – So yeah, his value increases quite a bit. I’m old enough to remember when he was competing for a batting title and leading the league in RBIs. The man has out-worldly plate discipline and eyes for reading pitches. And just thinking of the trio of Tatis, Soto, and Machado together gives me the feels. Juan Soto is back in good graces for production, and no reason to think plenty of runs and rbis won’t be coming down the pipe.
Josh Bell – Grey already hit on this some, so I’ll give you the short version. Josh Bell has become the hitter Hosmer wishes he still was. The homers haven’t been as plentiful for Bell but he has cut his K% down and is still driving the ball well. His HR/FB% is a bit below his career average despite his profile remaining very similar. A binge of homers on the way? I wouldn’t be surprised, and coming in an environment for more counting stats is tasty.
Brandon Drury – Still hitting. Last time we met here, I had this to say about him: “Drury is easily in the midst of his best season to date at age 29 (shocker! younger than I thought he was). So far he is posting career bests in nearly all statistical categories: avgEV, maxEV, Hardhit%, xBA, and xSLG… and his 2nd best BB%” Most of those things are still close to career highs but the standout in his profile is an 11.2% barrel rate. What’s more, he hasn’t targeted just one pitch as he’s hitting both fastballs and change-ups well; despite getting picked on by sliders, he’s still muscled 4 of them over the fence.
Cedric Mullins – This has not been the follow-up campaign everyone had hoped for. Turns out when you start making a name for yourself, the league notices. Since 2020 he’s gone from seeing just 8% sliders now up to 16%. And he’s definitely struggled against that pitch the most. This year his barrel% and hardhit% have cratered, and thus, his SLG and HR production has as well.
Whit Merrifield – I am not sure yet what to make of the trade to Toronto. Like befuddled. Sounds like the GM had no plan yet as to whether he’d get vaxxed or exempt to play home games. Absolutely bananas, it’s like they did zero homework. Assuming he can play, the move looks good for his value putting him in a lineup he can hide in and probably get a few more fastballs. He probably slots in at 2B and takes some ABs from infielder Espino. Runs to be had.
Julio Rodriguez / Mike Trout – These 2 have injuries of unknown significance. Trout is now diagnosed with a chronic back condition so no telling how much longer it takes for the inflammation to subside. Not nearly as bad as the chronic back pain Shohei is gonna have the rest of the season carrying the team to every win they can muster like last year, ugh I a drink. Likewise, JRod was struck on the hand by a pitch and, while the X-Ray came back negative, there’s no news yet on how long he’ll be out. They are laying at least 5 days before they do anything about it.
Ian Happ – Surprisingly, he was one of the “lucky” players who did not get moved. Ian has had a nice rebound season this year. And though he’s benefited from a little luck in AVG, he’s also been cheated out of some home run power. There could be a slight correction coming as we finish the season.
Andrew Benintendi – Another vax mystery. Could he travel to play the division rival? No one knows yet. That aside, his value definitely rose going from Kaufman Stadium (one of the worst) to Yankeeland. If he sticks at the top of the lineup, oh baby. (1 leadoff, 1 5-hole).
Michael Harris II – He has been a nice surprise. I wanted to see him come the other way in the Iglesias deal, but, sigh. After vaulting through the minors he came on the scene and has shown both power and speed. What’s concerning so far is the 3.7% walk rate and the 25% K rate. His nice average so far with that split looks like it should fall soon, but if he continues as a 5-ish tool contributor it’s worth the risk.
Steven Kwan – After a blazing hot start, he’s cooled off some but continues to provide hits and runs. An interesting wrinkle that has developed over the last few weeks: steals. What if I told you he has more steals than Starling Marte and Leody Taveras since July 15? A 70-hit tool plus speed? LFG!
Matt Carpenter / Luis Rengifo – Two guys that have come out of nowhere to be relevant down the stretch. Carp for his power, has rediscovered his power and owns a ridiculous .473 ISO over his 42 games of action. That absolutely cannot be sustainable I don’t care how magnificent his stache is. The good news is he’s cut his K-rate and is driving the ball as good as he ever has. The 34.9% HR/FB rate is definitely going to come down as he’s never had a season above 20%. Rengifo on the other hand looks every bit the better hitter than when we last saw him, and continued growth at that. He’s cut his K% by 4 for 2 years running now: 24, 20, now 16. And in turn with better contact, his SLG has grown accordingly too.
Jose Siri – He’s not on here (yet), because who knows what the Rays will do (yet); BUT, as Itch and I were talking about the trade… the Rays definitely have a type they like for CF, and Siri fits that to a T. We could certainly see him getting everyday-ish ABs there and the staff coaching him up to contribute in the 5(ish) tool variety. Hey Siri, remind me to claim you off waivers.
As always, the individual ranks (and to a degree the dollars) don’t really matter, what’s important are the tiers, and more important than that now—your roster construction. Any outfielder not listed, consider them tier 5.
If you want more Coolwhip to top off your baseball experience, fantasy or otherwise, you can follow me on Twitter: @CoolwhipRB.