Check out last month’s tiers right here. I’m in the midst of an intensely busy week, but I’ll try to respond to any questions you might have in the comments section.
Altuve is outperforming his competition to such a degree that I nearly left Tier Two empty, simply to signify how much better the 26-year-old is than any other fantasy 2B option. Altuve somehow managed to outperform his ridiculous April, with an absolutely bonkers .396/.472/.582 slash in June. He launched four more bombs, stole three more bases, walked more than he struck out for the second consecutive month, it just goes on and on.
I’ll cherry-pick one amazing statistic before moving on: Altuve is hitting .302/.362/.395 in plate appearances in which he finds himself down 0-2 in the count. That’s good enough for a wRC+ of 108. In other words, Jose Altuve is a better hitter down 0-2, than a league-average hitter stepping into a 0-0 count.
Okay, I can’t help myself, here’s one more. You want to know how he’s hitting through a 2-0 count? .564/.698/.923. That’s a 1.621 OPS, with a 34.9% BB rate and 3.2% K rate.
Kinsler, Cano and Murphy are essentially a toss-up for me. Flip a three-sided coin, and pick whichever one turns up. Kinsler’s the most balanced, Cano has the most power, and Murphy’s hitting .350. They’re all borderline elite options.
Zobrist nearly fell to the top of Tier Three, hitting under .200 in June after hitting over .400 in May. There is some reason for concern here, as he suddenly replaced about half of his liners with grounders this month, and posted a high 23.1% soft-hit rate. Considering his track record, and the fact that his fabulous month of May was still just a few weeks ago, and I’m willing to chalk this up to a routine slump for now.
The move from the bottom third of the lineup to the No. 2 spot provided a massive boost to LeMahieu’s fantasy value. Since ascending to the two-hole, he’s scored a rather ridiculous 23 runs in 29 games. His home/road splits are extreme — even by Rockies’ standards — as he’s got a 1.104 OPS at home, versus a .673 OPS on the road. That still averages out to .322/.390/.490 (.880 OPS), and it’s not like he’s about to stop playing half his games in Coors.
Segura’s the other new addition to this tier, as he was in Tier Four last month. The 26-year-old isn’t flashy, but he just keeps getting it done, as he continues to hit over .300. He’s also finally stealing bases again, which is what truly prompted his bump up a tier. After an uninspiring 7-for-12 showing on the basepaths through his first 64 games, he’s gone 6-for-6 in his last ten.
Where the heck did “Jonathan Schoop, .300 hitter” come from? After hitting for a .298 AVG in May, Schoop followed up with a .347 mark in June. He’s also cranking out homers at a consistent rate, with four each in April and May, and five in June. His BABIP over the last two months (.370 in May, .394 in June) is clearly due for some regression, but he’s done enough for me to include him in this company.
Is the good version of Dozier finally back? It certainly seemed so in June, as the 29-year-old hit .344/.413/.634, with five homers and three steals. While his 1.048 OPS this month is obviously encouraging, keep in mind that his OPS hovered in the .640 range for five full months before this recent outburst.
Merrifield is off to a rock-solid start to his major-league career, providing a spark atop the Royals batting order. I recently wrote about the 27-year-old, noting some major changes to his mechanics at the plate, which have worked wonders for the largely unheralded rookie. His minor-league track record suggests some regression could be on the way for his batting average, but as I pointed out in that post two weeks ago, he’s among the MLB leaders in both hard-hit (38.3%) and soft-hit (13.9%) rates.
Additionally, his plate discipline was always far better in the minors (7.8% BB, 15.1% K) than he’s shown so far in the majors (3.3% BB, 20.0% K), so I anticipate some improvement there. My main concern with Merrifield would be if he fell into a slump long enough to drop him in the lineup. He wouldn’t have much value as a No. 7 hitter, for example.
Baez and Profar are obviously the most interesting names here, but both of them receive such sporadic playing time that it’s hard to rank them much higher than this. Given each team’s roster construction, it’s hard to find either player a clear path to regular playing time in 2016. In Baez’s case, even with Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler and Tommy La Stella on the DL, he’s still only playing about four out of seven games.
Part of me hopes Baez can start getting more playing time in the outfield, considering the Cubs are currently running either Albert Almora or Chris Coghlan out there every day. Unfortunately, part of me also knows that once The North Side Chicago Hamstring Epidemic of June 2016 — which took out Fowler, Soler, and La Stella — comes to an end, that opportunity dries right up.
If you’re in a crazy-deep league, you might be forced to roster one of these guys. I’m sorry.
This is the “he could wind up back in AAA next week and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit” tier.
Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.