Are They Real?

Looking at five big performances from unexpected sources to determine their staying power in the coming weeks and months.

Christian Arroyo | BOS, 2B

Arroyo has been a surprise standout for the Red Sox, hitting .302/.353/.413 in 69 PA and occasionally hitting atop the lineup. He was a top 100 prospect multiple times back when he was the Giants but has become a bit of journeyman since then moving from the San Francisco to Tampa Bay to Cleveland and finally to Boston. At the risk of being simplistic, the fast start seems almost entirely attributable to his .404 BABIP. There has been virtually zero power (.111 ISO) thanks to a massive groundball lean (62%).

It is empty batting average, and it isn’t even bankable because his 23% K rate isn’t that great, likely explaining why he has a .235 career AVG. If I thought he could be a David Fletcher or Luis Arraez, I might have some interest, but he doesn’t make contact at that level which puts a major burden on his BABIP.

J.D. Davis | NYM, 3B/OF

After a huge 2019 (136 wRC+), Davis fell out of favor a bit in the fantasy community thanks to a modest 2020 output (111 wRC+), but a fast start has brought him back into focus. He is hitting .390/.479/.610 with 2 HR in 48 PA. Call me crazy, but I don’t think his .583 BABIP will last. However, his early power output is looking a lot like 2019’s so I do see some upside there and with a full-time role, he could set a new career high in home runs (previously 22). I would like to see that 31% K rate come back toward his 24% career mark or even better his 21% mark of 2019. I can see a .260ish AVG with 20+ homers the rest of the way.

Edit: I did indeed miss his injury as the comment section mentioned. Changes the volume of potential HRs, but otherwise everything else holds.

Yadiel Hernandez | WAS, UT

Hernandez spent his 20s in Cuba as a quality player so he didn’t even start his major league career until age-29 when he signed with the Nationals in 2017. He toiled in the high minors a bit, performing well but failing to garner the attention of the big league club until finally debuting last year, DH’ing and pinch hitting across 12 games with no real production to speak of (57 wRC+). Let’s cut to the chase, he’s another BABIP monster, toting a .435 that is driving his .367/.444/.500 line.

I’m always careful to just boil things down to “BABIP!!” but when it’s that high and you have a 54% groundball rate, it’s clearly playing a massive role in the production. The 33-year old also is stuck with a UT-only designation in a year when that position is flooded with talent so even some teams that could maybe use him as a Band-Aid for the AVG (and he has 2 SBs) might not have that spot open because one of several premium UT-only option. He is hitting in the upper third of the lineup with regularity, but I have to question if he is anything more than 4th OF once Juan Soto returns.

Seth Brown | OAK, OF/1B

Brown has hit throughout his minor league career, even putting up a pair of 30+ HR seasons, but has struggled to find any consistent time in the majors as he lacks the defensive value to start daily in the outfield and his best spot – first base – is occupied by one of Oakland’s best players (Matt Olson). He has a career 113 wRC+ in 139 PA and he’s at 120 mark with 3 HR in 51 PA so far this year. He is a bit of redundancy with Mitch Moreland which can put a strain on his playing time and has him currently in a platoon with Stephen Piscotty.

Brown can at least be put in the outfield while Moreland really needs to be 1B/DH only, but Moreland is the better hitter with a .248/.326/.471 and 23 HR per 500 PA since 2018. If the A’s stick with a straight platoon between Brown and Piscotty, then Brown will have his weeks of usefulness and could even find some fringe viability in mixed leagues. I do wonder why the A’s thought they had to sign Moreland when Brown was already there, but maybe they just really like the platoon with Moreland essentially being a full-time DH.

Tyrone Taylor | MIL, OF

Well, he was sent down as I was finishing this piece, so it renders my thoughts a moot. Here is what I said for those interested in still reading the analysis:

Taylor looks like a prototypical 4th outfielder, capable of short bursts of production, particularly when the schedule lines up for him with a host of lefty starters. He has consistently handled lefties in the minors (1.050 OPS in 2017, .802 in 2018, and .938 in 2019) and thus has found himself in that role in his scant major league career (88 PA spread across 2019-2021).

With Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain working their way back from injury, Taylor could be squeezed out of time soon and find himself in a battle with Billy McKinney to be the fifth outfielder behind Yelich, Cain, Avisail Garcia, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Until the two stars return, Taylor has a little value in NL-Only leagues, but I can’t get see rostering him in any mixed format.

As expected, it’s a mixed bag. One of these guys has already been jettisoned from the big leagues while a couple others will likely see their slash lines evaporate with time as their BABIP normalizes, but Davis and Brown are ones to watch as they could continue to be power producers who expand their fantasy viability into the shallower mixers.





Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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Did the SP Rankings get posted on the pod site?