By The Numbers: Luke Voit, Derek Dietrich, Eric Hosmer
Luke Voit has 28 home runs in 94 games since joining the Yankees.
One of the most puzzling players to appraise for 2019 drafts, the first baseman has unsurprisingly failed to maintain last year’s .333/.405/.689 slash line more befitting Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio. He has, however, put all fears of a fluke to bed by batting a strong .260/.377/.505 with 14 round-trippers in 239 plate appearances. This version of the 28-year-old looks like the real deal.
Although still far from a contact maestro, Voit has made enough modest gains to comfortably project a modest batting average going forward. He has bolstered his strikeout and walk rates from 10.6% and 26.7% to 13.6% and 22.5%, respectively, while chasing roughly 5% fewer pitches off the plate. His .562 xSLG, taken from Statcast prior to touching them all Wednesday afternoon, also points to even more power in the reservoir.
In his time with the Evil Empire, Voit has delivered a higher slugging percentage than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and led the club in wOBA. With the Yankees officially hitting the season’s one-third mark Wednesday, he’s now on pace for 42 home runs, 114 RBIs, and 111 runs. Those lofty tallies aren’t entirely far-fetched for someone batting second or third every day. Just imagine if he gets a chance to hit third in between a healthy Judge, Stanton, and Gary Sanchez.
Stuck in St. Louis’s Triple-A system last season, Voit at least looks poised to hit .260 with 30-35 long balls and around 90-100 runs and RBIs apiece. His 112 ADP in NFBC’s Second Chance leagues may have still presented a bargain.
Derek Dietrich: 1.138 OPS vs. RHP
The Reds are going to have quite the roster crunch on their hands when Scooter Gennett returns from a groin injury. Filling his spot in the strong side of a second base platoon, Dietrich has clobbered 17 home runs in just 130 plate appearances against righties.
Even when adding 14 showdowns against southpaws, that gives him a home run for every 8.5 trips to the batter’s box. Christian Yelich, whose 21 dingers leads MLB, has one per every 10.1 plate appearance.
As of Wednesday, only Yelich, Cody Bellinger, and Josh Bell have a higher OPS against righties than Dietrich, and that’s in spite of the second-lowest BABIP (.164) among all qualified hitters. Per Statcast, he ranks seventh in both barrels per plate appearance and barrels per batted-ball event. Although 46 points lower than his actual wOBA, his .396 xwOBA still matches that of Marcell Ozuna and Justin Turner.
Most fantasy managers weren’t sold on Dietrich, who had a 31% consensus ownership rate as of Wednesday morning. Following Tuesday’s three-homer outburst, his Yahoo rostered rase to rose to 60% and counting. It should keep climbing, as he has proven more than worthy of some extra matchup homework. He also should have his current role locked down.
When Dietrich emerged in the season, he seemed like no more than a temporary stopgap for Gennett, who is inching closer to beginning a rehab assignment. Yet Dietrich’s late-career breakout, much like Gennett’s ascendence in 2017, can no longer go ignored. The Reds can’t possibly sit him with an opposing righty on the mound, so another prominent starter could eventually lose significant playing time. That could mean Nick Senzel gets demoted or pushed into a super-utility role. Or perhaps Yasiel Puig, who’s hitting .218/.264/.394, loses his everyday gig. These situations often work themselves out anyway, so enjoy Dietrich’s dominance now instead of worrying about tomorrow.
Eric Hosmer: .293
That’s Hosmer’s lowest batting average in an odd-numbered season. He has never batted above .270 in an even-numbered year. After settling for a .253/.322/.398 slash line in 2018, a recent surge has quietly elevated him to .297/.345/.467. Who am I to argue with science?
OK, so this is random variance that bizarrely aligns in a convenient pattern. Yet it’s strange that a durable, well-regarded player — more so by his peers and coaches than fantasy managers — can so regularly alternate from good to bad for nearly a decade.
Few drafters had any interest in taking a boring first baseman who had seemingly made his bed as an overpaid dud in San Diego. Batting a pedestrian .252/.308/.441 through April certainly didn’t alter this perception. Don’t close the book on the 29-year-old just yet. Hosmer, who has three home runs during his ongoing eight-game hitting streak, is batting .347 in May with a hit in all but three games.
It’s also silly to think he will stay hot just because of the every-other-year trend. He hasn’t made any eye-popping changes to his plate approach. A 54.7% ground-ball rate, while better than last year’s abysmal 60.4%, will still hinder his pursuit of besting his single-season high of 25 homers. At least his hard hits are up, and his launch angle has climbed all the way from -1.2 to 2.0 degrees. Progress?
Hosmer isn’t a superstar worthy of a $144 million contract, but fantasy investors don’t need to foot that bill. He’s also, more often than not, an above-average hitter and strong compiler. A .280, 25-HR season with around 90 RBIs and runs each is in play for the underappreciated corner infielder.
In Tuesday’s somewhat acceptable return from the minors, he yielded three hits, three runs, and two walks over five frames with six strikeouts in a win over the Cardinals. The strikeout upside remains through the roof, but those who held or recently added the 26-year-old should wait for a better performance before inserting him into the starting lineup. Don’t take the chance with his next start scheduled for Sunday against the Dodgers.