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NFBC Hitting Guide Week 22: Yandy Diaz, Enrique Hernandez, Mark Canha (2022)

NFBC Hitting Guide Week 22: Yandy Diaz, Enrique Hernandez, Mark Canha (2022)

In six short weeks, the dust will settle on our fantasy baseball leagues. Championships will be won, or they can be lost. This morning, I am here to help you dig into the waiver wire, hopefully, to aid you in some late-season heroics! As always, I am operating from an NFBC mindset, so think 15-team leagues or competitive 12-team leagues as you read the names that follow.

I’m always around on Twitter, @HeathCapps, if anyone wants to link up or has any sports-related questions. It’s always a sad time when baseball closes, but at least we’ll have the NFL to tide us over.

Catcher

Shea Langeliers (C – OAK)

Yep, I talked him up last week. But you have to ride the wave, as Oakland gets a friendly six games against the Nationals and the Orioles this week, with both series being played on the road. And while the upstart Orioles have a middling 3.87 team ERA, the Nats are second-worst in the league at 5.13, trailing only Colorado. As for Langeliers, the 24-year-old prospect started in every game this week. He batted fifth, seventh, 2nd, 5th, 2nd, and 2nd. He also batted .348 (8-for-23) with his second big league home run. Add in the 73rd percentile sprint speed and a healthy three barrels already, and I’m sold on Langeliers as a C2 with upside for more in Week 22.

Kyle Higashioka (C – NYY)

Higashioka drew the start on Saturday night with Jose Trevino banged up, and given that Trevino’s thing sounds legitimately day-to-day, I’m intrigued. Higgy’s season-long numbers look awful at first glance, but underneath the hood are some positive trends. He started slowly, but his average is on a positive trend these last two months, and his 1H/2H splits certainly favor the second half. The Yankees are also slated to run into four southpaws for the week ahead, with two on the first half of the week and two on the second half. Against lefties, Higashioka has a whopping 50% hard-hit rate and a 50% flyball rate. Of course, that propensity for fly balls aids in the poor BABIP if the ball doesn’t leave the yard. But if Trevino remains DTD for the week ahead, you could get a sneaky home run or two from a dirt cheap catcher. That bears mentioning, even if it’s disgusting.

Last week’s plays: Shea Langeliers, Nick Fortes

Corner Infield

Franchy Cordero (1B, OF – BOS)

With Eric Hosmer again on the IL, the Red Sox now have their early season platoon back at first base. Cordero will see the lion’s share against RHP, while Bobby Dalbec should slot in against lefties. I’m not saying Cordero gets a run of four starts in a row for the coming week, but the Red Sox play a full seven games, with four right-handers on tap for the first part of the week. There is some sneaky playing time with some power here, either to cover a CI slot or the bottom end of your outfield. Against RHP this year, Cordero is slashing .237/.310/.416, with a .315 wOBA and 100 wRC+. He also has five of his seven homers in the split. Don’t expect the moon, okay? We are mining for at-bats here.

Yandy Diaz (1B, 3B – TB)

Diaz is batting leadoff for the Rays, and this could be a “set it and forget it” play at corner infield for the rest of the year, provided he remains healthy. No, he’s never made the launch angle adjustment we’ve all dreamed of, but this is still a very capable big league hitter. And in actuality, Diaz has a better average launch angle than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. this year. The issue here–if there is one–is that he doesn’t have enough barrels. But that’s where the negativity ends, as Diaz’s Statcast page is a sea of deep red. His quality of contact is stellar, he doesn’t chase, and he walks and strikes out at rates that place him inside the top 5% of the league. You may quibble over the lack of dingers all you like, but his shiny .388 OBP and .280 batting average are super. He’s also neutral against both-handedness of a pitcher, with a 144 wRC+ against lefties and a 140 wRC+ against righties. He does blister lefties a bit more, though, with an absurd 4.8% strikeout rate and a .165 ISO in the split. And despite the short two-game stretch on the first half of the coming week, he’s still worth playing, given that both of those hurlers are lefties and that he has some staying power for your lineups for the week ahead.

Last week’s plays: Joey Meneses, Brett Baty

Middle Infield

Enrique Hernandez (2B, OF – BOS)

Hernandez has been a frustrating player in 2022, but he’s finally healthy and hitting. Over the last two weeks since his return from the IL, he is batting .278 (10-for-36) with four runs, two homers, and 10 RBIs. That’s likely indicative of the rest of season pace, too. You’ll take anything in the .250+ range for batting average, and he should operate on at least a 20+ homer pace. Don’t expect steals, but with Jarren Duran being optioned to Triple-A, you can expect at-bats. The Red Sox are still clawing for relevancy in the AL Wild Card race, and if they continue getting healthy, maybe there’s a chance.

Ha-Seong Kim (2B, 3B, SS – SD)

Kim is on a bit of a heater, and he’s occupying the leadoff spot against left-handers. In his second MLB season, he has improved dramatically. Compare the seasons:

Year AVG OBP SLG
2021 .202 .270 .352
2022 .259 .333 .387

Okay, so the power isn’t a feature, but the rest of that slash line is a significant improvement. Kim has also improved his walk rate (7.4% to 9.2%) and his strikeout rate (23.8% to 17.4%). Lest you forget, he was one of the best players in Korea since his teenage years. He walks, he doesn’t strike out much, he has plus speed (78th percentile), and he’s batting leadoff against three left-handed starters for the week ahead. You could do worse than that at this juncture of the MLB season.

Last week’s plays: Jose Iglesias, Bryson Stott

Outfield

Riley Greene (OF – DET)

There are a plethora of leadoff men available this week, apparently. The 21-year-old rookie is holding his own so far at the big league level, slashing .248/.304/.378. That Greene is occupying the top spot in the Detroit lineup is certainly an indictment of Detroit’s lineup, but at-bats are at-bats, okay? There is some reason for optimism given his pedigree, though. And Green’s hard-hit rate (per Fangraphs) is steadily on the rise over the course of the season. By month since June, here are his hard-hit rates: 24.1%, 34.6%, and 37.3%. Similarly, his soft contact rates are on a positive trend (24.1%, 19.2%, and 9.0%). The bugaboo is that he’s hitting too many ground balls, but this is still a leadoff hitter with good quality of contact and above-average speed. The Tigers don’t have an exciting slate this week, with just six games and three of them against the Mariners. But the schedule lightens up with Kansas City on the coming weekend.

Mark Canha (OF – NYM)

Canha was one of my most drafted depth outfielders this season, and that has not gone to plan. The Mets have become a little too platoon-happy for my liking, but Canha’s recent hot streak is going to force their hand–and mine, especially in the draft-and-holds where I still roster him. Over the last two weeks, Canha has been the fourth-best outfielder in 5×5 leagues, trailing only Mookie Betts, Adolis Garcia, and Jake McCarthy. Over that stretch, he is batting a whopping .432 with three home runs while bringing his season-long slash line to .280/.380/.422. Additionally, the 17.8% strikeout rate is actually the best mark of Canha’s career. That’s notable, given how productive and unheralded he was as a member of the Oakland Athletics. This is a player who does a lot of things well. He doesn’t strike out much, he walks, he has plus speed, and he’s been on a solid heater over the last two months. In fact, if you toss out the month of June, Canha has had a really solid season for the New York Mets. I was probably too quick to cut bait and too slow to get back on this train. But if Canha is available to you, you should be paying attention.

Jake McCarthy (OF – ARZ)

McCarthy is the definition of a “speed demon,” ranking in the 98th percentile for sprint speed. He is 12-for-13 on the basepaths thus far, with all of that production coming in just 67 games. Don’t expect loads of power, but a Berti-like performance in the stolen base category is plausible. He shouldn’t be available in any competitive formats, but he’s proven enough to be a mainstay in lineups to round out the season. He had an epic 4-for-5 performance last night, with three runs and two steals to his credit. Arizona’s lineup isn’t as bad as you think, either. As a unit, the group ranks 16th in the majors in runs scored, ahead of teams like Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago (White Sox), Tampa Bay, and Seattle. Indict the Diamondbacks for their bottom 10 ERA ranking, but the offense isn’t abysmal here. There has been some ill luck with injuries, but with Ketel Marte and Carson Kelly now healthy and with the unexpected offensive infusion of Emmanuel Rivera, this is a decent MLB lineup. Christian Walker is still there raking, and Josh Rojas is a capable table setter. I think McCarthy can be a plus in runs scored, steals, and batting average down the stretch.

Last week’s plays: Manuel Margot, Franmil Reyes, LaMonte Wade Jr.

A few other names to consider for the near future–as you have needs–are Gavin Sheets, Harold Ramirez, Keston Hiura, Donovan Solano, David Fletcher, Jose Siri, and Jake Fraley. What about you, gamers? Who are you leaning on for the stretch run of fantasy baseball? As always, find me on Twitter @HeathCapps if you’d like to link up. I’d love to chat about baseball anytime.

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