Conforto continues to show why the Mets should have had him in the starting lineup since Day One, and why it's going to be exceptionally hard to take him out of the lineup even when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the DL. Conforto left the yard for the eighth time in just 106 plate appearances this season, and he is now slashing .330/.425/.648 for a wRC+ of 175. That wRC+ would be good for ninth among qualified hitters, and will make the Mets' outfield decision (hopefully) straightforward even once Cespedes returns (in about two weeks). Curtis Granderson is currently hitting .136 with a .264 slugging percentage. Yes, he is being paid a lot, and yes, he is an awesome veteran presence on the team. That's even more reason to move him to the bench. He's 36 years old and seems primed to be a bench coach after his playing days anyway, why not move him to the bench a season or two earlier? Maybe the time off can help him find his groove a bit and then they can trade Jay Bruce to open a spot for the Grandy Man again. Back to Conforto, his success has been truly legitimate, as he is smashing the ball and has a proven track record. If you're somehow in a league where he's still available, remedy that immediately.
Altherr is doing the damn thing right now for the Phillies, with five homers and three steals in just 80 plate appearances in 2017. Altherr has been a decent prospect in the Phillies' system for a long time now, but he has never been able to have success at the big-league level before now. He owns a career slash line of .235/.332/.410. As good of a story as an Altherr breakout would be, he's relying heavily on a .422 BABIP and over 30.0 percent HR/FB rate that both are highly unsustainable. Altherr is hitting right around the same percent of fly balls as throghout his (poor) career, and he isn't pulling them more. He is hitting them harder this season, but there are a lot more red flags than the limited actual good signs of improvement. Color me skeptical until there are some significant changes in Altherr's profile.
Joseph had one of his better nights of 2017, reaching base four times, with three walks and a home run. He scored twice and brought his slash line up to .222/.297/.378 - which still leaves a lot to be desired. There will be a bit off buzz about Joseph, however, as he was a trendy preseason name, and in addition to the strong Tuesday night, he had multi-hit games in two of his three games before that. Don't hop right back on the wagon, however. Joseph is still striking out more often than in 2016 (28.1 percent up from 2.16 percent), and he is hitting for more ground balls (up nearly ten percent). Those lack of fly balls (also down ten percent) mean even though he has a nice hard hit ball rate, Joseph is unlikely to reach that 30-homer plateau that was being discussed as a serious possibility before the season. Keep an eye on his batted ball profile, however, as if he beigns to elevate his swing again, the pieces are there for a nice power push.
If Broxton is still available in your league, give him a hard look. He's been red hot, with two homers, two steals, and nine hits in his past five games. Broxton was another one of those flashy preseason names who has struggled to start 2017. Broxton's slash line is back up to .258/.340/.472 which isn't too far off what was hoped for from the 27-year-old before the season. He also has eight steals (although he has been caught stealing three times) and has the ceiling of a five-category contributor in OBP leagues. There are a few signs that would be nice to see before officially adding him back into the mix in shallower leagues, though. For one, the biggest positive with Broxton was his 43.3 percent hard hit ball rate in 2016. That figure is down to 26.5 percent and it hasn't been higher even during his hot stretch in May. He also isn't walking nearly as much in 2017 (8.0 percent walk rate down from 14.8 percent), and as a result, is relying on a lofty BABIP (.408) to get on base at a decent clip. The talent and potential are there for me to add in 14-team and deeper leagues, but I'd hold off a second and watch the walk rate and hard hit ball rate for 10- and 12-team mixed leagues.
Kenta Maeda ($37)
Maeda is a nice option in that middle tier of pitching for Wednesday, as he has pitched much better than his surface statistics would suggest in 2017. Maeda is sporting an ugly 5.81 ERA, but his 3.65 xFIP is far superior. His 3.50 SIERA is even better, and he's rocking a sexy 10.16 K/9 rati that will pay off big time in daily points leagues. Maeda faces a neutered Pirates lineup that ahs sorely missed Starling Marte, with a wRC+ of just 94 over the past two weeks. The Pirates don't have many righty-killers either, and Maeda should benefit from the lack of pop in the Pirate lineup by being able to challenge hitters early and often, letting him get ahead in the count and use his wipeout slider to rack up the strikeouts.
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