Chris Iannetta, C, COL
Iannetta went 2 for 4 with a home run and a double in the Rockies win over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. Iannetta has been hitting the ball very well since coming off of the IL at the beginning of May. The veteran catcher was batting just .207 with one homer in 33 plate appearances before going to the IL on April 15th due to a lat strain--Iannetta is now batting .261 with 5 home runs on the season. Before the injury the 36-year-old was sporting an appalling 42.4 K% and a 67 wRC+; since his return he has been striking out significantly less (26.8 K%) and with that he has brought his wRC+ up to 121. Iannetta also owns an impressive .380 wOBA on the season and plays his home games at Coors Field, yet he is only owned in 0.7% of ESPN leagues. Catchers who produce offensively are extremely difficult to come by, and though Iannetta may not get as many starts in his advanced age, he is certainly worth keeping your eye on...especially if you're one of the many managers that are getting little-to-no production from behind the plate.
Javier Baez, SS, CHC
Baez went 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs star has been bothered by a bruised heel for the past couple of weeks and his performance at the plate appears to be hampered by the injury. In the past five games Baez is 2 for 20 with 10 strikeouts and just 2 free passes. He was a late scratch on Saturday, which was worrisome, but he came right back yesterday and got the start at Shortstop. It doesn't look like he is going to miss much time with the injury, but it's clearly bothering him, and it may take him a while to get back to where he was early in the year. Since May 14th, Baez's strikeout rate has been just north of 40.0% and his ISO has been an abysmal .150. Over that span Baez has seen his wOBA drop from .404 to .371 and his slugging percentage plummet from .627 to .556.
Eduardo Escobar, 3B/SS, ARI
Escobar hit his 15th home run of the season yesterday against the Mets and finished the contest 2 for 5 with three RBI. Escobar is certainly enjoying his first full season as an every day player and is on pace to surpass his previous career highs in basically every statistical category. Escobar is batting .288, with a .377 wOBA, and has 48 RBI to go with his 15 dingers. Interestingly, Escobar's 13.3 SwStr% is the highest mark of his career and his 73.6 Contact% is also a career worst (it's also extremely lower than his career average of 80.0%). So he putting the bat on the ball less often, yet he is producing at career-best levels...this is because he is much more effective and efficient when he does make contact. Escobar's Hard% (41.7) and Soft% (13.3%) are career bests, and he isn't making easy outs--his K% sits at 21.5 %, which is about average for him, and his IFFB% is at 2.5%, which is by far the lowest of his career and is the 15th best mark amongst qualified batters this season.
David Freese, 1B, LAD
Freese went 2 for 3 and hit his second home run in as many days against the Phillies. Freese didn't even draw the start in this one, but came in when Matt Beaty exited with a hip injury in the 5th inning; Freese ignited the Dodgers' offense with a homer in the 7th and an RBI single in the 8th. Freese is now riding a nine-game hitting streak, in which he has three home runs and seven RBI. With the Dodgers having such a deep squad, Freese isn't getting everyday player at-bats; but when he plays, he is extremely effective. Freese is currently touting a ridiculous .423 OBP and .420 wOBA. His success in 2019 seems to be stemming from a vastly improved eye at the plate; his 18.3 BB% is exactly 10.0% higher than his career average BB%. With the inconsistent playing time Freese has just 6 homers and 17 RBI, and though he has been so effective, it is unlikely he will get more playing time going forward due to his age, injury history, and the aforementioned depth of the Dodgers offense.
Sonny Gray, SP, CIN
Gray lasted 5.0 innings yesterday afternoon, he gave up two runs and struck out four in the contest. The Red's right hander has been very consistent this season; he has given up more than three earned runs just one time in his 12 starts, and all but one of his starts have lasted between 4.0 and 6.0 innings. Gray's ERA is a respectable 3.54 and his xFIP is actually lower at 3.29. His walk rate is higher than preferred (3.39 BB/9), but he strikes out a good amount of hitters (10.03 K/9), and he is pretty stingy with the long ball (.59 HR/9). Great American Ballpark isn't an easy place to pitch, but Gray has held his own so far this season, and consistency is hard to come by these days. In most formats Gray isn't going to provide you with a ton of production from start to start, but he also won't severely damage you in a negative fashion very often, which is nice.
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