Leon got the start at DH for the Tigers on Thursday, and answered the call, taking Matt Boyd deep in the fourth inning, Leon's lone hit of the day. Leon actually dropped his batting average with the 1-for-3 day, but is still hitting a robust .382. The home run was the second consecutive game for Leon with a dinger, with Wednesday's coming from the left-side of the plate, and Thursday's coming from the right-side. Leon now has seven home runs in 152 plate appearances in 2016, a well-above-average rate, especially for a catcher. You probably don't need me to tell you that Leon is going to have to level off at some point, he's sporting a .450 BABIP right now, but the overall signs are good for Leon. He's got a very nice line drive rate (26.0 percent before Thursday), and truly is hitting the ball a lot harder than in seasons past (his 37.7 percent hard hit ball rate is over 12 percent higher than his career rate). The recent power surge, three home runs in his past five starts, don't really mesh with his minor league numbers (he never hit more than six home runs in a minor league season), but the aforementioned batted ball profile, along with a heavy pull rate, and a home run friendly ballpark mean that he could post some of his best power numbers at the major league level. Right now he's an AL-Only Godsend, and could become a lot more if he can lock in the full-time Sox catcher gig. He's certainly making the case right now, and in that lineup could be a borderline top ten guy in 2016.
Upton was out of the Tigers lineup once again Thursday, but did make an appearance as a pinch-runner, and came around to score, his first run OR RBI since August 7. In fact, Upton has just two runs and zero, count them, zero, RBI in the entire month so far. Tiger manager, Brad Ausmus, said that Upton will be given Friday off as well, as the 28-year-old looks to refocus, and provide some semblance of value for fantasy owners who took him in the fourth or fifth round this year. (Oh and also help the Tigers who are in the thick of an actual playoff race.) Upton is making an excellent case for fantasy disappointment of the year, but the crazy thing is his batted ball profile doesn't look that different. His line drive rate (20.6 percent) and hard hit ball rate (36.5 percent) are both strong, and actually higher than his career averages. He's hitting a few more infield flies at the expense of a few fly balls, but there's nothing extraordinary in his batted ball profile. The biggest alarm bell looks to be his strikeouts (140) and walks (31), but honestly, even the advanced numbers behind that aren't that shocking. Upton swing rate on pitches outside the zone is up 1.3 percent, not nearly enough to explain the fall off. His contact rate is down 0.9 percent and his swinging strike rate up 0.6 percent. Again, neither enough to fully explain the struggles. At this point all you can do is hold on to Upton and hopes he turns it around. I still wouldn't cut him, even in ten-team mixed leagues. That being said, it would not at all surprise me if something came out after the season and we learned that Upton was hurt all year. It just doesn't make sense otherwise.
Hopefully Musgrove owners had the foresight to sit the rookie in a tough match up in Baltimore on Thursday. Musgrove was knocked around by the Orioles, giving up eight runs on 11 hits and a walk in 5.1 innings. He only tallied two strikeouts, to boot, making it an all-around worthless start. The biggest killer for Musgrove was the longball, as J.J. Hardy took him deep twice, and Mark Trumbo hit him for a three-run bomb, as well. Those three bombs accounted for six of the eight runs, and aren't too surprising given the fact that the rook had to pitch in the friendly confines of Camden Yards against that slugging lineup. It was the first rough outing for Musgrove, who had one impressive relief appearance (4.1 IP 1 H 1 BB 8 K) and two impressive starts (combined 14 IP 11 H 3 R 1 BB 13 K 1 W) for his entire career stats before Thursday. Don't cut the youngster just yet, though. (Unless you're in a ten-team mixed and need to stream.) Musgrove still owns a strikeout rate of nearly a batter an inning (8.75) and an xFIP (3.42) that demands to be owned in most leagues, especially when considering how much that number jumped up thanks (or no thanks) to one bad start. Next up for Musgrove is a much more preferable outing, against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He should be starting for that one.
Hyun Soo Kim
The Orioles rookie had a strong night Thursday, going 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI in the Orioles smackdown of the Astros. Kim is now slashing .329/.406/.449 in 244 plate appearances in his first year for Baltimore. The 28-year-old was an established big leaguer in South Korea before making the move to the U.S. this season. In nine seasons, Kim hit a combined .318 with a dose of power. The most impressive part of Kim's 2016 campaign in MLB is his strikeout to walk ratio. Kim has struck out just 32 times, and walked nearly as much, drawing 24 free passes for a walk rate of 9.8 percent. Kim is nothing more than a much deeper league candidate right now. But he's a pretty solid commodity in such leagues. He's going to hit when he's in the starting lineup, and with the Orioles lineup as loaded as it is right now, he'll get plenty of RuBIns. If you're in an AL-Only or 16+ team league, he's worth a roster spot.
Daily Fantasy Leagues
Gregorius continues to do the unthinkable: be underrated in fantasy as a Yankees player. Gregorius has four home runs in his last ten games, debunking the idea that he is a high floor/low ceiling daily option for daily fantasy baseball. Gregorius is once again a low-cost option Friday, despite facing pitching punching bag, Jered Weaver. The Angels continue to roll Weaver's corpse out there despite his 5.32 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. The dude has 67 strikeouts in 133.2 innings. He's also given up the 19th hardest hard hit ball rate to opposing hitters this season, DESPITE never getting strikeouts. So he lets the opposition put the ball in play, and he lets them put it in play hard. Honestly, the entire Yankee team is recommended, it's just that not too many come in below their actual value. Gregorius is one of the few.
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