Jeff McNeil, 2B (NYM)
Did you know Jeff McNeil has a .335 career batting average? Did you know his career wRC+ is 140, which would rank alongside guys like Alex Rodriguez, Mike Piazza and David Ortiz? Did you know that McNeil hit .342 with 19 homers in the minor leagues in 2018? Did you know that after showing some vulnerability to lefties last year McNeil actually has a higher wOBA against southpaws in 2019?
He's a guy that continually gets overlooked. He wasn't a premier prospect, he doesn't have bigtime power or speed, but it is becoming more and more plausible that his consistent perch well above a .300 batting average is sustainable. His BABIP is high, but his BABIP was always high throughout his professional career. He makes good contact, he has above average speed and he can hit all pitches to all sides of the field. McNeil is real so get your feel.
Jose Quintana, SP (CHC)
Quintana was blasted for nine runs in 4.1 innings, including two walks and three home runs. This wasn't on a day when the wind was blowing out (it was blowing in at 10 mph from right field) and it wasn't against a potent offense (the Mets rank 17th in MLB in wOBA). It follows a disturbing trend of regression that is quickly making everyone forget his superb start to April. Most concerning is a continued drop in velocity. His fastball was sitting around 91 mph whereas he started the season between 92 and 93. He was over 93 mph when the Cubs acquired him in 2017. His 11.4% HR/FB rate was inevitably going to rise as his hard hit rate is six percentage points above his previous high. Likewise, it was the three long balls that did him in on Saturday. Also disturbing are the nine walks allowed in the last three starts. He gave up only three walks in all of April. His propensity for home runs and subpar strikeout skills don't mix well with "nibbling."
Francisco Mejia, C (SD)
Mejia got his fourth straight start for the Padres. Since getting recalled from AAA on Monday, Mejia has a hit in every game, including a double and a home run, and San Diego finally seems to be leaning towards more regular at bats for the former top prospect. It's too early to call Mejia a "post-hype sleeper," but fantasy owners were expressing a certain level of discontent. On Saturday Mejia was 1-3 with his first walk since April. The base hit finally raised him above the Mendoza Line. When he was sent to the minors following a stint on the injured list, Mejia had 73 plate appearances in AAA. He chopped his swinging strike rate below 10% and his ISO soared to .381. Yes, that was a small sample size, but we're seeing some of his hitting skillset on display since he returned to San Diego. Mejia's EYE was never that great even as he rose through the minor leagues, but his major league EYE, in parts of three seasons, is atrocious. That must be improved for Mejia to produce as fantasy owners hope. The good thing is we finally get to see if he can make those improvements with a regular role. At such a thin position, Mejia's upside could be a difference maker over the rest of the season, if he's available in your league.
Derek Dietrich, 2B (CIN)
There are guys that get hit by a lot of pitches (see Arizona's Tim Locastro) and then there's Derek Dietrich. Dietrich was hit by an Alex Claudio offering in the 5th inning on Saturday. It was his sixth time getting hit by a pitch in the series against the Brewers (he was plunked three times on Friday). In addition to the HBP, he also slugged an RBI triple and scored a run, lifting his ISO to an astounding .363. His batting average is only .231, but did anyone notice his BABIP is below .200? He already surpassed his career high in home runs and his wOBA is 41 points higher than any other season, but Dietrich is only 29 years old, provides multi-positional eligibility and simply crushes the cover off the ball. By now you've probably noticed the extreme splits. You have to sit Dietrich against lefties, but he's nearly a must-start against righties. Even when Scooter Gennett gets back, it's hard to believe Dietrich will lose playing time.
Dakota Hudson, SP (STL)
Hudson recorded his ninth quality start in the past 10 games, quieting the Angels for only one run in seven innings. He allowed five hits and struck out six. Only once this season has the young hurler allowed more than three runs, and that was 69 days ago. He continues to cut down on his walks, and that is vital for a pitch-to-contact guy like Hudson. Hudson relies on the groundball, and he's actually increased his groundball rate since he was a minor leaguer. That explains why Hudson ranks in the top-10 in double plays. On the flipside, when he does give up fly balls, he's more likely to give up home runs (19.6% HR/FB rate). He won't deliver high strikeout totals, but he is providing consistent production regardless of opponent, which makes Hudson a reliable fantasy starter.
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