Last week I grabbed the Giants at 50/1 to win the World Series (you can still get them at 35/1), which seems appealing for a team with MLB’s best record. It’s not ideal San Francisco shares a division with the Padres and Dodgers, but baseball is far more wide open in the playoffs than other sports.
While some may suggest San Francisco is playing over its head or scream small sample (the long odds certainly do), the team’s major improvement at the plate dates to 2020. The Giants have scored the second-most runs on the road, have an above average defense, and their team FIP ranks top-10. They also have a loaded farm system that hasn’t even begun to help the major league team (but will soon), and San Francisco is certain to make moves at the trade deadline. Farhan Zaidi is proving to be one of the most valuable people in baseball, evidenced recently by the team’s incredible developmental system that doesn’t apply solely to younger players.
Brandon Crawford celebrated breaking the franchise record for games played at shortstop Tuesday by homering twice. He’s somehow top-15 in WAR during his age 34 season, playing fantastic defense and recording the second-most RBI (41) in the National League. Crawford has the fifth-best OPS (1.024) versus right-handers among all hitters this season, as his new swing has really turned things around. He’s been a top-20(!) fantasy hitter after not being drafted in a single NFBC Main Event league.
• Max Stassi homered during his third straight game Tuesday and is suddenly a must-add in all fantasy leagues considering how weak the catcher position is. Stassi quietly posted an .886 OPS last season when he showed dramatic improvement at the plate, and he remains available in 95% of Yahoo leagues thanks to a long IL stint earlier this year while dealing with a concussion. Stassi is even hitting cleanup behind a couple of strong OBP guys. Angel Stadium continues to play extremely hitter-friendly since its changes, including boosting homers for right-handers by a whopping 35% this season. Stassi would easily lead all catchers in wRC+ (183) if he qualified.
• Eric Haase homered for the fourth time in the last four games Tuesday night and is another intriguing catcher widely available in fantasy leagues (around 80%). He’ll obviously regress after smacking eight homers over 72 ABs (with a 33.8 K%), but he’s hitting cleanup and locked in a regular role. Only five catchers have more homers than Haase, who possesses “70” power and is another intriguing fantasy add given his position.
• After previously having dramatic home/road splits, Aaron Judge has the second-highest road OPS (1.059) this season. Brandon Crawford has the fifth-best.
• Starling Marte has been a fantasy beast when on the field this year, racking up 10 homers/steals over just 26 games while batting .337. Miami remains a brutal place to hit, so Marte could even see a fantasy boost should he be dealt at the deadline.
• With Michael Fulmer on the IL, the Tigers turned to Jose Cisnero to close Tuesday night. He’s recorded a save during each of Detroit’s last two wins and should be added by fantasy managers desperate for saves.
• Chris Taylor homered Tuesday and only Ronald Acuna has scored more runs in the National League this season. Teammate Gavin Lux committed another error Tuesday, as he continues to struggle mightily trying to play shortstop.
• With spin rate and foreign substances the current talk of baseball, Gerrit Cole’s answer to a question on the subject has raised some eyebrows.
• Carlos Correa has bounced back in a big way this season, ranking top-15 in WAR and posting the best walk rate of his career. No word yet whether a “massage gun” helped during his homer Tuesday night.
• Joey Votto returned to action Tuesday, immediately hitting cleanup behind Jesse Winker (.407 OBP) and Nick Castellanos (.412 OBP). Votto’s Barrel% would rank second in MLB and his average exit velocity would rank top-10 if he qualified. Cincinnati is baseball’s best home run park by a mile (GAB has increased HR for LHB an MLB-high 32% over the last three seasons). There’s no reason Votto should be available in 85% of Yahoo leagues right now.
• Ke’Bryan Hayes had a home run taken away Tuesday night after it was revealed he failed to touch first base.
• Patrick Wisdom homered yet again Tuesday. He has eight home runs over 40 at bats, so shop him now if possible.
• Framber Valdez is a question mark while pitching through his finger injury, but he’s looked great so far and dominated a strong Red Sox lineup Tuesday for the second straight start. Fantasy managers who gambled could be looking at a big profit.
• Robbie Ray recorded a 13:0 K:BB line on the road Tuesday against a White Sox lineup with the second-best wRC+ in baseball. Ray has cut his BB% from 17.9 last season to 6.3 this year, when he’s looked like one of the most improved players in baseball.