Swanson Swats a Pair – June 24, 2022
Dansby Swanson, SS, ATL
Swanson had a big day against the Giants on Thursday, going 3-4 with 2 HR’s, 3 runs, and 3 RBI. He has steadily improved each month this season, posting a .644 OPS in April followed by an .847 OPS in May, and now a 1.077 OPS so far in June. He has correspondingly cut his K% each month from 36.6% to 25.0% to 19.8% over the first three months of the season. Overall, his .302 BA and .500 SLG would both be career highs (not including his 38 game rookie season), while his 11 SB’s are already the most he’s ever had in a single season. He’s also on pace to match his career high of 27 HR’s set last season. While his .385 BABIP is likely to fall, he has a career best 46.2% HardHit% (entering Thursday) which should soften the expected regression. The 28-year-old is trending towards a career year, and should be viewed as a top-5 fantasy SS due to his across the board production.
Willie Calhoun, OF, SF
Calhoun was traded from the Rangers to the Giants on Thursday and will likely be sent to the Giants minor league system. Calhoun had a breakout season in 2019 when he hit .269 with 21 HR’s in 83 games, but has struggled since then, slashing .223/.288/.339 with 8 HR’s in 122 games with the Rangers over the last 3 seasons. Calhoun has continued to make excellent contact during that time, posting a combined 12.8% K% over those three seasons, but has suffered from a .240 BABIP during that stretch. His HardHit% and EV haven’t been bad, but he has had trouble barreling up on the ball with a weak 2.9% Barrel% over the past 3 years. Considering his excellent contact rate and solid exit velocity, there’s reason for optimism that Calhoun could once again see success at the big league level.
Frankie Montas, SP, OAK
Montas carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Mariners on Thursday, and finished with 8 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 BB’s with 8 K’s. This was a nice bounceback for Montas who had allowed 10 runs (8 earned) on 18 hits in 11 IP over his last two starts. For the season, Montas has put up strong numbers, including a 3.21 ERA, 3.10 xFIP, and 92:22 K:BB across 89.2 IP (15 starts). In fact, the 3.10 xFIP would be the lowest of his career. Still, he carries a 3-7 record pitching for the lowly A’s, and Thursday’s no-decision was another example of how hard wins have been to come by. One would think that Montas is a prime trade candidate for Oakland, and his fantasy value will almost certainly rise if he is indeed traded.
Max Muncy, INF, LAD
Muncy went 3-4 with a HR against the Reds on Thursday, a strong performance in what has been a difficult season for the veteran slugger. Even after the big day, Muncy sits at a disappointing .170/.333/.295 slash line with just 5 HR’s across 219 PA’s. He has still shown elite plate discipline with a 46:42 K:BB, but his quality of contact has declined, which has led to a .200 BABIP and 6.3% HR/FB, both career lows. The latter number is particularly striking, as from 2018-2021, Muncy posted a 25.2% HR/FB. His 36.5% HardHit% and 87.4 EV are both his lowest since joining the Dodgers in 2018, and the dropoff is more drastic when looking at his fly balls. Muncy is still hitting plenty of balls in the air with a 50.4% FB% (highest since 2015), but his Hard% on fly balls is down to 38.1%; that number had been above 49% each of the past 4 seasons. You don’t want to give up on a guy who has hit at least 35 HR’s in each of the last 3 full seasons, but it’s certainly possible that Muncy’s skills have begun to decline.
Framber Valdez, SP, HOU
Valdez allowed 3 ER’s in 6 IP against the Yankees on Thursday, giving up 2 hits and 3 BB’s while striking out 7. This was the 11th straight quality start for Valdez, and it has to be considered a successful outing given the strength of the opponent. Through 14 starts this season, Valdez has a shiny 2.90 ERA and 3.21 xFIP. He has done this despite mediocre strikeout and walk rates (7.76 K/9 and 3.21 BB/9) thanks to an exceptional 67.6% GB%. That number not only leads the league, but it’s more than 10% higher than the next highest pitcher! The high GB% is no fluke either; last season Valdez recorded a 70.3% GB%. As long as he keeps the ball on the ground the way he has, he’ll be just fine even with a pedestrian strikeout rate.
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