Bad news out of Chicago this weekend, as the reigning, defending, undisputed 2019 American League batting champion, Tim Anderson, was placed on the 10-day IL with a strained groin. In his absence, catcher Yermin Mercedes was recalled in his place to fill out the roster.
A player who polarizes opinion, Tim Anderson had Jekyll and Hyde seasons the past two years. After batting .240 in 2018, he came back to win the batting title in 2019 with a .335 batting average, leaving owners in doubt as to who they see in 2020. Thus far, he’s left the worries at the door, as he’s begun the shortened season on fire with a .333/.355/.567 slash and one home run.
1. Luis Robert
Anderson’s bat will be missed at the top of the White Sox lineup, as so far, he was able to get on base with relative frequency. Never one to let a pitch pass and take a walk, Anderson was able to put the bat on the ball enough to earn the crown. Still, he was an effective weapon for the White Sox as they’ll need all the artillery they can muster when competing against some good Central pitching this season. In the two games they have played since his injury, Luis Robert has led off in Anderson’s spot. On Saturday, he was a triple shy of the cycle, smashing four hits and responding in a big way:
"Easy power from 88."
Luis Robert with the effortless 415 foot blast. pic.twitter.com/SXrpX0euLU
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 1, 2020
If Robert is going to lead off for the White Sox, this spikes an increase in his already high value. It’s quite simple: more at-bats mean more opportunities. Having an electric bat like this granted more opportunities can only mean positive results for Chicago. While his RBI numbers may go down, his combination of power and speed should be on display in full force.
2. Leury Garcia
Leury García – Chicago White Sox (1) Solo
— MLB Home Runs (@HomeRunVideos) July 25, 2020
For anyone that hasn’t paid attention, Leury Garcia has had a phenomenal start to the season. Heading into Sunday’s action, he sports a .321/.387/.536 line with two home runs, five runs batted in, and as many walks as strikeouts (three). Needless to say, the White Sox are happy to get this kind of production from someone who in 2019, over 618 plate appearances, hit just eight home runs, walked 3.4% of the time and got lucky (.287 xWOBA and .361 xSLG). Nonetheless, he’s improved himself to start the year:
In the short term, he seems like Chicago’s best bet to see an uptick in playing time. As of this writing, his NFC eligibility is 2B/OF, and he will add a position with more games played at shortstop. In Yahoo! leagues, he already has SS eligibility. As such, if owners are desperate for players that will play, he’s someone that should be free off the waiver wire and kept until the magic carpet ride ends.
3. Nick Madrigal
Nick Madrigal’s first major-league at bat. Showasing that power tool of his big-time! 🤣 I kid, I kid. #WhiteSox #ChangetheGame #Royals Bubic struggling to find the zone thru two (45 pitches) & has also given up three runs. #AlwaysRoyal pic.twitter.com/5kAxqQYHg7
— Michael Marino (@MMarino31) August 1, 2020
The Connoisseur of Contact was called up for his big league promotion on Friday, giving the White Sox another bat and option for their middle infield. While he hasn’t been able to yet record a single hit, he does come with some amazing discipline at the plate. Over five levels of minor leagues within the White Sox system, Madrigal has never had a strikeout rate higher than his walk rate. That my friends is quite an accomplishment.
Little in the way of power comes with that contact and discipline, as he hit only four home runs during his time in the minors. He has started all three games since his promotion and figures to continue to start regularly. During that third game, he recorded four hits with two runs scored and a run batted in. He is slotted at the bottom of the lineup, so his chances could be limited; nevertheless, he could really help your batting average and runs scored, two categories that are tough to figure out.
What about your fantasy team?
Chances are, if you drafted Tim Anderson for 2020, he fell to you. His ADP of 90 in July slots him as the 13th shortstop off the board, right in between Manny Machado and Marcus Semien. That threesome grouped together form a trio of undervalued players, so chances are that you, the one who drafted Anderson, used a later pick for a backup.
That being said, if you didn’t back him up, you’re in luck, as shortstop is one of the deepest positions in baseball and some great values remain on the waiver wire.
1. J.P. Crawford
Fantastic swing from JP Crawford on a CB at the bottom of the zone here. Excellent extension & hip/torso separation, keeping his hands inside and staying short through the ball with natural loft. Head doesn't move. Results in a triple. 101 EV. Good development for #Mariners pic.twitter.com/elWJc76fzp
— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) July 25, 2020
If you’re wondering what happened, he changed his approach, added muscle, worked on his swing, and spent most of his off-season preparing for 2020. Thus far, it has paid off (.364/.475/.515, 2 SB) and he could help offset what you miss from Anderson, minus the power. Long term success isn’t a guarantee, but he’s a post-hype prospect looking good at the moment.
2. Jose Peraza
— Brendan Campbell (@brendan_camp) July 25, 2020
There are more details about his upcoming season here, but to put it in short, Peraza thrives on consistent playing time. He’s looking more like his 2018 self with confidence at the plate. He should provide some much-needed speed to the lineup and his multiple eligibility is a bonus.
3. Jon Berti
Anyone looking ahead in fantasy might consider a cheeky share of Jon Berti. I've not been told he's among those who have tested positive, and he would definitely be starting *somewhere* if/when the Marlins resume. Batting average and SB play.
— Brad Johnson (@BaseballATeam) July 29, 2020
I have to agree with Brad here, as Berti should see some playing time once things resume for the Marlins this week. Miguel Rojas has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19, probably providing a path for Berti to come in and use his bat effectively. He’s gotten off to a slow start this year, but with consistent playing time in 2019, he sported a cool .273 batting average with six home runs and 17 stolen bases. Like Brad said, it’s cheeky, it’s sneaky and I like it.