Ramon Urias (BALL): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
The Orioles are .500, their record standing at 47-47 after a whopping 6-3 win over the New York Yankees at Camden Yards on Saturday night. While their playoff odds are low (1.4% according to Fangraphs), there’s no hotter baseball team right now (although the Seattle Mariners can be argued for when it comes to that honor).
As a result, there hasn’t been a better hitter in baseball than Urías. In Saturday’s win, he had three hits and hit the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth against Yankees reliever Shane Greene.
The fortunes of the Orioles in 2022 closely mirrored Urias’ own performance this season.
In April, Urías hit just .194 and posted a .463 OPS in 71 plate appearances. As for the Orioles, they went 7-14 in the first month of play and once again looked destined to be a cellar dweller in the loaded AL East.
Since then, however, Urías and the Orioles have surged and captured not just the city of Baltimore, but baseball fans at large. After a 14-16 in May, the Orioles went 14-12 in June and currently sit at 12-5 in July. As for Urías, it too experienced an upward progression after a difficult month of April.
Urías hit .286 with a .786 OPS in 98 plate appearances in the month of May. He missed a lot of time in June due to injury, which explains why he only had 19 plate appearances. However, he hit two homers in June, just two shy of the total he hit in April and May combined.
In July, Urías was one of the Orioles’ offensive catalysts, as he hit .372 with 1.041 OPS in 46 plate appearances. He had also added 14 RBIs and demonstrated a keen eye at home plate. In the month of July, he has just five strikeouts in three walks.
The Orioles are still a ways away from making the playoffs, barring a major move by the trade deadline. However, if they want to continue to gain traction in the Wild Card race, they will need Urías to continue producing when the Orioles’ roster ends.
As far as fantasy managers go, Urías’ stock is pretty high now, as he’s currently listed in 36% of Yahoo leagues and 10% of ESPN leagues. Fantasy managers would benefit from taking him if he is available, especially managers who need help in the middle of the infield (he has 2B/3B/SS eligibility) and are looking to make a run in the second half of their respective leagues.
Let’s see how the other batters did on Saturday
Bobby Witt Jr. (CC) : 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
The Witt legend continues in Kansas City as he pleads to be a dark horse candidate in the AL Rookie of the Year race. Not only did Witt have two hits, but he hit his 14th homer, stole his 19th and scored half of the Royals’ six runs against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night. Julio Rodríguez of the Mariners is still the heavy favorite for the award (he was an AL All-Star after all), but he was on a daily basis because of a wrist injury. One has to wonder if Witt will catch up with Rodriguez out of the Mariners roster.
Tyler O’Neill (STL): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
It’s been a rollercoaster year for Cardinals fans and fantasy managers who drafted O’Neill in their respective drafts. He was terrible in April (.529 OPS) and not much better in May (.582 OPS). When he started warming up in June (.906 OPS), he got injured and hasn’t done much since returning from IL in July (.603 OPS). O’Neill took a step in the right direction on Saturday by stacking the score against the Cincinnati Reds at GAB. He had two hits (including his fifth home run), had three RBIs and slipped his seventh sack of the year. Now let’s see if he can run and avoid injury this time around.
austin riley (ATL): 3-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
What to expect: Death, taxes and another solid performance from Riley at the plate for Atlanta. Saturday against the Angels, Riley not only homered, but had three total hits, pushing his season average to .292 and his OPS to .939. After breaking out in 2021, Riley is just five homers away from his 2021 total (33), which he made in 662 plate appearances. This year? He has 28 in 254 LESS plate appearances. Riley certainly deserves more talk when it comes to NL MVP this season.
Hunter Renfroe (MIL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Renfroe has always been a massive powerhouse, but a low average type of hitter, which makes him a bit of a dilemma in the standard leagues. He’ll have performances like Saturday where he homers and drives in three RBIs. On the other hand, his .251 GPA and 29th percentile K-rate will make fantasy managers cringe. The Ks have fallen month on month, as it fell from 23 in April to 16 in May to 15 in June to just seven in July. Perhaps an average improvement could be on the way in the second half.
Victor Robles (WSH): 2-3, HR, 2R, RBI, SB.
There’s no doubt that Robles is the ultimate fantasy tease. He’s only hitting .236 with a .623 OPS, but he’s only 25 and he had a home run and a stolen base against the Diamondbacks on Saturday! He just needs another year to put everything in place, right? Oof, fantastic managers have been through this Robles debate countless times before and for a few years to boot. Leave it alone on the waiver wire if available.
Nico Hoerner (CHC): 1-4, HR, 2R, RBI, SB.
Ian Happ made his first All-Star Game, Willson Contreras is the Cubs franchiser, and Christopher Morel looks like the North side’s “star of the future.” That being said, it seems fantasy baseball fans have been oblivious to what Hoerner has been up to this year. It is still available in 55% of Yahoo leagues and 70% of ESPN leagues. And yet, he is hitting .303 with six homers and has 10 stolen bases on 11 attempts. That’s pretty much what people were expecting from Nick Madrigal this draft season, even though Hoerner was going more than 100 spots later in the drafts according to ADP data.
Eloy Jiménez (CFS): 2-3, HR, R, RBI.
The White Sox are still trailing in Central behind Cleveland and Minnesota, even after their split today against the Guardians. If the White Sox are to make a run in the second half, they will need the power prowess of Jiménez, who has struggled to stay healthy for the past two years. In Game 2 of the White Sox doubleheader, Jiménez not only had two hits, but also hit his third homer of the year in Chicago’s 5-4 win. Average (.211) and OPS (.622) are not good so far, but there have only been 79 board appearances. Barrel rate (12.5%) and average output speed (92.4 MPH) are both higher than a year ago. Fantasy managers just have to keep their faith in Jiménez for now.
Carlos Correa (MIN): 2-5, HR, R, RBI.
Correa hit his 12th homer of the year in the Twins’ 8-4 win over the Tigers. He could have had his 13th, if he hadn’t been for a sensational game by Akil Baddoo of Detroit. Correa still produces solid fantasy metrics with a 0.281 average, 12 homers and 0.814 OPS. On the other hand, he’s been dealing with nagging injuries all year, and one wonders how long he’ll stay in Minnesota (he may retire after this year). The Twins likely won’t trade him, especially since they’re atop the AL Central. But there has been a weird vibe with Correa this year that makes him more underwhelming than he should be as a fantasy player. It will be worth watching how Correa performs in the second half.
Mookie Bets (BOY): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
Betts continues his assault on the rival Giants, as he hits his 22nd home run of the year. His two-hit performance also helped propel the Dodgers to their third straight win over San Francisco in this home series in Los Angeles. Betts is one homer away from matching his mark of 23 home runs from a year ago, which took 550 plate appearances in 2021. This year, he has 22 home runs in 201 fewer homers. Stolen bases still aren’t what they used to be (he had three consecutive 25-plus stolen base years in Boston from 2016-2018). However, Betts looks like a safe bet for 30+ home runs this year (maybe more if he gets hot), making him one of the most valuable fantasy outfielders in the game to date.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)