On a day when the long ball reigned across MLB, a couple two-homer performances in particular stood out.
Bobby Bradley, the Indians' first baseman for the past four weeks or so, continued his massive power display with his seventh and eighth home runs during that stretch. Luis Urias, meanwhile, closed out his impressive June with his fourth and fifth home runs for the month.
The question is whether either deserves to be picked up in the more than 60 percent of CBS Sports leagues where they remain available.
- What is wrong with Aaron Nola? We also talk Ozzie Albies, play "Would You Rather" with Luis Urias or Willy Adames, Jon Gray or Kolby Allard, Adam Duvall or Bobby Bradleyv on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
We're talking standard 12-teamers, basically. To this point, I've avoided recommending them outside of deeper leagues, where by now they're already rostered.
For Bradley, strikeouts are a real concern. He accumulated them at about a 33 percent rate in the minors the past three seasons, which led to him batting .196 prior to his promotion this year. We've seen major-leaguers succeed with that sort of strikeout rate in recent seasons, but they've needed premium average exit velocity and an optimal average launch angle to do it. Bradley has demonstrated neither thus far. And while his strikeout rate since the promotion is a not-as-bad 28 percent, it's 33 percent over his past 13 games.
As for Urias, his most likely outcome is still a low-impact one. The former Padres prospect's production has been stunted in the majors for several years now. This June was the best month of his career, and the numbers were still fairly modest: a .284 batting average, five home runs and an .875 OPS. It would be great if he could repeat them month after month, but judging by his track record, that's a big ask.
He is triple-eligible, though, which is worth something in its own right, and there's something to be said for any player with the kind of raw power Bradley has. But I think both players' June production was the maximum extent of their potential rather than being the tip of the iceberg.
Neither should be rostered in much more than 50 percent of CBS Sports leagues, I'd say, and I can muster more enthusiasm for all three of the hitters included below ...
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HOU Houston • #53 • Age: 24
Even with Jose Urquidy landing on the IL with shoulder discomfort, I suspect the odds of Cristian Javier rejoining the rotation right now are low. Urquidy isn't expected to miss much time, and the Astros are nearing the end of the stretch when they felt like they needed a six-man rotation anyway. But Javier has remained more or less stretched out as a multi-inning reliever and continues to deliver excellent ratios. He's usable even as we await his eventual return to the rotation.
Joey Votto 1B
CIN Cincinnati • #19 • Age: 38
For the second time in three games, Joey Votto delivered a home run and a double Wednesday, and he continues to close the gap on his expected stats, which peg the 37-year-old for a .276 batting average and .524 slugging percentage. He's made a conscious decision to trade off plate discipline for power as his age begins to catch up to him, but even so, he's been a top-10 first baseman in points leagues since returning from a broken thumb June 8.
Joe Ross SP
WAS Washington • #41 • Age: 28
I've hesitated to endorse Joe Ross because I don't understand what makes him work, and maybe his 4.02 ERA speaks for itself in that regard. But it feels like he's been better than that, doesn't it? One reason is because he was particularly effective in June, compiling a 1.95 ERA across five starts. Another is that if you remove his worst two starts -- one in April, one in May -- his ERA drops to 2.24. He's an OK bat-misser who's efficient with his pitch count and generally limits damage. Maybe that's good enough as long as the matchups are right.
Jon Gray SP
COL Colorado • #55 • Age: 29
Competent pitching is getting harder and harder to find on the waiver wire, and despite spending his whole career with the Rockies, Jon Gray has a decent enough track record to merit consideration. Though his numbers for all of 2021 are solid, his two outings since returning from a flexor strain have been particularly strong, his slider showing more bite as he's put together a 15.7 percent swinging-strike rate (compared to 10.0 for the rest of the season).
Willy Adames SS
MIL Milwaukee • #27 • Age: 26
Willy Adames hit a grand slam and reached base three times against the Cubs Wednesday, continuing his success since coming over from the Rays in May. His strikeout and line-drive rates are both vastly improved, and when you consider he's a career .296 hitter with an .867 OPS on the road compared to .219 and .640 at home, it starts to make sense. The batter's eye at Tropicana Field was apparently the bane of his existence, and at 25, he's showing that his future is still bright.
COL Colorado • #7 • Age: 25
Given his top prospect pedigree and the hitter's haven that he calls home, Brendan Rodgers should be almost universally rostered by now, but frequent days off, including one Tuesday, are concealing his long-awaited breakout. He reached base four times Wednesday, twice on hits and twice on walks, and ended up batting .308 (24 for 78) with four homers and a .927 OPS for the month of June.