Looking over the past few weeks’ worth of OPS numbers, I saw a lot of names that I expected to see up on top. Nelson Cruz, sure. Anthony Rizzo, duh. Chris Davis, yawn, but sure. Andrew McCutchen, okay. These guys are either superstars or mega-power meatheads (I’m looking at you Cruz and Davis). The next name on the list? David Peralta. What? Peralta, who is quickly rising in ownership in most formats (up to nearly 50% in ESPN now) has been crushing the ball to the tune of a 1.190 OPS over the past two weeks. During that time, he has gone 20-for-42 with 2 homers and 13 RBI. Even better, over this last week, Peralta is number two in all the land in OPS, at 1.819. Yeesh. Who is this guy? Here’s some quick Peralta backstory, if you’re interested. Skip a paragraph down if you aren’t.
Peralta has been around the baseball community for a while, spending some time in his early teens within the Cardinals organization (rookie level ball). He had multiple shoulder surgeries and was released from the club, not making his way back into pro baseball for four years, when he signed on with Rio Grande Valley of the North American League. Peralta annihilated Independent ball and signed on with Arizona in 2013. In his first year in the DBacks organization, Peralta again crushed, posting a .349/.375/.567 with 16 homers in High A. He played 50 games in AA last season before being called up by the club, where he also produced. So, this is really our first extended look at Peralta, and I’ve got to say, I like this guy. He’s leading the league in triples (8) and his OBP on the year is a very respectable .368. I would definitely own this guy in a deeper OPS format if I needed some outfield help. He won’t put up huge power numbers, but I could see him getting into the upper-teens.
How about “Beef” Wellington Castillo? Castillo is 9th in baseball in OPS over the past two weeks, at 1.157, right behind the ridiculously powerful Josh Donaldson. I mentioned Castillo last week and he continues to crush. “Castillo was well-regarded when he was in Chicago and was often considered the Cubs catcher of the future before the rapid ascent of the awesome Kyle Schwarber and the trade for Miguel Montero. If you need a catcher, you could do a lot worse than Castillo right now,” and that’s me quoting me! (I’ve always wanted to do that) Anyhow, both Schwarber and Castillo are super-hot (especially Schwarbs). Both seem awesome. Schwarber could be the best hitting catcher in the game right now (but he may not maintain his catcher eligibility moving forward, if he sticks in the outfield). Castillo has been resting a bit more than I’d like to see, but other than that, I have no qualms with owning him in any format.
An oldie but goodie is David Ortiz. Ortiz hit two more jacks last night, going 3-for-3 with 3 RBI. My predecessor with the OPS Leagues column Tom Jacks is a self-confessed David Ortiz mega fan. And, why not? The guy crushes and is continually undervalued in OPS leagues (and really, any format) due to his label as a crusty, old, boring veteran. We love to own the fun, young talent, but we forget that guys like Big Papi can still flat out hit. Papi is 10-for-19 over the last week with 4 homers and 8 RBI, good for a .609 OBP or a 1.819 OPS. That OPS tops the charts in baseball over the past week. Papi has been taking more walks and striking out less in recent weeks. This is a guy who is still going to reach 30 homers and could challenge for 90 or so RBI.
Let’s close out this column with one of those fun, young guys that was probably somewhat overvalued in most drafts this year. Kris Bryant, the man with the Disney Prince good looks and the Disney villain monstrous/murderous swing. Bryant came into the season with enormous hype and fanfare, based largely on his gorgeous, gorgeous blue eyes and supple lower half … and, and, oh, err, I mean, based on his great numbers in the minors last year. Right. Fangraphs grades Bryant’s raw power a 75 out of 80 and his hitting a 40 out of 50. He has done pretty well, but his OBP has been a bit disappointing, at .359. After posting lines well above .400 in parts of two seasons, I was hoping we’d have a new OBP/OPS demigod. That may not be the case. Bryant strikes out. He strikes out a whole lot. This is going to really pull down his ability to get on base consistently, naturally. He has also been mired in a terrible funk over the past couple of months. Bryant’s batting average (and subsequently, his OBP/OPS) have been plummeting since the calendar turned to July. But, I wouldn’t worry just yet. Bryant is still enormously talented, and if you can get ahold of him in a long-term league, this is an ideal time to buy low (or, as low as a guy like this will go for). I am confident Bryant will have a very, very strong 2016. And, I do think he can close out 2015 with a flourish. This isn’t Brandon Wood here people. Bryant is a special talent. His speed is a bonus, too (he’s up to 12 steals on the year). It’s a lazy comparison, but consider the adjustment period his corner infielder across the way Anthony Rizzo went through upon reaching the big leagues. It’ll take some time, but Bryant could be an OPS league star, and perhaps very soon.