Like the old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Just ask Corey Patterson.
Not to take anything away from what he’s done this season, which was highlighted with a nine-hit weekend, including two home runs. But there’s a lot to be said about the impact of being slotted in the No. 2 hole, directly in front of the best hitter in baseball.
The journeyman outfielder continues to shine this season, hitting .294 with 28 runs, four homers, 26 RBIs and seven steals over 180 at-bats.
Hitting in front a player like Jose Bautista can do wonders for a 31-year-old with a career .255 batting average.
"I'm pretty much in the driver's seat there," Patterson said last week. "They don't mess around with me too much because they don't want Jose coming up with men on base."
Seeing a steady dose of fastballs, Patterson has become the perfect No. 2 hitter. He doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t have to. He’s got gap power and great speed, and nearly matched his doubles output from last season (16) in half the games.
But for some reason, Patterson seems to be available in a lot of mixed leagues I play in. I’m not sure if people just don’t trust that it will continue or if his old age and mediocre track record turn them off, but Patterson is a five-category guy with a great opportunity and it’s time more people start taking notice.
Just look at Jon Jay.
Even as Albert Pujols continues to “struggle,” hitting .267 with 31 RBIs this season, his presence in the No. 3 spot in the order makes Jay’s job in front of him a lot easier.
Ramirez has had multiple hits in four of his last six games, and his strikeout-to-walk rate of 20:31 is extremely encouraging. He’s not running the bases like he’s done before, but with his awful career stolen base percentage, that’s probably a good thing. If he can continue to avoid striking out and Quentin stays healthy out of the No. 3 spot, Ramirez could have himself a season.
Eric Hosmer is no Carlos Quentin, but since Kansas City moved Eric Hosmer to third in the order on May 11, Melky Cabrera has hit four home runs and driven in 11 RBIs. Cabrera has been a very productive two-hitter for the Royals and, like Patterson, hasn’t gotten much love in the fantasy world this season.
Everyone knows Curtis Granderson is having a great year, but he’s hit 12 of his 16 home runs out of the No. 2 spot, seeing a lot more fastballs while swinging silly over breaking pitches in the dirt a lot less often. He’s walked 16 times to 28 strikeouts in front of Mark Teixeira, as opposed to five walks and 19 strikeouts everywhere else in the order.
So, take this all for what it’s worth. But most pitchers won’t waste their time trying to dodge a No. 2 hitter just to get to No. 3.
Hitting in front of a great player can do wonders for your career, and more importantly for us, your fantasy stats.
Guys like Patterson, who likely went undrafted in all but deep mixed or AL-only leagues, become not only relevant, but extremely productive.
Now we just hope Bautista stays healthy.