Underdog MLB Picks to Click 5/2

May 2nd 2023

Jackson Roberts

The Picks to Click have returned… and we will not surrender.

Last week was not an ideal one for the picks, as all three of the stated goals for the lineup on Tuesday (.300 average, two homers and a starting pitcher win) were a flat-out failure. To put it in baseball terms, we donned a silver sombrero. So is it time to simply quit? Not a chance in you-know-where.

Not to mention, there were still a lot of positives to take from the week. Steven Kwan finally started to string some hits together throughout the Guardians’ slate, while Nico Hoerner and Willy Adames kept mashing like they have all season. If not for Eric Lauer’s pesky fingernail, we might have even backdoored our way to that win.

So with renewed confidence, it’s time to shoot for those very same goals this week. Buy stock in the Picks now while you can, because the prices are only going to go up after these players show out.

C - William Contreras (MIL)

A 116 OPS+ is a genuinely good offensive season for anyone. From a catcher, it’s a tremendous bonus. And here’s the thing: for Contreras, it’s actually been a slightly subpar start to the season.

Contreras might already be a better hitter than his brother, Willson, who hit so well for seven years in Chicago that bitter rivals St. Louis paid him $87.5 million to come do it for them instead. We’ve got a top five hitting catcher on our hands here, easily. His Baseball Savant page is an array of red circles and he hasn’t even begun hitting homers yet–one this season after 20 a year ago.

And now you’re telling us Contreras gets to hit at Coors Field this week? Oh, now we’re cooking with gas.

Also, not that it matters in the offense-dominated world of fantasy, but Contreras has gone from one of the league’s worst defensive catchers to one of its best just by swapping out a Braves uniform for the navy and gold of Milwaukee. He’s fifth in catcher framing runs this season after ranking 50th a season ago. Always-insightful baseball YouTuber Foolish Bailey just did a full breakdown of Milwaukee’s catching factory, if you’re a total nerd like me with seven minutes to spare.

1B - Paul Goldschmidt (STL)

True to form, the Picks to Click is including a bonafide superstar in this week’s lineup, and who better to choose than the reigning MVP?

Goldschmidt has been having a predictably awesome season, highlighted by a .914 OPS and a two-homer, 11-total base game against the Giants Wednesday night. Yet it still feels like he has another gear to tick up to and this feels like the week he could really start to roll.

It’s not a great matchup Tuesday against tough Angels number two starter Patrick Sandoval… except that Sandoval is left-handed and Goldschmidt has made a Hall of Fame career smashing lefty pitching. Start him with confidence, as Oliver Marmol and the Cardinals do on a nightly basis.

2B - Bryson Stott (PHI)

Would you have guessed that five of the six leaders in hits in Major League Baseball right now are middle infielders? If so, you’re definitely still going to be surprised when I tell you that one of them is Bryson Stott, tied for fourth at 39. Alexa, play A-O-K by Tai Verdes.

Stott won’t get you many homers or walks, so in 2023-style baseball, he’s got to do a lot of work in the average department to make up for that. This season, he is in a big way, hitting .317 with a more-than-respectable .767 OPS. After largely struggling in his postseason debut, the question on the minds on many Philadelphians was whether Stott could make the leap in his second year as a starter. He’s thus far answered with a resounding “yes.”

Tuesday, Stott faces the Dodgers, who have yet to announce a starter at the time of this writing. He’s 0-4 with a walk in one career game against LA. But we also know Stott’s close friend and spring training roommate, Bryce Harper, is making his season debut. Perhaps that alone will be enough to ensure Stott’s third homer of the season.

SS - Bo Bichette (TOR)

It’s possible this pick is a night too late, as Bichette went 5-5 against Boston Monday night, including a three-run missile off Corey Kluber. But it’s also possible that Bichette could simply be the Bringer of Doom for any pitcher wearing a Red Sox uniform.

Here are Bichette’s career stats against Boston pitching: 30-73 (.410), 4 HR, 5 2B, .644 slugging percentage. It’s as though he’s baseball’s version of a charging bull: he sees red, he smashes.

Tanner Houck, Boston’s Tuesday starter, has seen Bichette only six times, but it hasn’t ended well so far. Bichette has tagged him for three hits already in just six at-bats.

It’s not as if Monday was an isolated incident for Bichette of late, either. He hit a 460-foot moonshot Sunday as well and is following up back-to-back seasons leading the American League in hits by taking the early lead in 2023 as well.

3B - Brett Baty (NYM)

He’s here and he’s beautiful.

After a “slow” start to his career (it was barely enough at-bats to count as a cup of coffee but Mets fans are impatient), Baty’s bat has begun to come alive. He popped his first homer of the season in a three-hit performance against Washington Thursday, smashed another one Monday against Atlanta and enters Tuesday riding a four-game hit streak..

On the whole, Baty has shown everything one could want as a 23-year-old hitter with still under 150 MLB plate appearances. He’s hit everywhere along the line and with time, he’ll be a well above average big league third baseman with the bat.

It was also of utmost importance to pick a Mets hitter, as the Amazin’s face off against Detroit’s Michael Lorenzen Tuesday. Lorenzen ranks in the bottom 10% of the league in barrel percentage and sports an ERA of 7.07 in his three starts this year.

OF - Teoscar Hernández (SEA)

The “correct” pick here might be Jarred Kelenic, especially given that Oakland starter Mason Miller is a righty. But our Spidey senses are tingling for Hernández, who broke a tough 0-17 stretch with a clutch homer that helped the Mariners to an eventual 10-8 win Sunday in Toronto.

Hernández is also only 1-10 in his career against the current Athletics’ pitching staff, which would be a concern until you realize half of those at-bats are against Jeurys Familia, who definitely is not in the same form he used to strike out Hernández our times.

Once again, we’ve got to pick on the Oakland pitching staff. Miller’s 6.48 ERA is somehow more than a run better than team average (7.72). They’re also dead freaking last in *checks list* hits, walks, WHIP, batting average against, home runs… are there even any other categories? Oh, right, hit batsmen. They’re only second to last.

Moral of the story: whomever is playing the A’s, stack up on those hitters.

OF - Hunter Renfroe (LAA)

The Angels make a rare trip to St. Louis this week, where Renfroe will step in the box Tuesday against Steven Matz and his 0-3, 6.23 start to the season. 

Matz is an enticing matchup for anyone, but it’s his left-handedness that makes him a sitting duck for Renfroe. The eight-year vet is hitting over 30 points higher for his career against lefties and it’s not close this season–.360 against southpaws vs. .229 against boring old righties.

Quietly, too, Renfroe has become a perennial power threat. He has at least 26 homers in each of his five full seasons and is up to seven through the end of April. If he keeps up that pace, he’ll smash his career high and give the Angels the non-Trout and Ohtani lift they’ve needed to maybe, just maybe sneak into the postseason.

OF - Masataka Yoshida (BOS)

We’ll continue with the theme of playing hot hands and go with Yoshida, who leads the majors in hits since the start of play on April 20 and is coming off two more last night. 

Early in April, Yoshida was overanxious, rolling over countless ground balls to the right side while struggling to time his leg lift. Once he whacked two homers in a single inning against Milwaukee, however, he started raking and hasn’t looked back since.

Typically, we might not go with the lefty bad against lefty Yusei Kikuchi of the Blue Jays. However, Yoshida is hitting .292 against lefties in his one-month MLB career, so that’s less of a concern. Kikuchi has also been very strong thus far this season, striking out a batter per inning with a 1.11 WHIP. But Yoshida has been so hot that it was essential to throw him in this lineup, opposition be darned.

DH - Byron Buxton (MIN)

It is unclear how long the Twins plan to continue deploying Buxton as full-time DH, but we’ll take all the production we can get in the interim. Because, of course, this column only gives you real DH picks, as has been proven throughout its brief history.

It’s been a strong start to the year for Buxton–an .881 OPS, seven homers and a 46.9% hard hit rate. For Buxton, strong performance has mainly consisted of being on the field (we all know the story, only one season thus far with over 100 games played since debuting in 2015). Plus, we defy you to find another DH in the 97th percentile in sprint speed.

Against Chicago starter Michael Kopech in his career, Buxton is 0-4 with two walks. But we aren’t far removed from Kopech surrendering five home runs in his first start of the season, and Buxton loves to ambush. Plus, the White Sox have just been so bad as of late that it’s fair to expect any number of bad things will happen to them.

SP - Tyler Wells (BAL)

There are some horses pitching Tuesday and it would be perfectly justifiable to ride with any of them–Zac Gallen against the Rangers, 5-0 Joe Ryan against the White Sox, Gerrit Cole and his 1.11 ERA or, if you’re into this sort of thing, defending Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara.

However, the matchup with Wells is too inviting. The Royals are the latest to take pole position in the riveting race for worst offense in baseball, battling neck-and-neck with Detroit while some newcomers (hello, Aaron Judge-less Yankees!) enter the fray.

.624 team OPS? Only 88 RBI in 29 games? Ranking in the bottom five in hits, home runs and walks? There’s not one hitter in the lineup outside the Pasquatch anyone is fearing right now.

For his part, Wells has also been very solid on the young season, allowing just a .277 wOBA and ranking in the top 5% of the league in walk rate. If he’s not walking the Royals, it’s a safe bet that they also won’t be hitting him very hard. The stated goal here is a win, so let’s go against the team giving them up at a prolific rate. Plus, Wells is 6'8, 265, so if he gives up a couple early hits he could theoretically challenge K.C. to a cage match instead.

So that’s the spread for this week. May there be dingers, RBIs and Tyler Wells strikeouts galore. Enjoy another fabulous week of baseball!