Matt Joyce enters the week tied for second in the American League with a .351 batting average.
He has hit .474 (9-19) in six May games after closing out April hitting .467 (7-15) in his final four games. That ten-game stretch raised his average from .286 to his current mark, which brings me to my title question.
Is Matt Joyce for real?
Joyce had stints in the Majors in each of the past three seasons, never playing more than 92 games and never posting more than 242 at bats. In those stints he hit .252, .188, and .241.
It’s not unusual for a hitter to take a stride in the season he turns 27, but his past production (or lack thereof) should not be ignored. Especially when you consider that this in not a hitter that tore up the minor leagues.
Joyce hit a modest .293 for Triple-A Durham last year. He hit .273 in 2009 for the Bulls and .270 in 2008 for Triple-A Toledo. In all, Joyce’s minor league average is .275. He combined for 32 home runs in 709 Triple-A at bats.
With just two home runs in 97 at bats this year, he isn’t a likely candidate to suddenly develop into a power hitter.
Joyce swiped 14 bags in 2009 for Durham, but simply isn’t a stolen base threat. He has three on the year, and Tampa is aggressive with their baserunners, but I don’t see him picking up more than 8-10 SBs on the year.
He has 15 runs and 12 RBI, which puts him on pace for 71 runs and 57 RBI. Those numbers simply won’t cut it for fantasy teams.
All you really have is the average.
We’ve already questioned the validity of his .351 mark, but here is more fuel for that fire. Joyce has a BABIP of .432 on the year. His 2010 mark was .273, though he’s been around .300 through his professional baseball career. When his BABIP come back to Earth, so does his batting average.
I have no qualms riding Joyce while he is hot, I do urge you to be cognizant of his shortcomings.
If you get a solid offer for him, don’t hesitate to take it. If he starts to slide, don’t be afraid to jump off the train.
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