Batter’s Box: You Caught Me Soto-tally Off Guard
There were a handful of guys around the league who decisively exhibited some power Thursday after enduring some personal long-ball droughts. But the most surprising member of the bunch was Geovany Soto, who managed a 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB performance from the 8-spot. The bombs each came with two runners on base and keyed the White Sox to a resounding 11-2 victory over Detroit. Soto is projected to go yard five times this season, so to see him accomplish the feat twice in one day this early was certainly unexpected. The fantasy takeaway from this offensive burst is unfortunately to treat this as an aberration that you can’t count on, though, since Omar Narvaez has the starting job largely locked up. Soto is the LHB member of a two-man catcher platoon that doesn’t favor a ton of playing time for him, but in a pinch, if you find Chicago facing a LHP and you want to reach for a one-day streamer at C, Soto could be your guy.
Let’s take a look at what else happened hitting-wise around the league:
Yasiel Puig – 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, SB. The Cuban quandary has apparently decided he wants to harness his glorious athletic gifts again, with expectations going into the season being hopeful but cautious after a wretched 2016. Puig hadn’t had a multi-homer game since June 4, 2013, also against the Padres extremely early in his up-and-down career. You might have been the beneficiary of a low ADP for Puig because of the fear of buyer’s remorse, but if he keeps this up, he could become one of the best draft values we see this year.
Kyle Schwarber – 1-4, R, 3 RBI, BB, 2 Ks. Speaking of bats that hadn’t launched the big one for a while, Schwarber got his first homer in a year and a half. The Cubs would end up winning by two over rival St. Louis, so the four-bagger was opportune and robust, clocking an exit velocity of 112.1 mph per Statcast. He’s going to have catcher eligibility within the next couple of months, so that will be a boon to already pleased owners of the leadoff man.
Yadier Molina – 0-2, R, 2 RBI, BB, K. Not your typical noteworthy box score entry, but Molina managed to somehow lead the Cardinals with his 2 RBI without managing to hit safely. A force attempt by Ben Zobrist was challenged and overturned to allow Molina to reach and simultaneously score Aledmys Diaz, and a sacrifice fly accomplished another RBI for Diaz later on. Yadi’s batting .333 despite the hitless day, and he’s perfectly serviceable as a starting C.
Jason Heyward – 2-4, R. Not regarded as a consistently strong hitter for average over the span of his majors career, Heyward is managing to hit .333 thus far this year. Appearing most recently at the 6-spot in between Addison Russell and Miguel Montero on Thursday, in 13 PA he has hit with mostly soft contact, producing groundballs 54.5% of the time and pulling to RF as a LHB 63.6% of the time. Statistical monitoring and an understanding of his home/away splits might be essential to figuring out when and if to deploy him, as you could likely be doing better at the OF position than Heyward for the moment.
Salvador Perez – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. This is what you signed up for if you drafted Perez. Unfortunately, it was a zero-out situation to begin T5 and therefore just a solo shot. However, with Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and cleanup man Eric Hosmer slotting into the lineup before Perez takes the plate, RBI could soon start coming in droves for owners of the Kansas City catcher.
Daniel Nava – 2-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, K. The Philadelphia LF had a crisp outing Thursday against the Reds batting second after Cesar Hernandez, and his appearances bear monitoring in a crowded outfield. Howie Kendrick stands between Nava and fantasy relevance despite solid work in his stead. Right-fielding counterpart Michael Saunders has the cold bat currently with a BA of .125 so it bears some vigilance as to whether or not the lineup will be shaken up to include Nava more often if that continues.
Jean Segura – 2-5, RBI, SB. Finally, we are seeing the speed register and the hits arrive. Unquestionably utilize Segura daily.
George Springer – 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB. Springer has already tallied 7 RBI on the season, his most recent coming with Thursday’s B1 leadoff jack versus Seattle. Meanwhile, don’t sleep on Marwin Gonzalez following him in the Houston order with a blossoming .429 BA after posting a 1-3, R, RBI, K line of his own.
A.J. Pollock – 1-5, R, 2 RBI, K. Doing grown-man leadoff things for Arizona, per the norm. Pollock has a .421 BA to start the season after an eighth-inning RBI double against San Francisco. He’s just getting started, so buckle up for a fun ride after we were so brutally robbed of Pollock’s contributions to baseball last season.
Paul Goldschmidt – 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI, K. Goldy and fellow Diamondback Jake Lamb (1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 Ks) both cranked home runs during the same game all over again, this time off of Jeff Samardzija en route to a 9-3 walloping of the Giants. Lamb owners had to be getting a little impatient, but he’s in good position to pad his stats in between Goldschmidt and Chris Owings. This blurb is a microcosm for the fantasy situation in Arizona right now: Goldschmidt being offensively essential to Arizona’s success is so inherently obvious that worrying about Lamb is a better use of your time since you can just go ahead and take his 1B teammate’s awesomeness for granted.
Corey Seager – 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB. On a day when Puig stole the show with his homers, Seager was just doing his job and putting in work as well. His B7 ground-rule double to bring around the pair of RBI was the icing on the cake of a Dodgers victory. All of Seager’s hits thus far in 2017 have all been accomplished with medium or hard contact, which is a pretty tantalizing thing to consider.
J.T. Realmuto – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. It was a good day for several catchers throughout the league, and Realmuto suddenly has seven hits in 12 AB with a double and 2 homers to show for his efforts. If he can continue to rake from the heart of Miami’s order, his fantasy value will remain high. The Marlins travel to take on the Mets next, so be attentive to how that series goes to understand how some of the team’s best bats can perform on the road against strong SP.
Matt Kemp – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, K. The definition of a true cleanup performance, Kemp sent two Matt Harvey pitches yard and was apparently the only Brave to show up for work offensively in a 6-2 loss to New York. Kemp’s blistering .462 BA clip is going to slow eventually, but keep an eye on his getting chances to drive Freddie Freeman home during this burst of plate productivity.
Miguel Sano – 2-3, 2 R, BB. Off to a solid start this year after submitting a .236 BA last season, Sano was turning heads, as was Minnesota as a whole, in the Twins’ dispatching of Kansas City in three straight games. The AL Central is looking like it’s going to be extremely competitive throughout the year.
Nolan Arenado – 1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB. He’s on the board! A consensus overall top-5 pick finally got his first home run of the season, and it was in clutch fashion to push Colorado to a win over Milwaukee. Arenado and Mark Reynolds have been the best-hitting Rockies so far this year while DJ Lemahieu and Charlie Blackmon have been struggling. They get the Dodgers next, with Clayton Kershaw slated to start on Saturday so you may need to expect a dip in exciting fantasy stats from Colorado bats accordingly.