Batter’s Box: Acuña Matata (It Means No Worries)
With the recent flood of rookies making their big league debut, it’s worth looking back at 2018’s most successful hyped and successful rookie, Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF, Atlanta Braves). He had a nice day at the plate on Monday, going 3-4 with two runs, two HR, a double, two RBI and a BB, displaying the kind of bat skills that made him so enticing prior to his debut in the majors. In 111 games last season, he slashed .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs and 16 stolen bases and got better and better as the season went on. The former number two prospect is the face of the franchise in Atlanta and likely will be for the next decade.
There was one downside to his immediate and prolific success last year, though—it made some folks thing that the answer to all of their roster problems could be found in the next big rookie. This simply isn’t the case. While Acuña and Vladmir Guerrero Jr. have been worthy of significant fantasy attention, the crop of young men who recently made their way to the show are unlikely to make this kind of impact. They have talent, certainly, but lack the locked-in playing time and opportunity to figure things out at the big league level. Brendan Rogers has to contend with the Rockies’ unpredictable management. Keston Hiura has little room for error due to his low walk rate and a rehabbing Travis Shaw waiting in the wings. Austin Riley could get sent down as soon as Ender Inciarte returns (the injury has also forced Acuña to center field, which is not the best place for him defensively). There’s a lot of risk there, and for those of you in 10- to 12- teamers, there are likely better options on your waiver wire.
Hanser Alberto (2B, Baltimore Orioles)—4-5, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, SB. He doesn’t hit the ball very hard (80.2 career exit velocity), but he could hit for a decent average if given the opportunity due to his low strikeout rate. That said, I don’t think he’s worth rostering in anything but deep 15-team formats.
Tim Beckham (3B, Seattle Mariners)—3-4, R, HR, 5 RBI, BB. After a hot start, there have been few signs of life from the aggressive third baseman, which somewhat resembles how things have gone for the Mariners as a whole. I’m not sure I’m rostering him in 12-teamers, but in deeper formats, he might be worth streaming if he catches a hot streak.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox)—3-5, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI. It is still amazing to me that Bogy is just 26-years-old. He broke out a bit last season, hitting .288/.360/.522 in 2018 and is hitting just as well in 2019 while also taking a step forward in his walk rate (which was already pretty good). He’s a very good fantasy shortstop in all formats.
Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox)—3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, SB. Everything is looking up for the young third basemen in Bean Town. He’s walking more, striking out considerably less, and stealing more bases (Monday’s theft was his 6th on the season—a career high). While more dingers would be nice, he should end the year with about 20 to 25 home runs, 10 to 13 steals, and a high batting average. It certainly appears that he’s put it all together.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox)—3-5, 3 R, 2 2B. He has an incredible .483 wOBA since May 5th and regularly finds himself hitting fourth in the potent Red Sox lineup when facing righties. He’s not a great player overall, but he can be a useful fantasy asset in 12-team leagues if you’re willing to platoon him.
Asdrubal Cabrera (3B/2B/SS, Texas Rangers)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. The batting average and OBP have been a pretty big disappointment so far, but the power has been steady. Keep your eye on him and the other folks in Texas—the weather is going to heat up and the ball is going to start flying in Arlington.
Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics)—2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Early in the season, I made a claim that Chapman would struggle to reach 25 home runs. I was wrong. Dead wrong. He’s improved in nearly every facet of his game and looks like a perennial all-star at third base. He’ll likely get beyond 30 home runs, at this pace.
Edwin Encarnacion (1B/DH), Seattle Mariners)—2-4, 3 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. He’s still a good hitter, but the worst thing for him on Monday was having to do all of that running. I have always assumed that he liked hitting home runs just so he could just jog around the bases.
Miguel Sano (3B, Minnesota Twins)—1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. I’ve been a wet blanket about Sano in the past, and that won’t be changing today. I think he has too many issue with contact, strikeouts and durability to be a difference maker for fantasy teams, even if he does have legit power.
(Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire).