Batter’s Box: Baby Don’t Hurt Me … Nomar

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, folks Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers), a 23 year-old who has three consecutive 20-home run seasons to start his career, had an ADP of about 150 coming into the season. Thanks to a slow start, he started being the victim of drops in many leagues by owners who wanted the next big thing (such as Dwight Smith). He was slashing .203/.295/.362 coming into Wednesday’s action, so it’s hard to blame those who dropped him, right? Wrong. Mazara had himself quite an evening on Wednesday, going 2-4, with 2 HRs, 2 runs, and 2 RBI, and in those two big swings, he raised his batting average by 15 points and his slugging by 90 points. I know I had this exact sermon, at least on some level, in each of the -ast two days, but I won’t stop until I feel like everyone finally gets it: You aren’t dropping your draft-day top 150 players unless they’ve suffered a devastating injury or have been SO awful that they’ve been demoted to the minors. Mazara is no exception, and if he can just lift the ball a little more, there’s a 25-homer breakout in there as the cleanup hitter for the Rangers. The fact that half his games come in the extremely hitter-friendly environment in Arlington is a nice little bonus.

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians) 3-4, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB, SB. I have it on good authority that talented Going Deep writer Dan Richards is going to tackle this topic in greater detail in the near future, but it’s worth nothing that his xwOBA is a full 96 points higher than his actual wOBA, so at least some of his early struggles are likely luck related. I’m still a full believer that he’ll deliver first-round value, and I’m not sure anything that happens in April outside of injury could convince me otherwise.

Jackie Bradley (OF, Boston Red Sox) 2-5, 2 RBI. It was just that second multi-hit game of the year for Boston’s defensive wizard in center field, and we’re still waiting for the first home run of the season. It has been absolutely brutal for the sneaky breakout pick, posting a slugging under .200 through 80 plate appearances, and in 10- and 12-team leagues, I think it’s time to move on. But Scott! You just said to preach patience! Yes I did, but the price you likely paid to acquire JBJ was very low, and his track record of fantasy usefulness is much shorter than that of players like Mazara. His ADP was close to 250, which in 10- to 12-teamers is a late-round pick. Go ahead and drop him if there’s something more exciting out there.

Billy Hamilton (OF, Kansas City Royals) 2-4, R, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI. The .232/.316/.304 line isn’t some sort of slump or bad luck that’s just what he is. The extra-base hits are nice to see, but don’t get too excited the only real production you can expect here are the eight stolen bases through 22 games so far, and I don’t expect him to get out of the No. 9 spot in the Kansas City lineup any time soon. If there’s something nice to say, it’s that he’s on pace to get back to his 60-stolen base days that made him useful in 10- to 12-team leagues.

Jung Ho Kang (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates) 2-3, R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. This was his third dinger in six starts, and he’s been moved all around the batting order in that time. There’s still a chance that he can be a 20-home run hitter the rest of the way with a .250/.330/.440 line when all is said and done, and he could be worth speculating on in 15-team leagues who need a corner infielder or have an open bench slot.

Eric Thames (1B, Milwaukee Brewers) 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. He’s a platoon bat now, though it’s worth noting that two of his five home runs on the season are actually as a pinch-hitter. Deep daily leagues can find some utility in his predictable playing time it will all be against righties thanks to his .493 SLG against them and even as a part-time player in 2018, he put up 16 home runs and seven stolen bases, albeit with a fairly poor average and OBP.

Ketel Marte (2B/SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. These two home runs made it six on the year, which means he already has the second-highest season home run total of his career. I think we might be seeing a bit of a breakout here, where he’s turning some of his triples (he had 12 in 2018) and doubles into home runs by lifting the ball a bit more. Don’t get too crazy, though, as even a “breakout” in power for Marte is still probably just under 20 home runs total. That said, a 20-home run/10-stolen base season is a lot more attractive than the 14-home run/six-stolen base season that he put up last year.

Andrelton Simmons (SS, Los Angeles Angels) 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. While we probably won’t see the power/speed combo he displayed in 2017, the Gold Glove shortstop is still a pretty good middle infield option in 12- and 15-team leagues, especially when the Angels continue to bat him in the 3 and 4 spots in the lineup. He’s especially valuable in points league thanks to his high spot in the order and low strikeout rate.

Marcus Semien (SS, Oakland Athletics) 2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. It’s been a fantastic start, and while I don’t expect the .311 batting average or .505 slugging percentage to last forever (he has a .279 xBA and .387 xSLG per Statcast), a 20-home run season is well within the realm of possibility, along with double-digit steals. It’s not terribly exciting at the very deep shortstop position, but it’s still useful in 12- and 15-team leagues, particularly those with middle infield spots.

DJ LeMahieu (2B, New York Yankees) 2-4, R, 2B, 3 RBI. He’s a high-contact, high-batting average slap hitter who the Yankees are very thankful to have after losing what feels like their entire Opening Day roster to injury. He’s played at first base, second base, and third base lately and has even found himself leading off on occasion. Points-league players should take notice, as should players in need of batting average in deep 12- and 15-team formats. It will be interesting to see how his playing time shakes out when Miguel Andujar returns.

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he creates content with Friends with Fantasy Benefits. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (featured in WSJ), sports in general, deaf culture, being a twin, or the oddities of having Irish and Korean ancestry, Chu's your guy.

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Comments


Scott Chu

I don’t see why not, Christian! I’m a big believe in Pham, but Springer is having a nice April in his own right. I also had both Syndergaard and Jansen (assuming you mean the closer and not the catcher) higher in my preseason ranks than Wheeler and Ryu, respectively. Syndergaard’s FIP and SIERA indicate that he’s pitching much better than his 5.90 ERA suggests, and Kenley is off to a MUCH better start than he got off to in 2018 (when he had a 5.59 ERA and just 4 saves through April). Our awesome Discord community may have a differing opinion, though — it’s a great place to discuss possible trades with other community members and our staff (who all are much smarter than I).

Mike P

What are your thoughts with what’s going on with AJ Pollock? I know he has a ton of hard hit balls, are they just not falling? What are you seeing? On April 24th of last year he already had 6 home runs and finished April with 9. Thanks for your insight!

Scott Chu

I think bad luck is a part of it, Mike P. His xBA and xSLG are .271/.408, which are much better than his actual .239/.359 marks. I’m not seeing much else in his plate discipline profile that indicates something worrisome, and the only thing in his batted balls would be the extra grounders, which I’m not worried about due to the sample size and the fact that the increase isn’t so high that it’s eye-popping. I think you just have to be patient and hope he turns around soon! I doubt a trade would be favorable, and you really can’t drop him.

theKraken

So, I have watched quite a few of his ABs and he just looks bad. I have not seen a ton of hard hit balls that don’t fall. Sure, I could be missing them as I haven’t seen that many but he looks like a shell of himself. As Scott says below, trade value probably stinks but he might be washed up… and I always like Pollock. He looks like he got old really quickly.

Scott Chu

These are really similar players, Jimbo. Odor started his rehab assignment last night, which means he’ll be back fairly soon. Dozier has been slumping pretty hard to start the year, though he recently hit 3 HR in 4 games. I think the projections on the two players for the rest of the season will be fairly similar, but if I have to pick one, I’ll take the younger Odor, especially with Dozier taking a tumble in the batting order.

Scott Chu

Well Mark, every time I’ve thought that before I’ve been dead wrong. I hope you’re right, but history tells a different story.

theKraken

I’d buy! Its probably a good value when people start saying things like that. You could probably give up something worth less than his floor.

Adam

Scott, thanks for talking me down on Travis Shaw concerns earlier in the week. I need help with a roster logjam. 10-team H2H categories, OBP instead of AVG. I’ve loaded up on multipositional guys to maximize flexibility, particularly as complements to strong-side platoon bats like Joc and Muncy. I’ve also gone heavy on power/OBP, and light on SB. So here’s the jam-up: with Daniel Murphy back from the IL and Segura soon to follow, I’ll need to cut two of the following: E. Hernandez (SS/2B/OF), Niko Goodrum (2B/1B/OF), Asdrubal (SS/2B/3B), G. Polanco, or A. Gordon. In which order would you drop them? I’ve been buying the Niko breakout and the Gordon resurgence, and feel the jury is still out on Polanco, who I added on a whim before the news of Murphy’s return. Thanks in advance for any advice!

Scott Chu

Hi Adam — I’m not high on Gordon and would probably drop him. As for the other cut, it’s certainly a difficult log jam! I suppose it would depend on your needs, but if SBs are what you need, Kike or Cabrera would be the most obvious cut. I like both, but in a 10-teamer I’d say they’re both expendable. At the end of the day, their stat lines will be pretty similar, though Cabrera will be a little more balanced day-to-day while Kike will shine brightly against LHP and be quite average on RHP.

theKraken

Mazara was easily on pace for 25 HR last year before he had some injuries and a bad second half – I wouldn’t call 25 HR any sort of breakout. He missed 30 games last year – that was his pace even factoring out the hand injury. He doesn’t even have to make any changes… Do I love him? Absolutely not, but him making a few improvements just by playing more baseball would put him in the ballpark of 30 HR. Granted he hasn’t shown much progress since being the next big thing a few years ago, but I think 25 HR should be the expectation. Then again, those players that get handed starting jobs at a young age often do not improve much at all… I could see a huge range of outcomes for his career.

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