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)