(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
Yesterday’s date of May 2nd, 2018 marks the earliest in baseball history that the Home Run Derby has ever taken place. Ok, so maybe I led off with a mediocre-at-best joke, but the amount of multi-homerun efforts yesterday was anything but a joke. If chicks dig the long ball, then they were going all Beatles circa the height of Beatlemania yesterday. Seemingly everyone hit one out, and Edwin Encarnacion got so swept up in the fervor that he crushed 3 out of the park yesterday. His line of 3-5, 3 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI helped the Indians bang out 10 runs in the first 3 innings, and the Rangers had no choice but to let poor Matt Moore be the sacrificial lamb through it all. Or most of it at least.
Either way, this was the breakout performance we were waiting for with EE as he’s had a painfully slow start to 2018 slashing just .191/.264/.445 so far. 2017 owners know this story, though, as he batted just .200 with 4 HR in April last season before really getting going to finish with 38 HR and a .258 average. You can all breathe now, EE owners. He’s going to be fine. It’s interesting to note that Matt Moore is, in fact, a lefty. The end. Great, next-level analysis there, Jake. Ok fine here’s the second part of that….Coming into this one, EE had just 1 HR and was batting .063 against lefties this year. Yesterday was much better than that. NEXT LEVEL ANALYSIS. I TOLD YOU.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:
Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox) – 4-4, 3 R, 3 HR, 3 RBI. One of two noble scholars to hit 3 bombs yesterday, Betts now leads the AL in both runs scored (32) and homeruns (11). If you invested a 1st round pick in him, well…life is probably pretty good for you at the moment. He now has a ridiculous triple slash of .330/.419/.717, and he’s also making 48% hard contact. And if all that wasn’t enough, he’s also got a 95% contact rate when swinging at pitches inside the zone. You might as well not even try as a pitcher right now.
Nick Hundley (C, San Francisco Giants)- 4-5, 4 R, HR, 2 2B, 3 RBI. Nick “the catcher when Buster Posey needs a day off or plays first” Hundley had his best game of the season by a long shot yesterday, but this brings his season total to just 44 plate appearances. That also brings his fantasy relevance to just a tad more than absolutely no value at all. On the bright side, he got 4 of his 15 hits yesterday! Yesterday? Yesterday was a good day for Nick.
Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies) – 3-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI. That makes 3 dongs in just 2 games for Arenado, and that will make any man sweat, trust me! Since he was naughty and returned from being suspended on April 20th (ayyyyyy), he has hit all but 1 of his 7 HR. Also sort of in that time frame, he’s slashed .333/.435/.667 over the last two weeks. Arenado is really good, you guys.
Mark Canha (1B/OF, Oakland A’s) – 3-4, R, HR, RBI. Did you guys know that Mark Canha already had 5 HR on the year? What is this?! 2015? Oh….let me just go visit Prince BECAUSE HE’S STILL ALIVE AND STUFF. Ok, maybe that was a bad joke, but Mark Canha’s game-winning, go-ahead homerun to spoil James Paxton’s 16 K outing was not. Talk about raining on Canada’s parade. Anyways, Canha is an interesting name to monitor as he now has a hit in 14 of his last 15 games and has only been held hitless 3 times all season. He may not be worth an add in anything but deep leagues and AL-only at the moment, but I’m definitely paying attention.
Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves) – 3-4, R, RBI. You know, I almost left him off Batter’s Box today. Not because he doesn’t deserve the ink. No. It was because 3-4, R, RBI is just so ho-hum, everyday stuff for him. He’s just always the kind of guy who gets his day in and day out. Steady Eddie. Or in this case…Steady Freddie. Anyways, this is your first reminder that the Braves are in 1st place.
Bryce Harper (OF, Washington Nationals) – 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, SB. Just like Freeman, this is business as usual. Like every time I do these things and come to Harper, I think…oh ok. Harper crushed. NEXT. Not much to be said here other than his line of 27 R/10 HR/25 RBI/4 SB is excellent, 1st round worthy, and it certainly feels like an MVP season from him. This is now back-to-back games with a HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, but what’s more amazing is this breaks AN 8-GAME WALK STREAK FOR HIM. He’s also had at least 1 walk in 15 of his last 17 games. Besides all that, it’s worth mentioning that Harper has led off each of the last two games. Hmmm….
Howie Kendrick (2B, Washington Nationals) – 3-5, 2 R, 2B. He may not be blowing up the stat sheet, but this is a guy getting regular at-bats who’s slashing .300/.328/.509 at the moment. He’s a reliable veteran hitting 5th in one of the better lineups in baseball, and that obviously carries a lot of value moving forward. I’m not saying Kendrick is a must-own, but guys like this who provide safe floors when everything else is going awry win championships.
Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians) – 3-5, 3 R, HR, RBI. It took him a second, but Lindor is completely locked in now with 3 multi-hit games in a row. He’s also accomplished that feat 4 out of the last 5 games as well. Oh, and he’s slashing .345/.441/.621 over the last 7 days as well. Yeah…he’s gonna be fine.
Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves) – 3-4, R, 2B, RBI. Even though he did not walk last night, he now has 19 free passes to go with his 12 Ks. OBP ALERT! Hitting in the middle of this surprisingly good Braves lineup has resulted in a .322/.415/.487 triple slash on the year so far, and this makes it 9-games in a row with a hit. This is your second reminder that the Braves are in 1st place.
Martin Maldonado (C, Los Angeles Angels) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Catcher is really rough this year, so nights like this get written up regardless of who did it. I wouldn’t recommend picking him up, but this is back-to-back 3-hit games for the Angel backstop. However, those games are coming after an 11-game hitless streak. You can safely ignore this.
Gerardo Parra (OF, Colorado Rockies) – 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, SB. That brings his stolen base total to 3 this year, and if you translate that to 1991 numbers, that’s the equivalent of like 12. Anyways, he’s still slashing a disappointing .241/.298/.333, and things could get hairy this year in the Rockies outfield with Parra, Carlos Gonzalez, and David Dahl all vying for reps alongside Charlie Blackmon.
Wilson Ramos (C, Tampa Bay Rays) – 3-5, RBI. Like I said with Maldonado, any productive night from a catcher is going to get some ink in this article. However, Ramos is not just “any catcher.” He’s actually been arguably one of the best at the position over the last two weeks and has now hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games. He’s currently slashing .313/.368/.525, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he does this all year (assuming health) and finishes as a top 5 catcher.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2B, 4 RBI. A double dong day for the slugger! Sure, he’s still striking out at a 34.6% clip, but his giving us production and days like this to help ease the pain. One thing to keep in mind is both his ISO and slugging percentage of .410 are way below his career averages, so we can anticipate some positive regression at some point this season. In layman’s terms….it’s only a matter of time before he mashes taters like it’s his job. Because it is his job.
Matt Adams (1B, Washington Nationals) – 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Jon gave Adams plenty of love yesterday making him the feature, and I’m back again to give him more attention! All hail Fat Matt! He may not be getting consistent at-bats, but this makes it 3 HR over the last 2 games and 4 multi-hit efforts over his last 6. He’s scorching hot over the last week slashing .529/.556/1.118. He’s still a liability against lefties, so you’ll need to platoon him with someone else on those days, but he’s definitely worth consideration in 12-teamers during this hot streak.
Brandon Belt (1B, San Francisco Giants) – 2-3, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB. We all knew he was an OBP monster, but he’s just been a monster in general so far slashing .304/.425/.576. The opposite field power and hard contact rates are both up this year to support the beast mode we’ve seen from him as well. The last two weeks have certainly boosted the value as 5 of his 6 HR have come in that time frame. Unfortunately, xStats has his xSlash (just made that up…do we like it? Doubt I’m the first one to use it but whateves) at .247/.370/.529. Basically, it’s nice and all, but we have a lot of evidence to suggest he’ll come back down to Earth eventually.
Michael Brantley (OF, Cleveland Indians) – 2-5, R, 2B, RBI. Going to bounce off of Jon’s blurb yesterday about Brantley to remind you just how good he’s been this year. I’m also going to reiterate from yesterday that he has literally just 1 walk in his 84 plate appearances this year. But who needs to walk when you’re making 94% contact on the year?! He’s now hit safely in 7 of his last 8 games, and he’s slashing a very solid .333/.345/.543. Why does Brantley hate your OBP team?
Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillie) – 2-4, R, 2 2B, RBI. It’s eerie just how close to last year’s line he’s producing at right now. Like…actually really weird. Anyways, he’s now hit safely in 7 of his last 8 games and is now slashing .261/.292/.522 on the year. He’s racking up the RBI and will continue to do so in a solid yet unspectacular lineup, and he should definitely be owned in more than 42% of leagues. That’s according to the consensus ownership numbers on FantasyPros, by the by.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Hey! It’s Ender’s 1st dong of the year! Congratulations, Ender! A consummate hitter, Ender has now hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, and he continues to have tons of value hitting atop a productive Braves lineup. This is your 3rd reminder that the Atlanta Braves are in 1st place.
Jason Kipnis (2B, Cleveland Indians) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Speaking of first dongs, this was also Kipnis’ first on the year! Mazel Tov! Kipnis has now put together 3 multi-hit games in a row as he absolutely destroyed the Rangers compiling a line of 6-15, 3 R, HR, 3 2B, 6 RBI. Still, he’s slashing just .198/.279/.302 on the year. I may not add him just yet until he puts together more solid games, but I’m monitoring the situation.
Jed Lowrie (2B/SS, Oakland A’s) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. After starting red hot, Lowrie has definitely cooled off slashing just .176/.222/.471 over the last 7 days. Still, he established a great base and has a good line of 15 R/8 HR/30 RBI on the year. xStats says it’s almost too easy to call for regression here, and I completely agree especially when considering that .375 BABIP while the career average is .297. The best days may have already passed for Lowrie.
Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI, SB. That’s his second game in a row going deep, and I don’t mean two writers in a row have posted in-depth articles about him. He’s now racked up 4 multi-hit games over his last 6, and he’s on track to flirt with 25 HR for the second year in a row. Remember this is a guy who posted 27 HR/9 SB last year. There’s no reason to think he won’t come close to that again this year. Also…COMBO MADNESS!
Andrelton Simmons (SS, Los Angeles Angels) – 2-3, R, 2B, RBI, SB. We all have our guys that we just kick ourselves for completely underrating in the preseason. Andrelton Simmons is that guy for me maybe more than anyone. And it seems he’s on a personal mission to make me feel like a big dummy. Well, mission accomplished so far, former Brave. He’s now on a 6-game hit streak and is slashing .290/.421/.613 over the last two weeks. There may be some slight regression coming with that .314 BABIP, but not much.
Cesar Hernandez (2B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 2-5, 2 R, HR, RBI. He just continues to produce this season and has now racked up a line of 21 R/3 HR/11 RBI on the year. He’s a big-time OBP alert guy with a triple slash of .284/.406/.413, and that’s been fueled by his 18% walk rate so far on the year. This is a guy who posted a 9 HR/18 SB year in 2017, and I see no reason why he can’t come close or exceed that this year.
Ryon Healy (1B, Seattle Mariners) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. He is blazing hot right now as he now has 4 HR over his last 4 games as well as hits in 6 of his last 7 since returning from injury on April 26th. He’s still slashing just .217/.234/.522 on the year and hits towards the bottom of that lineup, but he’s also a year removed from a 25 HR season. He’s one you can avoid in OBP leagues based on the track record, but he’s worth the add in deeper leagues and AL-only especially during this hot streak. This is your 4th and final reminder that the Braves are in 1st place.