(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)
This year’s baseball season has been a young man’s game. 19-year-old Juan Soto, who had never taken a swing above A ball before this year, crushed his 1st career HR last night. 20-year-old Ronald Acuna has been making the pros looking easy all year in Atlanta. His teammate Ozzie Albies, at the ripe age of 21, has been doing the same. These names have been getting plenty of attention, but there is another young man of 21 that has seemed a little overshadowed by the shiny new toys getting promoted rapidly.
I’m speaking of none other than Yankees’ 2B Gleyber Torres, who had himself a night in Arlington yesterday going 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. He’s put together a remarkable year so far slashing .321/.389/.571 to go with his line of 13 R/6 HR/18 RBI/1 SB. Sure, he’s not lighting the world on fire with that production, but at 21, he’s looking comfortable in the Bronx. There’s also not a question of playing time like there is with other young studs Juan Soto and Tyler O’Neill. It’s been a nice start to his career, and while I think he’s been a tad underrated, a deeper dive reveals why some may have their hesitations. xStats has his slash at just .265/.334/.417, and his VH rate is at just 5.4%. Both of those metrics suggest there’s been a bit of luck in his game thus far, and the forecast calls for regression. That may be, but I the talent around him as well as his upside makes me feel the landing will be soft.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:
Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. Those who stayed patient on Carpenter may finally be seeing the payoff as his last 7 days have yielded a triple slash of .464/.500/.821. He is currently on a 6-game hit streak with 4 multi-hit efforts in that time frame. That being said, he’s slashing just .210/.331/.391 on the year. He’s currently 58% owned, but I expect that number to grow rapidly over the next few days if this continues.
Mark Reynolds (1B, Washington Nationals) – 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. That makes it 4 HR in his 6 games so far this year, and don’t forget Reynolds is just 1 year removed from a 30 HR season. Ok, fine, yes it was in Coors, and he was getting regular at-bats. Neither of those things is true anymore in Washington. Still, his hard contact rate is at an absurd 56% in his not-even-a-week at the big league level, and aren’t small sample sizes fun?! Playing time will be an issue with Reynolds and Adams battling for reps at 1B. Adams had been playing in left recently, but some random named “Juan Soto” just got called up to take over there.
Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox) – 2-4, 2 2B, RBI, BB. Yet another rock solid start for the slugger, and he’s now slashing a typical .304/.372/.530 on the year. Most of his numbers are right in line with previous years, and there is no reason to think he won’t be Mr. Consistent yet again this year. He’s been especially hot over the last two weeks slashing .390/.446/.644.
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS, New York Mets) – 2-4, 2B, RBI. This fine season continues for Cabrera, and he’s now slashing .325/.371/.552. He gets the xStats seal of approval on that as well with an xSlash of .296/.345/.534 to go with his 9.8% VH rate. I’d tell you to sell high, but a.) I don’t think you’ll get anyone to give up a whole lot and b.) I think you should ride this out. It looks legit, and you should enjoy the great return on your investment.
Lorenzo Cain (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI. He’s put up a great year so far in his first season in Milwaukee with a line of 29 R/6 HR/15 RBI/10 SB/.276. Perhaps it’s the brats and beer? Maybe it’s the riverside walkways that’s captured his heart. Or maybe it’s the magnetic pull of the ‘Henry Winkler as the Fonz’ statue downtown that has him playing so well. Whatever it is, I raise my adult beverage in your general direction, Mr. Cain.
Nick Castellanos (3B/OF, Detroit Tigers) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. He’s slashing a terrific .316/.367/.500 on the year so far, but the BABIP of .388 tells me what we already know. That batting average has nowhere to go but down. He’s a career .270 hitter, so expect some regression at some point. Still, he’s putting up some solid numbers, and his hard contact of 46% is on pace to show growth for the 4th year in a row. There’s a joke in there somewhere.
Starlin Castro (2B, Miami Marlins) – 2-4, 3B, SB. Meh. Sure. Ok. The Marlins are not a very good team, and Castro is an ok player on that not very good team. He’s put up just 2 HR and 2 SB on the year to go with his solid average of .296, but there’s just not a whole lot of value here. Still, he is slashing .333/.357/.519 over the last 7 days. If you need literally just average and nothing else, Castro is your guy!
Eduardo Escobar (2B/3B/SS, Minnesota Twins) – 2-3, R, BB. He’s quietly putting together a solid line of 25 R/7 HR/21 RBI/1 SB/.292, but doesn’t he kind of feel like the most CPU-generated name on MLB The Show? “Eduardo Escobar.” This dude can’t be real. Anyways, be aware that his xSlash is just .254/.305/.457, so there’s probably a decent amount of luck involved here. You could counter that with his 9.1% VH rate, but I still feel there will be some regression baked in down the road.
Leury Garcia (OF, Chicago White Sox) – 2-4, 2B, RBI. He’s hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, and it looks like he’s making the most of his opportunities with Nicky Delmonico and Avisail Garcia on the shelf at the moment. He’s slashing .346/.370/.538 over the last week, so there’s a little bit of intrigue here especially in AL-only leagues. He has a track record of great speed with multiple 30+ SB seasons in the minors, and he’s got 7 SB in just 37 games so far this season.
Bryce Harper (OF, Washington Nationals) – 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Taters gonna tate, y’all. He’s been great in terms of the counting stats, but he’s still hitting just .231. Weird. Anyways, that number is bound to go up especially when considering that .196 BABIP. He’s going to be just fine.
Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees) – 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. Taters gonna tate! 2 in a row! I’m like butter up here in the Batter’s Box. On a roll. Anyways…this brings his line up to 35 R/12 HR/36 RBI/2 SB, and where are those people who were calling for the major regression? Also, he’s brought both his strikeout rate and swinging strike rate down from last year. That’s called improvement. Very encouraging improvement.
Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 2-4, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. Listen. In a totally not-weird way, you guys and girl need to do yourselves a favor and Google this dude’s biceps. They could literally crush my head. And probably most of Jose Altuve’s body. He’s using those absurd muscles to crush taters, and this makes 3 games in a row with a dong. There’s no guarantee he gets regular at-bats, but if he keeps up what he’s doing, Matheny has no choice but to leave him in.
Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – 2-3, 2 R, RBI, BB. I called for regression before the season, but I didn’t see this coming. He’s slashing just .241/.285/.322 on the year so far, and his xSlash of .259/.299/.402 should tell you everything you need to know about his 2018. His VH% is at 6% right now, and that’s not good either. Sure, he will see some positive regression moving forward, but I’m losing patience pretty quickly.
Gary Sanchez (C, New York Yankees) – 2-5, 2 R, 2B. He continues to rack up good stats after a semi-slow start, and he’s now up to 29 R/12 HR/33 RBI on the season. His BABIP of just .227 makes me think there’s more where that came from, and his .231 batting average should move up in short order. He’s been slashing .292/.426/.667 over the last two weeks, and he remains the top catcher in fantasy baseball by a lot.
Juan Soto (OF, Washington Nationals) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. If you would like to see pure joy at its finest, then google the video of the Nationals’ Dominican baseball academy watching Soto’s 1st career HR. Still just 19, he’s a very recent graduate of that program, so that must have been thrilling to experience. Anyways, this should be the first of many reasons to celebrate for the uber-talented prospect. The only question is how long will he be up and getting regular at-bats?
Michael Taylor (OF, Washington Nationals) – 2-4, R, 3B, RBI. Taylor has 11 SB on the year, sure, but the slash of .189/.254/.314 is just atrocious. 32% K rate to go with it? Not worth it. xStats says he’s earned every bit of these struggles, and with a 4% VH rate, I’m staying far away. Taylor is exhibit A as to why I think Juan Soto will stick with the big league club.
Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals) – 2-5, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Did you know Turner has only stolen 1 base over the last two weeks? His owners most certainly do. They are probably FUH-REAKING out. STEP AWAY FROM THE CLIFF. Although we really need to see him running, he has improved his walk rate to 13% after posting just a 6% mark a year ago. Can this be the year he stays healthy? I just jinxed it guys. Sorry.
Neil Walker (1B/2B, New York Yankees) – 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Baby’s first dong! He hit an absolute shot to the upper deck in Arlington off Big Sexy, and it was just his first of the season. He’s been a disappointment so far with a slash of .219/.302/.298, and the younger options in the Yankee infield have forced him to the bench. For good reason too. Walker is slashing .333/.385/.583 over the last week, but I don’t expect him to have tons of value barring an injury this year.
Nick Williams (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. This was a good night, and he’s slashing .294/.368/.706 over the last week now. Still, I don’t think there’s much to be had here. He still strikes out too much, and besides the 20 HR, I find him and his spot towards the bottom of the lineup to be pretty vanilla. There are better options out there.
Joey Gallo (1B/3B, Texas Rangers) – 1-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. Taters gonna tate! That makes 14 on the year, but he’s slashing a pitiful .201/.281/.469 to go with that. A slash like that even makes 2017 Joey Gallo disappointed. Much of his value in OBP leagues is tied to having an at-least average OBP, and he’s not even doing that. Until the walk rate gets back over 10%, I’m sweating and getting panicky.
Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers) – 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. This is his first HR of the year. No joke. I know there have been injuries to deal with, but it’s May 22nd. Come on, dude. He’s slashing a horrendous .174/.237/.275, and I’m starting to think Odor just may never get back to his previous studly levels of 2016. He’s hitting just .143 over the last week and .184 over the last two. I mean…I think you can safely drop him in 12 teamers.