(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire)
Jed Lowrie has been playing like he’s going to be executed after this season ends or something. The dude has just been murdering the ball, slashing .372/.426/.640 with a .460 wOBA and a .267 ISO on the season so far, and he kept that up yesterday, going 4-5, 1 R, 1 RBI. So exactly how legit is Jed Lowrie anyways? Well obviously he’s not going to hit .372 all year, especially with a .406 BABIP, but considering his .372 average comes with a .279 xAVG, there’s reason to expect that he’ll still be valuable this year, that he’s not going to just fall off a cliff and be terrible this year. There will be a slump though, I’d expect him to end the year with an average similar to last year’s, in the .270s, and to get from .372 to, say .275 is a long way down. The power is going to slow down too, as there’s no way he keeps up a 23.1% HR/FB rate, but I think he could potentially be in for a decent power season, as he’s upped his hard-hit rate to 44.3% from 34.5% last year. Basically, what I’m expecting from Lowrie this year (assuming he stays healthy, and that’s far from a guarantee) is something similar to last season with closer to 20 home runs. While that’s not a guy who’s lighting the world on fire, he’s still a very useful fantasy asset. Though if you can sell really high on him right now to someone who thinks he’s the second-coming of Christ or something, I’d do it.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from yesterday:
Mike Moustakas (3B, KC) – 2-9, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Moustakas has been hitting the cover off the ball so far this year, showing that last year might not have been a fluke. He’s upped his hard-hit rate to an absurd 54% this year, which I don’t think is going to stick, but we saw him hit 38 home runs last year, why can’t he do it again? Oh, and that .333 average on the year comes with a .345 BABIP, so expect that to decline.
JaCoby Jones (OF, DET) – 3-6, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB. I think Jones is worth keeping an eye on. He’s got a .313 average on the year with a .375 BABIP, so I would expect that to regress a bit, but what’s interesting to me is the fact that his strikeout rate is at 21.1% so far this year. The past two years he was in the majors, it was above 40%. I don’t expect him to be good this year, but if his plate discipline is noticeably better, he could be interesting.
Manny Machado (3B/SS, BAL) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Six hits in three days, three home runs and five RBIs in two days, Manny is killing the ball. I’m telling you, dude’s gonna have the best season of his career.
Lourdes Gurriel (2B, TOR) – 2-5, 3 RBI. Not a bad major league debut at all. Given how much Devon Travis has been struggling this year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see more starts for Gurriel. He’s worth keeping an eye on.
Tyler Austin (1B, NYY) – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Austin’s playing time has been inconsistent unfortunately, but when he is playing, he’s been really solid. The 32.7% strikeout rate and .385 BABIP lead me to believe regression in batting average is coming, but he’s still an interesting AL-only play.
Denard Span (OF, TB) – 2-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB. Span’s not quite the average/steal threat that he once was, but he’s still been fairly useful as the Rays’ leadoff hitter most of the time. There’s not really any fantasy value here though, outside of maybe AL-only leagues.
Ryan Flaherty (2B/3B, ATL) – 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Oh so what, we’re supposed to believe Ryan Flaherty is good now? Yeeeeaaaa that .444 BABIP suggests otherwise, though it’s worth noting that he’s got a .294 xAVG. Still, I think the Braves are going to roll with Jose Bautista wants he gets some minor league at-bats.
Jean Segura (SS, SEA) – 3-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB. Ahhh it’s good to have Jean Segura stealing bases again. Segura’s been great, but the fact that he’s got just three stolen bases on the season now is slightly concerning. I’m not panicking though.
Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. I’m starting to think Haniger is legit. Not only does his .290 average have a very reasonable .302 BABIP, but he’s amped up his hard-hit rate from 34.7% last year to 41.7% this year, his groundball rate has dropped from 44% last year to 35.4% this year, and his walk rate has increased from 7.6% last year to 12.3% this year. On that last point, it is worth noting that his chase rate has increased slightly, as has his whiff rate, so the plate discipline might not be improving all that much, but the power and average look sorta legit. He’s got a 23.8% HR/FB rate, which would normally make me flinch, but considering his career HR/FB rate is 16.5% and he’s increased his hard-hit rate, I don’t think that’s as crazy.
Travis Shaw (3B, MIL) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. After a slow start to the season, Shaw’s been hitting the ball really well and is now slashing .291/.371/.494 on the year. I don’t necessarily think that average is going to stick, but the guy’s got great power and that should stick around no problem.
Eric Thames (1B/OF, MIL) – 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB. If you were sort of nervous about Thames coming into the year, I don’t blame you, but the platoon seems to be working nicely for him. His average isn’t going to be much, but you know he’ll give you power and a handful of steals too.
Jose Martinez (1B/OF, STL) – 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI. Jose Martinez is awesome and he’s going to stay awesome. Yea, he won’t hit in the .350s (not many do) but a high average with some double-digit power and a few steals, that should be in the bag. Also, I love a guy who’s walk rate (12.7%) is higher than his strikeout rate (10.1%).
Albert Almora Jr. (OF, CHC) – 4-6, 4 R, 1 RBI. I like what I’ve seen from Almora so far, he just needs to get consistent playing time and he just isn’t. If he does though, he could be an interesting average, steals, and runs play in that lineup.
Javier Baez (SS/2B, CHC) – 4-6, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. Man, Baez has been awesome and it’s looking pretty legit. He’s decreased his strikeout rate from 28.3% last year to 20% this year, increased his walk rate from 5.9% last year to 8.6% this year, upped his hard hit rate from 32.4% to 43.8%, and decreased his groundball rate from 48.6% to 28.3%. That, along with his .286 BABIP make me think this might be legit.
Kyle Schwarber (OF, CHC) – 3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. While I don’t think the good batting average is going to keep up for Schwarber, it is encouraging to see his walk rate go up from 12.1% last year to 17.2% this year and his strikeout rate drop from 30.9% to 26.6% so far. I don’t think his average is going to be nearly as bad as it was last year.