(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire)
Earlier this week ESPN had a glitch–or maybe it was a feature, it’s hard to tell with them–that was causing some players’ middle names to appear in the fantasy baseball software. One of the more entertaining ones was “Mookie Lynn Betts,” which sounds more like the name of a children’s beauty pageant contestant than a baseball player. I like to think Mookie was embarrassed by this incident and channeled it into a potent rage, which he then unleashed on the Yankees yesterday when he went 4-4, 5 R, HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI, BB. But in reality, a guy who willingly has others refer to him as “Mookie” probably cares very little about what others think of him.
And that’s a good thing, because he was being a bit disrespected in drafts this year, at times going after guys like Nolan Arenado and Bryce Harper. Sure, the .268 average last year was a letdown, but he did that while posting a 10.8% walk rate and a 5% whiff rate, the latter of which was literally half the league average. The man formerly known as Mookie Lynn has no issues making contact, and his hard contact rates have been trending up for three seasons now. With some better batted ball luck this year, he might have another gear he can shift up to for his age-25 (!!!) season.
Corey Dickerson (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates): 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI
Dickerson mashed his fifth double of the season yesterday and posted his fourth multi-hit game in the past week. He hasn’t walked yet this season, but the doctors are encouraged that he’ll be back on his feet in no time. Sorry, dad jokes. Almost half his batted balls this year have been line drives, which bodes well for him continuing his hot hitting in the coming days.
Javier Baez (SS/2B, Chicago Cubs): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI
I benched Javier Baez in our staff league, so naturally he launched his first two home runs of the season yesterday. You’re gonna cost me my reputation as one of the great fantasy baseball minds of our generation, Baez! Baez has been walking more (14.7% walk rate) and striking out less (20.6% strikeout rate) than is customary for him so far, and those stats are some of the first to stabilize, so he may be worth monitoring over the next month to see if he’s improving as a hitter in his age-25 season.
Francisco Cervelli (C, Pittsburgh Pirates): 3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI
Tre colpi! That’s Italian for “three hits.” So when Cervelli called his mom after yesterday’s game, he probably said, “Mama, tre colpi!” This is just a little insight into the life of an Italian baseball player. Or maybe it’s just nonsense. Anyway, Cervelli’s 10% career walk rate and decent contact ability probably make him useful in deep OBP and two-catcher leagues. Just don’t expect this many colpis on a nightly basis.
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS/2B, New York Mets): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI
The other day I was watching the Mets game with my parents. My dad said to my mom, “Call me Asdrubal from now on.” And my mom responded, “How about I call you ‘ass’ for short?” To which my dad said, “As long as you don’t refer to me as Yo-enis.” And in my head I was like, you two should be writing these blurbs, you come up with better baseball-themed butt jokes than I do. Anyway, a great night for Asdrubal, who’s been batting in the heart of the Mets order lately, though without many RBIs to show for it.
Billy Hamilton (OF, Cincinnati Reds): 0-1, R, 2 BB, 2 SB
They say you can’t steal first base, but drawing a walk is kind of like stealing first, isn’t it? I wonder if Billy Hamilton would walk more if he thought of it that way. When Hamilton gets on base, he puts his one great tool to use. The problem is his career .298 OBP and the fact that his bat packs about as much punch as a bundle of balsa wood.
Justin Bour (1B, Miami Marlins): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Calling Bour the Marlins’ cleanup hitter is particularly apt this season, because Miami’s lineup is a mess. Bour had been off to a dreadful start to the season before his big night yesterday, which included his first two homers of the year. Injuries robbed Bour of a true breakout last season, but he pairs league-average contact rates with really hard contact, and could challenge 35+ home runs with a palatable average if he can stay healthy all year.
Scott Kingery (2B, Philadelphia Phillies): 1-4, R, HR, 4 RBI
Scott Kingery got the start at third base yesterday and made the most of it, launching a grand slam in the Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Reds. That grand slam means everybody in America gets a free Papa John’s pizza tomorrow! Actually, April Fools. That’s what I get to do for the rest of the month, right? Lie about stuff? Anyway, Kingery continues to make the most of his playing time around the diamond. With J.P. Crawford scuffling badly to start the year, the full-time shortstop job may be within Kingery’s grasp with more performances like this.
Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees): 3-4, R, HR, RBI
Man, wouldn’t it be cool if Aaron Judge was allowed to use a gigantic gavel instead of a baseball bat? Hey MLB, if you want ideas on how to make baseball more exciting, I got millions of these. Judge is now batting .333 on the year and has an eight-game hitting streak going and is good, if you didn’t know that already.
Brian Anderson (3B, Miami Marlins): 2-3, BB
They say you should never trust a man with two first names, but I’m honestly starting to buy into Brian Anderson’s hot start. He’s gone hitless just once this year, and currently has more walks (9) than strikeouts (6). The power hasn’t shown up, and he may only hit mid-teens home runs, but he’s batting fifth in the Marlins lineup on a daily basis and should accumulate plenty of counting stats if the plate discipline is for real.
Jose Pirela (OF, San Diego Padres): 3-4, R, 2B, RBI
This is the second night in a row that Pirela’s gone 3-for-4, and he’s now a fixture in the two-hole of the Padres lineup. He’s hitting the ball on the ground a bit too much, but if he gets back to the increased launch angle he displayed last year, his hard contact should net him mid-teens home runs at least.
Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees): 2-4, 2B, 2 K
Stanton struck out two more times yesterday, giving him 22 on the year and putting him on pace for 324 strikeouts, or what Chris Davis refers to as a good season. Stanton is still making over 50% hard contact when he connects, so there’s reason for hope, though he isn’t pulling the ball nearly as much as he usually does in the early going, which may have something to do with a tweak in his batting stance that some have noticed.
Jean Segura (SS, Seattle Mariners): 3-5, 2 R, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI
Segura isn’t getting the stolen base opportunities he used to get now that he’s batting second behind Dee Gordon, but he’s still doing his part, posting five multi-hit games on the year. Nelson Cruz likes to trick fans into thinking his legs still work about once a week, so when he makes his short-lived return to the lineup more of Segura’s hits should start translating into runs.