(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
At what point does a gentle sir of offensive baseball become a noble ‘Tater,’ I wonder? At what point do we decide that this isn’t just some guy hitting homeruns…he’s a tater who, in fact, tates? Is it after back-to-back 20 HR seasons? No…that’s too common these days. Is it after that same individual embarks on a nearly 30 HR pace the very next year after those two 20-dong seasons? Possibly. Getting warmer but still…not THAT impressive in today’s game. How about when a gentle squire at the ripe age of 23 does this? Would 70 HR in your first 3 professional seasons make you a ‘tater?’ Now, we may be talking.
Those are the questions we are possibly going to be faced with after this year with Nomar Mazara, who is on a 29 HR,90 RBI pace at the moment. Ok, so maybe he’d be a Tater-lite. Or maybe it’s a diet Tater? Either way, after last night’s 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB performance, Mazara has compiled a line of 22 R/10 HR/26 RBI in an absolutely stinky offense where he’s seemingly the only guy with a pulse. Sorry, Adrian Beltre, but you haven’t stayed healthy. He’s a man playing like he absolutely despises the baseball over the last week hitting 5 of his 10 HR in that span and slashing .360/.467/1.040 to boot. He’s just 23, he’s coming off back-to-back 20 HR seasons, and he hits the ever-loving tar out of the ball. He may not be a ‘Tater’ just yet, but he’s darn good. I want him everywhere right now.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:
Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros) – 3-4, R, 2 2B, SB. Would it kill you to a hit a homerun once in awhile, my guy?! My doppelganger in terms of height (is that even a thing??) is on a pace to hit something around 15 dongs this year. While that’s disappointing for those expecting the 3rd year in a row of 20+, he’s still pretty darn good. He’s currently slashing .331/.387/.439, and the counting stats still have a pretty high floor. We’re just spoiled little brats.
Willson Contreras (C, Chicago Cubs) – 3-5, 2 R, 2 3B, 2B, RBI. He, like many other Cubs, started slowly on the year. Unlike other Cubs, however, he has not really shown signs of pulling out of it lately going 5-29 with a slash of .172/.250/.345 over the last week. The full season slash isn’t much better as it currently sits at .246/.326/.407. Considering the price you paid on draft day, I think you have no choice but to hold here.
Daniel Palka (OF, Chicago White Sox) – 3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Sure, he has just 40 plate appearances this year. However, he’s gotten plenty of at-bats since Avisail Garcia went on the DL, and he’s kind of making the most of it so far. He’s slashing an “ok fine you can stay but raise the OBP” slash of .282/.300/.615 since taking over in right field, and he’s worth monitoring in AL-only leagues at this point. It’s a nice little line from a guy who’s bounced between AAA and the bigs in his age 26 season, but he’s still little more than an injury fill-in at this point.
Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs) – 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI. A slow start on the year means he’s slashing just .210/.282/.371 on the year, but he’s gotten red hot over the last 7 days. In that time frame, he’s amassed a line of 5 R/4 HR/10 RBI and slashed .355/.344/.806. He’s finally waking up after a freezing cold April in Chicago, and he’s still at a 30 HR pace despite the early struggles. Taters gonna (eventually) tate.
Miguel Rojas (SS/1B, Miami Marlins) – 3-5, R, HR, 2 RBI. Listen. There isn’t a Marlin out there who’s going to overwhelm you nightly with their box score production. However, Rojas and maybe 2 or 3 others could be worth rostering in deeper leagues if they’re getting hot. Well, Rojas is getting hot. He has now hit safely in 8 of his last 10, and he’s been hitting .304 over the last week to boot. He’s pulling the ball far more this year, but he’s also raised his hard contact 14% from last year. Whatever he’s doing seems to be working so far.
Addison Russell (SS, Chicago Cubs) – 3-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB. He finally gets his first dong of the year in this one, and that caused me to wonder…what’s happened to his power? Well, to summarize in a very short sentence, it would seem that the youngster has started to shift as of late trading the power for improved contact. His whiff rate is down, contact percentage is up, and that’s meant this career .241 hitter has raised his batting average to .261. We’ll see if it continues over the whole season. Perhaps someone gave him some good advice, and he’ll be one of like 6 hitters that hit for contact from now on?
Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. What’s crazy about Justin Upton is that he’s experienced big reductions in hard contact and flyball rate so far and still produced a line of 25 R/8 HR/25 RBI in his new digs. Whatever gets it done, J-Up! He’s now cranked 3 homeruns in his last 4 games and 4 in the last week as he appears to be doing just fine in Los Angeles.
Yonder Alonso (1B, Cleveland Indians) – 2-4, R, 2B. He hasn’t had a great start to the year so far with a slash of just .218/.274/.435 on the year, and that under-career-average slash plus his .218 BABIP tells me some positive regression could be ahead. I’m also encouraged by the 9.2% VH mark so far, which means he’s making the hits count when they come. Overall, xStats says he’s earned the struggles so far, but I’m confident the best is yet to come for Alonso. Maybe he just needs some tips from his brother-in-law Manny Machado?
Kris Bryant (3B, Chicago Cubs) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Like Rizzo, he’s starting to really heat up as he has a slash of .300/.364/.833 over the last week of action. He’s also posted a line of 9 R/4 HR/6 RBI in that same span. What’s interesting to note is that his strikeout rate has shrunk every single year he’s been a big leaguer. That trend is continuing this year as well as the rate has gone down all the way to 16%. It was around 30% his first full season for reference. He’s good.
Zack Cozart (SS, Los Angeles Angels) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI, BB. What we all want to know is where is the donkey currently? If you have any information as to the Joey Votto-gifted donkey’s whereabouts, please comment below. Since struggling out of the gate and dropping to 6th in the order from 1st, Cozart has really found himself in LA. I’ve heard that story before! Anyways, he’s now slashing .310/.375/759 over the last week and has 4 multi-hit efforts in his last 9 games.
Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians) – 2-5, R, HR, RBI. Remember kids…Taters. Gonna. Tate. This brings his line to 28 R/10 HR/22 RBI/5 SB, and he is most certainly locked in. He’s been playing like a man possessed over the last two weeks with a slash of .388/.438/.836. Also, 8 of his 10 dongs have come in that time frame as well. Yes, please.
Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates) – 2-4, R, HR, RBI. I got to see most of this game against the White Sox, and he took advantage of a Reynaldo Lopez mistake low in the zone for his just-barely-fair dong. Either way, it counts! Don’t look now, but Polanco has put together a decent line of 22 R/7 HR/20 RBI on the year. He’s elevated his strikeout rate to 21%, but he’s paired that with a 13% walk rate. So, we cool. Anyways, he’s starting to really heat up (unlike the cross-town Penguins), and he’s slashed .360/.452/.600 over the last 7 days. I’m expecting the power to continue as he’s raised his launch angle to 22 degrees and has improvements in flyball and hard contact percentages too.
Jean Segura (2B, Seattle Mariners) – 2-3, R, 3B, 2B, RBI. He’s hitting decently well this year, but the OBP is unsightly thanks to a 3% walk rate so far. He had been struggling over the last 7 days with a slash of .207/.207/.241. Also, it’s fun to note that he had more extra base hits in this one than he’s had over the last 7 days combined. Maybe last night was the swift kick in the baseball pants he needed?
Lucas Duda (1B, Kansas City Royals) – 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. Although he hasn’t been great this year, he’s really heated up over the last 7 days with a slash of .350/.381/.600 over that time frame. Still, there are better options out there than him. Also, his hard contact and flyball percentages are down this year, and I’m just not confident there’s a ton of homeruns coming from that bat this season. I’m just a real Negative Nancy about Duda if you couldn’t tell. Like the friend at the party who asks, “Haven’t you had enough?” Hush, you buzzkill! I’m taking the subway home, so it doesn’t matter. Now beer me another pour!
Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 3-5, R, HR, 2 RBI. I’m…actually kind of into Franco this year? Don’t look now, but the guy who seemingly loves to disappoint is slashing .292/.325/.540 on the year. His contact rate is up to a career-best 80% at the moment, and his whiff rate is at another career-best of just 10%. He’s still young and talented enough where this could be the start of some legitimate changes.
Brett Gardner (OF, New York Yankees) – 3-5, 3 R, 3B, 2 2B, 2 RBI. This is a really weird stat line that Gardner has produced. 12 RBI…meh…1 HR…blech…28 RUNS SCORED?! What the heck? He’s top 10 in the AL for runs scored this year, but that’s about all he’s given you this year before last night. Ok, so last night really doesn’t change much, and it certainly doesn’t erase the .115/.238/.115 triple slash he was rocking coming into this game. A fine outing nonetheless.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI. I was having a debate in my home league chat yesterday defending the studliness of Teoscar Hernandez. No, not his mug. It ain’t like that. I’m talking about what a beast I think he is and how high I believe his upside to be. You see, a leaguemate had paid up to acquire him and gotten some recoil from what I consider to be less than aware players. Folks: Hernandez is the real deal. He may not be tops in the league…yet…but peep that VH% of 15% and the PH% of 18%. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I think he’s going to produce all season long and be one of the pickups of the year. Hope you got on board.
Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Taters are most certainly gonna tate. Judge hit an absolute missile to Monument Park in center off Craig Kimbrel, who was forced to enter in the 8th in this one. It got out faster than I can say “the Bronx kind of smells like pizza and rubber.” I got to catch most of this game, and that thing was a beauty. Anyways, he’s great and repeating what he did in the 1st half of last year. He’s v good, as the kids say.
Manuel Margot (OF, San Diego Padres) – 3-3, R, 2 2B, RBI, SB. I just keep waiting and waiting for Margot to turn into the power-speed guy I know he can be…and he just keeps disappointing me. He’s like the son who just isn’t good enough. Be more like your brother, Wil (Myers)! Ugh. Anyways, he’s really struggled especially over the last week going 3-20 and slashing just .150/.227/.250. xStats says he’s under where he should be, but where he should be is still trash. I’m cool with the drop here in most leagues.
Carlos Santana (1B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 3-5, R, 2B, 5 RBI. After an extremely slow start to the year, Santana has suddenly found himself in the midst of a 6-game hit streak. And that’s not all! He’s also got a streak of 6 games with an extra-base hit. Dang, homie! The low BABIP and triple slash plus the track record make me think even more good times are ahead.
Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves) – 2-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI. Markakis continues to impress in that Braves’ lineup this year slashing an absurd .338/.419/.554 on the year with a line of 23 R/7 HR/28 RBI. But…and this is a big BUT (see what I did there?)…regression seems to be ahead with his inflated BABIP and 5.1% VH rate at the moment. In his defense, xStats says he’s earned it all so far besides the inflated slugging. He’s going to be a solid contributor, but don’t expect the homer pace to continue.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves) – 2-4, RBI, 2 SB. Not only is he leading the NL in stolen bases this year with 15, but he’s got more of those than walks (11) so far this year. He had 22 stolen bases all of last year, so unless something goes way off the rails, he’s going to crush that total. Although the steals are nice, we aren’t accustomed to this .253/.304/.315 triple slash. He’s better than that, and we can assume he’ll fix that at some point.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox) – 3-5, 2 R, 2B. He’s still catching up after returning on April 27th as he’s slashing just .148/.179/.222 over the last 7 days. He’s had just 4 hits over that time, but I think he should be able to shake off the rust in short order. I’m not worried about him moving forward, and I firmly believe he finishes as a top 10 SS by season’s end.