Game of Thrones is back! And it’s a nice reminder to us all that we know nothing. I’m not going to make this about any statistical reasons to jump to rash decisions. I just want to remind everyone that the season is long and full of terrors. Things can change in a flash. One player that is raking can then start whiffing every at bat. One player that looks lost at the plate can hit a homer for eight games in a row. Another player we drafted in the first or second round might go down with a season ending injury. That’s the beauty of baseball. That also brings me to the aging superstar the Mets traded for this offseason, Robinson Cano. He’s been one of the most consistent players over the past ten years. His age also hasn’t stopped him. The only thing that got in Cano’s way was his suspension last season. He still raked in the shortened season.
Before last night, Cano was hitting below .200 with a 59 wRC+. He’s been striking out at almost double his usual rate. He hasn’t been hitting the ball as hard as usual and keeps getting under the ball. This isn’t the Cano the Mets wanted. That could change in the blink of an eye. Last night Cano went 3-5, R, 2 2B, RBI. Each one of those hits was an absolute laser; 103.8, 104.5, and 108.7. Give Cano Adam Wainwright every night. A game like this can give some confidence back. He could also fall right back into whiffing over and over like he’s been. Remember, Cano is one of the most consistent and experienced hitters in the game. You should have some faith he’s able to adjust and fix what is broken. But again, we know nothing.
Let’s look around the rest of the league to uncover who else has changed course.
Kris Bryant (3B/OF, Chicago Cubs) — 2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Bryant had an injury plagued season last year, so it is easy to be questionable about what he can coming back to action. So far it’s been tough. He’s not making as much contact in the zone and he’s hitting more grounders than usual. His hard hit percentage has steadily declined year over year and still is on the same track this year. This could still be stemming from recovering from his shoulder injury from last year. This may not be an exact parallel but look at Michael Conforto’s 2018 coming off his shoulder injury; rough start then an explosive second half.
Brett Gardner (OF, New York Yankees) — 1-2, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB. I’ll give you ten guesses for who is second on the Yankees in home runs this season. This reminds me of last year a bit when Didi took off hitting a season’s worth of homers in 20 games. Gardner is doing his best to keep this injury sunken team afloat by hitting four homers in his last eight games. Gardner is playing as usual except he’s getting under the ball way more. This may result in a few more dingers especially at Yankee but also a few more outs. He’ll score plenty of runs if he’s leading off for the Yanks too.
Billy Hamilton (OF, Kansas City Royals) — 0-2, 2 BB, 2 SB. What did I tell you yesterday? Hamilton is giving himself some opportunities lately and he’s turning them into stolen base gold.
Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox) — 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. Bett’s looks to be off to a slow start after a monster 2018. We’re all expecting him back up on that pedestal next to Mike Trout. His Statcast numbers are back around his 2016/2017 performance, but if it stays that way how bad is it? Well, he’d probably almost go 30/30, score 100 runs, knock in 100 runs, and bat close to .300. Still worth that second pick? Yeah, I’d say so.
Ryan Cordell (OF, Chicago White Sox) — 1-3, 2 R, BB, SB. The White Sox outfielder that has already been sent down to AAA and recalled. He can’t have fantasy value, right? Yeah, that’s probably right. But Daniel Palka was sent down after he tried his best Chris Davis impression giving Cordell a shot. So far he’s taking his shot.
Jose Martinez (1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals) — 3-5, R, HR, RBI. His value stems from what the Cardinals do with him. If he’s in the lineup every day, he should be on a fantasy roster. If he’s coming off the bench and playing every few games, I don’t see a reason to own him. But when he plays he hits. With Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill out for a bit, he’s getting his shot. He may be able to take a hold of a more consistent spot in the lineup if he performs, but his inconsistent fielding will be what holds him back.
Alex Bregman (3B, Houston Astros) — 2-5, R, HR, RBI. This former second overall pick became a star last year. That’s hard to live up to. Bregman been struggling at the plate to start the year mainly in the power department. His plate discipline has taken a small step back but all his numbers there are still elite. It’s the power that looks to be missing. He only has a couple barrels both coming in the last few days. He main be turning a corner there but I don’t see a reason to give up on an elite player this early regardless.
Joey Gallo (1B/OF, Texas Rangers) — 2-4, R, HR, RBI. Tater’s gonna tate! It’s the law. Gallo keeps crushing the ball, but he’s changed up slightly. He’s not hitting the ball in the air as often which has given him a small boost in average so far. If he can hit for something anywhere above .230 instead of his usual .200ish, Gallo could be a top 40 player by the end of the year.
Eric Thames (1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers) — 2-4, R, HR, RBI. Thames has had a solid part-time role ever since Jesus Aguilar exploded on the scene last year. However, Aguilar is off to a rough start with zero homers and a 22 wRC. This may clear the way for some more playing time for Thames if he keeps hitting like this. Just a heads up to keep an eye on how the Brewers handle their first base situation.
Bryce Harper (OF, Philadelphia Phillies) — 5-7, R, 2 2B, RBI. Why couldn’t the Rockies have signed this guy and let us watch what he could do at Coors? In a bit of extra game, Harper was able to knock the ball around for five hits. I wanted to call out an interesting aspect to Harper’s solid start as a Phillie. His ground ball rate is up about 7% while his fly ball rate has taken that same hit. He has cut his average launch angle in half, however, he has been barreling the ball at a career high 17.5%. He should be able to get closer to his consistent career average launch angle of 14 and become larger threat.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, Colorado Rockies) — 2-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Blackmon’s been a consistent force over the last three plus years. He always hits close to .300, steals a good amount of bases, hits a chunk of homers, and leads the league in runs. However, the Rockies offense as a whole is off to a rocky start. Blackmon has been doing everything the same as previous years but is making a ton of soft contact. Also, they’ve only played six games in Coors so far, and he’s been great there. Of course it’s early, but this soft contact does worry me. Keep an eye on him.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres) — 1-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, 2 BB, 3 SB. Who knows what this kid can do next! He’s moved into the lead off spot and has doing his job getting on base. Also, this kid can fly. At 28.9 ft/s, Tatis Jr. is 19th in sprint speed. He grabbed three bags last night. It’s hard to say what he’ll do with more opportunities but he’s certainly a threat. A 20/20 season may be in the works.
(Photo by Douglas Jones/Icon Sportswire)
Should I drop Voit and Shaw for McMahon and Walker? I already have Vogel and Muncy who all do similar things and if all I’m expecting from Shaw and Voit is HRs and RBIs I think I can substitute them for guys with better averages
Shaw will come back around and if you drop him you’ll regret it, I suspect. His timing is off (he’s going oppo and center ~70% of the time rather than pulling like he usually does,) but he’s doing better at swinging less at pitches outside the zone than he has in his career. In the middle of that line-up, once he clicks, he’ll be a huge asset. Neither McMahon nor Walker are a lock for higher AVG’s, they’re both basically rookies that pitchers will eventually adjust to, although I might do McMahon for Voit for positional versatility and playing time considerations. The team isn’t exactly enamored w/Voit’s defense. Once the Yankees are less of a M.A.S.H. unit, You’ll see more of Voit losing AB’s to LeMahieu, and even now, if Mike Ford gets going, (which is a very good possibility, he’s a good hitter with decent defense and he’s a lefty,) it could happen sooner than later. I suspect McMahon will keep his playing time at mostly 2B or sometimes 1B when Murphy comes off the IL, and Hampson and Reynolds will largely be bench pieces.
Just a non-professional’s 2 cents.
(* I’m assuming you’re talking about AZ’s Christian Walker here.)
Can you provide some thoughts in Justin Turner’s Early Struggles? As an owner should I be worried? He has on two extra base hits on the year. His average is decent but that’s about it.
You might find this story useful, Mike. Historically, he has not hit for power in April. (As a fellow Turner owner, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for better days.)
Thanks Glenn! Fingers crossed!
Not to rain on your crossed fingers (to mix a metaphor,) but his SLG in April for the entire time he’s been a starting player in LA (16-18) is .452 as opposed to .321 this season. I’m an owner too, and I looked through game-logs and splits, but couldn’t find a reason (no road split for power because it’s cold, etc.) other than he’s 34 and maybe lost a bit. He killed it in ST, and the hamstring tightness/ankle thing were too recent to really explain anything. I didn’t really draft him for power though, and this is Justin Turner we’re talking about, so I’m not really worried. I’m sure the SLG will come eventually.
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