Batter’s Box: We Thames To Please

Major League Baseball’s standings right now reflect a tentative changing of the guard: the 2016 ALCS runners-up have the worst record at 2-10 up in Toronto, while injury-riddled Colorado hasn’t...

Major League Baseball’s standings right now reflect a tentative changing of the guard: the 2016 ALCS runners-up have the worst record at 2-10 up in Toronto, while injury-riddled Colorado hasn’t looked back en route to 9-5 record and a Cincinnati team that lost 94 contests last year finds itself leading the hyper-competitive NL Central despite dropping a four-game series to Milwaukee. The Brewers are riding the wave that is Eric Thames‘ bat, as the Brewers’ 1B has hit safely in every game since April 4. He went 5-13, 6 R, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K over the weekend’s slate of games, and that doesn’t even include the 2-3 showing he had with a homer Thursday. It’s refreshing to see Thames in his return to The Show from several years of pro ball in Korea systematically swatting the doubters away with a .368 average to date. Thames also leads the league in OPS at 1.376 right now. Fantasy-wise, Thames’ owners who took a purported risk on the uncertainty of his skills—perhaps at a bargain later in drafts—are being handsomely rewarded for so doing. Sure, it’s early. But a handful of players and teams are making a splash that bodes for an exciting 2017 overall.

Let’s take a look at what else happened hitting-wise around the league:

Bryce Harper 4-13, 3 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, IBB, K. Harper saved his best stuff for Sunday against Philadelphia, launching a two-run shot off Jerad Eickhoff B3 and ending the game in walk-off fashion with a three-run bomb. The power could not have been more clutch for Washington as Harper drilled the homer on a full-count throw from Joaquin Benoit, when the Nats had been trailing and a mere strike from defeat. Fantasy-wise, Harper is finally causing some sighs of relief with his .333 BA and 13 RBI.

Jose Ramirez 7-11, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K. Although he hasn’t stolen a base yet this year after accruing 22 last season, Ramirez is hitting fantasy pay dirt with his bat instead of his baserunning. He had a monster day at the expense of Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez Saturday, sending a pitch by each of them into the bleachers as part of a 13-6 win on the strength of 19 team hits. Ramirez owns a tidy .349 average and the weekend saw his RBI count inflate to 13 on the season. Expect plenty more mouth-wateringly fruitful outings from him when the Indians take on Minnesota: in his career, Ramirez has gone 3-12 against Kyle Gibson, 3-13 against Phil Hughes and a mind-numbing 9-13 versus Ervin Santana.

Mitch Haniger 5-11, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K. The Mariners’ 26-year-old starting RF is off to an incredibly hot start during his first full MLB season. Batting .294 currently, he hit his fourth HR of the year Sunday to cap off a productive series against Texas. He was also walked in for a run by the imploding Sam Dyson, who may not have a closing job soon. Haniger is in the midst of an impressive 10-game hit streak as well, and that stretch includes four games with multiple hits.

Avisail Garcia 6-12, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K. Rightfully installed at the cleanup spot of the White Sox lineup, Garcia raked the game-winner in the 10th inning of Sunday’s win over Minnesota. He has a league-leading BA of .465 as we commence Week 3 of the season. The 10 RBI he’s earned don’t hurt either, and Garcia will look to build on his early success in an outing versus the Yankees’ very inexperienced Jordan Montgomery Monday.

Jose Abreu 0-11, R, RBI, 3K. Abreu’s average has tanked to a humiliating .186. He’s just not getting anything done at the plate for Chicago and the power has dropped off too with him yet to go yard in 2017. The good news is that his soft contact is at a career-low 16.1%, but the hard contact is also lacking for a typically 25- to 30-homer guy at 29%. He’ll figure it out but you would probably be wise to stream your backup 1B until he does, since not many starters at the position are batting this poorly.

Matt Davidson 4-9, R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K. The White Sox DH is hitting .370 with a slugging percentage of .815 at the moment. Average and power for as cheap as they come, if you are getting stir-crazy for some help and can spare a roster spot for a UTIL.

Brian Dozier 3-8, R, HR, BB, SB. Dozier seems to have righted the ship after a brief foray below .200: a four-game hitting streak has him back to a more palatable .267 as the Twins’ leadoff hitter, and he’s tossed two homers and two steals in there for good measure during that span.

Miguel Sano 1-11, R, RBI, 3 BB, 5 K. Four of the five strikeouts Sano saw from the White Sox came Sunday, earning him the dubious honor of a golden sombrero. His sole hit in the series was a B1 double on Saturday to score Joe Mauer. He’s cooled off slightly after a really great start to the year, but patience is recommended as he and Minnesota draw Cleveland’s homer-prone Josh Tomlin to look forward to on Tuesday.

Nelson Cruz 4-10, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, K. While Haniger is dominating many of Seattle’s statistical categories, Cruz is doing fine alongside him at cleanup. His work against the Rangers mercifully increased his BA to .229 from .184, and he knocked in a bases-loaded walkoff single to complete the sweep Sunday.Six consecutive games now have seen Cruz get at least a hit, and twice has he gotten multiple. The home run from the box score came on Friday and he doubled Saturday, so the variety and power of his hitting have also been solid.

Kyle Seager 4-11, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K. Nothing fancy here, but consistency is acceptable even if it’s mundane. No homers yet, but a .250 average and 7 RBI from the heart of Seattle’s order mean that fantasy owners are neither exhilarated nor infuriated with Seager at the moment. Like Cruz, he has also hit safely in six straight.

Leonys Martin 2-6, R. He got his first XBH of the year with a double Saturday and crossed the plate for just the second time this season on Sunday. Going 5-42 thus far, that works out to a meager .119 with no RBI. Three stolen bases just don’t compensate for his ineffectual batting, and he’s batting in the 9-spot for a reason. You can do wayyyy better at OF right now.

Nomar Mazara 3-12, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. He’s still mashing .340 after what was a relatively pedestrian weekend versus the Mariners, given the early bar Mazara has set so high for himself. Across all Yahoo and ESPN leagues, he is inexplicably unowned in 10 and 11 percent of them, respectively. Literally only Marcell Ozuna has more RBI than him.

Mike Napoli 1-10, R, BB, 4 K. The single he popped into opposite field Sunday halted a three-game drought, but the cleanup hitter for Texas is sporting a disappointing .156 average right now. It’s early so I wouldn’t advise any rash releasing to waivers, but don’t stop the research on more viable production or power to stream if you’re lacking.

Cesar Hernandez 6-13, 4 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 2 K, SB, CS. Speaking of production, Hernandez has been one of the best fantasy plays over the first 14 days of the season. The Phillies’ leadoff hitter has attained a 10-game hitting streak en route to a .346 average, and the all-category onslaught he mounted Sunday would be in a losing effort because the Harper walkoff. Hernandez and Miami’s Christian Yelich share the lead in MLB with 13 runs apiece. Hernandez is swinging less and making less contact on pitches thrown outside the zone, but that’s ultimately a good thing because it shows he’s waiting for his opportunities: a 25% HR/FB ratio is tough to argue with.

Carlos Santana 3-14, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K. Owners of the Cleveland 1B/DH had been holding their breath that the four hitless showings Santana had between April 9 and April 14 would not be the norm he’d exhibit this year. A gasp of fresh air came Saturday when he erupted for three knocks, including a double and a home run to earn the aforementioned four RBI. Still, he only has two jacks in 2017 and has a middling BA of .208. Optimism for his power is high and still should be but, realistically, it has perhaps plateaued slightly since draft day for many.

Greg Bird 3-9, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K. The young Yankees 1B finally found some success at the plate Sunday with a 3-3 performance that featured a double and a homer. The average is still terrible at .138, but don’t underestimate the confidence that Bird could be able to build off a breakout day like he enjoyed yesterday. Stay watchful for the series with the White Sox to see whether this is the start of something truly special.

Starlin Castro 4-12, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K. One of the most consistent hitters in pinstripes thus far has been Starlin Castro. His weekend stat line is an accurate representation of his season, as his batting average is registering at exactly .333. Soft contact is at a troublingly high 22.5%, which might explain the mere two homers, so it all bears further monitoring to see what kind of hitter he’ll really be in an already up-BABIP year.

Chase Headley 4-7, 2 R, 5 BB, 2 K, 2 SB. He refuses to go away. Two steals this weekend were icing on the proverbial fantasy cake for a guy already killing it with a .410 BA from New York’s 5-spot. The appealing BB/K of 1.11 has partnered up with the impeccable hitting to give Headley the best OBP in baseball.

Jacoby Ellsbury 4-11, R, BB, 3 K, 2 SB, CS. Love seeing runners getting saucy on the base paths like this. Ellsbury is the proud owner of a .310 average to go with his four steals on the year.

Aaron Judge 1-10, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB (1 IBB), 5 K. Judge is probably going to drive fantasy owners crazy in both good and bad ways. After homering in three straight games between Monday and Thursday, he offered up kind of a dud this weekend. His average is still hanging out at the .250 range, and if you’re going to get a singular hit, making it an RBI triple is a decent way to go.

Stephen Piscotty 2-9, R, HR, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K. His hits are going an average distance of 240.02 feet, according to Statcast, which is almost 52 feet greater than the league average. After a slow start, Washington’s cleanup man has picked up the pace over the last week to sit at a .258 BA with 8 RBI overall.

Jedd Gyorko 2-6, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB, K. The Cardinals keep finding ways to keep their utility infielder involved, as Gyorko started at 2B Saturday and at 3B Sunday. He owns a .250 BA and is getting arguably more consistent at-bats than perhaps the initial depth chart would have led fantasy owners to expect. He’s a really good guy to have fill in with his various eligibilities when you may have some questionable matchups or multiple teams enjoying an off-day.

Yasiel Puig 5-9, 2 R, HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, SB. He’s lighting it up as a .326 hitter with four HRs and 11 RBI overall. He’s got an encouraging 1.29 BB/K rate. In the midst of a five-game hit streak, Puig also has impressively struck out just once in that stretch. On a Sunday when Taijuan Walker shut down most of the Dodgers’ lineup, Puig found a way to manufacture L.A.’s only run: his lone hit Sunday was an RBI double to drive in Yasmani Grandal, who himself enjoyed a 3-6, R, 3 BB, 3 K outing over the weekend.

Justin Turner 5-12, 2 R, 2 RBI, K. Still crushing the ball at a .372 clip, we’re still waiting for Turner to resurrect his power. The pair of XBH he mustered over the weekend would have been especially helpful to those playing in points leagues.

Chris Owings 4-8, RBI, K. One of Friday’s pair of hits by Owings was a T9 RBI double and he accomplished it against the best pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw to end his day on the hill, just two outs away from a complete game. Owings has been an absolute boon to the Arizona lineup and has a .356 average to his name right now. Having Paul Goldschmidt, Yasmany Tomas and Brandon Drury follow you in the order is a pretty nice gig right now.

DJ Lemahieu 6-12, R, RBI, BB. He’s ratcheted up the average to .280 with a weekend like that. He’s a long way from another batting title, however, and fantasy owners will want the run production to spike as well.

Nolan Arenado 5-13, R, HR, 3 RBI, K. Arenado is doing grown-man things, and the weekend saw him flourish with three doubles and what’s now an average of .327.

Charlie Blackmon 3-13, R, HR, 3 RBI, 4 K. I’m still bothered by the .232 clip at which he’s hitting, but I guess safely hitting in all but one of his past nine games is legitimately good stuff from Blackmon. Good to see the power rear its head once more this past weekend in the series against San Francisco in a homer-stingy park.

Eduardo Nunez 1-9, R, RBI, BB. While this is a pitiful stat line for a weekend’s worth of work, Nunez still has a .313 BA and five steals on the season to go along with the fact that he has not struck out in 10 straight games. Stay the course and keeping firing him up in your lineups.

Brandon Crawford 3-11, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 K. Sunday’s hit was an RBI triple that plated Brandon Belt, and the SS is doing good things with his .298 average. He’s only slightly outhitting teammate Hunter Pence, who is rocking the .296 after a stellar Friday—3-4, R, 2 RBI—that was followed by an unremarkable 0-7, RBI, K between Saturday and Sunday.

Wil Myers 3-12, 2 K. Myers struggled to get meaningful hits against Atlanta, and you obviously want the run creation to take flight more like it did against the Giants and the Rockies, to the tune of six RBI and seven runs across both series. A double was a bright spot Saturday, and he is San Diego’s best hitter right now with a BA of .365.

Mookie Betts 7-13, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB (IBB). No homers or SB yet for Mookie, but you have to love the series he has had so far against Tampa Bay that has seen his average exponentially increase from .174 to .306 in a three-day span.

Mitch Moreland 5-11, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K. An obscene .455 BABIP has helped Moreland along to a stout batting average of .356, and he still leads the league with nine doubles. He was a triple away on Saturday from joining Myers’ feat last week of hitting for the cycle.

Andrew Benintendi 5-13, 3 R, RBI, BB, K. The young outfielder now has three multi-hit games in his six most recent tries.

Dee Gordon 6-13, 2 R, RBI, 3 K, SB. Nice, predictable stuff from Gordon. Steals and average are his strongest suits, and the latter is measuring at .333 right now. Runs are realistically going to be more plentiful than RBI for him.

J.T. Realmuto 3-8, RBI, BB (IBB). Realmuto is still dominating at the C position. He owns a .395 BA.

Asdrubal Cabrera2-10, HR, 3 RBI. He’s been flying a bit under the radar at SS from a fantasy perspective, but two weeks have shown he can flirt with an average approaching .300 and apparently lock it in at the .280s range. Worth a pickup if your starter is struggling.

Daniel Murphy – 3-13, RBI. Had to start and end the body of the article with two walkoff heroes from the same time: it just feels right to bookend a league’s worth of outstanding hitting with a pair of sluggers excelling together night after night. Murphy’s RBI double Friday plated Harper to end it, and Murph simply will not let up from the cleanup spot. He’s got 10 RBI and a dazzling .396 for his trouble. He is an absolute joy to watch, and his exploits are going to be a season-long fantasy dream.

Andrew Todd-Smith

Journalistically trained and I have written for SB Nation. Fantasy baseball & football nerd, and there's a solid chance I'll outresearch you. I live in Columbus, pull for Cleveland and could learn to despise your team if you give me reason to. Navy veteran and wordplay addict with an expat background.

4 responses to “Batter’s Box: We Thames To Please”

  1. roger says:

    Could you put the position eligibility next to the names? Helps out the amateurs like myself.

  2. What are your thoughts on Vmart? He was just dropped in my league. Will he be as studly as he was last year?

    • Andrew Todd-Smith says:

      I personally dropped him from a league too. I wanted him to be good but he’s just not on the same level anymore. Projected for 20 HR, irrelevant for steals and 70s for runs and RBI but he only has 2 runs and 6 RBI thus far. And zero jacks, batting just .204/.286/.204. He’s also struggling for points formats, it’s not limited to 5×5. It’s just been too slow of a start when you have other more active/productive bats.

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