Batter’s Box: Welcome to J-Mart
(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)
Wal-Mart is an incredible store. You can get anything there. It’s one of the few places where you can pick up an inflatable couch, a bra, a crossbow, and a flatbread sandwich in one trip. But its glory days are long gone. Because the next best thing has arrived: J-Mart.
That’s short for Jose Martinez, of course, who is also a one-stop-shop of sorts. You like xBACON? He’s got it in spades, having posted an otherworldly .421 rate last year. Need to pick up some ribs real quick? Oh well he just happened to give you six of them last night while going 4-5, R, HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI, BB. J-Mart is here to give you what you need, and if you drafted him this year there’s a good chance you paid rollback prices™ for what’s looking like a top-tier first baseman. He’s a bit of an xStats darling, so I strongly encourage checking out Dave Cherman’s excellent xStats introduction and then heading over to xStats.org and drooling all over your keyboards at what Martinez has been up to for the past year.
DJ LeMahieu (2B, Colorado Rockies): 4-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 2B, 4 RBI
I feel like DJ LeMahieu’s seamless transition from renowned disk jockey to baseball player often goes overlooked. When DJ LeMahieu isn’t spinning hot remixes in clubs throughout the country, he’s continuing his reign as one of the premier contact hitters in the game. While he’s been crushing the ball so far this year (36.4% hard contact), his 54.6% career groundball rate likely means we won’t see any more two-homer games from him. Ever.
Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 3-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB
You ever see those videos online of street vendors making incredibly elaborate street food that would take a common person upwards of 20 minutes to make, and they’re doing it in seconds, on a huge scale, and from the looks on their faces you can tell they’re just running on automatic, thinking about that episode of The Bachelorette they watched last night? You know, because it’s so easy for them, and they don’t even have to try? Yeah, Mike Trout is like those street vendors, making 30 crepes at once, thinking about The Bachelorette.
Kyle Schwarber (OF, Chicago Cubs): 3-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI
They said Kyle Schwarber was in the best shape of his life during spring training, and I laughed and was like, since when is a potato a shape? Then he began the year in a horrible slump and I was like, yeah, take that Schwarber. But he’s shown some signs of life the last few games, lifting his average above .200 for the first time this year. He’s still striking out more than 30% of the time though, so I’ll continue feeling justified in my totally unfounded hatred of him.
Leonys Martin (OF, Detroit Tigers): 3-5, 2 R, 2B
Leonys Martin looks almost exactly like Carlos Beltran if you pointed a leaf blower at his face. Now he’s starting to hit like Beltran too, posting his second three-hit game in a row. Leonys is the Tigers leadoff hitter, and has two 30+ stolen base seasons under his belt in the majors. Just saying.
Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI
So far this year, Polanco’s hard contact rate is 12% higher than it was last season, and he’s upped his flyball rate by over ten percentage points. A 21.4% HR/FB likely isn’t sustainable, but if Polanco can keep his extremely weird, lanky body in one piece the entire year, he could have a special season.
Francisco Cervelli (C, Pittsburgh Pirates): 2-5, R, HR, 3B, 3 RBI
Last time Cervelli had a big night, we learned that the Italian word for hit is colpi. Today we’ll be learning the Italian word for home run: fuoricampo. If Cervelli keeps this up I’ll be fluent in Italian and sipping vino in Milan by the end of the season.
Trevor Story (C, Colorado Rockies): 0-5, 4 K
Wanna hear a sad Story? Trevor. Heavy hangs the head that wears the golden sombrero. That said, he’s absolutely destroying the ball so far this year while hitting it in the air 51.4% of the time. In Coors, that’s a great recipe for dingers, though it won’t do his batting average any favors.
Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians): 2-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI
Anybody else get the urge to sing “You Are My Sunshine” whenever they see Francisco Lindor? No? Just me? Let’s forget it, then. It’s been a really rough start for Lindor, who’s only hitting .208 so far. He’s got two multi-hit efforts in a row though, and could be finding his groove, which would make me happy when skies are gray.
Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 2-4, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB
Pham is having a good start to the year considering his eyeballs are slowly turning into stone. I have no idea if that’s what’s actually happening to his eyes. Probably not, because that doesn’t actually happen to people. But sometimes it’s nice to add a little magical thinking to your life. Anyway, he’s still hitting the ball on the ground more than half the time, and he’s swinging and whiffing a bit more this year than he did last year. But let’s focus on the positives. After all, his eyes are turning to stone.
Bradley Zimmer (OF, Cleveland Indians): 3-4, R
Considering he’s been striking out over 40% of the time this year, putting together a couple of hits was nice to see. The entire Cleveland lineup has been scuffling a bit to start the year, but Zimmer is going to have to demonstrate some skills growth in terms of his contact ability to make use of his other excellent tools this season.
Jason Kipnis (2B, Cleveland Indians): 3-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI
Is Jason Kipnis one of the most frustrating players to own in fantasy baseball? He’s hot, he’s cold. He hits a ton of home runs in spring training. Then he spends the first week of the year doing his best Jabari Blash impersonation. And now this, after plenty of owners out there likely dropped him. I give up.
Jose Peraza (SS, Cincinnati Reds): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B
Peraza began the year 0-for-12, but has picked it up a bit over the past week. He’s hitting second in the lineup behind Billy Hamilton, which should give Peraza plenty of opportunities to hit with the bases empty and rack up some steals if he can get on. Yes, that was a dig at Billy Hamilton.
Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels): 1-4, 3 RBI, BB
It was only one hit, but Ohtani made it count, smacking a bases-clearing triple to bring home three runs. I keep telling myself there’s no way he gets enough at-bats to be a useful offensive player in fantasy but, well…
Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels): 3-5, R
Upton is striking out just 18.3% of the time so far this year, way down from the 28.3% rate he posted last year. If he keeps this up, he’s going to rack up a ton of RBIs hitting behind Mike Trout all year.