Batter’s Box: Why’s the Goodrum Always Gone?
If only Niko Goodrum was on the Pirates, but avast ye mateys, he is a Detroit Tiger that has had the honor to bat leadoff for the past few weeks in a sea of no name players. Goodrum had been on many fantasy players’ sleeper lists, as he had his first full season under his belt last year at the age of 26. The former second round pick had some prospects for future MLB performance, but it took a while for him to get there. He showed promise as a combo power/speed that could be hitting at the top of an offense desperate for anything which would boost his counting stat production. There was some hope for a 20/20 like season with 70 runs/RBIs but with a sub-.250 average.
So far this year, those hopes have not come to fruition. His paces look closer to last year’s except for his run production. Hitting near the top of the lineup will always help with scoring runs. At first glance, he doesn’t look to have made any improvements, but has anything changed from the Goodrum of 2018? The first thing that stands out is his batted ball profile. This has changed drastically for the better. A six percentage point uptick in line drives? A ten point drop in grounders? A four point uptick in fly balls? How is he only hitting .230? Especially with a 46.5% hard hit rate? First, his expected average, slugging and wOBA are all a good chunk higher than is current outcomes. Last night looks to be a reset with those numbers a bit. He destroyed the ball in every at bat finishing 5-5, 4 R, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI. He won’t continue to have a night like this every night, but he should be improving. If he has a hot few more days, jump on the ship before it sets sail.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the landlubbers across the league.
Mike Yastrzemski (OF, San Fransisco Giants)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI, BB. Carl’s grandson made his way on to the Giants’ major league roster about a week ago after dominating AAA. In his few games up, he’s performed decently well, but last night’s triple and home run stand out. They both traveled over 103 MPH with the homer landing 417 feet away. This new Yastrzemski will have to prove himself worthy to be added to your fantasy roster.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Who is this new Trey Mancini and what did he do to the old one? Seriously, last year, Mancini was worth less than 0 fWAR, and now he has already accumulated 1.2. His biggest change, like many others, is launch angle. He stopped hitting ground balls, especially topping the ball. His Topped % has dropped over 11 points. He has kept this change up through May as well with his May batted ball stats pretty much in line with the first month.
Renato Nunez (1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. Please read Ben Palmer’s latest piece on Nunez. The article was published yesterday, and what did Nunez do to celebrate? Have himself another day. You’ll get all the details in the Going Deep but Nunez is crushing the ball and near the top of the league in Barrel %.
Keston Hiura (2B, Milwaukee Brewers)—3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. This first round pick has made an early mark on the league with a solid first few weeks. He hasn’t done anything crazy but he has four dingers with a 129 wRC+. Like most rookies in the majors, he is struggling with plate discipline. His AAA K % was 27.2% before getting the call and he is at 36.2% so far in the majors. This is due mostly to a 21.3% SwStr%. He isn’t making much contact but at least it has been good contact.
Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-5, 3 R, RBI, SB. Marte found his way on base with three singles, scoring three runs, and fitting in a stolen base. This is one of those games you want and expect from Marte. Since last week when I wrote about him with more detail in Batter’s Box, he is hitting .343 with almost a 10% walk rate. He’s had a strong May that fantasy owners should be pleased with.
DJ LeMahieu (2B/3B, New York Yankees)—2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. What if I told you that the first year out of a Rockies uniform would be that player’s best offensively? LeMahieu has a shot. At this rate, this would be LeMahieu second best offensive year according to wRC+ and only his second above 100. Yankee Stadium has been kind bumping his BAPIP back to his career average after last year’s odd decline. Notably, he’s also hitting the ball as hard as he ever has.
Curt Casali (C, Cincinatti Reds)—3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. Backup catchers are may favorite kind of write ups. They’re usually completely useless as they never will have enough playing time to impact your roster, but if the starter is struggling or going on the IL (looking at you Yadier Molina), then these write ups make me look like a psychic! Anyway, Casali has been hitting the ball well this past week. If for some reason Barnhart does go down, Casali should be looked at.
Jorge Polanco (SS, Minnesota Twins)—2-4, 3 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. Polanco just keeps raking. He is still maintaining a line drive percentage above 25% while also barely hitting grounders. The key is his hard hit % is up over 10 points from last year. Interestingly, his K rate is down and walk rate is up but his plate discipline numbers haven’t changed much from prior years. The biggest difference is contact on pitches out of the zone, which is four percentage points higher.
Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies)—3-4, 4 R, 2 HR, 2B, 7 RBI, BB. Oh, what a night! Night’s like these are what make Story elite. He is already at 15 homers and 10 stolen bases on the year, and in the running for a 30/30 season. He has been on fire the last three games, with at least three hits in each. The power, speed, and average threat makes Story one of the most valuable players in fantasy.
Christian Walker (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks)—3-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. We’re back with a double dose of Christian Walker. After five straight games of 0-fers, Walker took a game off and then came roaring back with back to back bangers. Last night was his second two run, two RBI, plus a homer night in a row. Additionally, in his last five starts, he has only struck out twice (that is including three of those 0-fers). Striking out has been a big issue this year for Walker. If he can tame that, he can bounce back to early season form.
Matt Chapman (3B, Oakland Athletics)—2-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. Matt Chapman’s biggest improvement this year? His strikeout rate is down over seven percentage points. This has helped him maintain a solid .270 batting average despite his BABIP dropping over 70 points. Expect the BABIP to rise a bit, however. He has turned a lot of the line drives he hit last year into grounders this year, supplementing that drop. Regardless, he still is smoking the ball.
Max Muncy (1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. A big question of the offseason was if Muncy was able to maintain his power and get enough playing time to showcase it. So far so good for Muncy owners. He is on pace to exceed his plate appearances from last year and about match his home run total. His fly ball percentage has dropped a bit splitting it between line drives and grounders. Muncy owners should still be pleased with the value.
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)