(Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire)
It’s no secret that the Milwaukee Brewers were a bit ahead of schedule last year performing as well as they did. What seemed like a hot start to 2017 turned into a team that remained in the Wild Card conversation until very late into the season. Suddenly, the front office in Milwaukee was facing a window that had flung open. Enter: Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. The two talented outfielders were thrust to the top of an already solid lineup, and today, we’re going to focus on on the latter. Cain’s line of 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB may not have been the most impressive of the night (see: AJ Pollock), but it was just a continuation of what the former Kansas City Royals outfielder has done all year. His triple slash is an impressive .290/.405/.480, and he’s been crazy hot over the last two weeks with a .310/.482/.524 mark. He’s walking more than he’s striking out at the moment, and he’s on pace for something in the neighborhood of 15 HR/25 SB. Something tells me he’s enjoying his new digs. Now, if they can just get that Domingo Santana guy going…
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:
Nick Ahmed (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. Ahmed hit his 5th homerun of the season last night, which means he is now 1 more dong shy of tying his total from all of last year. BREAKOUT SEASON ALERT! Jokes. Ahmed’s flyball and groundball percentages are playing tricks on us with how out of character both numbers are for Ahmed. Methinks regression is ahead for the Diamondbacks’ shortstop, so don’t expect the stats to continue. Still, enjoy the hot streak while you can as he was hitting .389 over the last week coming into last night.
Brian Anderson (3B, Miami Marlins) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. The young third baseman has now hit safely in 9 out of his last 10 games, but the caveat with him is that he’s rarely getting those coveted extra-base hits. Case in point: the .382 slugging percentage. So, a double + HR night from him is nice to see if you’re rolling with him. He had been hitting just .217 over the last week coming into last night.
Xander Bogaerts (SS, Boston Red Sox) – 3-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. Yet another grand slam for the Boston Red Sox. Side note: they now have 6 grand salamis on the year, which ties them for most all-time before May 1st with the 1996 Montreal Expos. Sacre bleu! Anyways, Bogaerts is now slashing an eye-popping .391/.408/.696 on the year, and I know, I know…he was injured for a good portion of the year so small sample size and all. Still, he’s looked great since returning as he’s gotten 3 hits in two of the three games back. Guess he’s making up for lost time?
Starlin Castro (2B, Miami Marlins) – 3-3, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB. Still waiting for his first bomb as a Marlin. Any day now, Starlin. Any day now…Here’s the thing about Castro. He’s hitting third in the Marlins’ lineup, which…makes me say “blegh,” quite honestly. And that’s about how I feel in regards to his fantasy value in said lineup, just “blegh.” It’s not horrible. In fact, there will probably be times where it’s an acceptable stop-gap. But, for the most part, you look at Castro and say “blegh.” Moving on.
Alcides Escobar (SS, Kansas City Royals) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI. And speaking of milquetoast, here’s Alcides Escobar! I do enjoy his 6% walk rate stacked up against his 8% strikeout rate, but that doesn’t disguise the fact that he’s slashing .204/.279/.323 on the year. xStats says that slash should be closer to .265/.333/.409, so we can probably infer that he’s been a bit unlucky so far. Better days should be ahead for him, but there’s still not much to be jazzed about here with the 1 HR and 1 SB so far.
Yasmani Grandal (C, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 3-3, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI. Our very own Myles Nelson went deep on Grandal a few days ago, and I highly recommend you check that out for a more detailed report on the Dodger catcher. He has all the makings of a much improved season from last year especially in terms of the triple slash with his current .291/.378/.512. Interestingly enough, I think the average is the only part of that slash he can’t sustain over a full year. He has been cooling off for the last 7 days slashing just .130/.167/.304, but he’s been a fine option at an offensively-starved position regardless.
Max Kepler (RF, Minnesota Twins) – 3-5, R, 3B, 2 2B, RBI. He’s now slashing .280/.344/.512 on the year, and there are plenty of signs pointing up for the Twins’ outfielder. His strikeout rate currently sits at 10%, which cuts his 2017 rate literally in half. Combine that with a 41% hard contact rate and an improved overall contact rate of 82%, and you’ve got a guy who looks to be on pace for a big improvement over last season. xStats backs this up, and the 10% VH rate is confirming the success as well.
Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians) – 3-5, 2 R, RBI. Considering the hefty price tag on draft day, you’d love to see something better than his current .245/.331/.409 triple slash, but fear not! Lindor is really heating up as of late, and he’s slashed .261/.433/.565 over the last week. His opposite field and hard contact numbers are both up this year, and patience will be a virtue here with Lindor. Every little thing….gonna be alright…
Whit Merrifield (2B, Kansas City Royals) – 3-5, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI. This is Whit’s 3rd multi-hit game in his last 5, but that doesn’t mean it’s been raining extra-base hits like last night. Still, the 3 HR/4 SB on the year puts him close to a 14 HR/27 SB pace on the season, which is probably close to what you paid for a few months ago. Most of the production has come over the last two weeks, so he’s seemingly just now getting going on the year.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox) – 3-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. This was nice and all, but the bottom line is Moreland simply isn’t getting enough at-bats to be fantasy relevant at the moment. He’s got the power and lineup to be instantly usable with guaranteed playing time, but he does not have said time, and therefore, we must pass. He had been held hitless in his last 4 appearances, so this was nice to see. BACK TO THE BENCH WITH YE!
A. J. Pollock (CF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 3-5, 3 R, 3 HR, 3 RBI. Wowzers! Hope he’s not too dizzy from rounding the bases so many times! Pollock was straight up taking BP off the Dodgers’ pitchers last night with 3 bombs, and that now brings his line up to 20 R/9 HR/24 RBI/6 SB. That late surge in bombs means he finishes the month of April atop the NL leaderboard in HRs, 3rd in RBI, and top 10 in SB. Bryce Who?! This also marks his 9th multi-hit game of the year. He’s scorching hot right now.
Yangervis Solarte (2B/SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-5, R, RBI. Last night finished off a pretty solid April for the veteran with a line of 17 R/7 HR/15 RBI. Peep those 14 BB/16 K as well! He had been hitting just .184 over the last two weeks, but I’ve personally been distracted by the .490 slugging over that same time frame. I like Solarte as a solid yet unspectacular MI option the rest of the way.
Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals) – 3-4, 2B, RBI. Trying to provide an interesting spin on Turner’s blurbs that don’t involve just gushing over how good he is can be as difficult as hitting the Joe Torre double on Diamond Dynasty. And for the 6 people who understood that reference, you’re welcome! Coming off a monster week that involved a 5-hit onslaught, Turner has been slashing .385/.448/.500 over the last 7 days, and the good times just keep rolling. He’s leaving something to be desired with the .379 season-long slugging percentage, but you drafted him for modest power, high average, and buckets of steals, so it’s chill.
Jorge Alfaro (C, Philadelphia Phillies) – 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. To say he has been a 2-outcome hitter is a bit of understatement so far this year. Actually, that’s probably not a fair statement to the noble strikeout as he’s done far more of that (28) than hitting homeruns (3). For those keeping score at home, that’s now 28 strikeouts in 66 plate appearances. Eat your heart out, Joey Gallo! Anyways, I want no part of a guy whose value is directly tied to homeruns and said guy is not doing much of that. He’s hitting just .160 over the last two weeks, and you can safely ignore him for the time being.
Carlos Correa (SS, Houston Astros) – 2-3, 2B, RBI, BB. We know, we know. You’re good at baseball, dude. GEEZ. This guy never lets up. He now has a line of 20 R/4 HR/21 RBI/2 SB this year, and that stolen base total now ties his 2017 output. Like…for the whole season. 25 HR/25 SB CONFIRMED! Anyways, he’s now hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, and yeah I’d say he’s an add in 12-teamers. That was a joke, class.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (2B, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-5, RBI. Not the most eye-popping line of the night, but I must admit I am intrigued by him. He doesn’t have the prospect pedigree coming in, but thanks to a banged up Tulo and Josh Donaldson, there will be playing time for him in the immediate future. He’s now on a mini-hit streak of 3 games, and his modest power and speed combo could provide some deep league value over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
J. D. Martinez (RF, Boston Red Sox) – 2-4, 2 R, 2B, BB. He’s been busy racking up a boatload of Ks this season with that 29% strikeout rate, but shhhh let us have nice things because look at all the other things he’s doing at the moment! His line of 17 R/5 HR/22 RBI is very good and has probably made him as many fans as Chara in Beantown. I said MAYBE. If you pick an arbitrary point in the season, he’s more than likely been productive over that stretch. I picked two weeks, and sure enough, he’s been slashing .386/.449/.591 over that span.
Nomar Mazara (RF, Texas Rangers) – 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. I feel that Mazara is one of the better players out there that no one really talks about. Sure, he’s in a bad Texas lineup that’s been ravaged by injuries, but he’s still quietly slashing .294/.342/.413 with that bare cupboard. He had just 1 extra base hit over his last 7 coming into this one, but he’s still very much on pace for his 3rd consecutive 20 HR season.
Andrew McCutchen (CF, San Francisco Giants) – 2-4, R, 3B, RBI, BB. He had just 3 hits over his last 8 games coming into this one, so perhaps this will get him as hot as teammate Evan Longoria has been. Also, hey guys…give it up for McCutchen’s first triple of the year. I know we were all wondering when it would happen, but wonder no more. He finally got that monkey off his back. Well done, old timer. Well done.
Jurickson Profar (SS/OF, Texas Rangers) – 2-5, R, 2B, RBI. Remember the aforementioned injury-ravaged, disappointing Rangers’ lineup? Well, Profar is a beneficiary of that as long as Odor and Andrus are on the shelf. Which could be awhile. Anyways, Profar now has hits in 4 of his last 5, but I’m very intrigued by the 12 walks stacked against the 14 strikeouts so far. OBP alert! I’m not rushing to pick up the former uber-prospect, but I’m not dismissing him either.
Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians) – 2-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI. It’s a shame for Trevor Bauer and his 11 Ks missed out on a win in this one, but Ramirez will provide a flurry of offense ON HIS OWN TIME! The Indians’ slugger started slowly this year, but the last two weeks have seen him come raging back with a slash of .360/.345/.464, and no, I did not accidentally swap the average and OBP. Any doubts you had earlier in the season should be thrown out the window.
Scott Schebler (RF, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-4, R, 2B. Since returning from injury halfway through April, he’s been a fantasy monster. He’s now hit safely in 9 of his last 10 games, and he’s now slashing .320/.370/.560 in his 54 plate appearances on the year. He’s owned in just 19% of ESPN leagues at the moment, and I would absolutely add him in most leagues. 12-teamers and larger have no excuse.
Eugenio Suarez (3B, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-4, 2B, 4 RBI. Another Reds’ hitter who has been spicy hot since returning from injury. His 56 plate appearances have yielded a triple slash of .327/.411/.573, and this marks his 5th multi-hit effort in only 13 games this year. He’s owned in under half of all ESPN leagues at the moment, and that’s a mistake for someone coming off back-to-back 20 HR seasons.
C. J. Cron (1B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Maybe all this guy needed was a large dose of regular playing time? Or maybe he just really can’t stand Disney or Anaheim chilis? It’s probably one of those three factors. Anyways, Cron finishes April with a solid line of 14 R/7 HR/19 RBI and a triple slash of .269/.313/.519. He’s still not walking much at all, which is pretty normal for him, but he should have no problem hitting 20 bombs for the first time in his career. I’d add him in 12-teamers or larger if I need the depth at the corners.
Maikel Franco (3B, Philadelphia Phillies) – 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. That makes it 2 HR in his last 3 games now, and that’s good enough for a line of 11 R/4 HR/22 RBI. He seems like he’s going to be a frustrating guy to own this year with cold and hot spells, but he’s slashed .333/.316/.500 over the last 7 days. That qualifies for the hot category.
No love for pardon my Franchy Cordero? 2-3 with double a run scored and steal. AND TWO WALKS! Gotta love that plate discipline! The double he hit looked like he barely got it and it went over 370 feet. The announcers couldn’t believe it. Franch is real!
Love me some Franchy sauce! He just didn’t make the cut today. A fine night indeed though! You know the PL staff loves him on the reg though, so no worries.
Speaking of Franchy, would you drop Margot for him in a 6×6 OPS league? Seems to be hitting in a better spot in the lineup and getting plenty of playing time.
Yes I would. I was high on Margot in the preseason, but Cordero seems to be the horse you wanna be on. Still love Margot long-term.
Do you see Conforto finding his power as the season wears on, or did his shoulder injury knock him down to a standard-issue 20-25 HR guy? He’s my 4th/5th OF in a 9-team mixed OBP, and the runs and OBP have been great, but I’m wondering if he’s expendable in my format once (a) Gallo gets one more game in LF and adds ESPN OF eligibility, allowing me to switch Gallo in for Conforto and open up a CI/UT spot for Carlos Santana, and (b) I get Knebel back from the DL and have to drop someone.
That’s a pickle. I couldn’t be higher on Gallo and beat the drum for him in OBP especially, and I’m facing a similar situation with Knebel. In a league that shallow? I can’t blame you if you wanna move on especially if it means you get Santana in there. I do think he finds the power, but who knows when that will be.
I’d exercise some patience with Conforto. He hit .279 with 27 homers in 109 games before dislocating his left shoulder and tearing a capsule in August. wasn’t supposed to come back until May 5th.
I agree that a healthy Conforto would be formidable, and I’d like to try to hold him. My worry is that he may have come back too soon and doesn’t have the strength back in his shoulder. That said, I have another week or so before Knebel is back and forces me to make a drop call – maybe by then another of my guys will have hit the DL, or would be a clearer drop.
Great breakdown, as usual. In what order do you like the following 2B for ROS counting stats in a standard, 5×5 season-long roto (R/HR/RBI/SB/AVG): Albies, Dozier, Schoop?
Thanks for the kind words! I’d go Dozier, Albies, schoop. And that’s not just because I’m a Braves fan.
Thanks Jake. Can you explain to me why you would take Dozier over Albies? I expected Albies 1 and Dozier 2.
My roster is 1B Freeman; 2B Merrifield; 3B Moose; SS Bregman; OF Trout, Springer, Judge, Pollock; UTIL Benintendi, Abreu; DL Schoop. SP are Kluber, Severino, Syndergaard, Bauer, Paxton, Godley, Corbin, E-Rod. I was thinking of offering Godley for Dozier. Would you do that deal?
The short answer is I put more stock into established track record. We know what we’re getting with Dozier. Solid floor of power and speed plus the opportunity for lots of runs and RBI in a good lineup. Albies has a tremendous ceiling, but this is unexpected power we’re seeing from him. That could sustain over the whole year, sure, but it could also dry up in the 2nd half. Lots of unknowns even though Albies looks tremendous so far. And I would definitely offer up that deal. You’ve got good depth at the position and Dozier is definitely an upgrade over Merrifield especially in the power department. The drop off in speed shouldn’t be that bad since you’ve got it in other spots like Pollock, Trout, possibly Bregman, etc.
Does xStats support what Albies is doing?
Not really actually. xStats has his triple slash at .256/.307/.527. xBABIP at .259 and xBacon at .316. However, his VH% is at 10.2%, which is very good. I think he may be getting a tad lucky, but I also think he may just be more of a power hitter/better overall hitter than we anticipated ala Francisco Lindor.