(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire)
Go back with me to draft season 2017. A simpler time. A pleasant time. So much hope. So much promise. So much prospect hype for one guy in particular. Remember? Bet you can’t guess who it was! Before most of us knew Ronald Acuna’s name, or Shohei Ohtani’s for that matter, there was one particular Chicago White Sox infielder getting hyped and over-drafted like it was his job. Ringing a bell, yet?! Aggressive owners couldn’t wait to get their hands on him even though they knew they’d be stashing for at least most of April. But Kris Bryant had spoiled us all, and now we believed anything was possible from the top prospects.
Give up?! Jake…they already guessed it. This wasn’t that hard. Ok, ok, geniuses…I’m of course speaking of none other than Yoan Moncada. Remember him? I’m sure more than a few of you were burned by him last year. The waiting game that eventually turned into a callup that eventually turned into disappointment that left a lot of people with a sour taste in their mouth. Or they just kept the sour Skittle in their mouth too long. Who’s to say?
So all that disappointment eventually turned into me grabbing him everywhere I could for a little post-hype sleeper madness this year. I couldn’t believe how far he was falling down draft boards after a rocky start to his Major League career. Surely, it wouldn’t be so bad after he had a year to get his feet wet, right? Well…so far the answer is….kind of! The strikeouts have come back with a vengeance, sure, but look beneath the surface, and you’ll find numerous encouraging signs: an elevated line drive rate, a higher flyball percentage, a consistent HR/FB rate carrying over from last year, a hard contact rate of 55%, and a double-digit walk rate. Those metrics have me encouraged that my personal gamble may pay off. And after last night’s breakout 2-7, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, SB line that featured his 2nd straight game with a combo meal, I’m getting very excited. I think it’s just the beginning of something big, and you should jump back on board the hype train. There’s plenty of room.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:
Teoscar Hernandez (CF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 4-6, 2 R, HR, 3B, 4 RBI. Called up from AAA just a few days ago, Hernandez made the most of a rare start in the Blue Jays outfield. He only had 14 plate appearances coming into this one, so talk about making it count. Obviously, I wouldn’t take this for anything more than a single great night at the plate as the Blue Jays have nowhere to give him regular at-bats.
J. D. Martinez (RF, Boston Red Sox) – 4-5, 3 R, HR, RBI. Is there any team out there you want to see your starting pitcher facing than the Boston Red Sox right now? They’ve absolutely obliterated most teams in their path this year on the way to a 15-2 record, and they’ve now outscored a pretty good Angels team 19-1 through 2 games. Beantown’s big prize of the offseason has racked up a stat line of 11 R/4 HR/14 RBI/.313 on the year, and if J.D. keeps that up, he’ll have more friends than Tuukka Rask pretty soon. Cross-sport reference!
Matt Olson (RF, Oakland Athletics) – 4-6, R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 BB. Speaking of straight fire offenses, how about the Oakland A’s lately? They love baseball so much that they played 14 innings yesterday against the White Sox, and Olson used it as an opportunity to pad his stats on the year. CHEATER! He did some mercy to the fans who stuck it out with a walk-off, however, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that he has a 40% strikeout rate on the year so far.
Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox) – 3-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI. Another participant in one of two marathon games last night! Everything looks just fine for Abreu so far stats-wise despite his pedestrian .250/.323/.500 triple slash. I expect the numbers to return to normal considering the .244 BABIP, which happens to be almost a full 100 points lower than his career average. Elevated hard contact and HR/FB rates from him also help me sleep at night.
Khris Davis (LF, Oakland Athletics) – 3-7, R, 2 RBI, BB. The Oakland A’s have been scorching hot offensively as of late, and Khris Davis has been right in the middle of it all. Last night extended his hit streak, and that now makes it 8 games in a row. I’m also digging the 52% hard contact rate for the slugger…although he’s no J.D. Martinez who currently has a 63% hard contact for those wondering. That was also your Absurd April Stat of the Day.
Evan Longoria (3B, San Francisco Giants) – 3-4, R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. After starting ice cold on the year, Longo has finally gotten it going with a modest 3-game hit streak. This also marks his 3rd straight multi-hit game and his 4th in the last 5. He’s still infuriating OBP owners, however, as he has taken just 1 walk this season.
Mitch Moreland (1B, Boston Red Sox) – 3-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB. Just another Red Sox hitter getting some love on this fine Thursday morning. Moreland has gotten sporadic playing time this year with just 36 plate appearances thus far, and last night was his first dong of the season. Last night also tripled his RBI output for the year. For another fun fact analyzing far too small of a sample size, he has 5 walks to just 3 strikeouts on the year. Watch out, Joey Votto!
Kevin Pillar (CF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI. When your team scores 15 runs in a game, you’re going to have a few guys pop up in the Batter’s Box article. No Blue Jay is safe! Anyways, Pillar has actually been very good this season with a triple slash of .317/.349/.467 on the year. Last night also extended his hit streak to 9 games, and the Jays have started moving him up to the 5 or 6 slot in the lineup. Can he build off the 16 HR/15 SB season from a year ago? Wish I had shares to find out.
Corey Seager (SS, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 3-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB. He started the year pretty slow, but he’s now got a 4-game hit streak as he begins to heat up. He came into this one with a paltry .212/.278/.273 triple slash, and hopefully, he can continue to build off of last night’s ventures against the Padres.
Ryan Zimmerman (1B, Washington Nationals) – 3-4, 3 R, 2 HR, 3B, 4 RBI. After last year’s out-of-nowhere, late-career renaissance, Zimmerman has plummeted back down to Earth this past April. He came into this game with an uninspiring 2 R/1 HR/6 RBI/.121 stat line, which means he officially tripled his HR total in just one game. I’m not in a full-panic mode with him yet, but I am very concerned.
Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates) – 2-5, R, 2B, 3 RBI. Did you know that the Pirates…and yes I mean the Pirates…have been the highest-scoring offense in the National League? That is not a typo. AND they’ve been doing it in the rain, snow, and freezing cold temperatures. Kudos, Buccos! Anyways, Bell has still yet to club a homerun on the year, but you have to be encouraged by the number of routine singles he’s been getting. That’s sarcasm, folks.
Cody Bellinger (1B, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 2-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI. This now makes it 6 in a row for Bellinger’s hit streak, and he has also hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. The thing that stands out to me so far, however, is his greatly improved 19% strikeout rate. It was a big issue for him a year ago, and if he can keep it anywhere close to this level, we’ve got a possible big jump in batting average coming.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers) – 2-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI. It was Miggy’s birthday yesterday, so I guess that makes his homerun a birthday dong! Love it! I’m also loving that Miggy-esque 11% walk rate to pair with the 20% K rate on the young season. It is early, but I am slightly concerned with the 55% groundball rate that could make 20-25 HR feel too ambitious in a hurry.
Yoenis Cespedes (CF, New York Mets) – 2-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI. The Mets exploded for 9 runs in the 8th inning against Washington last night, and they were actually behind when Todd Frazier came to the plate. “That escalated quickly,” said every Nats fan after that inning. Anywho, this was actually Cespedes’ first homerun since April 5th, and he’s had just 1 extra base hit since then as well. But when you break a cold spell like that, you go hard and hit a grand slam. And that’s just what Cespedes did.
Rafael Devers (3B, Boston Red Sox) – 2-5, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. Really big fan of this guy coming into the season, and he’s been nothing short of spectacular since we started. Last night was his first career grand salami, and he now has a very impressive 15 RBI on the year. This also marks his 6th multi-hit game of the season. Huge upside looks to be coming to fruition in the early goings.
Ryan Flaherty (2B/3B, Atlanta Braves) – 2-4, R, HR, 4 RBI. The improbable start to the season continues for the Hotlanta Braves, and it’s mainly due to big games from guys like Ryan Flaherty that have kept it going. This was actually his first homerun of the season, but don’t let that take away from his very impressive .365/.450/.500 triple slash. As long as he keeps getting playing time, I could see sneaky value here as this lineup continues to produce.
Curtis Granderson (LF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-4, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB. Should I do it? Should I go up to the top, edit the title to “Blue Jays Corner,” and call it a day? Perhaps! Grandy hits a Slammy in this one, and it genuinely feels like he saves all his best games for when I’m doing the Batter’s Box. Hmmm…maybe one of our staff members should do a Going Deep piece on THAT! Peep Granderson’s 46% hard contact rate, B-T-DUBS!
Jed Lowrie (2B, Oakland Athletics) – 2-7, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB. Quick! Without peeking at the person who this blurb is about, name the AL leader in RBI. Ok, it’s Jed Lowrie. By like…more than a few RBI too. Guys. This was his 6th HR of the year, and the 11 R/6 HR/21 RBI/.346 stat line is starting to feel like more than just a hot start. I’ve told you like 17 times the A’s are red hot right now, and Lowrie is the hottest of them all. Sorry, Khris Davis. But real talk…it’s time to pick him up. Said someone on our staff (probably) like 4 days ago.
Yangervis Solarte (2B/SS/3B, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB. Blue Jays’ corner! Solarte has been rock solid this year, and last night was his 6th multi-hit effort of the young season. He also has 11 walks to just 8 strikeouts on the year, and that’s helped his OBP jump up to a .409 mark for 2018. It’s hot north of the border!
Whit Merrifield (2B, Kansas City Royals) – 1-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB. This was actually Whit’s first homer of the year, and the Kansas City branch of the About Darn Time Department was busy with phones ringing off the hook yesterday. Despite the lack of dongs, I’m encouraged that he’s been able to maintain a 16-17% strikeout rate that’s carried over from last year. He may not be getting the big flies, but he’s only been held without a hit 4 times this season.
Dansby Swanson (SS, Atlanta Braves) – 2-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. Remember what I was saying about post-hype guys when I opened with Yoan Moncada? That all applies to Swanson as well. He’s now slashing .358/.394/.582 on the season, and he has a remarkable 9 (!!!) multi-hit games so far this year. Despite all that, I’d still love for his walk rate to catch up to that 21% strikeout rate.
Brian McCann (C, Houston Astros) – 2-4, R, 2 2B, RBI. He hasn’t given us much at all offensively yet, but neither has any catcher outside of the Bronx this year. These were actually his first two doubles of the season, and he had a mere 3 RBI coming into this one as well. Let’s hope this provides the spark he needed.
Teoscar has started all three games since his call-up (outside of 3 PPDs), and has had 19 plate appearances. Randal Grichuk sucks – don’t we think Teoscar could/should take over?
Ha LOVE your analysis of Grichuk. He has indeed sucked this year, so I see no reason why Hernandez shouldn’t at least get a chance to make an impact. I’m not rushing to pick him up just yet, but that could change as soon as I see how the Jays intend to use him.
He’s started in the 2hole every game, including the lineups for the ppd games, and vs rhp. He’s clearly an every day player. I think you underestimate how much they like him. He’s been used this way since callup.
Perhaps! And Pearce seems like the obvious guy to go to the bench if Hernandez gets regular playing time. And yeah…Hernandez > Pearce.
I forgot that Morales comes off the DL tomorrow, so I guess you were right about waiting to see Teoscar’s role. I’m still very bullish on him though – they didn’t bother to wait for him to get some hits before slotting him in front Smoak. It was immediate. And all he’s done is rake.
If this was the Rockies (McMahon) or the Athletics (Barreto) they surely would have kept him on the bench to start vets :P
Seriously, what are Oak and Col thinking having those guys watch from the bench?
And Teoscar survives the return of Morales. Hooray!
Ha yes, that was my armchair analytics on Grichuk
Thoughts on Matt Kemp? Worth a pickup over Hanigar or Desmond?
I’d take him over both of those names at the moment. He’s hot right now, getting the at bats, and producing. My gut says Desmond finishes with the best season of all 3 though.
Last night was Moncada in a nutshell. He started 2-2 and it looked like he might really be putting something together – he went 0-5 from that point forward. One thing that I don’t typically see addressed with Yoan is his value in pts leagues – even his bust of 2017 was pretty valuable in my format at least. He walks a lot, so that AVG isn’t really a death sentence when you consider the rest of the counting stats… if you play roto, then he is murdering your AVG though.
Ha! Great point about his night. And yes…pretty much what we’ve come to expect from him. I just think he was horribly undervalued coming into the year. I saw too many owners just assuming he wouldn’t take a step forward. But yes…he will more than likely hurt your average when it’s all said and done. I’m still hanging on to my shares for the upside.
What are you thoughts on Ozuna? Not walking much, not driving in runs, power seems down this year. I’m not sure if I remember correctly, but is he hitting more GB too? Understood that the lineup and protection isn’t as good as it was last year in Miami as it is in St. Louis.
Ozuna is an interesting case. An obvious candidate for regression after last year saw career-highs in across the board. That being said, I wouldn’t panic yet. The ISO is way down and should move up to the mean eventually. The hard contact rate is actually up as is the line drive rate while the flyball % is down. Makes me think the ball just isn’t carrying for him yet. xStats says you should expect something closer to 2016 than 2017 when it’s all said and done, and I agree. 25 HR/75 RBI/75 R feels right.
I traded Jose Martinez and Tim Anderson for him (Anderson was bench player for me that I wouldn’t replace Bregman at SS for). Wondering if the deal ends up being a wash. Was hoping for bigger numbers from Ozuna.
What do you expect from Hoskins? Everyone was projecting 35-40 / 100. He’s hitting for average, but power has yet to catch up.
Hmmm…Jose Martinez is a favorite of much of the staff here, but I understand the logic behind what you did. xStats is pretty high on Martinez as well and favors his triple slash over Ozuna’s. However, I think Ozuna finishes with better counting stats.
As for Hoskins, don’t fret. I think 35-40 was a little ambitious, but he should challenge for 30/90 no problem. Very talented player.
In a shallow OBP league context, would you consider Merrifield a significant upgrade over Cesar Hernandez (who seems, at least in the early going, to be running more than in past years)? Whit’s on the wire, but I already have Cesar at UT, and Ramirez and Albies at 2B and MI (and Gallo at 3B and Smoak at CI, so nowhere really to use Ramirez’s 3B eligibility).
Go. Grab. Whit. Now. Very surprised that talent like that is on the wire. While Hernandez is going to have the better OBP, Merrifield has more power and speed upside. You’re already loaded at the position, but I’d grab Whit now, and try to make a move. Possibly take advantage of Hernandez’s solid start to upgrade somewhere else?
Thanks, Jake – couldn’t tell you why Whit was dropped, but I’m gonna try to grab him in FAAB. That said, Buxton was also recently dropped – I only have roster flexibility to add one, so who would you say is the better OBP league add of the two?
I’ll say Whit, but Buxton’s upside is bigger. The difference is Whit has done it over a full season, and I can’t believe I’m giving Whit the nod because of that. That’s usually the negative about him…that he’s only done it over one outlier season. But until we see a full season of productivity from Buxton, I’m siding with Whit on this one.
Standard 5×5 season-long roto. Possible trade in play where I give up Ozuna and Weaver for Judge. I think Weaver is replaceable. Also, there’s a 200 games started max in my league and having seven starters has me above the pace. Do you like this deal?
C B. McCann
1B Freeman / Abreu
2B Schoop / Merrifield
OF Trout / Ozuna / Springer / Pollock / Buxton / Acuna
SP Klubot / Severino / Bauer / Quintana / Corbin / Godley / Weaver
I’d make that deal for sure. Weaver got roughed up today, but I still would have said that before the outing. Your OF is going to be absolutely stacked. Good luck!
Thanks, Jake. Does Judge’s high BABIP concern you? Looks like a repeat of last year at this time. What AVG do you think he end up with ROS?
Also, I copied this from Razzball/Steamer ROS projections. Agree with these?
Aaron Judge 88.4 33.1 86.9 7.3 0.249
Marcell Ozuna 73.2 26.8 88.2 2.1 0.292
That seems fair and like numbers I can definitely get behind. Won’t be surprised if Ozuna falls short of the 88 RBI, but the .292 feels right.
Never mind. Saw you replied. Thank you.