Batter’s Box: You’re going to help us, Mr. Anderson.
Coming off the board as the 15th shortstop-eligible player in drafts, Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox) is doing his best to show everyone that he deserved more attention in March. His latest piece of evidence is the 3-4 performance from Sunday where he added a run, a home run and three RBI to his already impressive stat line. The biggest knock on Anderson coming into the season was his plate discipline—Anderson rarely walks and prior to this season struck out in about a quarter of his trips to the plate, leading to a sub-.300 OBP. While he’s still very aggressive at the plate, Anderson has improved a bit in making contact, particularly on pitches outside of the zone. This extra effort has helped him avoid the strikeout and boost his early batting average while making him the No. 4 overall player on the season thus far on ESPN’s player rater in standard 5×5 leagues. While we can’t expect Mr. Anderson to maintain his .331/.362/.535 line forever, his 20-home run, 20-stolen base potential will make him a valuable asset in all formats, even with 50 points subtracted from his batting average, OBP and slugging percentage (which is roughly where his expected stats say he should be). Between Anderson and Adalberto Mondesi, there’s probably some kind of lesson about not fearing or overly discounting players simply because they don’t walk. I’m not sure if I’ve learned it yet, but I’ll keep paying attention to it.
George Springer (OF, Houston Astros)—5-5, 5 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. The two dingers on Sunday put him at 15 on the season, the most in the American League and secpnd-most in all of baseball (behind some guy named Christian Yelich). The 29-year-old has been a top-five player in all formats so far this season and looks ready to be even better than he was in his brilliant 2017 campaign. I’m ready to predict a 100 R/35 HR/100 RBI/10 SB/.290 stat line when it’s all said and done. If you managed to grab him in the third or fourth round of your draft, you’re doing pretty well for yourself.
Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates)—4-4, 3 R, HR, 2B, 5 RBI, BB. Since his hitting streak began on April 28, Bell is hitting .408/.463/.796 with four home runs and nine RBI. His quality of contact is WAY up so far in 2019, and he’s already had more than half of the barrels he hit in 2018 in just a quarter of the batted balls. This type of solid contact combined with his plate discipline makes him roster-worthy in all 12-team formats and in 10-teamers that utilize OBP or that use a corner infield spot. If you’re in something a bit shallower than that, you can still own Bell, but if the power goes out be ready to move on.
Kris Bryant (3B, Chicago Cubs)—3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI. He already has five home runs and 13 RBI in May for the Cubs, which is as many RBI and fewer home runs than he had in all of March and April. This 12-day stretch has raised his batting average by 30 points and his slugging by 100 points. This is why we don’t quit on all-stars before May. This will not be the last time we are reminded of this lesson.
Byron Buxton (OF, Minnesota Twins)—3-3, R, 2B, RBI, BB. For everything we’ve gone through waiting for him to break out and be the athletic superstar we dreamed of, a 12-home run, 25-stolen base season doesn’t sound like a bad outcome, and that’s what I’m seeing so far.
Michael Chavis (2B/3B, Boston Red Sox)—3-5, 5 RBI. I don’t want to rain on the hit parade that Chavis has going in his MLB debut, but a .224 xBA is probably closer to the true Chavis than the .282 batting average he has so far. He’s a promising young player but probably not a budding star. The power is real, though. He does have plenty of that.
Francisco Cervelli (C, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-4, R, 2B. He’s a boring old catcher with limited power, but that plays in the current landscape. His lineup spot is usually pretty nice too, making him a solid points league play.
Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)—3-3, 2 R, 2B, BB, SB. Like Springer, he’s rebounding nicely from a somewhat disappointing 2018 and looking like an early MVP candidate. It’s nice to see the stolen base as well, and he’s got the legs to challenge 20 stolen bases on the season based on his current pace.
Omar Narvaez (C, Seattle Mariners)—2-4, R, HR, 2B, RBI. He’s slowed a bit after the furious start, but he will continue to contribute a high OBP, which is fantastic for a catcher. He is right on the line between a catcher you should keep and a catcher you should stream.
Willians Astudillo (C/3B/OF, Minnesota Twins)—1-5, 2B. HE’S BACK! He also hit leadoff against a lefty, which has me curious about how they plan to use him when all three catchers are healthy.
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)