The notorious free-swinger Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins) has gotten off to a slow start in the batting average department thank to some bad BABIP luck, but he has three home runs and seven RBI over his last two games, including his 2-5 performance last night with two home runs and three RBI, and is walking nearly three times as often as he did last season.
It’s all too easy to look at a player who chases as much as Rosario has been known to chase and think “oh, that can’t be good”, but it’s worth noting that it can can be very good, at least according to the findings by the great Dan Richards in a piece he wrote in the offseason. Players like Rosario with plus bat speed and bat control can make the most of their talents by being aggressive, even on pitches outside the zone.
That leads us back to Rosario and what we’ve seen in 2020. He’s walking a LOT more than he ever has—10.1% of the time so far this season compared to 3.7% last season and 4.5% over his career. That, in and of itself, doesn’t mean you should be racing out to acquire him or anything, but it’s very interesting to watch, especially if he continues to show excellent strikeout rates (currently 13.0%). The batting average, which is usually a hallmark of his production, has been rough and Statcast doesn’t suggest he’s being unlucky (I know his BABIP is low, but xBA is a better measure of luck and it shows a pretty bleak picture), but I’m willing to accept that as a small sample problem.
Long story short, Eddie Rosario is being different, and that’s cool. We have a Going Deep coming out soon that goes into much more detail, so keep an eye out for it. Being more patient might not end up being a good thing, but it also could be a very good thing. This whole “gotta act now” thing for 2020 is about stuff exactly like this—acting quickly on things that seem truly different. It doesn’t really apply to a guy like Eddie, who is universally owned and too valuable to casually trade for in most formats, but keep an eye on this stuff for any player on your watch list.
Manny Piña (C, Milwaukee Brewers) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. The good news is that he has a hit in each of his last appearances, has been very disciplined at the dish, and hit sixth in this contest. The bad news is that he’s still just a backup to Omar Narvaez, though it’s worth noting that Narvaez has struggled mightily so far. I’m not sure Manny will ever be the full-time catcher for the Brewers, and therefore he probably won’t be relevant in single-catcher leagues.
Jason Heyward (OF, Chicago Cubs) – 3-5, HR, R, 4 RBI. In NL-only and super deep leagues, he has value because his glove will keep him in the lineup almost every day. In all other formats, there just isn’t enough contact, power, or speed to really catch my attention. He can get hot here and there, but the floor is pretty darn low.
Manny Machado (SS/3B, San Diego Padres) – 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI. Ignore the .232 batting average for now—Statcast suggests it should be closer to .298 and the low BABIP endorses that finding. He’s a borderline top-50 overall player for me.
Eloy Jimenez (OF, Chicago White Sox) – 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI. Being a young player means volatility, and Eloy has been quite volatile. His overall line is not so impressive, but basically, he’s had five really good games and a bunch of 0-fers. I’m not seeing anything overly alarming in his plate discipline or approach, so this looks like normal young player stuff. You need to hold him, and in many cases start him, even through the rough patches.
Jason Castro (C, Los Angeles Angels) – 2-3, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI, BB. The veteran lefty catcher walks a lot, strikes out a lot, and can hit a few home runs, and nothing we’ve seen so far changes that. He’s purely a streamer when the Angels face a slew of softer righties and you weren’t able to grab a more enticing option like Austin Nola, Travis d’Arnaud, or Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Hunter Pence (OF, San Francisco Giants) – 2-2, HR, R, 3 RBI. He started the season on an 0-29 skid, and with the rise of some unexpected bats in San Francisco has led to Pence finding time on the bench. You can’t hold him on a 12-team roster right now, but he should at least be on your watch list. He’s looked a lot better in his last four appearances and was on a ludicrous 36 home run, 12 steal full-season pace last year.
Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox) – 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. There was a mild health scare with his hip, but it looks like all is well for Abreu. The numbers might be a tad lower than you hoped, but another game or two against the Tigers should turn that right around.
Mike Brosseau (2B, Tampa Bay Rays) – 2-3, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI. It has been a hot pair of starts for Brosseau, with two home runs, two doubles, three runs scored, and three RBI. I’m more interested, though, in the fact that he continues to hit in very advantageous spots in the order, leading off last night and hitting either fifth, sixth, or second in his other starts. It’s a development worth watching in AL-only leagues or other very deep formats.
Avisail Garcia (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – 3-4, HR, R, RBI. It was good to see Avi hit his first home run of the season, and intriguing to see him do it as the leadoff hitter for Milwaukee. With Cain opting out, someone has to move into that spot, and the aggressive Avisail Garcia is a non-conventional-but-interesting choice. It isn’t ideal for his RBI totals, but at bats are a key consideration in the short season, and leadoff hitters get the most of them.
Raimel Tapia (OF, Colorado Rockies) – 3-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, SB. This was by far the best game of the season for Tapia, who was popular in drafts as a late-round outfield sleeper. Those of you who reach out to me on Twitter or in the comments might have noticed that I am not a big fan of Rockies outfielders not named Charlie Blackmon because I have zero faith in Rockies management. They continue to sit and otherwise jerk around with young players. Outside of dynasty and 16+ team leagues, I’m not holding Tapia.
Austin Hays (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – 2-5, HR, R, 2 RBI. You can keep holding him in dynasty, because I think he has some interesting tools, but you can drop him everywhere else. I like that he doesn’t look overmatched, but I don’t like that he hasn’t been able to make solid contact. He might steal a few more bases, but the bat isn’t there yet.
Jurickson Profar (2B, San Diego Padres) – 2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI. As Justin Mason (who has been essential in helping me grow as a writer and analyst) would say, “Profar isn’t that good [for fantasy purposes].” He once was widely regarded as a promising prospect, but we’ve now seen over 500 games of action and his .232/.315/.390 line just doesn’t do it for me. He’s getting playing time, but I am not holding on to him anywhere, especially now that he’s lost much of his positional eligibility.
Edwin Encarnacion (1B, Chicago White Sox) – 1-5, HR, 2 R, RBI. He’s now on a four-game hitting streak and may be on the cusp of breaking out of his slow start. It’s worth noting that he has been a notoriously slow starter throughout his career—his March/April OPS over his career is at least 75 points lower than it is in any other month, and March/April is the only period where he has a strikeout rate over 20%. In every other month, he has been fantastic, so if you can possibly hold him, try to (but in 10- and 12-teamers with no CI spot and a short bench, I get it if you can’t).
Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, Baltimore Orioles) – 2-7, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI. At some point, we have to accept that he could be a .300 hitter. In 151 games as an Oriole, he’s hitting .310 with 76 runs scored, 14 home runs, 60 RBI, and five steals. The counting numbers are a bit underwhelming, but don’t underestimate the impact of a .310 batting average for a guy who gets as many at bats as Alberto. If you are holding Kolten Wong, Eduardo Escobar, or Rougned Odor and have a batting average hole to climb out of, Alberto is your man.
Mike Ford (1B, New York Yankees) – 2-5, 2 2B, 3 RBI. Seven months ago, Shelly Verougstraete (WHICH I CAN NOW SPELL ALL ON MY OWN!) told us Ford was interesting. That is all I personally need to know to put a guy on my radar, because Shelly is one of the best in the business. The DH slot has opened up a bit with Giancarlo Stanton hitting the IL, and Ford will be a primary beneficiary. In 50 games last season, he slashed .259/.350/.559 with 12 home runs, and that has a place on a lot of rosters as a corner infielder.
Christian Walker (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks) – 2-4, HR, R, RBI, 2 BB. We haven’t seen the home runs we saw last year quite yet, but he’s making plenty of contact and hitting plenty of doubles, which will likely become home runs at some point.
Jesse Winker (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – 2-2, HR, R, RBI, BB. After getting just two hits in his first 10 games and striking out 31% of the time, he’s turned it around over the last seven games, going 11-23 with two home runs and two doubles and vastly improved plate discipline. The bad start likely landed him on many of your waiver wires and he would be an excellent back-end outfielder in most formats, especially if your league uses OBP.
Charlie Blackmon (OF, Colorado Rockies) – 3-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI. As you may have heard, he’s hitting .500 through 74 plate appearances. That’s as other-wordly as it sounds.
Nick Solak (OF, Texas Rangers) – 3-4, 3 RBI. He should have finally picked up outfield eligibility in most leagues, making him much easier to roster. He hasn’t hit a home run yet, but he’s hitting in good spots in the lineup, has three multi-hit games in a row, is walking almost as much as he strikes out, and has a .288 batting average and .373 OBP. He doesn’t have an elite power tool, but in a full season I’d expect 20-ish home runs. He’s worth an add as a back-end outfielder in a lot of formats.
Renato Nunez (1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles) – 3-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB. Yup, he’s still mashing. He’s been scooped up in a majority of leagues but if he’s out there in yours, you should consider adding him. There’s high-end power here and decent counting stats. The batting average will creep down a bit over time, but that’s fine.
Cavan Biggio (2B, Toronto Blue Jays) – 2-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB, SB. Look, the batting average will be tough to swallow, but the power and speed are legitimate and the next time we have a full season, I’ll be projecting 20 home runs and 20 steals, if not more.
Fernando Tatis Jr (SS, San Diego Padres) – 2-6, R, SB. He’s the best hitter in baseball right now. While many pointed out his gap between his batting average and expected batting average, what folks often overlooked was that the gap shrank considerably over the course of the season as he adjusted to major league pitching. In other words, what started as luck became skill.
Shohei Ohtani (DH, Los Angeles Angels) – 2-4, R, BB, SB. There hasn’t been a ton of positive Ohtani news as of late, but this is now his third two-hit game in a row. He also stole his second base of the season and seems much more comfortable at the plate, drawing a walk in his last three games as well. While it may be some time before we can enjoy Ohtani the pitcher, Ohtani the hitter is still here, and is more than capable of providing everyday value with his power, speed, and ratios.
Byron Buxton (OF, Minnesota Twins) – 3-4, SB. The plate discipline scares me a lot, but he stole his first base and is currently healthy and playing. He’s a ticking time bomb in terms of both health and production, but if he’s playing, I won’t talk you out of rostering him—I just generally prefer to make it someone else’s headache.
Photo by Bryan Singer/Icon Sportswire