Wander Franco (TB): 3-5, 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI.
In his age-20 season, Wander Franco played 70 games with 308 plate appearances and put up two-and-a-half fWAR, slashing .288/.347/.463. He came out pretty strong given his 80 future value. Franco’s bat has always been incredible. He posted a 150 wRC+ or greater in each season in the minors and only struck out more than he walked in Triple-A in 2021 and in the majors last year as well.
Fantasy-wise, his prospects have been a bit different. He does not steal a ton and his power is fine. Could it develop? Sure. Is his hit tool so good that it could just come naturally in a few years? Of course. But in nearly 500 total plate appearances last season, he hit 14 homers and stole seven bases. His true talent for fantasy will be his average and his run-scoring potential hitting atop the Rays lineup.
He roared out of the gate this season with four multi-hit games in his first five, adding three more since in his next six contests. His average sits above .400 with a 211 wRC+. He has struck out only four times but has only drawn one walk. Yesterday he crushed his first homer of the season, a 417-foot jack to left-center. Additionally, before last night, seven of his ten balls in play over 100 MPH were outs. His hard-hit rate is a solid 50% but he still could be seeing some better results.
The last note is his plate discipline this early with the one walk. He is chasing over 40% of pitches out of the zone and is making slightly less contact than last season. This may just be early season hiccups to iron out and Franco is not a walking fiend but that walk rate should increase.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
Eugenio Suárez (SEA): 1-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
Suárez hit one blast yesterday 415 feet and then added three dinkers for outs. At least he didn’t strike out. He already looks like he’s in mid-season form with an identical walk and strikeout rate as last season and nearly the same batting average. If you added him, this is what you signed up for. Potentially 40 home runs with a .200 batting average. At least he’s on a better team?
Jo Adell (LAA): 3-5, 2B, RBI.
I made the quick decision at the start of the season to drop Adell as he was my last bat and a late-round flier. But of course, he picks it up immediately. Yesterday he added three hits, but only one was a hard hit. And he struck out twice. He may be getting a few more hits and adding a home run here and there but he just can’t not strike out. He literally has a strikeout in each game this season and his K rate is 47.5%. That’s 19 strikeouts! In 40 plate appearances! It’s like he’s facing deGrom every at-bat.
Kurt Suzuki (LAA): 1-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB.
Some might ask why Kurt Suzuki is still playing and some will definitely ask why he’s in today’s Batter’s Box. Well, he had a solid game! On base three times with a couple runs and RBIs? Not bad. A 149 wRC+ through his first 22 games will keep him on the roster. Should he ever be on your roster? No. Not even two-catcher leagues.
Patrick Wisdom (CHC): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. A player with 28 home runs in only 375 plate appearances and a 40% strikeout rate. I wasn’t one to roll the dice on him this year, but he’s looking the same. Phenomenal xwOBACON (.522) with a 37.5% strikeout rate. He only has two homers—both of which came in these last two contests—and he’s now up to ten RBIs on the year. There is a benefit to hitting behind Seiya Suzuki.
Tommy Edman (STL): 2-4, 3B, 2 RBI.
Edman may have been one of the more overlooked players in this year’s draft. He was going in the low 100s but he provides excellent run-scoring potential, a solid average, and the ever sought after stolen bases. He doesn’t strike out and he has enough pop where a 20/20 season isn’t out of the picture. He was going a few rounds after Jonathan India and yet could definitely outperform him, especially on a better team. Edman has hit in each game so far this year but hasn’t hit the ball that hard (25.9% hard-hit rate).
Francisco Lindor (NYM): 4-9, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI, SB.
Lindor had a day yesterday, walking off the first game of the doubleheader and tallying two hits in each contest. He added a steal as well. He has walked nine times and only struck out six with three home runs and steals on the year. He hasn’t particularly hit the ball hard much (38.9% hard-hit rate and a 105.4 max exit velocity) but he’s putting it in play and getting on base.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (NYY): 2-3, R, BB, 2 SB.
Most of IKF’s value the last couple of seasons was due to his catcher eligibility. That was true in Yahoo! last season but it is no longer the case. As only a shortstop I can’t see IKF having much value at all. He could steal 20 bags again with an average batting average but he won’t bring anything else to the table. He did steal his first two last night. Hopefully, that starts a trend.
Gary Sánchez (MIN): 2-4, 2 2B, RBI.
On the other side of the Yankees-Twins off-season swap is Gary. He is catcher-eligible and most if not all of his fantasy value is his home run potential out of that spot. He’s only hit one home run so far this season, but he added two 105 MPH doubles last night. He keeps striking out though as usual.
Salvador Perez (KC): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
I’m having a little déjà vu. Last Tuesday Perez crushed two dingers. And what do we have here? A couple more! I think we can start banking on Two-Shot Tuesdays. Both of his home runs last night were at a launch angle over 40 degrees but about 105 MPH or a bit harder. These things were moon shots. He’s been struggling with blurred vision recently, something he had last year for a bit as well, so keep an eye on that.
C.J. Cron (COL): 1-2, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB.
Cron has just been raking. He added his MLB-leading sixth home run yesterday. He’s slashing .326/.362/.837 early this season and has picked up right where he left off to end 2021. In the second half of 2021, he had a 142 wRC+ and 16 dingers in 272 plate appearances. Playing in Coors will certainly help. He has only played two away games so far this season.
Julio Rodríguez (SEA): 1-3, R, BB, 2 SB.
Another highly hyped prospect, Julio Rodríguez has struggled in his first few games. He’s struck out at a 43.6% rate while only hitting .143. That’s 17 strikeouts and only five hits. 11 of those strikeouts have also been looking. It’s been a rough start. However, he’s now swiped four bags including two last night. I’ve always thought of him mainly as a power threat but it could be possible we see him as a 30/30 threat every season.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)
Jim, the crazy thing to consider about Franco. Look at all the top prospects who have faltered since being called up. Adell, Kelenic, Witt, J-Rod, Abrams to name a few. Franco just turned 21 last month and for a 21 year old with a shortened spring training and only 328 MLB ABs under his belt, the future looks so bright, I gotta wear shades (Timbuk 3 in the house!). The plate discipline will surely tighten up with his generational hit tool and I definitely see the power develop the same way it did for Lindor and Correa.
Exactly. He is frightening. I want to believe he can actually fight to hit .400.
It’s time to drop Grisham for Wisdom, innit? Smh…that guy’s 2020 is looking more and more like a fluke every day. Sad because he had leadoff locked up early on, and pretty much could only lose it the way he has so far, namely by doing nothing…and he’s not even a platoon bat, with similar numbers against lefties and righties…
And my team ended up having lots of steals and high run scoring anyway so his skills are even less needed, whenever he does heat up…
Great column as always Jim!
Right? Grisham is quite frustrating. I thought he was ready to go after 2020. He was just 23! It seemed perfect.
I’m still so scared of Wisdom. He is not going to stop striking out around 40% of the time. so he’ll be hitting closer to .200 than he has recently.
Not sure if I’d pull the trigger yet on that. Grisham could get something in a trade if you want to sell low and buy low simultaneously. Maybe Gallo? I would prefer him over Wisdom and Grisham (not sure if that would be possible in your league though).