Corey Seager (TEX): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Baseball fans are already exercising patience with certain hitters, but we should stretch that patience a little further with the off-kilter start to the season. Everything feels slightly…off.
It’s almost May, so many baseball fans are probably wondering why some guys are frustrating their expectations, especially those hitters who are often considered to be top-60 players. But the late start will continue to feel strange until we’re deeper into the season.
And let me just say, not everyone is actually off. In the case of Corey Seager, I can point to a slow start like everyone else, but is it really that bad? He’s batting .257. Last night he walloped a center-cut 96.7 mph fastball from Rafael Montero 417 feet to centerfield in the bottom of the 9th inning. His power stroke was a rally cry, but Texas fell short anyway.
Here are a couple other things to show Texas fans (and fantasy managers) that they’re in good hands. For his career, he has a .296/.365/.499 slash line. The power might not be there yet with an ISO at .095, but we’re talking about 80 plate appearances.
Here are some encouraging numbers. His BABIP is at .283, and traditionally it has been over .300. More importantly, check out the differentials down the line.
This is still a hitter who can reach the top-60 promised land, and in a world where a strong average is tough to find, I’m buying Seager wherever I can.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday
Aaron Judge (NYY): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Judge already has five homers on the year, and this was the second of the series against Baltimore. Judge is second only to Mike Trout in Barrel %, and I should say that Trout is at 16.4 and Judge is at 16.3. He has a .945 OPS to start the season. Plus, he’s underperforming! His xBA and xSLG are higher. In fact, his xSLG is .702. Wow! I may be wrong, but this seems like a man on a mission to pummel every baseball in sight, to silence every away-team stadium, to carry the Yanks to the postseason, and to get the offseason contract that such a performance will command.
Andrew McCutchen (MIL): 3-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
It was hard for me not to make everything about McCutchen today. My favorite part of his game so far this season is the 3 SB. Although he didn’t steal a bag last night, he hit his first homer. It’s worth remembering that he hit 26 home runs last year and stole six bases. Think about that. His AVG was a paltry .222 in 2021; he’s at .250 now. This matches expectations. There is enough left in this 35-year-old hitter’s tank to fill the stat sheet, and since he’s halfway to his stolen base totals from last year, I’m dreaming of a 25/15 season. You never know. He stole 14 in 2018.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL): 1-5, 2 SB.
After a torn ACL in 2021, Acuna finally returned to action yesterday. I’m certain every fan wanted to see a legendary game that involved several home runs from this star player. But I think something very important still happened. If you’re worried about that prodigious five-tool player losing a tool (speed), he stole two bases last night. That should make us all feel good. He stole three bases in his rehab assignment as well.
Dansby Swanson (ATL): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB.
Swanson is having a tough start to the season, to say the least, with a .209/.293/.343 line. He looked great last night, hitting a home run off a former Braves pitcher. There’s a joke here about Smyly not smiling when it happened. If you drafted Swanson for your fantasy team, you should remember that he is a gamer. His value is in the season-long format, accumulating his 27 home runs and .248 BA in 653 plate appearances. He ranked 27th in plate appearances. Health is a skill, and if he has that, he can still give you a solid return.
Pavin Smith (ARI): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.
Smith is looking a little more comfortable in the past few days, and last night he hit his first home run of the year. Smith was once a 7th overall pick, and it’s worth noting that he has only 652 plate appearances at the major-league level. In his last season at the minor-league level, he batted .291/.370/.466. Let’s give him time.
Alec Bohm (PHI): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Bohm hit his second homer last night. This is the ninth start in a row for Bohm, so it appears that Joe Girardi has handed him the starting job. It’s early, but let’s compare last year’s line to this year’s meager 56 plate appearances. In 2021, Bohm hit .247/.305/.342 and he’s currently hitting .326/.375/.500. He’s been batting sixth or seventh in the lineup. He’s 45% rostered in Yahoo leagues. It might be worth picking him up.
Kyle Tucker (HOU): 1-1, HR, R, 2 RBI.
In the eighth inning, Siri was replaced by Tucker. He was getting the night off, but sometimes the doctor is on call. The pinch-hitter smacked a go-ahead two-run homer off Matt Bush’s curveball. Tucker has been sizzling in his last 22 at-bats, but he’s had a slow start overall. He got off to a slow start last year as well, batting .264 in the first half before hitting .330 in his last 262 plate appearances.
Adam Duvall (ATL): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Duvall hit his first home run of the year last night off Ethan Roberts. Duvall hit 38 home runs last year. He hit 33 in 2019 and 31 in 2017. So the power is there. But his xBA in 2021 was .227, and it’s .208 to start the season. That’s probably the range we’ll see all year. He’s notorious for hitting home runs in bunches, so if I had him on my bench, I’d be playing him for the next week.
Austin Hedges (CLE): 2-3, HR, R, RBI.
The Guardians are struggling on their road trip, but Hedges had a good day with two hits and a home run. That blast came off a four-seam fastball from Reid Detmers and barely cleared the wall in left-center field. This former Padres pick now has two home runs on the season, and seems to be getting the bulk of the catching duties alongside Luke Maile.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)