(Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)
Every Tuesday I will be looking at a few players who have had abnormally good or bad stats within the past week and try to determine what is real and what is just noise. For fantasy players constantly making moves on the waiver wire or in trades, the sooner we can determine legit breakouts or slumps the better it will be for our teams. I know I’m excited to have some real numbers to look at finally, so let’s get to it.
Joe Panik (17 PA / 2 HR / .400 AVG)
Joe Panik deserves some attention because hitting two home runs this quickly is pretty abnormal for him. His full major league seasons have yielded 8, 10 and 10 home runs. Panik has always had a great batting average so if he could add power it would bring him right into fantasy relevance. Unfortunately, I cannot report that this looks like it will stick. Panik has an average exit velocity of 84.4 mph which is in the bottom fifth of the league. Having his very limited batted balls (15) including two home runs, you’d expect it to be higher than that. His fly ball percentage is up a bit thus far but without hitting the ball harder it won’t last. Panik has always been a light-hitting contact player in a terrible park for home runs (AT&T Park) and I believe he will continue that this year. He deserves credit for hitting the homers off Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, but that’s about it. The verdict I’m giving him is NOT LEGIT.
Mitch Haniger (11 PA / 2 HR / 0 K)
For the Haniger fans out there, I’m guessing they are starting to get hyped like they did last year. It was a total frenzy last April when he started hot. I will say Haniger is currently top 5 in average exit velocity at 98.9 mph as of writing this (also puts Panik’s average exit velocity of 84.4 mph into perspective). At this point, we aren’t even at a full week of games so it’s really sketchy to look at leaderboards with any sort of confidence. Zero strikeouts are great to see, even if it’s only 11 plate appearances. Haniger struck out 15 times in 40 at-bats this spring and it was starting to look worrisome. While I don’t want to suggest Haniger is going to go off for 40 home runs this season, I will say his contact rate is very good so far and he’s crushed the ball. There’s definitely cause for optimism here and I could see him put up the season he only hinted at last year between the injuries. I’m saying LEGIT.
Paul DeJong (16 PA / 3 HR / 6 K)
Paul DeJong has looked great hitting three home runs thus far. With one walk and six strikeouts, he’s also shown exactly what we saw last year. He hits the ball fairly hard but even more importantly he avoids the ground balls so we should expect there to be plenty of home runs to make his value worth it at shortstop. The poor plate discipline will likely also make him susceptible to prolonged slumps as well so I would caution that this is little more than a nice little hot streak from DeJong. I’m going with NOT LEGIT.
Trevor Story (17 PA, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 K)
Trevor Story has tantalized everyone since his power breakout in early 2016. A popular sleeper pick this year, Story is on the verge of being a backend shortstop in fantasy lineups or occupying the waiver wire. Thus far his 17 plate appearances have yielded 7 strikeouts. His swing and miss has been so bad that any power he offers is simply not worth it. I’m also starting to get worried if he doesn’t get his strikeout issues tamed he might even get replaced by Brendan Rodgers, who looks to start the year in AAA. It’s basically the same old STORY with him and at this point, the little hope we had for him is fading. Verdict: LEGIT. Unfortunately here that’s not a good thing.
Jose Ramirez (17 PA, 0 H)
Most people drafted Ramirez for the “safe” batting average and are now left wondering why they are getting their butts kicked in week one. Well for starters it’s your own fault because I was saying all along that Ramirez wasn’t worth a second round pick. That said, this is not the time to give up on Ramirez. He hasn’t struck out once, so there’s not likely a contact issue going on. His average exit velocity is down but there’s also only a few days worth of data. Having faced Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Mike Leake, and J.C. Ramirez we could’ve expected a little something more from him but I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions just yet. Ramirez is still one of the best contact hitters in the game and he will find his groove soon enough. NOT LEGIT