Seiya Suzuki (CHC): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Seiya Suzuki is possibly the biggest bat coming from Japan since Ohtani. He hit 38 home runs in his final season in NPB while posting a 1.000 OPS since his age-21 season. Now 27 and in MLB, Suzuki still has a lot to prove. Projections mostly had him as an above-average hitter coming into the season but Steamer nearly had him with 30 homers and a 144 wRC+, which for a rookie is astonishing.
Outside of hitting the ball hard, he also has great plate discipline. For the last three seasons in NPB, he drew nearly as many walks as strikeouts. That can easily change with the move to MLB, but it is a good baseline. Additionally, this first week of the season has called the attention of another rookie, Steven Kwan. Kwan has yet to swing and miss. However, Suzuki only has three swinging strikes so far and two came in yesterday’s game. Suzuki also takes a lot of strikes. He has multiple three-pitch strikeouts without swinging the bat.
But who cares about making contact? We want home runs! And Suzuki hit two bombs yesterday, making it three on the season. They went nearly identical distances at 397 and 398 feet with nearly identical exit velocities, 102.8 and 102.4. He is crushing the ball early this season but only if he actually swings the bat. Five strikeouts with only three swings and misses are way too many.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Tuesday:
José Ramírez (CLE): 3-5, 3B, HR, R, 6 RBI.
Ramírez had an odd day at the plate; a bloop single off the glove of an infielder and a triple that probably should have been an out. However, he did belt a grand slam in the ninth at 103.6 MPH capping off a six RBI game. We know he’s going to put up great numbers but it seems like his surrounding cast is actually coming together a bit more than initially anticipated. He very well could be the top fantasy player this year.
Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 3-6, 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI.
Ozuna was ripping the ball all around the field yesterday with five hard-hit balls and three extra-base hits. It’s a hot start for him while hitting in the middle of a stellar lineup. He’ll be plenty good moving forward.
Andrew McCutchen (MIL): 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI.
This veteran has been bouncing around the league after ending his time with the Pirates and is settled in Milwaukee for now. He has been see-ball, hit-ball so far with no walks, three strikeouts, and a lot of good contact (61.5% hard-hit rate). Despite no hard hits in his four balls in play yesterday, he still added a single and double while plating three. Not bad old man.
Anthony Rendon (LAA): 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Nothing special about this game, but it’s nice to see when an injured player makes a comeback. He underwent hip surgery in August which should resolve the hip problems he faced early in 2021. Hips are slightly important to hitting successfully. He has not done much yet to start the year, striking out 31.6% and adding only his second hit yesterday. Also, his home run was only 358 feet and only 92.9 MPH. Be patient but you should be getting something that resembled old Rendon back this season.
Salvador Perez (KC): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
All Sal does is hit home runs now I guess. In his first game at DH, he stepped up big with two 400-foot dingers for his first two on the season. He is coming off a monster year with 48 dingers, by far the most he’s hit in one season. The benefit of Perez though, is that he plays way more than most other catchers so even if he comes back down to earth, he should still hit well and get in about 550 plate appearances.
Andrés Giménez (CLE): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Reminder that this guy is only 23 years old and was a top prospect. Giménez ripped a triple and a home run (421 feet!) yesterday and has only struck out twice in this early season. He is playing for a roster spot and so far he is keeping himself in the lineup. A full season out of him could net a 20/20 year and even more stolen bases. If stolen bases are tough to come by on your squad Giménez should be available for a pickup.
Ji-Man Choi (TB): 3-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Choi has always been a solid bat in the solid Rays lineup but he never plays enough to merit a fantasy roster spot. So far this year, he has eight hits in 17 plate appearances and has walked once more than he has struck out (4 to 3). And he’s spanking the ball (70% hard-hit rate) and had two hard hits last night adding one that was 94 MPH. It’s a nice start to keep an eye on.
Tyler Naquin (CIN): 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB.
I love the early season with small samples. Naquin has a 20% hard-hit rate but a 50% sweet spot rate. His xstats on Baseball Savant are all fantastic, .804 xSLG, .691 xwOBACON, despite the 20% hard-hit rate. He was a fine player last year and is shaping up to be a fine one this year as well but probably not rosterable.
Luis Robert (CWS): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, 2 SB.
Robert drove through with a combo meal, adding two more stolen bases to his early-season total of four. He also added his first dinger of the season, a 110 MPH bomb. He also hit a ball 111 MPH for a double play which is very cool. Yesterday also was his first strikeout on the season. Increased discipline from Robert would be a beautiful addition.
Albert Pujols (STL): 3-4, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Milestone watch! Pujols hit his first home run back in a Cardinals uniform for the 680th of his career. While we’re talking about milestones, Juan Soto also launched a 451-foot home run for his 100th career dinger.
Jed Lowrie (OAK): 1-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
I’ll always be fascinated by Jed Lowrie’s career. He came out of nowhere with a career resurgence in 2017 and 2018 after fixing his sleep issues. Then he languished with the Mets for two years because they wouldn’t let him get surgery. And now he’s back on the A’s producing average hitting again. He is 38 now and in a miserable A’s lineup so I doubt he should have fantasy relevance this year.
Thairo Estrada (SF): 2-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB.
Estrada is getting solid playing time with Tommy La Stella and Evan Longoria sidelined, and he is making the most of it. Both of his hits were over 100 MPH and he added a stolen base. He has not gotten much MLB play time so there is still plenty more to see of him. But he put the ball in play a lot last season for an OPS above .800 in 132 plate appearances. Overall, he is not much of a base stealer but he has decent speed. I would not get too excited for him this fantasy season but if he’s playing, it’s worth keeping an eye on him.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)