We’re about a week into this weird season. Therefore the ranking of the top fantasy players for the year is basically meaningless, but it’s always fun to look. We take a look and see that naturally a player named Christian sits right at or near the top. And we all say his name in unison, “Christian Yel… Vázquez?” Yep, Christian Vázquez (C/1B, Boston Red Sox), the catcher ranked around the 12th available has been one of the best hitters for the first week and potentially a fifth of the fantasy regular season. Drafting catchers is always an adventure. Because they don’t play as often as other positions and aren’t as good of hitters, if you miss out on the first few, you just wait til the last round and pick your favorite off the heap that is ranked 10-15 or something. If you lucked out taking Vázquez over say Carson Kelly then good for you.
However, Vázquez’s performance to start this season is more than a sarcastic critique about drafting catchers. He has had a solid week and took it up a notch with two home runs and three RBIs off the unsuspecting Steven Matz. That’s his fourth game of the year with two hits and those were home runs three and four. So far, he’s been proving that last years coming out party was real. He came out of no where last season with his first full foray in the Red Sox starting catcher role. He finished 2019 with 23 homers, a .276 average, and 102 wRC+ in 521 plate appearances. Those are all fantastic for catcher. I doubt he’s still available in leagues with 12 or more teams but he is showing that he should have been ranked quite a bit higher. Remember he’s also hitting this well without the other top Red Sox bats performing well. Being at the top of that lineup is helpful.
Let’s see how every other hitter did Thursday:
Teoscar Hernández (OF, Toronto Blue Jays) – 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. I thought about featuring Hernández for the write up today but I’ll let you in on a little secret. Another writer has a full piece on this guy in the oven. And that started even before this two homer evening (his second two homer game of this young season). He sprung on to the scene in 2018 as a Statcast darling as someone with solid power that will strikeout a ton and won’t hit for average. So far in 2020 he’s teasing a possible breakout.
Hanser Alberto (2B/3B, Baltimore Orioles) – 2-6, HR, R, 2 RBI. Alberto is off to a hot start batting .400 in the short season. Yesterday he notched his first homer of the season. Those won’t be too frequent for him as he rarely hits the ball too hard. However, Alberto is known for putting the ball in play. A sub-10% K rate was one of the best in the league which led to his .305 batting average. You won’t see too much production being on the Orioles without their best hitter but with this start we may see him in the two hole frequently.
Rio Ruiz (1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles) – 2-4, HR, R, 2 RBI. Ruiz has played in four games so far this season and has four hits, three of which are home runs. He has one of the highest barrel rates to start the year but hasn’t made any good contact on the rest of his batted balls. It’s a fun start for him but I wouldn’t make a move on the guy that hit .232 with 12 homers in 127 games last year in the back of the Orioles’ offense.
Luke Voit (1B, New York Yankees) – 2-4, HR, R, 4 RBI. We all know this kid can hit. In his first two seasons he showed off power that many dream of having even when he hit in the same lineup as Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez. He clubbed his second homer of the year yesterday, a grand slam. What stands out for Voit so far is his hard hit rate which stands at 60%. On the other side of that coin is his 45.5% strikeout rate. He’s always lived in the 28%-ish range so I’d expect that to drop but it something to keep an eye on.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. I had to do a double take when I saw his line. Yes, you read that correctly. That is the Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, the 37 year old who has been struggling this past few seasons. I always felt that age wouldn’t be too much of an issue for players like him or Albert Pujols, pure hitters that can slot in at DH. Injuries can always be a problem. These homers were only hits three and four on the year (homers two and three). Both went to each field so he still has some pop both ways. I know 1B is a bit thin this season, so if you’re desperate he should be available.
AJ Pollock (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 2-5, HR, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. The age old question for our incorrectly spelled last name friend: Will he stay healthy? Pollock is always a good player when he does. He’ll give you some home runs, some stolen bases here and there, he’s in the Dodgers offense so other counting stats should be there too. The other concern is how frequent he will be in the lineup, but with the DH he may actually be okay with health and playing time.
Corey Seager (SS, Los Angeles Dodgers) – 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB. He may not have had as outstanding a day as some other folks here. He hit a home run. So what? So did Pedro Severino. But it’s not just this game I need to talk about. Seager leads the league in barrels and has a hard hit rate of 65.2%. He did not homer in his first five games and now has two in two games. He has struck out twice in over 30 plate appearances. It is early in the season but Seager looks absolutely locked in.
Jurickson Profar (2B/OF, San Diego Padres) – 2-7, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB. Profar treated himself to a nice combo last night against the Giants swiping his second bag of the year and parking the only home run in a game that totaled 19 runs. Profar has had back to back 20 home run seasons but there was so much more needed out of his season with the A’s to make him an attractive play on the Padres. He is off to a rough start at the plate too, batting .158, but his eye has been excellent with a 10% K rate and a 25% BB rate. He still has some more to prove before you think to grab him.
Donovan Solano (2B/SS, San Francisco Giants) – 4-5, 3 2B, R, 2 RBI. You know you don’t have a great lineup when your three hitter is a 32 year old journeyman that played only half a season in three years. But Solano doesn’t care about that. He cares about raking. In his last 19 plate appearances, he has 10 hits including a home run. Last year, he showed the Giants he had some potential in his bat, hitting .330 with a .409 BABIP. His xBA from Statcast does support this outcome as it .324 last year. Solano doesn’t have much power but can still hit the ball well. He’s someone to keep an eye on.
Trent Grisham (OF, San Diego Padres) – 2-7, 3B, 2 R, RBI, SB. Grisham has found his way into back to back Batter’s Boxes. This time is wasn’t due to power, but due to speed. A triple and a stolen base is a nice way to show off his young legs. He stayed in the two hole as he has for the past few games and it looks like he has made a home there.
JP Crawford (SS, Seattle Mariners) – 2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB. Speaking of back to back Batter’s Boxes, Crawford also stole his way into this one. Two steals for him is a decent surprise as he’s never been a threat on the bases necessarily. What stands out for me this season has been his eye at the plate. He has an astounding 3.8% K rate and a 26.9% BB rate.
(Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire)