Baseball is back and in full swing! We are about a week and a half into the season, and it’s already been full of rainouts, groundouts, and Fernando Rodney catching snowflakes.
Brilliant. Baseball is better when Fernando Rodney is playing in it.
I personally have yet to make it out to a game here in New York because I would like to be able to feel my fingers when I go to one. I would rather not have to get the fire department to detach my frozen digits from my beer. But that’s just me.
So, this week begins my regular season edition of Bridges of Fantasy County, and I’m going to be testing out a new format this year. Inspired by the origins of The Turf, I will be doing things in groups of three. Three players whose stock is rising, three players whose stock is falling, and three items of news and notes that caught my eye that/those week(s).
With that being said, WELCOME TO THE 2018 EDITION OF BRIDGES OF FANTASY COUNTY!
Note: These stats are up to date as of 10:34 pm on Friday evening!
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Hanley Ramirez (1B/DH, BOS) : 9-29, 3 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB
As of this past Friday afternoon, Hanley had as many stolen bases as Byron Buxton, Dee Gordon, AJ Pollock, Tommy Pham, and Francisco Lindor. April baseball is hilarious! In actual, legitimate analysis, Ramirez is currently slashing a very impressive .333/.483/.816 out of the 3 spot in a powerful Red Sox lineup.
In the preseason, I kept telling myself that was an exciting and intriguing spot for him to hit, and I’d probably need to grab a share just to see. Well, I doubted myself, and I could end up with egg on my face as a result. Hanley looks very comfortable hitting in front of JD Martinez and behind the powerful 1-2 punch of Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. In fact, he’s hit safely in every single game this year. And he’s swiping bags! Come on, late-career speed!
Now, listen. Maybe we all dismissed Hanley too quickly. Maybe it was just me who did. I don’t want to assume things about you the reader, after all. Anyways, he’s just two years removed from a 30 HR, 111 RBI season in which he slashed .286/.361/.505. Last year wasn’t BAD with all caps, but it was merely bad (lowercase) as his counting stats were down and he hit just .242. I want to chalk it up to injury, but he wasn’t battling any last year. So who knows? Maybe he just missed David Ortiz. Regardless, Hanley has come out hot this season, and the stock is definitely on the rise.
Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA) : 7-20, 3 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Nelson Cruz hit the DL almost instantly once the season began thanks to a slippery dugout step, and that opened the door for someone in the lineup to move up to the 4 spot in the order.
Sidenote: you’d think these major league clubs have enough money to have someone keep that step dry? Maybe? Like a dude with a Mariners polo whose job it is to take a towel to that step throughout the game? Moving on…
Enter: Mitch Haniger.
He has been on an absolute tear since Cruz went to the DL, and he’s now 7-20 on the year with a pair of dongs and just 3 Ks. In this extremely small sample size, he’s also slashing .480/.700/1.180, and that OBP is the best in the American League at the moment. Nelson WHO?!
Ok, so maybe it’s not that dramatic, but Haniger is worth discussion here. After all, let’s not forget that Haniger started last year in a similar fashion before going down with an oblique injury on April 26th. In fact, take a look at his month by month breakdown from last year. Remember he missed all of May and most of June with that bum oblique:
As you can see, he got it back in September, but it’s fair to assume he was battling health for a majority of the season even after he returned “healthy.” Luckily for his fantasy owners, he’s channeling full-health Haniger so far in 2018. He’s hit safely in every game he’s played in so far this year, his ISO is at a hilarious .350, and the hard contact rate is at a cool 41%. That’s Gallo territory. It’s been a great start so far this season, so Haniger is very much on the rise in 2018. Now…PLEASE stay healthy.
Brian Anderson (3B, MIA) : 9-28, 6 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI
There won’t be much to cheer about in Miami this year, but Brian Anderson is giving Fish fans a reason to be optimistic about the future. Sure, he was never among the elite prospects, but he’s flashed some serious contact ability in the early goings of 2018. He’s currently slashing .457/.500/.957 at the moment and that will happen when you hit safely in every game as he has done so far. Now, if only the Marlins can get guys on base in front of him. That’s a whole other issue for Derek.
The contact has been impressive, no doubt, but what is really catching my eye is the advanced plate discipline in what should be his first full season in the bigs. Right now, he’s only gone 1 game without a walk, and that’s been good enough for a 16% walk rate. Add that to a foolish 12% strikeout rate (shhh I know it won’t hold) so far, and you’ve got the foundation for a potential OBP breakout here. I know, I know, it’s early, and that walk rate won’t hold at Justin Turner levels, but he’s setting himself up for success.
And speaking of regression, the almighty xStats are calling for that triple slash to settle into something closer to a .264/.327/.422 line by season’s end. That’s not bad! That’s not his current video game numbers, but it’s not bad for someone who wasn’t on a bunch of fantasy radars to begin the season. And although it’s not a great lineup, Anderson is completely locked into either the 4 or 5 spot in the order. I mean…SOMEONE is going to get stats in that lineup. 4th or 5th is a prime spot to be that guy. I’m not dumping anyone with big upside on my bench, but if I’ve got an opening thanks to an injured player, I’m pulling the trigger especially in OBP leagues.
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Chris Davis (1B/DH, BAL) : 2-25, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
Wait, none of you guys drafted him? Just me? Darn. Ok…um…would it make me seem cooler if I say I meant to select “Khris” instead? No? Ok. I’ll show myself out.
The only crushing that “Crush” Davis has done has been cups of Powerade on the bench. He’s currently slashing .179/.080/.259, which I believe, is far worse than anything Mario Mendoza ever put up in his career. He recorded his first dong of the year last night, has struck out in nearly 1/4 of his plate appearances, and it’s not like we’re on Day 2 here, folks. This is about 9 days in. There’s concern for sure.
Let me defend myself here for a second. You know, I just really thought he’d have value in OBP leagues. I know the man strikes out a lot, but at least he gets his counting stats. I mean it’s not the WORST CI guy you can think of, but ugh…ok I’m just really trying to justify the pick here. We all knew he was this bad coming in.
Davis is projected to hit a putrid .235/.327/.503 by xStats rest of season, and so maybe I won’t feel like a total dunce when we get to season’s end. A .327 won’t kill me in OBP leagues. One thing to note before we leave Crush this week. He traditionally goes through extreme cold spells but can get to the hottest of hot on a dime. So what I’m saying is I hope you drafted a backup plan so you can be patient. If you can afford to wait that is.
Manuel Margot (OF, SD) : 3-24, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
With Davis, we kind of expected the struggles at some point in the season. With Margot? That’s a different story. He’s been off to a very slow start slashing just .222/.250/.472, and that’s not great for a guy I expected to take a big jump in his sophomore season. I am encouraged by the double-digit walk rate with around a 17% strikeout rate, and if that can hold, he’s going to improve on the .313 OBP he posted last year.
At the moment, Margot has also seen his groundball rate up a tick from last year, which could temper the lofty 15+ HR I saw as his upside this year. However, unlike Chris Davis, I think we could just chalk this up to a bad week. He’s also faced two better-than-average squads in Milwaukee and Colorado right off the bat, so better days will be ahead.
Like Anderson previously mentioned, it’s not the most impressive lineup, but he is hitting at the top of an improving Padres lineup. For what it’s worth, you know? Don’t forget the upside you drafted him for because of one bad week. Patience, my fantasy friends. The stock is down, but it’s certainly not out.
Kenley Jansen (P, LAD) : 2 IP, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 18 ERA
Ok, I’m officially concerned. If you were
foolish ambitious enough to draft Jansen in the early rounds of your draft, then you’re probably panicking. And rightly so. After his first start, fantasy baseballers everywhere commented on his decreased velocity, elevated release point, and general suck as Joe Panik made him look like Joe Schmo.
In his next outing against Arizona, he gave up a 3-run blast to Chris Owings after walking two prior to that. The velocity seemed to have returned in that appearance, but he seemed to be trying to overcorrect the early vertical release point problem from the first outing. In fact, both his sinker and cutter had release points dramatically lower than the first outing and lower than his career release points for either pitch as well.
Whether it’s just a case of the April yips or something more remains to be seen. Apparently, there were reports of him rubbing his shoulder after the Arizona outing. I personally wouldn’t be surprised to hear about an injury in the coming days with him.
But like…can we all agree he was drafted too high at least?
Other News and Notes
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Time to have a little fun!
Let’s check in on that #Humidor in Arizona! Some random stats for you:
- The Diamondbacks scored 35 runs in their first 6 home games this season. They scored 45 in their first 6 home games in 2017.
- They averaged 6 runs/game this season in their first 6 home games. They averaged 7.5 runs/game last year through their first 6 home games.
- The Diamondbacks outscored opponents 35-20 in their first 6 home games of 2018. It was 45-27 last season.
- The Diamondbacks hit 5 HR as a team through their first 6 home games last year. By that same point last year, they had hit 7!!!
Obviously, there are definitive conclusions we can reach here. The offense is down, it will never return, and Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, and Patrick Corbin will all share the Cy Young this season. Case closed.
Over in Queens, Michael Conforto returned to the top of the Mets lineup on Thursday afternoon, and he promptly crushed a homerun off Stephen Strasburg to announce his arrival. It was a shot that clipped the top of the wall, but it counts! What’s more amazing is he returned almost a full month ahead of schedule. A shoulder injury should have kept him out until May, but he’s a freakin’ hoss, and he’s back. Let’s hope he was actually ready, and that’s not just the Mets crackpot “training staff” rushing him back.
And finally, is there a more frustrating closer to own than Ken Giles? Every year, we always rank him in the top 10 of closers because #TheAstros and stuff, but every year, he never seems to be the sure thing we want him to be. He’s good, but he’s never among the elite. Sure, he struggled in the postseason last year, but we didn’t think that would taint AJ Hinch’s willingness to grab him late in the game. Granted, the game I’m referencing was a Wednesday night tilt with Baltimore in which Brad Peacock was absolutely dealing, but I’m still frustrated! And I still want to complain about something. Clearly, AJ Hinch doesn’t care about my closer stats.
And with that, our time has come to an end. Let me know if you enjoyed the new format! As always, follow me on Twitter @jakebridges03.