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Ah, the beauty of small sample sizes. Am I right?
MLB players all over the league are either enjoying inflated statistics because of a quick start, or are trying not to look at their FanGraphs page until they string a few good outings together. That’s part of the beauty when it comes to baseball in April.
Current stats are bound to normalize at some point, but fantasy baseball owners still must decide whether to believe a hot streak will continue or a slump will end on a daily basis without a huge amount of data to work from.
Each week throughout the regular season, we’ll highlight 20 players (10 position players and 10 starting pitchers) who have either enjoyed the last week of play or are thankful that it’s over. In addition to identifying these guys, we’ll also add in an interesting stat or two to help add some color to each performance.
And no, we’re not going to include the obvious ones — everyone knows that guys like Chris Sale, Bryce Harper, and Freddie Freeman are on fire right now (I mean, we did just talk about one of them, ya know).
Love the thrill of fantasy draft day so much that you’d like to do it multiple times a week? Then give DRAFT a try — they offer daily drafts ranging from 2-12 players that finish in less than 10 minutes.
All Chin Music Baseball readers are eligible for a free $3 entry when you sign up using the promo code CHINMUSIC.
Mitch Haniger, OF, Seattle Mariners
.350/.480/.700 with 2 home runs, 6 RBI, 3 runs scored in 25 PA
We’re only a week into the season, but Haniger is getting his year off to a great start for the second consecutive time. He slashed .342/.447/.608 with 4 homers, 16 RBI, and 20 runs scored through 95 plate appearances last April. Let’s just hope he can stay on the field this time around so we can see what he’s capable of over a full season.
Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox
.304/.385/.696 with 3 homers, 4 RBI, 7 runs scored, 4 steals in 26 PA
Anderson’s performance has already been worth 0.5 fWAR in 2018. If his season were to end today, it’d surpass his 2017 total, which was just 0.2 in 606 plate appearances.
Adam Eaton, OF, Washington Nationals
.455/.520/.864 with 2 homers, 5 RBI, 10 runs scored in 25 PA
It’s nice hitting at the top of the Nationals’ lineup, isn’t it? Just wait until Daniel Murphy gets back, too. What’s noticeable about Eaton’s start to 2018 is that he’s hitting the ball hard — a lot. His 65.0% hard-hit rate is currently the best among qualified players.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, New York Mets
.273/.407/.682 with 3 homers, 7 RBI, 6 runs scored in 27 PA
Cespedes has been productive for the 5-1 Mets (as we enter Friday’s action), but he’s also striking out 33.3% of the time. Between 2014 and 2017, he’s finished with a strikeout rate above 20.0% just once (20.9% in 2015).
Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
.280/.333/.720 with 3 homers, 7 RBI, 6 runs scored in 27 PA
When we talk about Sano, two things are usually true — when he makes contact, the ball is typically hit hard, but when he doesn’t, there’s a good chance he’s striking out.
That’s been true so far in 2018, as he currently owns a 50.0% hard-hit rate to go along with a 48.1% strikeout rate and 20.3% swinging-strike rate.
Dylan Bundy, SP, Baltimore Orioles
0.69 ERA, 29.4% strikeout rate, 5.9% walk rate in 13 IP
Bundy has recorded the majority of his strikeouts via the slider — he’s recorded a ridiculous 59.6% chase rate and an equally-ridiculous 38.9% swinging-strike rate with that pitch through two starts.
Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
1.38 ERA, 41.7% strikeout rate, 4.2% walk rate in 13 IP
Corbin has also found success with his slider, but unlike Bundy, he’s using it way more than ever before. He threw this offering a career-high 38.0% of the time in 2017. So far this year, though, he’s used it at a 51.3% rate.
David Price, SP, Boston Red Sox
0.00 ERA, 20.0% strikeout rate, 6.0% walk rate in 14 IP
Price only started 11 games last season for the Red Sox, but didn’t enjoy a single two-start stretch with 7-plus innings and no earned runs allowed. He’s done that in consecutive appearances to start the year.
Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies
2.45 ERA, 23.4% strikeout rate, 6.4% walk rate in 11 IP
When looking at opponent wRC+, Gray’s curveball (20) was his most effective pitch, while his fastball (142) was the least effective one in 2017. Through two starts this year, though, his fastball has been the most effective (53), while his curveball has slid to the back (283).
Tyler Skaggs, SP, Los Angeles Angels
1.64 ERA, 23.3% strikeout rate, 4.7% walk rate in 11 IP
He only lasted 4.2 innings in his last start, but what jumps out here is that 4.7% walk rate. It was 10.5% at the end of 2016 and 7.7% at the end of 2017 (both in limited action), so the Angels are likely hoping that trend continues.
Don’t forget to take some of this info to your next MLB DFS contest at DRAFT! All Chin Music Baseball readers are eligible for a free $3 entry when you sign up using the promo code CHINMUSIC.
Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
.080/.179/.080 with 0 homers, 0 RBI, 0 runs scored in 28 PA
Davis hasn’t been generating a ton of soft contact (15.8%) which is a good thing, but it’s not going to his hard-hit rate (21.1%). If you do the math, that means he’s generating medium contact at a 63.2% rate.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
.063/.118/.125 with 0 homers, 1 RBI, 1 run scored, 0 steals in 17 PA
Let’s just get this out in the open — Billy Hamilton isn’t a great player to own in fantasy baseball. This is mostly because throughout his career, he’s shown a consistent ability to do just one thing very well: stealing bases.
As the old saying goes, you can’t steal first base. That problem has plagued the speedy center fielder since reaching the big leagues. Judging by his first week of 2018, it may be more of the same story.
Evan Longoria, 3B, San Francisco Giants
.053/.053/.211 with 1 homer, 2 RBI, 1 run scored in 19 PA
There are two things Longoria has yet to do as a Giant — draw a walk and hit a line drive. Those will eventually come, though. And maybe at some point, his hard-hit rate (30.8%) will outpace his strikeout rate (31.6%).
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
.154/.241/.192 with 0 homers, 2 RBI, 1 run scored in 29 PA
You’d think it’s crazy that Story hasn’t hit a home run yet since he’s produced a 62.5% fly-ball rate and 50.0% hard-hit rate so far this season, and there’s truth to that. However, he’s hit fly balls hard just 40.0% of the time, which is a steep drop when compared to his first two MLB seasons (52.6% in ’16, 47.3% in ’17).
Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
.071/.133/.071 with 0 homers, 0 RBI, 2 runs scored in 30 PA
Kiermaier is known more for his fantastic defense, but he’s shown signs of progress at the plate in recent years. That hasn’t happened yet in 2018 — his 40.0% strikeout rate is one of the 10 worst among qualified hitters, while his -45 wRC+ is one of the five worst.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Detroit Tigers
8.71 ERA, 23.9% strikeout rate, 4.4% walk rate in 10.1 IP
Despite giving up 10 earned runs through two starts, Zimmermann’s 0.6 fWAR is second in baseball among starters (tied with Alex Wood). He can thank a 3.39 SIERA and 23.9% strikeout rate for that.
Jose Urena, SP, Miami Marlins
4.91 ERA, 18.4% strikeout rate, 10.2% walk rate in 11 IP
Urena’s average fastball velocity is sitting in the mid-90s once again, but we still need more time to see if he can use that to generate strikeouts. Hitters have produced a 227 wRC+ against the offering, with just a 7.4% strikeout rate and 4.0% swinging-strike rate through two starts.
Kendall Graveman, SP, Oakland Athletics
8.10 ERA, 4.7% strikeout rate, 2.3% walk rate in 10 IP
Graveman gave up 12 homers in 105.1 innings last year and has already allowed 4 in 10 innings this year. At this rate, he’ll pass 2017’s number by the beginning of May.
Homer Bailey, SP, Cincinnati Reds
4.22 ERA, 10.0% strikeout rate, 12.0% walk rate in 10.2 IP
Bailey has unfortunately been cold for a number of years now. One of the trends he’ll be trying to stop in 2018 is a declining strikeout rate — since posting a a 24.3% rate in 23 innings during 2016, it dropped to 16.0% last year in 91 innings.
Aaron Sanchez, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
5.40 ERA, 17.3% strikeout rate, 11.5% walk rate in 11.2 IP
Sanchez hasn’t experienced great results just yet, but he’s got some things going for him. One is that he hasn’t suffered any blisters, which plagued him virtually all of last year. The other is that he’s generated a 57.1% ground-ball rate and 28.6% soft-hit rate thus far.
Who will be hot and who won’t be by this time next week? Time will tell, but while we wait, sign up for DRAFT today and get a $3 free entry by using the promo code CHINMUSIC.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.