Batter’s Box: A Nice Hot Cup of Polanco-co

Ben Palmer takes a look at some of the notable hitting performances from yesterday's games.

(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)

Gregory Polanco decided he’d start the season off with a bang, finishing last night’s game going 3-5, 1 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 SB. Polanco was the hero, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates the lead in the 13th inning which ultimately ended up in their win. Now, I don’t like to overreact, I don’t want to change what I think about Polanco now based off of this one game, but this is definitely promising. We’ve known forever that Polanco is insanely talented, we’ve known that he’s a potential 20/20 guy (he came pretty close to it in 2016), but it just hasn’t all clicked yet. But it’s easy to forget that he’s still just 26-years-old, and he could easily have a breakout this year if he stays healthy. I’m willing to say that the drop in hard-hit rate from 35.7% in 2016 to 25.9% last year was due to injury. If that gets back up (and again, he stays healthy), we’re looking at a really good fantasy asset. Here’s hoping.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from yesterday:

Josh Bell (1B, PIT) – 3-6, 1 R, 3 RBI. Sure is nice when a team goes 13 innings, you get more opportunities to hit. Bell had a weird season last year, with a power spike that was totally unexpected and an average drop that was equally unexpected. It’ll be interesting to see what he does this year. Best case scenario, he keeps the power and ups the average. Certainly batting cleanup (which it appears he’ll be doing this year) is putting him in a good situation to produce.

Francisco Cervelli (C, PIT) – 2-6, 1 R, 3 RBI. Cervelli’s double might’ve been a home run in a lot of other parks, which would’ve made his line from last night look a lot better, but you take what you get. Cervelli’s always been able to hit for a decently high average, but he’s had injury problems in the past that have kept him from being a full-time player, playing in just 81 games last year and 101 the year before.

Scooter Gennett (2B, CIN) – 4-4. Considering the Reds were getting totally owned by Max Scherzer (and how can you not), it’s pretty impressive that Scooter managed to go 4-4. The Reds as a team only managed three more hits than the four that Scooter provided against Scherzer, and Scooter gave the Reds their only extra-base hit. I know it’s a bummer to see a guy get four hits and not get a single counting stat, but he was going against probably the second-best (yes I said second-best) pitcher in all of baseball, so you take what you can get.

Randal Grichuk (OF, TOR) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. I really like Randal Grichuk in Toronto. He’s not going to hit for a high average, but the power is there, and he’s going to get the opportunity to hit just about every day. Playing in the AL East will be nice too, as he’ll not only get to play in the Rogers Centre, but in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, and Fenway Park pretty frequently. Could he hit 30 home runs? I think that’s very much in the realm of possibility.

Lewis Brinson (OF, MIA) – 4-8, 1 R. It’s nice for fantasy when a team plays 13 innings like the Pirates and Tigers did, but it’s even better when a team plays 17 innings like the Marlins and Cubs did. While Brinson didn’t have an incredible performance, four hits is nothing to sneeze at. He’s going to be limited by the poor lineup around him, but he’ll be leading off and he’s super talented, which makes him an intriguing sleeper candidate this year that’s available in around 78% of ESPN leagues.

Ian Desmond (1B/OF, COL) – 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. If Desmond stays healthy, I think he could easily reclaim his spot as a really good fantasy contributor. I’m somewhat skeptical on how many steals he might grab this season considering he’s 32-years-old, but he went 20/20 in 2016, and has gone 20/20 four out of the past six seasons, so it’s definitely possible. Playing in Coors Field is going to help the average and homers enough though that even if he doesn’t steal a ton of bases, he’ll still be valuable (assuming he stays healthy).

Nick Ahmed (SS, ARI) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 5 RBI. Hey, good for Nick Ahmed. After having a rough season last year shortened by injury, Ahmed’s back and has the gig as the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop. I’m not expecting much from him this year, and you shouldn’t really either, but at the very least, he’s worth keeping an eye on if he starts performing well. It’s worth noting that the last time he played a full season, in 2015, he slashed .226/.275/.359.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

2 responses to “Batter’s Box: A Nice Hot Cup of Polanco-co”

  1. Brian says:

    Pirates game was in Cincinnati.

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