(Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire)
I think we can all agree it was a strange offseason in terms of the free agent market this year. Months went by before top names like Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, and Jake Arrieta found new homes. It was especially weird/boring/panic-inducing for Mike Moustakas, who also happens to be the Kansas City Royals‘ single-season homerun leader. It would take until 2 weeks into Spring Training before he would sign a deal for the 2018 season. Expecting to sign a multi-year deal after a breakout 38 HR campaign with career-high numbers across the board, “Moose Tacos” ended up having to settle for a one-year “prove it” deal with his old club. It was basically the market telling Moustakas to do it all again.
Until last night, he had been doing a pretty poor job of that. In fact, he came into last night’s meeting with the Mariners slashing just .222/.276/.333, but his 3-5 effort with a homerun, double, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored was just what the doctor ordered. Or Ned Yost. Or 2017 Jason Vargas. Or George Brett’s pine tar bat. Ok, now I’m just naming things I associate with the Royals.
Anyways, Royals’ starter Jake Junis nearly stole the show by taking a no-no into the 7th, but it was Moustakas who vaulted the offense to the 10-0 victory. It was the breakout game that could get him going this year, and he even doubled his RBI and runs scored totals in one shot. I don’t expect him to repeat the 38 HR this season, but I see no reason why he can’t come close to the breakout numbers he posted in every other category a year ago. So get the limes and cervezas ready because it’s time for Moose Tacos 2018! I mean, who doesn’t love tacos? CRAZY PEOPLE, THAT’S WHO.
Here’s what else I saw in yesterday’s games:
Mallex Smith (OF, TB) – 4-4, 2B, 3B, R, RBI, 2 SB. It was nice to see Smith have a big game here as he came into this one with just a .188 batting average on the season. He carries plenty of value with the speed (think 20-25 SB), but the Rays just won’t be very good this year, which limits his counting stat upside. Well, that and his mediocre skills in general. Until he moves out of the 8th or 9th spot in the order, he’s little more than a speed-only flier.
Carlos Gomez (OF, TB) – 2-5, 2 R, 2B. Gomez is just starting to get going this year as this marks his second straight multi-hit game. That now makes him 5-14 with 2 doubles, 1 RBI, and 3 runs scored over the last 3 games. Like Smith, he’s in a lineup that carries little upside, but he’s locked into the 3 spot. Take that for what it’s worth in Tampa.
Bradley Zimmer (OF, CLE) – 1-2, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, BB. Another guy whose bat is just now starting to come alive. He hit his first homerun of the year in this one and has now hit safely in 3 of his last 4. He’s always a threat for the hallowed Combo Meal (HR + SB), and he attempted the feat in this one before getting caught stealing. All in all, the young outfielder will continue to provide an intriguing power-speed combo albeit with a low batting average.
Anthony Rendon (3B, WSH) – 2-4, 2B, R. It’s tough to not list Speedin’ Max Scherzer here as he swiped his first base of the year and completely dominated the red-hot Braves on the mound with a complete game shutout. But that’s Nick Pollack’s territory, and this is a batters’ article so I GUESS I’ll spill some virtual ink on Rendon instead. He’s been on a tear to start the season with 3 multi-hit efforts over the last 4 games, and he’s always a threat when he’s not getting tossed out of games for literally saying nothing. He’s living up to the price tag so far this year with a .310 average and a .822 OPS.
Manny Machado (SS, BAL) – 2-4, HR, RBI, R, BB. Speaking of living up to the price tag, this is Machado’s 3rd dong on the young season, and he now has a 4-game hitting streak. In that aforementioned 4-game streak, he’s posted a line of 9-19, 3 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, 3 BB. Great audition for the Yankees, Manny!
Josh Donaldson (3B, TOR) – 1-4, 4 RBI, R, BB, HR. He was having a rather unremarkable game until a grand slam in the 9th shut the door on the Orioles in the Jays’ 7-1 victory. He’s now hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, and he’s looking like an absolute steal if he was drafted after the 2nd round in your league.
Steve Pearce (OF, TOR) – 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R. Not to be outdone by the Bringer of Rain, Pearce now has just as many HRs as the slugger after his third straight game going yard. We know that he’s prone to streaks, and so this could be the perfect time to jump on board. As long as he’s hitting 4th in that lineup (and getting regular at-bats of course), I’m in.
Curtis Granderson (OF, TOR) – 1-3, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB. Did you know Ol’ Grandy has a .360 batting average with a .968 OPS on the year? I mean, is he going to last the whole year in one piece? Probably not. But as long as he’s healthy at the top of this order, I say he’s worth the juicing! Ride the wave.
Francisco Lindor/Jose Ramirez (SS/3B, CLE) – 1-6, 2 K. So they didn’t have the worst nights combined, but I include them here to point out just how bad they’ve been this year. Lindor is hitting .175 as he’s gone 7-40 with just 1 extra base hit. Ramirez has been even more pathetic with a .086 going 2-33 with just 1 extra base hit. I’m not panicking. Yet…
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, PHI) – 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB. I was the one before the season telling everyone to slow their role on Hoskins and stop drafting him so high. And all he’s done since the season started is made me look bad. He’s gone without a hit in exactly 1 game this year, and he’s currently leading the NL with a .429 batting average. I’m not mad…I’m just disappointed.
Brian Anderson (3B, MIA) – 1-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB. All he does is hit. No matter what. He’s got money on his mind. He can never get enough. Which is not true because he’s not even close to arbitration, so he’s making JUST 26 times what a teacher makes in a year. Poor Brian. Anyways, finances aside, there’s tons of underrated value here as he now has 9 RBI and 4 doubles on the year without being owned in far too many leagues. Maybe it’s the team name next to his name? I keep trying to write this guy off, but he’s making it oh so hard.
Scooter Gennett (2B, CIN) – 2-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB. Gennett is now on a 6-game hitting streak after starting with just 1 hit in the opening Pittsburgh series. He also has struck out just once in that time frame as well. That’s been good enough to raise his average to .297 on the year. He’s generally been hitting 4th or 5th, but maybe moving to the top of the order can get his bat going consistently. It certainly helped last night.
Travis Shaw (3B, MIL) – 2-4, 2B, 3 R, BB. That makes it 5 doubles on the season for Shaw as he’s now slashing .302/.333/.488. Shaw also has the distinction of being the winning run last night thanks to being walked home in Greg Holland’s grand return to big league action. Please give the job to Dominic Leone?
Marcell Ozuna (OF, STL) – 2-5, 2 RBI, 2B. For those keeping score at home or those writing the Batter’s Box article on Pitcher List, that’s now 8 games in a row Ozuna has hit safely. He is now tied for the most hits in the National League as well. However, he has somehow yet to take a walk. He should get on that.
Paul DeJong (SS, STL) – 2-4, 2B. Been a weird one so far for DeJong as he got a hit in each of the first 6 games, went hitless for three games against Arizona, and then got a multi-hit effort last night. Who is the real DeJong?! I actually have the answer. The real DeJong is one who provides nights like this, hits for power, but also strikes out a lot. He’s certainly living up to that strikeout part so far this year with a 42% rate, which is good enough for the 2nd most strikeouts in the NL. However, despite that trash, he’s still somehow slashing an impressive .324/.359/.595.
Andrelton Simmons (SS, LAA) – 2-5, 3 R. He’s quietly been one of the better hitters in the American League as he’s currently tied for both most hits and runs scored. Peep that minuscule 5% strikeout rate too! Not bad for a guy I foolishly didn’t include in my Top 20 shortstop rankings in the preseason.
Albert Pujols (DH, LAA) – 2-5, HR, R, RBI. The slugger formerly known as “The Machine” is now riding a 6-game hit streak after last night’s effort. Also, his .532 slugging percentage is tops on the team among guys who actually get regular at-bats. Take that, Mike Fishface!
Elvis Andrus (SS, TEX) – 1-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. When I said that Andrelton Simmons was tied for the most hits in the AL at the moment, I was referring to Andrus. He’s the other guy in the tie. He’s struck out just once this season, and he has as many homeruns as Albert Pujols. But he also has nary a steal! Give us a steal, Elvis! The people want it!
Carlos Correa (SS, HOU) – 2-4, 2B, 2 R. He broke a 3-game hitless streak in this 2-0 rout of Minnesota, and can you even imagine the offense at Target Field once the temperature gets above freezing?! That gives Correa a triple slash of .333/.368/.636 in a sample size large enough to make definitive conclusions.
Whit Merrifield (2B, KC) – 2-5, 2 R, SB. He finally gets his first steal of the year! Go, go, Whit! Before you get all excited, let me remind you that his mediocre plate discipline has returned this season as he’s walked a grand total of once this season.
Austin Hedges (C, SD) – 3-4, 2B, R, RBI. Seemingly everyone has a catcher on their roster who’s banged up, so that leaves us scraping the bottom of the barrel for a somewhat adequate replacement. Might I suggest Austin Hedges? Ok, so maybe he’s far less than adequate, but he has a pulse. Here, you’ll find a flier who strikes out more than you thought humanly possible. However, he also has random bursts of power that will luck you into a handful of homeruns and extra base hits while your regular option is on the mend.
Chris Iannetta (C, COL) – 1-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB. And if empty power is not your thing, might I direct your attention to Chris Iannetta? This Rocky Mountain delight might actually be providing us with legitimate fantasy value here. It’s his first dong of the year, but he’s now slashing .345/.441/.517. Just keep moving him up the order and see what happens, Colorado…