Alex Rodriguez: 30 home run hitter again?
Back in late March, I gave you a few bold predictions for each team, and one of them was a bold prediction on Yankees third baseman/designated hitter Alex Rodriguez:
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez is old, but he shows he still has one more good year in him hitting .260 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI playing some third base, first base and designated hitter.
I didn't rank A-Rod in my top 30 fantasy third base rankings because I thought he was done. Coming off the 2014 season where he sat out due to suspension, and after a few hip surgeries, I thought the 39 year old had little left in the tank. How wrong was I? This prediction reflected my belief that for him to put up a season where he hits 29 home runs and drives in 89 runs was bold. Very bold.
Well, last night, Rodriguez went 3-4 with 2 home runs, 2 runs scored and 4 RBI in the Yankees 5-4 win over the Rays. One of A-Rod's home runs traveled an estimated 471 feet, the longest home run of the season thus far. I haven't seen the home run yet, but he also hit a bomb in Baltimore earlier this week that proved to me that he is healthy and his power is back. Last night's feat provided more proof. He is now hitting .344-.432-.781 with 4 home runs, 6 runs scored and 11 RBI, and he is still available 27% of leagues right now. Go grab him now before he is grabbed by another owner in your league.
For more on Rodriguez and the Yankees, make sure you check out Pinstripe Alley, SB Nation's Yankees fan site.
Is Mike Trout getting better?
This is a legitimate question. Can Mike Trout get better, for fantasy purposes, than he has shown so far in his major league career. The answer is - it's possible. Last night, Trout didn't want Alex Rodriguez to be the only major league hitter to show off his power, as he went 2-4 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI in the Angels 6-3 win in Houston.
Through ten games, Trout is hitting .444-.500-.750 with 3 home runs, 9 runs scored, 9 RBI and 2 stolen bases. Not only is he off to a hot start, but Trout is showing glimpses, albeit in a small sample size, that he is focusing on cutting down his strikeouts this season. Last season, Trout struck out 184 times, or 26% of his 700+ plate appearances. 184 strikeouts is A LOT of strikeouts. He has cut his strikeout rate from 26% to just under 17%, while maintaining his 11% walk rate.
FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan wrote a piece on Trout on Wednesday where he took a look at how pitchers are pitching to Trout this season. He concluded that pitchers are trying to get him out by pitching inside this season, but that Trout is making better and harder contact on those inside pitches thus far. I also read elsewhere that Trout is being more aggressive early in counts this season, swinging at the first pitch rather than falling into 0-1 counts and getting into pitcher's counts.
if these improvements continue into the coming weeks and months, Trout could put up even more spectacular numbers than he has in the past. Add in the fact that he also wants to run more this season, and we could see a 30-30 season from him in 2015.
And that may be conservative.
For more on Trout and the Angels, make sure you check out Halo's Heaven, SB Nation's Angels fan site.
On Friday, Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant made his major league debut, with much fanfare and hype. This happens with every big prospect who makes his major league debut, and for Bryant, it was even more hyped after the huge spring he had this season, hitting nine home runs to lead all hitters in that category.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon slotted him in the middle of the Cubs lineup, in the cleanup spot, and maybe he was nervous, any prospect would be, but Bryant went 0-4 with three strikeouts in the Cubs loss to the Padres. I addressed Bryant's strikeout issues in yesterday's Roundup. Look, I know Bryant will hit for power this season, but he will struggle at the plate as he showed yesterday. There will be an adjustment period. Some hitters struggle after a promotion to a new, more competitive level, and Bryant is no different. It is quite possible that he will struggle out of the gate before making adjustments to his approach, and getting used to major league pitching, so don't panic if he strikes out a lot or doesn't hit for power initially. It will all come together and he will reward his owners at some point this season. Be patient. After all, yesterday was just one of many games where Bryant will strike out three times, and was just one of about 150 more games he will suit up in a Cubs uniform this season.
Speaking of strikeouts, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has had trouble making contact this season, as he is striking out at a 35% rate in the first two weeks of the season. But last night, he went 1-2 with a home runs, 2 walks, 2 runs scored, 3 RBI and just one strikeout in the Nationals 7-2 win over the Phillies. After hitting all over the Nationals lineup last season, Harper has settled in the three and four spots in the lineup. After last night's performance, he is hitting .250-.375-.500 with 3 home runs, 9 runs scored, 6 RBI and a 17-8 strikeout to walk rate in 48 plate appearances. The strikeout rate will come down as the season progresses, and when it does, we could see a nice breakout season from Harper. The kind of breakout season we have all been expecting over the last few seasons.
By the way, did you know Harper is nine months younger than Kris Bryant?
Harper's teammate Max Scherzer is pitching like we all knew he would after signing with the Nationals in the offseason. Ok, I know he won't end the season with a sub 1.00 ERA, that's a given. But, he has been dominating in his first two starts in the National League, and last night was no different as he limited the Phillies to just one run on 4 hits, no walks and 9 strikeouts over 8 innings in the Nationals 7-2 win. Scherzer moved his record to 1-1 with a 0.83 ERA, A 0.83 WHIP and a 25-4 strikeout to walk rate in 21.2 innings. He has given up one run or less in each of his first three starts this season.
It might be time for fantasy owners to start streaming starting pitchers vs the Phillies and Giants this season. Last night, Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter tossed a complete game shutout vs the Giants, limiting the Giants lineup to just four hits and a walk while striking out two batters in the Diamondbacks 9-0 win. Collmenter moved his record to 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA, but that comes with a 1.39 WHIP and a 7-3 strikeout to walk rate in 18.2 innings of work thus far. Collmenter is not a dominating pitcher by any means, but he is hittable, as he has given up more than a hit per inning thus far, which hurts his hiit-walk ratio.
The Diamondbacks recently called up outfielder Yasmany Tomas to be a bat off their bench, about a week after sending him down to AAA to work on some things. Somehow, being a bench bat doesn't sound like the Diamondbacks have a plan for their $68 million hitter. That needs to change,
The guy who helped make the Diamondbacks decision to send Tomas to AAA to start the season was third baseman Jake Lamb. Last night, Lamb had another night at the plate, going 2-3 with two walks, a triple and two RBI, raising his slash line to .440-.548-.760 with a home run, 4 runs scored, 9 RBI and an excellent 3-6 strikeout to walk rate in 25 at bats. He won't hit .400 all season, let alone .300, but he is a solid option at third base in deeper mixed leagues and is available in more than 80% of leagues right now.
Some hitters get off to slower starts than others, and one of those hitters is Astros outfielder George Springer. We all know the deal with Springer. He is going to whiff quite a bit this season, but he has the potential to put up a 20-20 season, and that may be conservative. Last night, he went 0-3 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI, lowering his slash line to .135-.233-.162 with just one run scored, 2 RBI, 2 stolen bases and a very bad 16-5 strikeout to walk rate in 37 at bats thus far. The walk rate is solid, but the K rate is not. I see him turning the corner real soon, so don't panic after a few weeks of at bats.
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