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Roto Roundup: Jose Altuve, Joc Pederson, Yangervis Solarte and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Friday's MLB action, including Jose Altuve, Joc Pederson, Yangervis Solarte, Max Scherzer and others.

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Jose Altuve: Worthy of a first round pick

During the offseason, few things surprised me more than people in the industry drafting Astros second baseman Jose Altuve in the first round of 15 team mixed league drafts.

Well, after his hot start of the season, drafting him that early is looking pretty smart. Altuve is coming off his best season as a pro where he hit .341-.377-453 with 7 home runs, 85 runs scored, 59 RBI and 56 stolen bases. Coming into the season, I felt that Altuve would be hard pressed to repeat his 2014 season.
Well, Altuve looks like he is building on his excellent 2014 season. Last night, he went 2-3 with a walk and a run scored in the Astros 4-3 win over the Mariners, the preseason favorite to win the AL West. The Astros are in first place in the AL West with a 16-7 record and have won 8 straight games.

Altuve now has nine straight multi-hit games, and is now hitting .376-.413-.505 with 2 home runs, 7 doubles, 14 runs scored, 16 RBI, 9 stolen bases and an excellent 8-7 strikeout to walk rate. He is on pace for 100 runs scored, 100 RBI, double digit home runs and 60+ stolen bases. I doubt he can keep hitting like this, but he should be good to hit .325-.330 with 50+ steals. ZiPS projects him to hit .317 with 7 home runs, with 73 runs scored, 53 RBI and 39 stolen bases the rest of the season, but I think he could run a little more and steal 50+ bases.

For more on Altuve and the Astros hot start, make sure you check out The Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Astros fan site.

Roto Roundup

Altuve's teammate Jake Marisnick is having one heck of a start to the 2015 season. He is hitting for average, hitting for power and running like crazy. I don't think anyone could have predicted this from Marisnick and I don't think I even ranked him in my top 100 outfielders. That's what makes baseball the best sport as hitters that you least expect to help your fantasy roster can put up a breakout season. Marisnick is a great example of not giving up on prospects. For every Ian Stewart out there, there is a Jake Marisnick.

Last ngiht, Marisnick had another good night for his fantasy owners, going 1-2 with a walk, a home run and a stolen base. He is now hitting .383-.433-.667 with 3 home runs, 13 runs scored, 11 RBI and 9 stolen bases in 10 attempts. He won't keep hitting like this, so the stolen bases won't come in bunches like this, but he should be good for 40 stolen bases if he can stay healthy and not fall apart at the plate.

Another young hitter having a terrific start to the 2015 season is Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson. Coming into the season, he was one of the favorites for the NL Rookie of the Year award, but with Kris Bryant coming up a few weeks ago. the focus shifted to Bryant. Good thing no one told Pederson, as all he has done is hit and play a very good center field in the early going. Last night, Pederson batted leadoff for the second consecutive game, and for the second consecutive game, he hit a home run. Pederson went 1-3 with a walk, a grand slam and 4 RBI in the Dodgers 8-0 win over the Diamondbacks. On the season, he is now hitting .300-.463-.633 with 5 home runs, 14 runs scored, 14 RBI and an excellent 23-18 strikeout to walk rate in 78 plate appearances. The strikeout rate is high, but he is walking almost as much, leading to manager Don Mattingly moving him from the eighth spot in the batting order to the leadoff spot. For the rest of the season, ZiPS projects him to hit .244 with 20 home runs, 71 runs scored, 65 RBI and 16 stolen bases. He might be the leader for the NL Rookie of the Year award in due time.

Staying on the theme of young hitters who are having a surprising start to the 2015 season, let's take a look at Padres infielder Yangervis Solarte. The Padres traded for Solarte last season with the thought he would play third base for him. After trading for Will Middlebrooks in the offseason, and with Jedd Gyorko locked in at second base, it appeared Solarte would start the season on the bench. That he did, but he has hit so well this season that he has relegated Gyorko to a bench role. Last night, Solarte went 2-5 with a run scored and 4 RBI in the Padres 14-3 win over the Rockies, raising his slash line to .328-.388-.492 with 2 home runs, 6 runs scored, 16 RBI and a solid 5-6 strikeout to walk rate. The fact that he doesn't strike out a lot and makes good contact should keep him in the Padres lineup, whether at second or third base, as both Gyorko and Middlebrooks have trouble making contact. Solarte is under-owned at 11% at the moment, but that percentage should increase in the coming weeks.

The Nationals as a team are struggling to start the 2015 season, and I have been questioning whether they should fire manager Matt Williams as a result. It might be too early, as their starting pitching, heralded to be the best in baseball in the offseason, has been a disappointment to date. That should change. But their huge offseason free agent acquisition, Max Scherzer, has met expectations. Last night, he limited the Mets to just one run on 5 hits, a walk, and 10 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Nationals 4-0 loss to Matt Harvey and the Mets. The loss moved his record to 1-3 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 39-5 strikeout to walk rate in 35.2 innings of work. Scherzer has given up two runs or less in each of his five starts this season, but has just one win to show for it, and is on pace for 250+ strikeouts.

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