Marcell Ozuna is having a breakout season
I wrote about Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna in a Roundup I wrote about a week ago, but Ozuna has been so good this season, he warrants more words. On Sunday, Ozuna went 2-4 with a walk, home run, 3 runs scored and an RBI in the Marlins 7-3 win over the Braves. He is now hitting .344-.392-.598 with 10 home runs, 34 runs scored and 27 RBI in just over 200 plate appearances this season.
It appears his work with hitting coach Barry Bonds is paying off, as he is having a break out season. He is hitting more fly balls, is making more hard contact and has shown improved plate discipline thus far, and is on pace to hit 32 home runs and score over 100 runs. He currently ranks in the top 5 in the National League in runs, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
I was high on him last year and he disappointed. This year he is breaking out. Maybe I need to wait a year on guys I love going forward.
Clayton Kershaw: #1 Overall pick in 2017?
Every five days, you can count on Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to pitch a gem. Last night was no different, as he limited the Mets to 2 runs on 4 hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts in the Dodgers 4-2 win. He left with a one run lead, with a man on first and two outs in the eighth. Manager Dave Roberts elected to take him out and have lefty reliever Adam Liberatore face left handed hitter Curtis Granderson, rather than Kershaw or closer Kenley Jansen. Granderson proceeded to hit a triple off the right field wall to tie the score, so Kershaw did not factor in the decision.
Kershaw is now 7-1 with a 1..56 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, a 0.65 WHIP and an incredible 105-5 strikeout to walk rate in 86.2 innings this season. Kershaw has given up two runs or less in 10 of his 11 starts, one run or less in six of his starts, and has pitched at least seven innings in each of his 11 starts this season. He is on pace to put up a 334-36 strikeout to walk rate this season, and lead MLB with a 4.1 fWAR and a 3.7 bWAR.
Is Kershaw in the conversation for #1 overall pick in 2017 drafts? There is no question in my mind. None. He is the most consistent fantasy player in the game, yet Mike Trout has been pretty consistent himself. He leads MLB with a 32.4 K%-BB%, as he is striking out 34% of the hitters he faces and his walk rate has dropped down to a measly 1.6%. Among qualified starters, he ranks first in fWAR, K%-BB%, BB%, ERA, FIP, WHIP, strikeouts and ranks second to Jose Fernandez in K%. And to repeat, he is on pace for his second 300 strikeout season.
Kershaw's performance on the mound wasn't the only good performance by a starting pitcher on Sunday, as the Ray's Jake Odorizzi pitched a gem of his own, yet lost the game. Odorizzi gave up just two baserunners, yet the one hit he did give up was a two run home run to Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro in the Rays 2-1 loss. Odorizzi gave up 2 runs on 1 hit, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts in 7 innings of work. He is now 2-3 with a 3.36 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a 51-17 strikeout to walk rate in 61.2 innings this season. After giving up 18 home runs in 169+ inning last season, he has already given up 9 long balls this season, and is giving up more hard contact than in 2015. His 4.18 FIP indicate that he is pitching better than his underlying stats indicate, so some regression may be in his future. That said, he is available in roughly 44% of leagues right now, and I would jump at the chance to grab him off of my league waiver wire if he was available.
Giants starter Johnny Cueto is showing all of us that his 2015 performance was a bit fluky as he has returned to being the ace that he is in San Francisco this season. On Sunday, Cueto limited the Rockies to two runs, one earned, on 6 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts in 6 innings in the Giants 8-3 win. The win moved his record to 8-1 with a 2.31 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and a 72-14 strikeout to walk rate in 81.2 innings. His strikeout and walk rates have improved slightly, yet he is inducing more ground balls and less hard contact this season than last. He and Madison Bumgarner former an excellent 1-2 at the top of the Giants rotation.
Brewers GM David Stearns made a flurry of moves in the offseason to reshape the Brewers and begin their rebuild. One of the moves he made was trading for Astros infielder Jonathan Villar, giving up a pitching prospect in return. At this point in the season, Stearns has won that trade. On Sunday, Villar had a big day at the plate, going 2-2 with 2 walks, 3 runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base in the Brewers 5-4 win over the Reds. Villar is now hitting .307-.409-426 with 2 home runs, 15 doubles, 26 runs scored, 19 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 24 attempts. He leads MLB in stolen bases and is walking more than he ever has in his career. He is on pace for 58 stolen bases and is somehow still available in 35% of leagues right now.
It appears Barry Bonds is having an impact on the Marlins lineup through the first two months of the season. The aforementioned Marcell Ozuna is having a breakout season and utility hitter Derek Dietrich is quietly having himself a solid season of his own. On Sunday, he went 3-3 with a home run and 4 RBI in the Marlins win over the Braves. Dietrich is now hitting .325-.416-.524 with 3 home runs, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 12 runs scored and 22 RBI in 139 plate appearances. If you play in a deep league, he should be owned, as he is available in about 84% of leagues right now. He is a solid play to replace Rougned Odor who is serving his seven game suspension.
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