Manny Machado: Top 5 fantasy player
I admit I was among many who ranked Orioles third baseman Manny Machado pretty high in my third base and shortstop rankings in the preseason, but felt that the 35 home runs would be hard to repeat. Well, he is proving us wrong as he has hit for power and a high average thus far.
On Sunday, Machado went 2-4 with 2 home runs, 2 runs scored and 6 RBI in the Orioles 11-3 win over the Athletics. The big game improved his slash line to .350-.403-.691 with 9 home runs, 24 runs scored and 22 RBI in 133 plate appearances. He is making more hard contact than in 2015, yet is hitting slightly fewer fly balls to date. Still, he is on pace for over 40 home runs right now and I would not bet against him reaching 40 home runs this season.
One area of disappointment for fantasy owners is the fact that he hasn't stolen a base yet, as he has been caught in both steal attempts this season. Even without the home runs, he is a top 5 fantasy player in the game right now, and he doesn't turn 24 till early July.
For more on Machado and the Orioles, make sure you check out Camden Chat, SB Nation's Orioles fan site.
Is it time to worry about Red Sox ace David Price? He struggled once again on Saturday, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts in 4.2 innings in the Red Sox 8-2 loss to division rival Yankees. Price needed 104 pitches to get 14 outs and induced just SIX swinging strikes. Many are discussing how his fastball has dropped from 94 mph last season to 92 mph in the first five weeks of the 2016 season. That is an issue and could be the reason why he has been getting hit around more often than in the past. He has given up 5 runs or more in four of his seven starts to date. He is pitching to an ERA of 6.75, but his 2.93 FIP indicates he has pitched better than his surface stats show, as he is striking out 29% of the batters he faces, the highest strikeout rate of his career despite the drop in velocity. His .373 BABIP and 55% strand rate tells me that better days are ahead for Price, so if you have an owner who is panicking, see if you can deal for him for less than market value.
Another struggling pitcher, Mets ace Matt Harvey, finally got on track on Sunday, dominating the Padres over six innings. Harvey gave up 2 runs on 4 hits, a walk and 10 strikeouts in his six innings of work in the Mets 4-3 win. The win moved his record to 3-4 with a 4.50 ERA, 3.68 FIP, a 1.48 WHIP and a 35-13 strikeout to walk rate. The ten strikeouts are a season high, yet he gave up a home run for the third consecutive start. He has given up three runs or less in six of his seven starts, but has yet to make it into the seventh inning in any of his starts.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander celebrated his engagement to Kate Upton by dominating the Rangers over seven innings on Sunday, and was in line for the win before his bullpen blew up in the 8th and 9th innings. Verlander dominated the Rangers for 7 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 2 walks and striking out 9 and leaving with a 2-0 lead. The Tigers bullpen proceeded to give up 7 runs in the 8th inning and another run in the 9th inning, and the Tigers lost 8-3. Verlander is now 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA, 4.40 FIP, a 1.32 WHIP and a 42-15 strikeout to walk rate over 41.2 innings. Verlander bounced back after giving up seven runs in five innings vs the Indians in his last start. He has given up three runs or fewer in five of his seven starts, but the other two starts have been seven runs disasters.
Is this going to be Eric Hosmer's breakout season? Hosmer went 1-3 with a walk, a home run and 2 RBI in the Royals 5-4 loss to the Indians on Sunday. Homer is now hitting .336-.385-.540 with 5 home runs, 15 runs scored, 15 RBI and 3 stolen bases in 4 attempts thus far, and is on pace to hit a career high 27 home runs, and steal 16 bases. That's a top 5-6 fantasy first baseman if he can maintain the .300+ batting average.
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano is having himself a huge power season at the plate through the first five weeks of the season. On Sunday, Cano went 1-4 with a solo home run in the Mariners 5-1 loss to the Astros. Cano is now hitting .305-.355-.603 with 12 home runs, 20 runs scored and 33 RBI, and is now leading MLB in home runs and RBI. He has homered three times in his last two games and has hit four home runs in May so far. He is more than halfway to the 21 home runs he hit last season.
I was interviewed by Joe Pisapia on SiriusXM Fantasy Radio yesterday afternoon, and one of the many players we discussed was Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. I opined that if we held a draft today, Altuve is in the conversation for the #1 overall pick. Joe didn't go quite as far as I did, but did opine that Altuve is definitely a top 5 fantasy player right now. Yesterday, Altuve went 2-3 with a walk, 2 runs scored and 3 stolen bases in the Astros 5-1 win over the Mariners. He raised his slash line to .325-.415-.659 with 9 home runs, 14 doubles, 30 runs scored, 19 RBI, a 16-16 strikeout to walk rate and 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts. He is filling up the boxscore for his owners this season, and is on pace to put up some ridiculous home run and stolen base totals. I can see him putting up a .300-110-25-75-40 season in 2016. Looks like a #1 pick to me.
One hitter who was a top 3-4 pick in most drafts this season is Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He was coming off a season where he hit .321 with 33 home runs, 103 runs scored, 110 RBI and 21 stolen bases. This season, he has struggled at the plate, and after his 0-4 performance with 3 strikeouts on Sunday, he is hitting .220-.407-.422 with 6 home runs, 14 runs scored, 16 RBI and 3 stolen bases. His walk rate and strikeout rate are up slightly, but nothing to be too concerned about. That said, his fly ball rate is down from 36% to 29%, and his hard contact rate is down substantially, from 41% to just 30% this season. I am not sure if this is just a result of him starting off slow or if he is hiding an injury of some sort. He is swinging less than he did last season, as his outside the zone, zone, and overall swing rate rates are down 5% from last season. Some players get too conservative at the plate, and maybe he just needs to swing more to get back to being the player we expected this season.
A three game series in Colorado starting today could be just what Goldschmidt needs to get going at the plate.
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