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Early Season MVPs: Are these players legit or a mirage?

Are the standouts of the first weekend of baseball legit or will they come crashing down to Earth?

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Who wants some way-too-early fantasy analysis? We are through the first weekend of the MLB season and there are a lot of interesting performances to discuss. There are a few players that are off to amazing starts and we are going to dig in to see if you can believe in these players for the rest of the season, or if you should consider a quick trade to maximize their value.

Now folks, it’s only been a few days so sample sizes are too small to go crazy with add/drops or trades right now. But it’s fun and sometimes an early trade can win you a season if you catch an owner off guard. Let’s take a look at players currently off to a fast start:

Adam Eaton (8-for-13 with 2 HR, 2 2B’s, and 5 RBI)

Adam Eaton is back, healthy and killing the ball. I don’t want to burst your bubble but he’s not going to hit over .600 this year (spoiler alert). It’s common sense that he is not going to keep up this pace given the fact that his previous high in home runs was 14 in 2015 and 2016 with the White Sox. That being said, Eaton is about as a consistent a player as they come. His batting average, wOBA, BABIP, and walk rate have been remarkably consistent from year-to-year. Does that mean we can expect another .290 14 HR 60 RBI 90 R 15 SB season from him? At minimum yes, but there is reason to believe he will surpass his career highs if healthy enough to collect a full season of at-bats leading off for the Nationals. Is Adam Eaton going to contend for an MVP award? No. Is he going to outperform his ADP? Yes, by a lot most likely. I would say it is reasonable to expect .295 15-20 HR 75 RBI 110 R 15 SB if he can stay healthy, but that’s a big if.

Verdict: MIRAGE


Adam Eaton is...

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    (74 votes)
  • 30%
    a mirage
    (33 votes)
107 votes total Vote Now

Xander Bogaerts (10-for-22 with 1 HR and 5 2B’s)

Launch angle. Bogaerts averaged just 1.2 degrees on balls in play at 100 mph or greater last season. That was good enough for the lowest among the 213 major league hitters who put the ball in play at least 50 times at that speed. Low launch angle equals ground balls and ground balls equals outs. It is a shame to waste pitches coming in at that speed considering the pitcher is doing all of the work for you as far as exit velocity goes. Over the past three seasons 49.1 percent of Bogaerts batted balls have been on the ground making him the 13th worst ground ball hitter in baseball. Last year the average launch angle on Bogaerts’ swing was a mere 8.2 degrees according to Statcast, down from 11.3 degrees in his all-star 2016 season. Enter new hitting coach Tim Hyers, famous for asking his players to hit the ball in air when he was with the Dodgers (it certainly worked for Justin Turner). Bogaerts adopted this new philosophy in Spring Training when he hit .319 with three home runs and four doubles. He has always been a talented hitter but his approach so far has held him to a wRC+ of 111, 115, and 96 the past three seasons. Those make him just a shade above league average. However, if you combine that talent with a fresh approach that will cut down his ground balls while increasing his line drive rate? Look out. Bogaerts has reinvented himself into a monster. Huge year ahead.

Verdict: LEGIT


Xander Bogaerts is...

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    (60 votes)
  • 42%
    a mirage
    (44 votes)
104 votes total Vote Now

Matt Davidson (4-for-11 with 3 HR, 2 BB, and 6 RBI)

Matt Davidson has always been able to hit home runs. He hit 23 last year in just 414 at-bats. The problem is that he strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough. The good news is that his walk rate is likely to increase from last years 4.3% to his career average closer to 9-10%. It will have to for him to take any kind of step forward because his strikeout rate of 37.2 was off the charts. The power is completely legit but his HR/FB ratio of 22% is likely to come down this season which could be mitigated somewhat if his line drive rate returns from 14.3 to his career average above 20. Essentially to get better Davidson needs to hit for higher quality power, strike out less, and walk more. Not asking too much right? In the end, if Davidson doesn’t make those improvements he is still going to hit over 30 home runs but he is going to do it batting .230. Basically Todd Frazier without the walks, which is still valuable to some teams. Matt Davidson had a great spring in which he hit four home runs, three doubles and nine walks over 64 at-bats. If he can come close to duplicating that recipe, Davidson could push for 40 home runs this year with a boost in all other categories.

Verdict: MIRAGE with legit upside


Matt Davidson is...

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    (20 votes)
  • 79%
    a mirage
    (79 votes)
99 votes total Vote Now

Justin Smoak (7-for-19 with 2 HR, 2 2B’s and 8 RBI)

Smoak already had a huge breakout in 2017 hitting .270 with 38 home runs and a .529 slugging percentage. So you want to know if that was a fluke? Let’s take a look. Last season Smoak lowered his strikeout rate to 20% which was his lowest mark since he has been in the majors. He hit more fly balls while maintaining his HR/FB ratio and also drive more balls to center field. A BABIP of .285 doesn’t seem to suggest he had any help in the luck department and a wOBA of .371 suggests that his improvement was indeed legit. Smoak saw an increase in wRC+ from the past three seasons (78,108, and 91) up to 132. You can believe in the Smoak Monster, he may even be getting better.

Verdict: LEGIT, very legit


Justin Smoak is...

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    (65 votes)
  • 35%
    a mirage
    (35 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now