Opening Day is finally here! Let’s get into my 10 fantasy baseball thoughts as the MLB season finally starts!
1) Evan White (17th overall draftee in 2017 by Seattle Mariners) is looking like the everyday first baseman for Seattle this season. This is fantastic news for dynasty and leagues where people took the flier on him. The part where I am personally nervous: He has a grand total of 18 AB in any level above Double-A. He registered 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 RBI, 0 stolen bases, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts and a .222 AVG. Simply put it’s a small average that we can’t ascertain anything from.
2) Mike Clevinger has been working with Zach Plesac on some better footwork while pitching. Plesac had eight wins last year across 115 IP with a 3.81 ERA. He ALSO had a 3.11 BB/9, 3 QS across 21 starts and a 4.94 FIP.
3) MLB’s Andrew Simon had an interesting list of amazing facts on all 30 MLB teams and I will highlight one from one of my favorite pitchers (John Means): He has allowed hard contact on only 29.8% of batted balls over his 27 starts. That was third lowest hard hit rate by any AL starter in 2019.
4) Watching Guillermo Heredia fill in for the Pirates outfield with Gregory Polanco out with injury and looking at what he did with the Rays last year, he is chasing power at the expense of batting average. He said he needed a timeout last year to recollect himself when asked he wanted extra AB to help last season. He changed his batting stance some and looks to be able to focus more on contact right now (potential sleeper 2% owned in Fantrax, 0% owned in Yahoo). The breaking balls and off-speed pitches really hit him hard (sub .225 AVG on both of those each of the last two years). He has increased his launch angle from 10.1% to 12.5% over the last three years and increased his hard hit from 22% to 33% while watching his K% go from 15% - 33%.
5) The Cleveland Indians have an all switch-hitting infield (Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez). This is the first all switch-hitting infield since the 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers (Wes Parker, Jim Lefebvre, Maury Wills and Jim Gilliam).
6) Gavin Lux will be in the minors to start the season. I feel like he will be up as soon as the service time clock passes for the season. Last season he batted .392 with 54 runs in 49 games at Triple-A. During his 82 plate appearances at MLB last year he batted over .290 with fastballs and off-speed pitches. Breaking balls were a completely different story as he batted 0.91% whiffing 46.8% of the time. If he can figure that out, he will be successful.
7) Jake Fraley was in A+ just 20 months ago. He is 25 and appears to be primed to make his debut, but I would not be surprised if there is a bit of a learning curve in the first half of this season.
8) In a “down year” Daniel Murphy (49% owned on Yahoo) had 78 RBI a .279 AVG. In his 11-year MLB career, he has batted below .275 just once (2008) and he went through most of 2019 with a hand injury. Was it the injury or is he a slow starter?
9) Rowdy Tellez (1% owned in Yahoo) had a .227 AVG last year, striking out 28.4% of the time. Not great. He played 111 games (about 70% of a 162-game season). His exit velocity was in the 78th percentile, hard hit rate was 69th and his barrel rate was 91st. This was completely offset by his strikeouts (11th) and Whiffs (14th). Here is the interesting part: across 108 breaking balls in 2018 he hit .333, striking out 25% of the time; In 2019 this changed completely as he hit just .137 striking out 35% of the time.
10) I am much more optimistic about Rowdy than Derek Fisher, who had two home runs in his debut last night with the Blue Jays. Fisher, who might get a crack at starting time with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. out, had repeated struggles with the Astros, batting .212, .165, and .185 during his three stints at the MLB level. Each time, his K% spiked above 30%. Also, earlier this spring he went 3-for-12, striking out 25% of the time with no walks. I’m not falling for this again after one promising performance.