What a start to the season! It has definitely gone off the prescribed script, showing us a few surprises and one rough start to a title defense for the Boston Red Sox (3-9). Among the surprises are the 11-2 Seattle Mariners (homered in their first thirteen games of the season), the 8-4 Detroit Tigers (2.64 Team-ERA), and the 3-8 Chicago Cubs (6.70 Staff ERA).
We have already seen a Hall of Fame career come to a close in Tokyo, Yasiel Puig take on an entire MLB team in a fight and Marcell Ozuna vie to dethrone Jose Canseco’s home run assist as the most viewed outfield blooper in history. In case you missed the Cardinals game last night, take a look at Ozuna’s misadventure for yourself and compare it to Canseco’s gaffe from years ago:
Do we have a new number one? Or just more room at the top? All kidding aside, this season is stacking up to be entertaining at the very least. In addition to retirements, fights, miscues, and surprising teams we have several players whose stock is on the move given their play over the first 12-13 games.
As always, if you have a player you would like profiled or have a question about, feel free to post in the comment section or reach out to me on Twitter @hedenson18 with that or any other questions. We will be working our way around the diamond so you can submit your player requests in advance.
- Jay Bruce
I left Bruce for dead last year after his miserable, power-starved 2018. It seems the New York Mets agreed with me given their move to send him to the Mariners as a counterweight to the remaining years on Robinson Cano’s contract. Moving to the Emerald City has recharged the thump in his hammer, leaving him two home runs shy of matching his total from last year.
While most of his slash line could be better (.188/.273/.646), Bruce is absolutely mashing the ball in his new home, barreling an obscene 25% of batted balls and sporting a 50% Hard Hit% so far in 2019. He is striking out way more (30.9% K% in 2019, 20.8% K% in 2018) but looks like he will be an interesting source of power the rest of the way, albeit with a very low batting average.
- Dansby Swanson
2019 looks good on Dansby Swanson so far. After a couple of disappointing seasons at the dish, the former Vanderbilt Commodore is raking through 11 games (.324/.419/.765 with four home runs). His BABIP is .002 points higher than what he produced last season (which supported a meager .238 batting average), though his current LD% is a touch higher than usual (32.1%).
He’s hitting the ball with authority, leaping past his 2018 contact totals so far (+5.5 MPH Average Exit Velocity, +19.6% Hard Hit%, +17.3% Barrel%). In addition to these gains, he is also walking more (+6.3% BB%) and striking out less (-4.3% K%). Swanson has been the best hitter in Atlanta so far and may be living up to his #1 overall selection in 2015.
- Homer Bailey
Christian Bale-look-alike Homer Bailey is on this list due to the potential his numbers show when given further inspection, definitely not on his 9.00 ERA thus far. Hiding behind that astronomically high ERA are much more positive measurements of his performance (5.18 FIP, 3.48 xFIP, 3.31 SIERA). Not bad, right?
How do you feel when you learn that he is currently striking out 33.3% of batters? And walking only 8.9%? His last start was terrible (5 IP, 7 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), but there is enough shining through the awful (12.8% SwStr%, 94.2 vFA through first two starts, 56.8% O-Contact%) for me to at least take a flier on his potential the rest of the way.
- Alex Gordon
Someone’s trying to turn back the clock to 2015. Veteran bat Alex Gordon is quietly having a nice run at the plate, slashing .313/.442/.531 with two home runs. He is being very selective at the plate, striking out less than 10% of the time while walking (14.1% BB%) at a much higher rate than the last couple of seasons.
His SwStr% through 10 games is 6.5% (3-year average is 11%) and his O-Swing% is 18.8% (29.7% in 2018). Simply put, Gordon is not chasing anything that does not touch the strike zone. Interesting potential source of cheap power and steals.
- Michael Pineda
Pineda is another forgotten, veteran arm who may have more left in the tank than most thought. In his first major league starts since 2017, Pineda has tossed nine innings, posting a 2.00 ERA (2.97 FIP, 3.16 xFIP, 3.06 SIERA) while striking out 31.3% of batters and walking only 6.3%.
While those ratios are pretty, extrapolating his performance on two starts is problematic. When he was healthy, Pineda offered solid, if inconsistent production and could be an interesting flier to track if you are in need of arms.
- Brandon Nimmo
Where can you find Nimmo? At the top of K% list. Nimmo has walked back to the dugout with his bat on his shoulder an MLB leading 46.3% of the time in 2019. As you can imagine, that has not worked wonders on his overall production.
Nimmo currently sports a .152/.300/.303 line, though he did notch his first home run of the season on Tuesday. He is still walking at a healthy rate (14.6% BB%) and hits the ball hard when he makes contact (53.5% Hard Hit%), but he will need to do so much more often to right the ship.
- Travis Shaw
Shaw’s batted ball profile is a sad thing to look at right now (9.1% LD%, 50% GB%, 40.9% FB%). He has halved his number of line drives and increased his ground balls by 12.6% so far in 2019. Did I also mention that he is striking out 33.3% of the time as well?
Shaw looks all sorts of out of whack 11 games into the season. He only has one home run and is barely registering a pulse at the plate (.154/.313/.231). Milwaukie and all of his owners who witnessed his 63 home runs over the past two seasons are ready for him to knock it off already.
- Michael Wacha
Michael Wacha is way too generous. So generous in fact that he is currently allowing almost a quarter of batters faced to freely make their way to first base without registering a hit (23.1% BB%). You may be surprised to see that particular stat given his sparkling 1.54 ERA.
How is he maintaining an ERA that low? By stranding an absurd 96.6% of runners so far in 2019. All advanced looked at his performance are shuddering (4.88 FIP, 4.71 xFIP, 5.91 SIERA), making the future look bleak for Wacha and his owners.
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