Happy Memorial Day Weekend. As we remember all of those who sacrificed their lives for our country over the years we also note how many veterans have played the game we love at the highest level. More than 500 players served at some point during World War II alone, with many others seeing action in World War I and other conflicts throughout the history of the sport.
Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson served in the Army during World War I. Yogi Berra was involved in the D-Day invasion. The list of players who have sacrificed for their country goes on and on. Whether it was Ted Williams flying missions in both World War II and the Korean War, Moe Berg gathering intelligence during World War II, or the twelve documented MLB players who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, baseball has played a role in the lives of countless veterans across our nation.
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.
- Miguel Sano
Everything is going the Twins way in 2019. They currently have the best record in baseball and own a fearsome lineup, one currently leading MLB in Runs (300), Home Runs (101), TB (899) and OPS (.862). The exploits of Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco, and Eddie Rosario this season are well known, but a recently activated Miguel Sano has joined his teammates in the offensive free for all.
A myriad of legal issues, lack of performance, and injuries relegated Sano to the edges of fantasy consideration coming into the season, with the latter factor delaying his 2019 debut until May 16. In the week since his activation, Sano already has five home runs to go along with a .250/.333/.857 line. Enjoy the view:
The ridiculous strikeout rate (33.3% K%) lives on for Sano, one of a few factors that will keep his batting average lower than most. He walks a lot, however, and the power is real. A healthy Sano could be an interesting fantasy asset moving forward given the production of the Twins lineup.
- Matt Olson
Olson fractured a bone in his hand during the Athletics opening series in Japan, missing 34 games before his activation earlier this month. The powerful first baseman quickly found his rhythm at the dish, slashing .262/.392/.697 with five home runs over the past two weeks. While this performance alleviates any concern of lingering issues with his hand, his approach at the plate in those 14 games raises the possibility that Olson could take a step forward in 2019.
Over the last two weeks, Olson is striking out only 19.6% of the time. Pair that with a 15.6% BB% and you have my attention. Obviously, this is a small sample from which to extrapolate and it is true that Olson’s overall rates are right in line with what he posted last season (12% BB%, 24% K% in 2019, 10.6% BB%, 24.7 K% in 2018). If he does continue to improve there, there is a lot to like, especially given how he has mashed the ball in the early goings (23.9% Barrel%, 53.7% Hard Hit%).
- Frankie Montas
Frankie Montas is a surgeon. Over the past month he has cooly viewed hitters from his elevated hill, attacking them with calculated precision and sending most away empty-handed. Montas has walked only 3.9% of batters in his last five starts, striking out 27.3% of them in that period as well. Since an abbreviated outing against Boston (4.1 IP, 7 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 4 K), Montas has tossed 6+ innings in each of his last four starts, peaking with an 8.2 IP outing that saw him mow down 10 Tigers.
Hitters are barreling only 2.9% of pitches against Montas and are struggling to keep the ball off of the ground against him, rolling it over 52.1% of the time against him in 2019 (+8.4%). His most dangerous weapon this year has been a splitter, a pitch he added over the offseason that helped him win a spot in the rotation this spring. That pitch has a 47.6% Whiff% and 43.5% K% overall.
Montas’s current 2.40 ERA (2.72 FIP, 3.26 xFIP, 3.52 SIERA) is a mirage and will likely climb a bit going forward, though not to an extreme extent. Any pitcher who limits walks the way Montas has will be very valuable, especially if he can continue baffling hitters with his improved arsenal.
- Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen is heating up at the plate, slashing .333/.438/.556 with two home runs over the past two weeks. His overall numbers (.263/.383/.447 with seven home runs and two steals) are solid and he is scoring a lot of runs (12th overall) thanks to the Phillies offense and his increased ability to get on base (+2.4% BB% in 2019). Statcast is less enthusiastic about his slash line (.247XBA/.346XWOBA/.409XSLG) based on his overall quality of contact (-2.1% Barrel%), though not to an extreme level.
All in all, McCutchen is doing his part to provide steady power/speed production in 2019, though his days of stealing 10+ bases may be in peril. The Phillies outfielder has only attempted three steals on the season and given how sparingly his team leverages that play in general (3rd fewest attempts in MLB), there is not much hope for that to change.
- Kyle Freeland
2018’s dazzling 2.85 is a thing of the past. Nice to look at and tell the grandkids about for sure, but not something anyone should expect to ever happen again for the Rockies starter. Freeland was a prime candidate to regress given the less than stellar reviews advanced metrics had for his performance (3.67 FIP, 4.22 xFIP, 4.35 SIERA) and he has done just that, though to a more extreme level than expected. His overall production is tough to swallow, a 6.02 ERA (5.80 FIP, 5.23 xFIP, 5.00 SIERA) in 10 starts with a 1.43 WHIP.
Freeland is struggling to control his pitches, strike batters out, and keep the ball in the yard in 2019. He has walked 10.1% of batters faced on the season and has been worse lately, issuing free passes to 11.9% of hitters over the last month. His strikeouts have vanished over that same period, with Freeland whiffing only 13.6% of batters faced. Hitters are launching his offerings out of the park with impunity. After giving up only 17 home runs all of last season, Freeland has served up 12 over the first two months. Hard pass.
- Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt has been MIA at the plate for the last month. The offseason acquisition has one home run since April 22nd and owns a miserable .235/.330/.276 line in his last 26 games. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why he is struggling, however. His batted ball profile over the last month is almost the same as what he posted last season and he is generating strong contact as well.
Pitchers are getting ahead of him at an obscene rate over that stretch (75% F-Strike%), so his struggles may have more to do with the counts he has found himself in lately. While this run has been rough, Goldschmidt has solid numbers overall and should get back on track. Great time to buy low given the lack of any major warning sign precipitating this slump.