Spring Training Summary: March 21: Ichiro Suzuki’s Power Surge, Jon Lester’s Struggles & More

A pair of likely Opening Day starters had significantly different outings yesterday, though the roles were likely not what you expected.  Let’s take a look at the performances from Jon Lester, Johan Santana and all the rest from yesterday’s games:

  1. Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox – Starting Pitcher – It has been a rough spring for Lester.  After allowing 4 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over 3.0 innings he is sporting a 5.73 ERA, 1.91 WHIP and 4 K over 11.0 IP.  I wouldn’t get overly concerned, as it is just spring training, but he also struggled in September (5.40 ERA, 1.63 WHIP over 31.2 IP) and isn’t generating strikeouts.  It is definitely worth keeping a close eye on during his next start, though this isn’t enough to send him dropping down draft boards.
  2. Johan Santana – New York Mets – Starting Pitcher – Santana continued to impress, and this time he showed the ability to work deeper into games.  He went 6.0 innings allowing 1 R on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 6.  Entering the day he had walked 4 over 7.1 IP, while striking out just 2.  In other words, facing a Cardinals lineup that included Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina, the performance was impressive in every way possible.  He’s not going to be the pitcher he once was (remember he missed all of 2011), but he still has the stuff to be a useful fantasy option.  He is definitely worth targeting to fill out your staff.
  3. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles – Outfielder – He is one of those players who has the potential to join the ranks of the elite at his position.  That is, of course, if he can put it all together.  He’s coming off a year where he hit .280 with 25 HR, 83 RBI, 68 R and 12 SB.  Yesterday he put his entire skill set on display, going 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB.  Hitting in the middle of an improving Orioles lineup, he has plenty of room to take a step forward once again, specifically in the RBI/R departments.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see him reach 90/80, would it?
  4. Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners – Outfielder – When the news broke that Suzuki would be hitting third in the Mariners lineup the talk was that he may try to hit for more power.  So far this spring, he’s showing it off.  He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday and is now hitting .400 with 2 HR, 8 RBI and 1 SB in 30 AB this spring.  Keep in mind, in 128 AB the previous two springs he hit 0 HR.  Maybe there is something to the increased power, huh?  The SB may decline, but probably not that much (given how weak the lineup is), so he’s looking like a player worth targeting.
  5. Brandon Allen – Oakland Athletics – First Baseman – It is an open competition for the A’s first base/DH jobs (until Manny Ramirez is eligible to return), though Allen appears to be in the lead.  He went 2-3 with 1 RBI yesterday and is now hitting .303 with 2 HR and 12 RBI in 33 AB.  More importantly he has struck out just 4 times, considering his 34.9% strikeout rate in 324 AB in the Major Leagues.  He has a ton of power so, if he can keep his control in the strikeouts in check, could prove to have nice sleeper value.  In deeper formats he is definitely worth scooping up for your bench.
  6. Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians – Second Baseman – He is one of my favorite “low-end” second base options for this season, but it has been a major struggle this spring.  He went 0-3 with 1 K yesterday and is now hitting .229 with 12 K vs. just 1 BB.  That is not truly indicative of his talents, with a 17.6% strikeout rate and 10.2% walk rate over his minor league career (972 AB).  He brings 20/20 upside and, as I’ve said before, could end up being a poor man’s Ben Zobrist.  Don’t read into the numbers.
  7. Matt Joyce – Tampa Bay Rays – Outfielder – He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday and is hitting .235 with 3 HR and 7 RBI on the spring.  The real question with Joyce is if he is going to play every day (something one can never predict in Tampa Bay).  If he does, he brings power (20+ HR) mixed with a little bit of speed (10+ SB).  He’s a gamble, due to the playing time question, but one worth taking.

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