by Ray Kuhn
With a reduced slate of games on Thursday, and some games taking place during the day, it is sometimes a chance to take a step back. Not a step away, but without 15 games going on at once (and your favorite team potential having the night off), a chance to take a closer look at some other teams or at making moves to improve your fantasy team. Let’s take a look at some of the performances of note from the day around baseball:
1) Don’t Write Encarnacion off Just Yet…
One game doesn’t make a player, but the same could also be said for two months. Things haven’t gone according to plan for Edwin Encarnacion since he joined the Indians this off-season, but he is still too good of a hitter to give up on. Yesterday, he had a perfect day at the plate (3 for 3 with a walk), but more importantly, he went deep for the 13th time this season. It was Encarnacion’s only RBI of the day, he has 28 on the season, but he did score all four times he reached base as he raised his batting average to .255. The true problem with Encarnacion so far this season, is the lack of run production. While his home run total isn’t astronomical, with the help of one good week, he could easily find himself on a 30-35 home run pace, but he just is not driving runs in. He is a good hitter batting in the middle of a good lineup, so I would either buy low or remain patient.
2) Escobar Shows off Some Power…
Talk about being on a surge. June is proving to belong to Eduardo Escobar as he is currently batting .563 in the month. Batting second on Thursday, Escobar continued his success as he went 3 for 4 with a two run homer. It was his seventh long ball of the season and brought his RBI total up to 24. While we want to capitalize on any hot streaks, we also need to be careful not to overreact. Over his past five games, Escobar has seen his batting average rise from .230 on June 9th to .295 after yesterday’s game. Within that span, Escobar has three home runs and eight RBI. Ride the streak, but don’t pay for last week’s success.
3) A Power Source in Chicago…
Sometimes you look up, and see a stat line that catches you by surprise. That is the case with Matt Davidson. The former first round pick, 2009 by Arizona, has gotten a legitimate chance to show he can do at the big league level (170 at bats) and he is taking advantage of it. Davidson went deep for the 14th time of the season last night, yes he has one more home run than Encarnacion, and the solo home run gave him 35 RBI (two behind Jose Abreu). Seeing most of his at bats at DH doesn’t appear to be phasing Davidson, he is eligible at third base, as he is hitting .259 on the season.
4) Pivetta Takes Down Sale…
Now it’s not like Chris Sale had a bad start (eight innings of one run ball with 10 strikeouts), but Nick Pivetta just managed not to allow a run. Lifted after seven innings, the young right-hander didn’t factor in the decision, but you had to like his performance. Pivetta limited the Red Sox to just four hits and two walks whiles striking out nine. There is some potential there with Pivetta, but with young pitchers it often isn’t a direct path. His ERA on the season is 4.46, but he also has a .350 BABIP. I wouldn’t expect a start like this each time from Pivetta, although from Sale it doesn’t really phase us anymore, but there is some value to be had from him in the right situation.
5) Miggy Walks it Off…
If we are going to talk about first baseman with disappointing power outputs to start the season, how can Miguel Cabrera be ignored? In his defense, he has spent some time on the disabled list, but his walk off blast last night was just his sixth of the season in 193 at bats. The home run, there was one runner on base, gave him 31 RBI on the season and his two hit night brought his average up to .280 on the season. To say we were expecting more from Cabrera would be an understatement. You have to wonder if this is a temporary blimp or the new norm for Cabrera as his ISO of .166 is well below his career mark of .239. A good sign though, is that Cabrera’s hard contact rate of 48.3%, per Fangraphs, actually eclipses his career mark of 39.4%. The issue seems to be that Cabrera just needs to hit more fly balls (28.9%) and less line drives (31.5%).
6) Gonzalez Eats Some Innings…
One way to avoid the bullpen blowing the game, is to keep them out of it for as long possible. Dusty Baker stuck with Gio Gonzalez for seven innings last night, 106 pitches, and he picked up his sixth victory of the season. Gonzalez limited the Mets to two runs on five hits while striking out five and not walking a batter to lower his ERA to 2.89. For me though, Gonzalez is still more of a match-up play due to his 4.30 FIP and 4.38 xFIP. Washington will score runs for Gonzalez, but the bullpen in close games also has to be a concern.
7) Carpenter Continues to Hit…
Moving Matt Carpenter to the lead-off spot appears to have been a good move by the Cardinals. Carpenter batted their again last night and picked up two more hits, both doubles, while also drawing a walk and scoring two runs. It obviously limits his RBI potential, but St. Louis needed Carpenter to get going, as he is currently hitting just .244 on the season. Carpenter’s BABIP of .268 is starting to come around, and my hope is that this is just a temporary move to get him going. However, through nine games at the lead-off spot, it is hard to argue with the production, as Carpenter is hitting .429.
8) Lots of Offense in Colorado…
Yes, I know, we really shouldn’t be surprised by this. Often times, the first game of a series in Coors Field means less offense, but the Giants have played in Colorado often enough and the weather is beginning to warm. With 19 runs scored, multiple fantasy owners benefited from the action, but perhaps Brandon Crawford can use this series as a springboard for the rest of the season. The Giants have been unable to get Crawford going so far this season, but he picked up three hits and three RBI last night. Crawford, who doubled and singled twice, is now up to 29 RBI on the season and is batting .254. After two straight seasons of 84 RBI, it is just a very uninspiring start to the season for Crawford, but if another owner cut him lose, he could be worth a speculative free agent pickup.
9) Carter is Staking His Claim…
Chris Carter is a streaky hitter, and with Greg Bird sidelined, it took him a bit to grab a hold of the first base job. But with Bird struggling to get going in rehab, and temporarily staying at Triple-A, Carter has gotten hot at the right time. The first baseman had a 2 for 5 night in Oakland, but most importantly, he hit his seventh home run of the season. The fact that Carter is hitting just .214 on the season doesn’t carry too much weight, as the power is what we look for from him. However, it doesn’t hurt that he is hitting .279 so far in June with three home runs and eight RBI. Ultimately though, once Bird find his stroke, this will turn into a true platoon situation with Carter on the short end.
10) Will Gordon Eclipse .200…
All Alex Gordon needs is one more game like last night, and the outfielder should break over the Mendoza line. Gordon, who went 3 for 5 last night with an RBI last night, hit just his third home run of the season and only his ninth double. The RBI was just Gordon’s 13th, as 2017 has not gone according to plan for him who now bats out of the ninth spot in the order. The only pace for Gordon’s .234 BABIP to go is up, and he is batting .275 so far in June. He can’t do any worse, but there is limited value in Gordon as a buy low candidate to fill your fifth outfield spot in deeper leagues.
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|