Who is the biggest surprise at this point in the 2017 MLB season? Is it the Minnesota Twins who are leading their division and have the third best record in the American League at 25 – 18. Or the Colorado Rockies who have the second best record in all of baseball?
Tweet us and tell us your thoughts or post them in the comments section on this age.
It has been well documented throughout 2016 by fantasy baseball analysts that MLB has become a homer happy league. Players left and right appear to be selling out for the long ball. That trend has taken one of the shallowest positions in baseball, second base, and made it a prime power spot. In 2015 there were three second base eligible fantasy players that finished with more than 20 home runs (Matt Carpenter, Brian Dozier and Robinson Cano) and none with more than 28. Already in 2016 we have 12 players at that position with at least 21 home runs and another six with more than 15 giving them a shot to break the 20 home run barrier. On top of that three of the 12 have 30 or more. Without a doubt the fantasy baseball landscape has changed and that change has been to draft second basemen as power hitters rather than speedsters.
Leading the way in power for second basemen is Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins. He has the second most home runs in all of baseball at 38. Yes, I typed that correctly the second most in all of baseball behind Mark Trumbo. Dozier took his career high 28 home runs he had last season and blew it out of the water, but that’s not the only change he has made. As of right now he has a batting average 32 points higher than his career average. He has a career high slugging of .579 and on-base percentage of .350. With his three home run performance yesterday he has hit six home runs in four games. If this is who Dozier is as a player moving forward we won’t be looking at him as just a top second baseman, he may be one of the top 10 players in all of fantasy.
Another middle infielder that is on a major hot streak is second baseman Rougned Odor. Odor is only 22 years old, but is displaying power numbers of a much more mature hitter. Over his last seven games he has six home runs and has a slugging percentage of 1.129. On the season he has 30 home runs and 29 doubles to go with his 12 stolen bases and career high .283 batting average. He ranks third among second baseman in home runs and is tied for 17th overall. If Odor’s 2016 numbers are a vision of what is to come for him, we may be looking at him as a future hall of famer. Only thing that Odor doesn’t seem to be doing right is controlling his temper and taking a walk.
We have highlighted two great power hitting second baseman, but the list of hard hitting studs is long. It includes names like Robinson Cano, Brad Miller, Jedd Gyorko, Daniel Murphy and Ian Kinsler. Not to mention the best all-around second baseman, and possible AL MVP, Jose Altuve who has 22 bombs and 27 stolen bases. The list is way too long to talk about all of these guys in depth.
What if anything is actionable for this season? Probably nothing unless you’re in a keeper league where you can still trade. For 2017 however all of this should be kept in mind when planning out your draft day strategy.
On Sunday the Minnesota Twins had to make a roster move in order to make room for Trevor Plouffe. Their decision was to send down former number one prospect Byron Buxton. This wasn’t the first time the Twins felt the need to send Buxton back to Triple-A this season and it’s not the last we will see of him in the majors this season. Now we ask though, is Buxton a prospect or a bust?
Since turning pro at age 18 Byron Buxton has been a top prospect in the Twins organization. He was ranked the number one prospect in baseball for multiple years and was compared to superstar slugger Mike Trout at times. Problem is at this point that
has yet to live up to the hype. After two partial seasons in the majors he is hitting .209 with three home runs and 11 stolen bases. He strikes out 31.9% of the time and only walks less than four in every 100 at bats. In each of these two major league seasons Buxton has more strikeouts than walks and hits combined. He truly has looked over-matched in the big leagues.
Is it really Byron Buxton’s fault though or should we be looking at the Twins? Buxton has played in only 306 games in the minors, only 43 of those games came at Triple-A Rochester. Could it be that this 22 year old center fielder was pushed to the majors too soon? Does he need more seasoning after not playing a full season at any one level due to injuries or promotions? We tend to side on the it’s too early to tell. Buxton appears to have all the talent in the world and has thrived at Triple-A, but now he needs to develop as a major league hitter. He likely has more chances to prove himself with the big league club coming and when that happens we will get a better idea if he can make it long term.
Randal Grichuk came in to the 2016 season with a lot of hype coming off of a break out season in 2015, but we soon found out that past performance doesn’t always lead to future success. Grichuk started the season with a .206 batting average and eight home runs in 62 games, with a horrible .276 OBP and .392 slugging percentage. This lead to him being demoted to Triple-A to try and find his swing. After being recalled on July 5th he lasted another 22 games before his second demotion of the season. This wasn’t the last we would see of him in St. Louis, but by this point many fantasy owners had already give up on a repeat of 2015 and some may have considered him a bust.
Nine games later Grichuk was recalled again on August 11th. Since then he has been a man on fire. His triple slash line since the promotion is .341/.356/.886. He has five home runs, seven doubles and a triple. To go along with those numbers, he has 11 RBI and 7 runs. He has been hitting the ball well and playing daily for the Cardinals and has begun to give fantasy owners new hope. Though he still doesn’t walk enough, one walk in 12 games, and strikes out way too much, 15 K’s in 12 games, he is putting the bat to the ball and raised his contact rate to 70%. Currently Mike Matheny has been batting him in the 7th or 8th spot in the Cardinals lineup, but other than Matt Carpenter there is no one in St. Louis’s batting order that would stop Matheny from moving Grichuk to the top third giving him even more fantasy value.
Grichuk is owned in less than 50% of all CBSSports.com leagues and should be owned moving forward in at least 70% of leagues. Don’t forget he came in to 2016 owned in 89% of leagues and has already moved up from his lowest ownership percentage of 30% quite a bit. If he is on your waiver wire, make sure you pounce while you still can.