Coming up through the Minors, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford seemed to be a relatively light hitting, low batting average shortstop with some great glove work, and in his first 3.5 seasons in the Majors since coming up in 2011 he had shown exactly that. He has slowly progressed though in his time in the Majors, as his ISO climbed from .092 to .101 to .114 to .143 last year.
But whether it’s due to a change in his swing mechanics, maturing as a hitter in his age 28 season, or some combination of both, Crawford has legitimately taken big strides this season as he now has a .207 ISO after hitting his 8th HR of the season on Sunday. What can deem this power surge as legitimate? Well, did you know that Crawford’s average distance on his HR and fly balls is 4th in the league at 314 feet? That’s a huge improvement over the 278 feet he averaged last year and the fact that he sits amongst the league leaders in that category provides validity to the power stats.
I originally had said a bit ago that I didn’t think Crawford would get to 20 HR, but I now have to change my stance on that with the revelation of this stat. He’s now hitting .299 with 7 HR, 34 RBI, 26 R, and 3 SB on his way to a career year.
Let’s review the rest of Sunday baseball action.
Justin Bour – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Another big fly for Bour right on cue, giving him 5 on the season in 65 AB. Check out “Marlins First Baseman Bour is Not a Bore” for more details on the slugger.
Steve Cishek – 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the L. As if we needed any further confirmation that A.J. Ramos is and will be the Marlins closer for the foreseeable future. Cishek is toast.
Wilmer Flores – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Flores now has 9 HR on the year, and in case you haven’t gotten the hint yet, this 23-year old has some good pop from the shortstop position. He hit 19 HR between AAA and the Majors last season in 479 AB, and is showing even better pop this season. 20 HR is well within reach and that type of power doesn’t grow on trees for fantasy shortstops.
Jeurys Familia – 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV. Familia got the 5-out save on Sunday, further cementing himself as one of the top closers in the first two months of the season. Check out “Familia-rize Yourself With Jeurys” for more information on the fireman and why I believe in him continuing to do work.
Todd Frazier – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. Frazier refuses to go down. He is now 19 for 46 (.413 AVG) in his last 12 games to raise his AVG to .244 to .287. I said his AVG would rise with the way his BABIP was sitting so low a couple weeks ago, and here we are. His BABIP is at a much more regular level at .277 now, and with a over a 3.0% improvement in his strikeout rate from last year he can surely settle in around this mark for AVG. Throw in the big power numbers and sneaky speed and Frazier is a top fantasy option.
Maikel Franco – 0 for 3, 1 BB. The Phillies top position prospect had a couple of nice games since his call up, but he is now hitting just .194. I said upon his call up that I wasn’t too excited about him and I expected more of a .260 AVG and 10 HR. So I still think that’s what we’ll end up seeing from him, if not worse.
Cody Asche – 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K. Asche was sent down to AAA to make room for Franco at third base a couple weeks ago. Back at AAA, he began to play the outfield to expand his versatility and he now projects to be the Phillies starting left fielder for the rest of the season. He has not lived up to expectations since becoming a regular for the Phillies last season, but there is at least some potential in that bat of his. I don’t really expect itself to show much this season, but just something to keep in mind.
Manny Machado – 3 for 5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. Machado continues to tap into that potential that everyone saw in him when he broke into the league in 2012 as a 20-year old. He is showing a much more refined approach at the plate as his walk rate is up to 9.1% this season compared to just a 5.2% career rate, and his swinging strike rate is over 2.0% down from his career rate. He’s now hitting .270 with 8 HR, 22, RBI, 28 R, and 7 SB. The stolen bases are a welcome surprise as it’s already a career high. The 22-year old has the future outlook of a 20/20 third baseman as soon as this year and he could even have 30 HR power down the line.
Delmon Young – 3 for 4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. Gone are the days of Delmon Young being an everyday starter and anything much of fantasy relevance, but he can be a somewhat productive part-time player. I’m sure it’s not what the former number one overall pick envisioned for himself, but the Orioles sure enjoyed the 2 longballs from him on Sunday.
Chris Tillman – 4.2 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K with the L. Another stinker for the guy that’s supposed to be the “ace” of the Orioles staff. He showed a ton of strikeout potential when he was in the Minors, but there has never once been a hint of that translating over to the bigs over the course of a full season. He’s got an ugly 5.94 ERA and 1.64 WHIP to match. If he’s still on your fantasy roster then you need to make a change.
Joey Butler – 4 for 5, 1 K. Butler has been seeing time with the Rays primarily as a designated hitter and has been ripping the ball with a .342 AVG and 3 HR in 73 AB. It’s a nice hot streak for the 29-year old who has been mostly a career Minor Leaguer, but with an ugly 23 K/2 BB ratio he should soon see a quick downfall.
Steven Souza – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Three straight games with a HR for Souza. You know the drill with him as I’ve noted several times — good power and speed blend with low AVG and lots of K’s.
Jake Odorizzi – 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER 2 BB, 6 K with the W. Odorizzi has been a victim of poor run support this season as he entered his start on Sunday receiving just 1.8 runs per game on average from his offense. Ironically, in his worst start of the season on Sunday, he still logged the win after his offense finally exploded for 9 runs. In the start, he gave up 3 HR. He had only given up 2 HR all season long before that, and it had been a big reason as to why he’s been having such a good season (which he has the cutter and split-change to thank for that as shown in “Shelby Miller and Jake Odorizzi, CUT It Out!”). Hopefully this is just a little blip and he goes on to continue to limit the longball. He is now 4-5 with a 2.61 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 59 K/14 BB in 72.1 IP.
John Danks – 9 IP, 10 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K with the W. The White Sox lefty pitched his first CGSO since 2011. It was hardly an impressive one as he allowed 11 base runners, so don’t go getting too excited. Nobody should be running to the waiver wire to pick up Danks after this one. It’s weird to think that Danks was once part of the “DVD” trio of pitching prospects for the Rangers, along with Edinson Volquez and Thomas Diamond, that was supposed to be a a force to be reckoned with.
Trevor Plouffe – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Plouffe continues his nice start to the season and has been a big reason why the Twins surprisingly sit atop the AL Central standings. I’m not believing much in the AVG at .279 given that there’s not a whole lot different in his batted ball profile from the past where he had a career .245 AVG, but he does have the pop and will be attacking his career high of 24 HR and is in a solid run producing spot in the Twins lineup.
Josh Donaldson – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. DONG-aldson again. My goodness.
Joc Pederson – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Pederson hit his 13th HR of the season on Sunday which is all fun and games, but I would like to see some more SB out of him. While he wasn’t the most efficient at stealing bases in the Minors at 73.9%, he did log two seasons of 30 SB but he is just 2 for 6 in SB so far this season. For as much as he’s on first base via the walk, I would expect a lot more SB attempts than he has made thus far.
Jhonny Peralta – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Is it just me or does it seem like a lot of the players who were suspended for PED use seem to be even better after they came back from the suspension? Peralta and Nelson Cruz are two players that come to mind. We know that Cruz has been hitting out of his mind since coming back from the suspension last year and Peralta also has enjoyed some nice success since his return last year, and they both landed some pretty nice contracts in the process. I guess it pays off to cheat! Peralta is now hitting .310 with 8 HR and 30 RBI as one of the current top fantasy shortstops in the game.
Carlos Martinez – 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K with the W. Martinez has not been scored upon in his last 3 starts and now has a 20.1 IP scoreless streak going with 21 K during that stretch and now sits with a 3.13 ERA and 1.28 WHIP and 64 K/27 BB in 60.1 IP for the season. Martinez is obviously a great talent with electric stuff and is big part of the Cardinals future. If he can keep the walks down then he’s got a chance to keep up this type of performance. He’s still got some work to do versus left-handed hitters though, as that is his main weakness. Last season lefties hit .297 off of him, but that mark is down to .257 this season (entering Sunday). And it does bear repeating that he may be on some sort of an innings limit this season since his career high in IP is 108 IP. But for now, he’s showing off his talent and should be in fantasy lineups.
Paul Goldschmidt – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 4 BB. Goldie gone and did it again. But this time I want to highlight his 4 walks rather than the HR. I likened him to Jeff Bagwell in the pre-season and with the 4 walks on Sunday, Goldschmidt now has a 17.0% walk rate, which was very familiar territory for Bagwell. Mike Trout will probably be the consensus number one pick in fantasy drafts next year yet again, but I would put up an argument for Goldschmidt to be the man.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – 1 for 4, 2 BB, 2 K. Saltalamacchia latched on with the Diamondbacks after being released by the Marlins, and he has now moved into the starting catcher role after Tuffy Gosewisch suffered an injury. Salty was likely going to become the starter anyway, and this is a nice situation for him to fall onto a team in a hitter’s park. He should be scooped up in two catcher leagues.
Julio Teheran – 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. Once again Teheran struggled with his control and now has a walk rate of 3.84 BB/9 as he continues to miss on first pitch strikes as evidenced in “Brave-ing Through It With Julio Teheran and Alex Wood.” He’s got the talent but something is awry right now and he’s going to continue to struggle if he keeps falling behind batters early in the count.
Brandon Belt – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Belt finished the month of May hitting .339 with 7 HR and 17 RBI, which is very impressive considering most of that production actually came in the last two weeks of May. While he won’t be “This Year’s Todd Frazier” in terms of stats, he is still on his way to a nice season and you should have scooped him off waivers when I suggested it.
Billy Burns – 3 for 4, 2 R, 2 SB. Billy doing what Billy does best with another 2 SB on Sunday. He’s now hitting .327 with 9 SB in 27 games. I’ve been recommending him for weeks now and now you can see why, and you can also see why in my post “Billy Burns the Base Paths.” Hopefully you were able to snag him as he’s not likely to be on the wire anymore, but if he is, you should know what to do by now.
Stephen Vogt – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R. Vogt still slaying it, bombing his 11th HR of the year to go with his pretty .322 AVG and even prettier K/BB ratio of 26 K/25 BB. He’s a bit of a late bloomer at 30 years old, but he’s the real deal this year.
Jesse Chavez – 8 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K with the W. I mentioned my liking of Chavez last time, and since moving into the A’s rotation on April 23, he has made 8 starts posting a 2.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 42 K/14 BB in 53 IP. And just a reminder, he also does have SP/RP dual eligibility, which can be pretty useful for fantasy leagues if you check out my article “Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Player Multi-Functionality.”
Jason Kipnis – 2 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Kipnis finishes May with 51 hits and a .429 AVG and he still holds the title of “Kipnis, the man on fire!”
Danny Salazar – 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. Salazar was not sharp on Sunday and you have to wonder if the finger injury that he suffered in his last start was still troubling him. Look for him to bounce back next time, as I still like him a lot if the finger is okay.
Matt Shoemaker – 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. Shoemaker battled come control issues on Sunday night but worked around it to limit the damage. However, his velocity was back down again after seeing a bit of a bump in his last start. So with the inconsistency in velocity it is hard to say whether or not he can improve on that ugly 5.08 ERA very much. It’ll just be something to keep on monitoring.
Adrian Beltre – Beltre will miss two weeks after spraining his left thumb. He has been under performing a bit so far this season, so maybe the time off will actually do him some good. The Rangers though will sorely miss his presence while he recovers.