The calendar flips to May, and April has always provided us with some hot and cold starts from expected and unexpected places. What degenerate gambler had the Pirates doing this well? Let’s dive in to see what’s legit or not from the middle infield:
Thairo Estrada – Giants: One of our preseason sleepers, Thairo’s been better than advertised, with a 19/4/10/.350/.398/8, while qualifying at second base, shortstop, and outfield. Estrada has avoided being platooned and although he’s not killing the ball, his barrel% and hardhit% are among the best of his career right now and his xBA is at a reasonable .268.
Fact: So, he doesn’t continue to hit .350 over the course of the season, but should continue to fill up the box score while being multi-positional eligible.
Nico Hoerner – Cubs: The Cubs middle infielder outplaying the team’s big free agent acquisition Dansby Swanson, Hoerner has broken out like many pundits suggested earlier this year to a 21/2/17/.333/.374/10 line. Hoerner showed tremendous growth in his batting profile last season and the gains have stuck, as Hoerner’s been setting the table for the Cubs, his xBA is not too far off from is actual AVG (.328), dropped his K% from an already fantastic 11% to 7.3%, and has been running wild, not to mention qualifies at a shallow second base.
Fact: Hoerner keeps up his hot start and remains one of the biggest breakouts of the year.
Amed Rosario – Guardians: Amed Rosario seems to be the poster boy of what the 2023 Guardians have looked like in the early going: young player with no power that doesn’t walk much. Rosario entered 2023 in his age 27 season, and looked to build off of his 86/11/71/.283/.312/18 slash. However, Amed has 1 homer, a .226 average, .260 OBP, and his K% has ballooned from last year’s 16.6% to 27%. At least Rosario can count himself lucky he was not part of this past off-season’s elite shortstop class!
Fiction: Rosario has a career breakout at age 27.
Wander Franco – Rays: As the Rays have been one of the main storylines of the 2023 season, dark-horse MVP candidate Wander Franco finds himself a big part of the Rays success (aside from their insane pitching). Wander’s got a 17/5/17/.300/.364/6 line while looking every bit the player we hoped we were getting last year before all of the injuries. While winning the AL MVP is a long shot with Ohtani, Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Aaron Judge around, his Statcast page is all red, everything seems legit and it’s hard to believe he’s only 22. Like the boss said, 2o23 was likely your last chance to get Franco as cheap as he went this year in drafts.
Fact: Wander Franco is a dark-horse MVP this season.
Brice Turang – Brewers: After a hot week or so which included him hitting a grand slam in his first home game, the fact that Brice has cooled off is an understatement, as he’s limped to a 8/2/9/.213/.263/3 slash in the early going. Brice Turang remains a talented player but his rookie season will have some extra bumps along the way. Owen Miller has started to eat into Turang’s playing time. If Jordan Walker can get demoted, so can Brice Turang. At the end of the day, you likely drafted Turang with an endgame pick to help in the steals department, so it’s likely you’re not relying on him to be in your starting lineup every day. Better times are surely ahead.
Fiction: Turang will lead NL rookies in stolen bases.
Gleyber Torres – Yankees: Gleyber’s off to a typical Gleyber start this year, a four-category contributor with some pop. As the Yankees lineup has been decimated with injuries/ineffectiveness, Gleyber’s seen some time leading off and even in the cleanup spot. While a lot of Gleyber’s numbers are in line with what he’s shown us in his career, I’m liking the career-best K% combined with the career-best BB%. As the Yankees are faced with Aaron Judge missing some time with a strained hip and the ineffectiveness of IKF/Josh Donaldson and the youth movement they’ve committed to with Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, the Yankees are once again counting on Gleyber to be their rock of consistency.
Fact: While Gleyber will likely never surpass his 38 HR 2019 season, Gleyber remains one of the more productive middle infielders in our game today.
Carlos Correa – Twins: The man of a few failed physicals this past offseason has limped to a 7/3/10/.209/.284 line this past month. On a positive note, Correa has not missed much time this year but on the other hand, has dealt with a back issue. The Twins are downplaying the injury but we’ve seen Michael Harris II lose most of April to a back strain. We’ll eventually see Correa pick things up at the plate, but this is a guy who has burned us before with injuries and his future potential injuries have been publicized. Correa came into the season around the 15th shortstop taken off the board, mostly due to the elite shortstop pool and it’s not looking like he’ll make a huge jump up the ranks.
Fiction: Carlos Correa will be a top-10 shortstop in 2023.
Have a great week!