Welcome Back! I hope all is well with you and yours this week. The ball seems to be picking up distance when struck which will mean lots of runs so make your wagers accordingly when you see good spots if you’re inclined to do so. I’m still seeing balls tattoed like the Aaron Judge ball yesterday that didn’t make it out of the park (He did hit 2 others out) but I do think that will change as the weather heats up and the no fun balls go away. Last week’s episode highlighted a few Third Baseman that I thought were entering a bull market and to pick them up if possible and I highlighted a few Third Baseman that were drifting into the bear market and to the bench if possible or even cut them if need be. I’ll do the same this week with First Baseman so let’s get to it.
BULL MARKET FIRST BASEMAN
Yes, you probably knew I was going to start off with Walker as my first Bull Market First Baseman. If you remember (you probably don’t) but back on my April 6 post about grabbing First Baseman before ADP and FAAB I highlighted Walker as someone that was being tremendously undervalued at pick 374 and you probably would be starting him a month into the season. Well, it looks like (Pat on Back) I was right on this one as Walker is tearing it up right now with 5 HR’s (HR in 3 straight games currently) and 11 RBI’s in May so far. He is batting .321 and has almost as many BB’s as K’s (8/11) in May as well. Walker has brought his average up all the way to .219 (chuckle) but hey it was at .147 just a little over two weeks ago so you can see he’s been doing some heavy lifting here to get that average up. His statcast page looks like you had a nose bleed all over it which is normally not a good thing but in this case, it is and his xSLG is through the roof at .657 which is wow levels. ML average is at .408 for context. He’s barreling up the ball and not chasing after bad pitches which indicates how comfortable he is right now at the plate. Now let’s dial it back a bit as this guy is not the 2nd coming of Mark Trumbo or anything (Kidding) but a breakout similar to what C.J. Cron did last season in Colorado is definitely on the table here. .275 28 HR 92 RBI 80 runs. He’s done something similar before back in 2019 so we basically dropped him 200 spots almost because of one subpar season. Well if you got him at where he was going you got a bargain and if he’s still out there snatch him up as your CI or 1B if you have a struggling player currently there now.
Josh Naylor, Indians
I never knew Naylor was such an excitable young man until he started hitting bombs in the 8th inning and later at a breakneck speed. He did set the record for most RBI’s after the 8th inning which is 8. He had a viral moment when he hit the grand slam to tie the game against Liam Hendricks the other day and the next at bat hit a 3 run HR to win the game so there was reason to get excited I guess. He has been out for a few days sick so I guess all the excitement got the best of him but he should be back soon it looks like. Naylor is having a terrific start and the worry about him early on in the draft season was his playing time which looks to not be a concern anymore so he’s a very useful fantasy player. He makes hard contact limits his k’s and is a free swinger not fond of taking many pitches and getting walks as well. He reminds me of that rec softball player who swings and misses on purpose so he doesn’t have to walk and gets another pitch. I like what I see here and drafters are getting a bargain in Naylor where they drafted him. I do think the average will come down pretty significantly from .347 to .270 or so but a nice .270 25 HR season looks very doable at this point and many more pounding of the chest moments I’m sure this summer.
I’m going against the grain somewhat on Stephenson as you are likely using him as a C even though he qualifies as a 1B as well. The probable All-Star from the Reds has had some bad luck with concussions lately as Luke Voit decided he was in the way a couple of weeks ago and shoved him aside at home plate and Stephenson got a little banged up from that and a foul ball off the mask a few days later but he’s back now and swinging a hot stick. 4 out of his last 6 games he has gotten multiple hits bringing up his average to .329 and he is hitting .372 in May. You know how Walker’s statcast looks like it had a nosebleed all over it. Stephenson’s looks like the ocean a sea of blue and that concerns me however this guy’s a smart player and I’m going to bet his regression is limited. He’s one of the best catchers in the MLB right now and I’ve listened to a few other guys in the industry not really buying into him but I’m not scared off by that either. The eye test works for some situations and this is one of them.
BEAR MARKET FIRST BASEMAN
Very rough start for Muncy as he doesn’t do really anything for you in your lineups currently. On the field, he does walk a lot which is ok in OBP leagues if you play in them but I can’t justify holding onto a player hitting .164 and has made only a slight improvement in May hitting .205 with 1 HR so far this month. He does have hits in 5 out of his last 7 games so be watchful if you have him on your bench but I don’t see anything underlying here that’s pointing to a big breakout soon.
Another NL West player who is struggling to find a groove is Cronenworth. A great clubhouse guy and real life player Cron Zone is pressing at the plate at the moment and doesn’t look comfortable at all. He has more K’s already (18) than he did in the month of April (16) and has only walked 4 times this month which was a significant part of his game in getting on base last season. He is currently doing nothing for you stat wise so best to bench him and pick up a player that is useful until we see if Jake can turn it around this season.
Jose Abreu White, Sox
Under the hood, it looks like Abreu is getting very unlucky in some of his batted balls, but I think there is something at work here and that is going to be fatigue moving forward. We all know Abreu is getting up there in age and as the summer hits us, I think Abreu will actually digress and start getting days off to keep him fresh for the playoff run. He’s hitting .211 currently and he recently had a stretch of 7 games where he had 2 hits total. He is hitting the ball hard which he has done his entire career but what good is that if it doesn’t produce anything for you every game. If you can bench him I definitely would at this point and pick somebody else up as I don’t think this is Abreu’s year.
That’s it for this episode. Hope you all have a great rest of your week and I’ll be back next week for some 3B updated rankings.