We are roughly two weeks into the season and have plenty of baseball left to play. This is still the point where it can be hard to tell the difference between a true breakout and a guy that simply had a hot start to the season. Do we believe that Nico Hoerner will steal 80+ bases on his current pace? Maybe Ryan Mountcastle is going to out-slug Aaron Judge? Since we all love a buy or sell, we are going to dive into a handful of hot starts this week and see if they should be on your roster long-term.
- Bryson Stott – Stott is off to a hot start in the 2023 fantasy season with a 14-game hitting streak. Coming off a double double rookie season with 10 homers and 12 steals, this is a welcome sign. I have seen a number of folks clamoring that he has arrived as a fantasy relevant player capitalizing on his prospect hype. Looking under the covers, despite the average and a few extra steals, the power has been a bit disappointing with a .083 ISO. He has also been propped up by a .500+ BABIP with only a single walk in 61 plate appearances. Finally, when it comes to his contact metrics, the only real statistic where he is in the top third of the league is his strikeout rate. Don’t look under the covers if you own Stott, you will be disappointed.
- Josh Lowe – I feel like Josh Lowe has been tottering between breaking out and being labeled a AAAA player. While a lack of consistent playing time might be driving some of his lack of traction, he has done little to take advantage of opportunities so far in the majors. As a minor leaguer, Lowe had constantly shown the ability to go 20/20 or beyond with a serviceable batting average. So far in 2023, he has hit a respectable .333 with three long balls. On the surface, there does not appear to be much in the way of small sample luck and he is showing much better discipline at the plate. In addition, he has barrel rates at double the league average while pulling the ball in the air more than he has in the past for promising signs. There is still some concern with playing time as he is not seeing at bats against lefties and batting in the bottom part of the lineup which hurt his opportunities. However, there is a lot to like with what we have seen in the early going.
— Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun (@BallySportsFL) April 15, 2023
Verdict: Hold (Buy in daily leagues)
- Matt Chapman – It has been a few years since Chapman has really been fantasy relevant. Unfortunately, he has provided power, from the Joey Gallo school of hitting, and not much else. This season, he has opened on fire hitting over .400 and filling up the box score with power, runs, and run production. This early run is to be partially attributed to having a BABIP over .550 which will help any hitter short-term. However, Chapman is sporting a hard hit rate better than 60% sitting behind only MJ Melendez in the whole league. The biggest difference appears to be the plate approach with an improved strikeout rate and the lowest first pitch swinging rate of his career. He has been locked in and knows what pitches he is looking for. This has translated to significant improvements in his results against off speed and breaking pitches. While I am not buying a top 10 Player Rater fantasy season, I am buying Chapman’s return to fantasy relevance in a thin third base crop. I for one am surprised, but cannot deny what I see!
- Chas McCormick – Continuing to carve out a role as the Astros centerfielder, McCormick has also started laying claim to the leadoff role. Getting on base at a .383 clip with a 12% walk rate and four steals already, the Astros have to be pleased. Unfortunately, this is going to be an easy sell for me as we dig under the covers. First of all, his batting average is due to regress with an xBA of .193. Second, his sprint speed has regressed this year hinting that the early steals are going to be fleeting. Finally, he simply does not hit the ball that well reinforced by bottom of the league exit velocity. Ultimately, there is nothing to see here.