It’s quarantine, April rain and April snow for now, but the optimism for a baseball season whispers louder and louder all the time. There’s optimism in Cincinnati no matter when the season begins. The starting pitching was buttressed by social media star, and underrated Ace, Trevor Bauer. The new look outfield will have breakout ready Nick Castellanos and the Japanese Michael Brantley Shogo Akiyama in two of the spots. The final outfielder will come down to one of Josh VanMeter or Aristides Aquino, two of the better DFS studs at different points in the 2019 season.
The Record Breaker
How could this be a competition? You may remember Aquino starring in such roles as setting the major league record for the most homers in a player’s first 27 games, with 13 last August. Along the way Aquino set the record for the most HR in the first 12 games with eight. How about a player’s first 14 games with nine. Not enough? How about a player’s first 16 games with 10. Then a player’s first 17 games with 11. Then a player’s first 22 games with 12. After Aquino’s first couple days of August he was on DFS radars. Beyond his first week in August, with six home runs, he was a must start in DFS formats. He rewarded faith in him with another four homers the second week of August. But then he became almost mortal. After a 14 homer, 33 RBI, 1.158 OPS in August, he fell to five homers, 13 RBI, .619 OPS in September. The cracks even started the last couple weeks of August. That is why this is a competition and Aquino is not the no doubt third outfielder for the Reds.
Before there was Aquino’s record breaking August there were a couple of amazing weeks from Josh VanMeter in July. In a part time role he managed four homers, 7 RBI, .417 batting average and a 1.333 OPS. Especially for the two middle weeks of July he was a great cheap must start in DFS. Part of the reason Aquino got so many at bats in August and September was the fact that VanMeter dropped to around .200 with a .600 OPS in August and September. Lurking behind his numbers, however, were a .348/.429/1.097 slash line in AAA Louisville earlier in the year. For his part he managed a .400/.526/1.193 slash line in Spring Training before it halted. This guy can hit, which why he can hold up as a viable option to his record breaking fellow outfielder.
Jesse Winker figures in here too, but his star has faded faster than Bernie Sanders. After his own hot start as a 23 year old in 2017 with a .298/.375/.904 slash line he lowered to .269/.357/.830 last year. Last year was his career high in at bats with 338, which is still only half a season. He says he’s fully healthy after a cervical strain with upper and lower back spasms last year, but backs don’t age like fine wine.
VanMeter can start all over the diamond, and might thanks to Eugenio Suarez coming off shoulder surgery, but while he was hitting his stride in spring training Aquino was hitting a lowly .077/.200/.277. Is this a sign of pitchers continuing to figure Aquino out, or did let his success go to his head last September and just have a bad 26 ABs in the spring? Winker has more experience than the other two but has a lot of trouble staying on the field. Nick Senzel is lurking way in the background, but a September torn labrum will keep the kid gloves on this year. Aquino will get his chance when games begin, but don’t be surprised if VanMeter takes over before the season ends.