Welcome to the daily Monday through Friday article where we discuss all things lineups playing time, platoons, and production trends.
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I had to call an audible here. I decided the only way for this section to remain relevant daily is better to break down a full team’s lineup trends instead of picking separate individual trends. This article is a new concept so of course, there are growing pains. Let’s get to it. We will start in the NL East.
New York Mets
- Dominic Smith has only started three of the seven games. Robinson Cano has started four of seven and that has hindered the regular plate appearances for Dominic Smith. However, with Cano outperforming Smith early on it will be hard to see Smith take over. He needs to give the Mets a reason to start him over Cano. It should not take much.
- J.D. Davis has only started two games and both were against LHP. He is stuck in a part-time, weak-side platoon role. Just 10 plate appearances and has a .400 OBP. the rest has been lackluster. Again, minimal playing time and opportunity.
- Jeff McNeil is an everyday player for this team. Has started six of seven games. Having a strong start to 2022 with one home run and hitting .318/.400/.455 with a .383 wOBA. The plate discipline has also been strong with just a 12% strikeout rate and an 8% walk rate.
- Brandon Nimmo has led off in every appearance and with a .429 OBP that is not going to stop any time soon.
- There was some concern about if Starling Marte would have a similar green light on the basepaths in New York. Well in six games he already has 2 attempts. Caught once but the stolen bases will come and it is clear he has the green light.
- Although Francisco Lindor is only hitting .250 the power and speed have flashed early on. He has one home run and one stolen base. Lindor has a BABIP of .278 – roughly his norm over the last three seasons. Overall so far he is showing to be the player he has shown us to be in the past. Let’s see if he can continue to build on the forward momentum.
We’re Going Streaking
Tyler Naquin, OF, Cincinnati Reds
- Batting 2nd just about every game, Naquin has started off the season hitting well. With one home run and one stolen base so far he is already showing the potential to offer decent production in both. A 10% walk rate and .450 OBP early on should keep him at the top of the order for now.
Francisco Mejia, C, Cincinnati Reds
- Sure he has a BABIP of .400 but any time a catcher is hitting .417 with a home run in the opening week of baseball it catches your attention. He has been alternating every other game with Mike Zunino so he is playing enough to be a serviceable catcher two and if the hit tool can finally come around, Mejia could surprise fantasy managers. Myself included.
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners
- After seeming to figure it out late in 2022 there was renewed hope that Jarred Kelenic figured it out and would carry it over into 2022. That has not been the case. He does have a stolen base and is walking 11.8% of the time which is encouraging. However, he is striking out 52.9% of the time in his 17 plate appearances so far. Small sample but he has not been able to get the bat on the ball. Hitting .067/.176/.067 to start he needs to get it going before being sent back to the minors.
On The Peripheral
This is simply a spot to drop a name that could provide value or be relevant in general in deeper formats. This will have an emphasis on playing time
Ji-Man Choi, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
Choi is coming out of the gates swinging a hot bat. He has played in each of the last five games and has hit 3rd or 4th in each. He sat against the only LHP they saw this season so the platoon still seems likely. During this hot start of the season, he has a hard-hit rate of 66.7% (93rd percentile) and a 16.7% barrel rate. He has hit two home runs and driven in six RBI. The has not been much swing-and-miss in his game with a whiff rate of 20.7% (70th percentile) and a Chase rate of just 5.4% (99th percentile). If there is a run of RHP coming up, Choi can be a serviceable corner infielder in deeper leagues.
Notable Injuries and Lineup Fallout
We will break down the most notable injuries from the day prior and discuss those who gain from the increased opportunity.
Teoscar Hernandez will undergo an MRI exam on his left side on Thursday.
- Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer will be fighting for the playing time with Hernandez out. My initial thoughts are it will be Raimel Tapia’s job to start and run with. We will need to monitor how they fill the gap Hernandez leaves.
Josh Harrison left Wednesday’s game against the Mariners due to lower back stiffness.
- Leury Garcia is the fit here. Garcia has done nothing for fantasy managers so far this season and no reason to think that will change. He should only be rostered in the deepest of formats.
Eloy Jimenez injured his ankle but X-rays were negative.
- Andrew Vaughn should be the player who benefits most. He has not started against an RHP yet this season. This could change that. Vaughn is hitting RHP well to start the year (very limited sample – ). Overall he is off to a strong start batting and any injury should open up playing time for him.
Just a final section of added tidbits I want to throw in about anything I think is interesting or of note.
Here is a fun one. Two career-first strikeouts in one at-bat.
Robbie Ray is not looking like himself.
After pitching in more friendly confines for most of last season, Ray has been dealing with some terrible weather to start the season. The velocity has been down almost 3 full MPH on the 4-seam fastball and 2.5 MPH on the slider. The walks have increased from the career-best 6.7% rate last season back to double-digits ( 10% even). Also, the strikeouts and whiffs have been down but that is very uncharacteristic and he has a very long track record of having success striking out hitters.
This feels like a big velocity drop even with the weather BUT weather can/does affect pitchers differently. It could explain the dip in production all around and we cannot rule it out. Ultimately, this is just good to note and monitor moving forward. We cannot overreact to a couple of lackluster outings. Especially coming in bad weather and off a shortened spring training. If these issues linger into May then I will have more concerns.
We hope you enjoy this new daily concept. If you have questions please follow and reach out on Twitter. You can reach me @Mike_Kurland.
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