Bradley Zimmer (OF) CLE - Zimmer doubled and homered in his second MLB game, showing off the tools that make him a projectable 20/20 OF. He's also showed off the swing-and-miss portion of his game, fanning in 4 of his first 7 ABs thus far. The K's are going to be a problem for him....it's a lazy comp, but think Joc Pederson with a bit less contact and power but a bit more speed, and you're somewhere in the neighborhood. The problem with less contact than Joc Pederson is that Pederson's ability to transform his raw power into game power is often in question due to the strikeouts, so how much more will that be an issue for Zimmer? I can certainly see a situation where Zimmer ends up being a platoon bat for a few years with some sort of .220-240/15/20 lines....in fact, that may be the most likely outcome on a squad that has both playoff aspirations and a handful of decent right-handed hitting CFs. There's upside aplenty here though, particularly if he can show some gains in contact like Pederson has over the past year-plus. I think he's worth a speculative pickup in formats deeper than average depth (and possibly in average if you've got room and one weak OF spot), and he certainly should be owned already in deeper leagues, dynasty leagues, and AL-only formats.
Kevin Pillar (OF) TOR - Pillar had a 6-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday, but he's still hitting 305/357/497 for the season. Pillar's pitch recognition appears significantly improved this year, as his chase rate is down over 4% despite his swing rate being up almost a percent, and his contact rate has jumped over 85% as well. All that has translated into a much better batting average than before, and a 6% jump in hard contact has helped him jump out to nearly a 25/25 pace through 40 games. Most of this improvement looks genuine, and although I don't expect him to remain ranked anywhere near the #11 OF as he is currently, he could end up providing OF3 value on the season.
Ervin Santana (SP) MIN - Santana will be pitching Thursday in one of the few environments that isn't projected to be hot and humid, which automatically gives him a leg up on the field. Add in the ease with which he's been avoiding hard contact (25.9% and a 13.2% LD rate) and Colorado's road woes (23rd in OPS away from Coors), and his $7400 price tag on Draftkings (9th of 19 SP for the day) looks very reasonable. Sure, there's some likely regression to come here, but Santana is an average SP in a favorable situation with an average price tag.
Brett Gardner (OF) NYY - Gardner singled and tripled in the 11-7 destruction of the Royals Wednesday, giving him his 3rd multi-hit game in the past four. He's hitting 385/458/750 in May after a very cool April, and you can't help but think that the improvement of the lineup behind him is helping him see more fastballs (4% more than in 2016) and more strikes (most since 2012) this season. In turn, his contact rate is his best since 2011, his chase rate is his best since 2010, and his hard contact rate has jumped to a career-best 33.2% (career - 23.4%, 2016 - 25.8%). Yes, the HR/FB rate of 23.3% is going to regress, but he is hitting fewer grounders this year than he ever has before (41%), so the power numbers will likely surprise a bit. He doesn't run a ton anymore, but he's 5/5 when he does, putting him on pace for around 20 steals. High teens in homers, 20 steals, a decent average, and a passel of runs is a very valuable OF....he's currently ranked 16th, and I could see him finishing top-30. Sure, selling high here is a reasonable thought, but I do think that he'll continue to provide value as well.....I could easily see 100 runs from him this year if he stays healthy.
Jason Vargas (SP) KC - Wednesday was a tough situation for Vargas as a flyball pitcher against a powerful offense with the wind blowing out stiffly. A three-run blast by Aaron Hicks helped limit him to 4 innings, over which he allowed 6 runs on 7 hits. "Here comes the regression", you might think, but I'm not so sure. Vargas is pitching from a different release point this season according to an interview with SB Nation, and the results (best control of career, 7% drop in hard contact, 2.5% jump in SS rate) aren't a mirage. Sure, he's going to end up with an ERA over 3.00 in all likelihood, but there have been real gains made here, and KC isn't a bad park to pitch in most of the time (27th in HR both last year and this). I think he can be an SP5 in standard leagues the rest of the way, which means he shouldn't be pawned off to the first bidder if you're thinking of trying to sell high.
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