Robinson Cano (2B-SEA)
Somehow Cano's batting average rose again. After going 1-1 with three walks and two runs scored on Friday, Cano's slash is now .424/.578/.545. Throughout his Mariners' tenure, Cano's BABIP has been in a steady decline, from .335 in 2014 to .294 last year. Meanwhile, his hard-hit rate has actually been improving, from 28.5% in 2014 to 36.9% in 2017. This year everything's been turned upside down. This is one of the more classic "small sample size" cases as Cano's current BABIP is .560 and his hard-hit rate is 45.8%. Therefore it's no surprise his batting average is sky-high. For what it's worth, his wOBA is .495, but of his 14 hits, only four went for extra bases and all four were doubles. He's yet to hit a home run and his ISO is down to .121. The last time Cano had a batting average over .300 was 2014. At this point, he's more of a .280 - .290 hitter. So we need those home runs. The biggest issue right now, since we know he's hitting the ball hard, is he's hitting to the opposite field way more than usual. He's only pulling the ball about ¼ of the time. That's just not good enough for a middle-of-the-order slugger. Cano was drafted as the 7th best 2nd baseman, but the rise of guys like Albies, Kingery and LeMahieu may mean the end of Cano's reign as one of the top players at his position.
Mike Fiers (SP-DET)
Fiers signed a 1-year deal with the lowly Tigers after an uninspiring 2017 campaign (8-10, 5.22 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) as a member of the world champion Houston Astros. He then went out in his first start with Detroit and shut the White Sox down for six innings while striking out six batters. His second start was not as impressive as facing an elite MLB offense like the Yankees is not what the doctor ordered. He allowed five earned runs in 5.2 IP while striking out four and allowing two home runs. As Fiers progresses through his early 30's, we're seeing some scary trends. His HR/FB rate continues to rise (maxed out at 19.5% in 2017), his ERA went up 1.53 from 2015 to 2017 (his FIP and xFIP correlated). His velocity is down through two starts so he's relying a little more on his slider and changeup. You're not interested in Fiers in a 10 or 12-team league; however, if you're in a deeper league or AL-only, you could do worse. He racks up innings (28+ starts for three straight seasons) and his strikeout rate is solid (8.57/9 in 2017) so he could provide a cheap streaming option as the season moves on. Just don't expect many wins or fancy ratios.
Andrew Benintendi (OF-BOS)
After piling up five hits in his previous three games, Benintendi struggled again on Friday, going 0-4 with a walk. On the whole his numbers don't look too appealing (.209/.382/.302), but let's lose the first and third part of that slash line. Benintendi has a .382 OBP. His EYE has been remarkable this season at 2.4. So at least in the early going, the Red Sox youngster is seeing the ball well. He's just not hitting the ball for a whole lot of power: .093 ISO, 14.3% hard-contact rate and 2.22 GB/FB rate. He's pulling the ball too much right now and obviously hitting it into the ground. His BB rate will go down and his K rate will go up, but his power numbers are also significantly lower than any other time in his professional career, including last year's rookie season. Expect the OBP to regress while the rest of his counting stats go up.
Jake Faria (SP-TB)
There's no way to sugarcoat it: last week's thrashing at Fenway wasn't pretty. Until the Red Sox lit him up for eight runs in less than two innings, Faria had never allowed more than five runs in a start. Well, the Rays' youngster rebounded in a nice way, striking out seven in 5.2 one-run innings against the Phillies on Friday. He only allowed two hits and two walks but was pulled after throwing only 78 pitches. The bullpen blew his one-run lead and Faria got a no-decision. Friday night's game was at home so it is fair to start wondering about his road issues. Last year road opponents held a .318 wOBA while home opponents had a .267 wOBA. This year it's a similar outcome. He's home for his next start against the injury-riddled Rangers so be prepared to throw him back into the fold another week.
Matt Chapman (3B-OAK)
Fun Fact of the Day: The current major league leader in WAR... is Matt Chapman. Maybe you knew that. What you might not know is the A's 24-year-old is seventh in average exit velocity and top-20 in ISO while also ranking in the top 20 in O-swing %. On Friday he continued his strong campaign, going 2-4 with a home run. He had his issues with offspeed pitches last season, but he is more balanced in his approach so far this season. His 2018 wOBA is .130 more than last season, BABIP is a little high at .368 but improvements in EYE and an increased hard-contact rate imply this strong start could be valid.
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