Andrew McCutchen (OF) SF - On a day when the Giants could muster little, McCutchen managed a single to extend his hitting streak to 7 and his on-base streak to 18 games. I know the raw numbers haven't been impressive, but hear me out: McCutchen is playing better than he has in a long time in many respects. He's posting the best chase rate of his career by far, his swinging strike rate is better than it's been in 7 years, his LD and hard contact rates are the best of his career by a large margin (yet his BABIP is somehow only .298, which is about 80 points under expectations right now), and he's even running a bit more than last year so far. Stay the course here or buy low....I think he's going to end up having a very solid year.
Addison Russell (SS) CHC - Russell did participate in Monday's offensive explosion, picking up a single, double, and walk in the 14-2 win over Miami. Still, we continue to wait for his first homer of the year, and the .250 AVG is both uninspiring and confusing. We're seeing a lot of things that we wanted to see from Russell this year: a continued increase in LD rate (27), a continued decrease in K rate and a newfound improvement in chase rate, a 3rd straight year of contact rate improvement, and hard contact sustained over 30 percent for the second straight year. All of these things have resulted in a worse performance than last year, and the AVG is particularly odd, because the more he does the things that tend to produce high averages (hit line drives, improve hard contact), the more things stay the same. I would expect his BABIP to be in the high .300's, yet it's .293, under .300 for a third straight year. He's cutting his GB rate for the second straight year as well.....I'm sort of at a loss. He was successful at every level of the minors at young ages, and he hit 21 HRs in the bigs at age 22. There's no reason for him to continue to struggle this much, yet here we are. I'm inclined to continue to gamble on the talent and some of the underlying numbers here, although he certainly isn't producing enough to start in many formats at present.
Scooter Gennett (2B) CIN - I actually like some of what I've seen from Gennett this year, as the chase rate has dropped another five percent while the hard contact rate continues to rise into the 40's. Sure, he was fortunate in his HR/FB ratio last season, and we should expect that to come back to earth, but if the hard contact rate continues to improve we certainly shouldn't expect a career-worst HR/FB rate this year, but that's where he is through a month. Gennett ranked somewhere between 6-9 among 2B last year depending on what system you used, and so far this year he's chasing less, making contact more, and hitting the ball harder. It would be foolish to think that he can't be a top-12 player at the position, which is why I can't figure out how he's unowned in over half of formats on multiple sites. I have no problem with Gennett as one of my starters in any format larger than 8 teams.
Zach Eflin (SP) PHI - I wish I'd been able to catch Eflin's start on TV Monday, as I really want to see if the velo gains and massive slider usage that he showed in his initial outing carried over. I'd be surprised if they didn't, as he generated 14 swinging strikes and picked up 9 K's over 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Giants in an 11-0 win. If your league is one of those where nothing lasts on the wire for long, a speculative pickup is certainly warranted for a guy that has really never looked like more than roster filler in the past, but a handful of arms have popped up this season with massive breaking-pitch usage playing to significant advantage. I'm not sure yet if Eflin is that guy, as it's only been two outings and he didn't miss a ton of bats in the first one, but it's at least caught my attention. I'll definitely be paying attention against the Mets this weekend to see how much of this might be for real.
Eugenio Suarez (3B) CIN - Suarez is mashing right now, hitting 3 homers in the past 6 games and improving an already excellent chase rate. Now that everyone is healthy the Reds are starting to hit, and Suarez is well-positioned to finish in the top-12 at a loaded 3B position once again this year....he doesn't get nearly enough respect. He's been very unfortunate via BABIP to this point as well, with an increased LD rate (26.4) and sky-high hard contact rate (52.8) resulting in a subpar .286 BABIP to this point. It's difficult to talk about positive AVG regression for a guy hitting .290, but the numbers don't lie.