Nelson Cruz (SEA) - Nelson Cruz stayed hot on Wednesday - scorching hot. The Mariners' big off-season signing has paid off in a big way through the first month with Cruz bashing his 10th home run on Wednesday night. Does that mean he's going to continue mashing at the same rate? Sorry folks but every good thing has to come to an end. Right now his stat-line looks like a video game set on beginner difficulty. In addition to the league-leading home run total, he also has 22 RBI and is slashing .329/.382/.756. You might think that his slugging percentage looks crazy until you take a gaze at his .427 ISO. I kid you not, his ISO is three times the league average. Obviously, this number won't continue and actually, I'm expecting a pretty sharp decrease in production very soon. He's currently hitting over half his balls in the air and of those fly balls, 25% are leaving the yard. Cruz has always had a high HR/FB rate but his career average of 17.5% is nearly 8% lower than his current rate. In addition, his 102.6 MPH on his home runs is actually below league average, as is his mediocre 388 ft average home run distance. So what happens when those lucky fly balls no longer land in opportune spots? You're left with a an extreme flyball hitter with mediocre batted ball speed who hits high-average line drives just 12% of the time. If you're a Cruz owner, it's time to take your chips and cash in for a huge profit. Shop him now before he loses any value, which he will.
Jake Marisnick (HOU) - One of the nice early-season surprises has been the development of former Marlins prospect, Jake Marisnick. Getting a shot at everyday playing time with the Astros, Marisnick his showing a nice balance of power and speed. On Thursday night, he hit his 4th double and stole his 7th and 8th bases. There's a lot to like about Marisnick's career batted ball splits, especially since he's an above average speed guy. For his career, he has averaged hitting 23% line drives, 41% ground balls, and just 36% fly balls. Thats an excellent basis for a player like Marisnick but his success in the early season hasn't been without some luck. His .442 BABIP is about 100 points higher than his career average and while his current 26% line drive rate does give room for optimism, some regression to his batted average should be expected.
Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) - Ellsbury managed to get 3 base hits today and accounted for 2 of Smyly's four total hits allowed. The Yankee's centerfielder also attempted his 11th and 12th steals of the season, managing to be successful on one but getting tagged out of the other. Other year, he now has 8 steals and has been running wild for the Yankees. It's a positive sign for the outfielder because it means he's healthy but the production shouldn't come as much of a surprise. He has always produced while he's on the field but it's been staying healthy that's the challenging part for him. He has terrific plate discipline with just a 6% swinging strike rate, 11% walk rate, and phenomenal 87% contact rate. On the downside, it looks like the power might finally be leaving him in his age-31 season. Of his 27 hits to start the year, just 3 have gone for extra bases. If I owned Ellsbury, I'd be exploring trade offers for him while he's healthy and running the bases well. I'm not sure there's much of a difference between him and Dee Gordon or Billy Hamilton now that the power looks to finally be dwindling.
Chris Sale (CWS) - Arguably the top pitcher of the day in Thursday's short slate is Chris Sale. Sale has been very solid through 3 starts to begin the year but the strikeouts have been on the light side. I'm expecting that to change on Thursday when he takes on the Twins. Not only will he be pitching in a pitcher's park, he'll also face a lineup that strikes out the 10th most frequently in the MLB and on Wednesday they struck out 8 times against Shane Greene (who is not a strikeout pitcher). He's extremely pricey at $10,000 but I think Sale's chances of a win are greater than Strasburg in New York or even Strasburg's opponent in Jacob deGrom. The win is worth 4 points on FanDuel and is a huge factor in the scoring. Never invest heavily in a pitcher unless you feel confident he can tally you a win. Top FanDuel Play: $10,000
Seth Smith (SEA) - One player who was not in the starting lineup on Wednesday was Seth Smith for the Seattle Mariners. The left-hander has pretty severe righty/lefty splits so he usually grabs the bench against left-handers but will typically draw the start against right-handers. The result is a player who holds tremendous value in the daily game because his price point usually remains suppressed yet he hits right-handed pitching at an above-average level. For the last 2 seasons, Seth Smith has managed a wOBA of .345 against righties and on Thursday he gets to face a weak right-hander in Scott Feldman. Another important aspect of the daily game is catching players while they're hot. In the last week, Smith has really started swinging the bat well, reaching base in 6 of his 16 plate appearances and tallying 3 extra base hits including 2 doubles and a home run. Top FanDuel Value: $2,400
Jose Altuve (HOU) - Altuve stayed hot at the plate on Wednesday going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Over the past week, Altuve's wOBA has been an incredible .501 and he draws a very nice matchup against left-hander James Paxton on Thursday. He's one of the pricier plays on FanDuel tomorrow but he has historically clobbered southpaws and has a .384 wOBA and .883 OPS against them since 2013. Hitting leadoff obviously adds a nice boost to his value, especially when you consider that Altuve has averaged 0.72 fantasy points per plate appearance over the last 2+ seasons. Given the short slate, it's difficult to find a lot of value at the second base position so I recommend allocating a decent chunk to second base in order to pay up for one of the better offensive options at any position. Comparatively speaking. Top FanDuel Play: $4,400
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