Mitch Garver (C - MIN) - Garver had a huge day Saturday against the Yankees, going 3-5 with his 6th homer of the season, and he's now hitting 333/387/719 playing around half of the time. Perhaps most interestingly, the relatively slow Garver has batted leadoff in his last two outings in front of a Twin offense that is 1st in OPS in MLB currently. Lest you scoff at this small sample size, I'll add in that Garver has a very solid minor league track record with a few rather nice years in there, the catching position is pretty close to a steaming pile of donkey dung at present, and this is a guy that posted a hard contact rate of over 40% last season with a contact rate around 80%. In short, this guy can hit, has moderate power (114th out of 333 in avg exit velo currently), and controls the strike zone well....this isn't a fluke, and even playing part-time he could easily worm his way into the top-10 at catcher this year. He absolutely should be owned and started in all formats.
Alex Gordon (OF - KC) - I'm at a loss to explain how a hitter can show such improvement in a skill like contact rate in year #13 of their career. It's getting a bit late to dismiss it as small sample size now that we are 141 PAs into 2019, and Gordon is posting a career best in contact rate, both inside and outside of the strike zone, by a substantial margin. 2 singles and a homer on Saturday have pushed Gordon's line up to 299/394/538, and all of this is happening despite pitchers throwing fewer strikes to him than ever before in his lengthy career. He isn't running yet, which is keeping him from being a ridiculous bargain so far this year, but he's still been very valuable (the HR was #6 already, and his career best is just 23) to this point. It's been long enough that I think he must be picked up in all formats....I'm sure we will all be waiting for him to pumpkin, but this looks like legitimate improvement to me at this point, as contact rate tends to stabilize for hitters around 100 PAs (something we will discuss on SiriusXM Fantasy tomorrow morning!).
Chris Bassitt (SP - OAK) - I'm pretty sure I've been on record saying that Bassitt will never be a successful major league arm, but I might be willing to backtrack a bit on that after seeing the changes he's made thus far in 2019 (at age 30, mind you). Bassitt navigated all of the Pirates but Josh Bell pretty well on Saturday, but 2 Bell dingers resulted in 3 runs over 5 innings for the 30 year old, however he did fan 6 in the outing. Bassitt has picked up some velocity on his FB and even more on his slider so far in 2019, but he's actually dropped the velocity on his curve while using it a bit more, so there's a huge delta gain there, and it seems to be helping the whole arsenal play up to this point. The swinging strike rate has doubled, and those are pretty much the gains, along with a massive increase in soft contact. Those two things combined make me think that, despite fairly pedestrian stuff, Bassitt is fooling an awful lot of people right now. Whether that can last for longer than it takes for the new tape to get around is a good question, but in the meantime I think he's at least worth an add in just about all formats. His next four starts are scheduled against bottom half offenses (3 against bottom quintile ones), so the time is at hand....I'd have no qualms running him out there for the time being at the very least.
Eric Sogard (2B - TOR) - For Sogard to have 3 homers already in 53 AB.....wow. One of the lighter hitters in the bigs, Sogard is also posting one of the lowest 2 or 3 swinging strike rates I've ever seen: 1.6%. A fantastic contact hitter with an excellent eye, the 32 year old really is a good leadoff man, he just doesn't have the pop teams want in this era. After two more walks and a triple on Saturday, he's hitting 377/468/660 since being called up, and there's no reason to expect him to have an AVG or OBP that will hurt you. He gets on so much he's going to score some runs, and his hard contact rates have been increasing pretty heavily the past three years. I would absolutely be using him in deeper leagues right now, and if your league values OBP I'd have him no matter the size as well. Standard formats it's a little dicier, but there are a lot of positive data points here right now. There aren't many players hotter either.
Jake Odorizzi (SP - MIN) - Odorizzi shut out the Yankees over 6 innings on Saturday, allowing just two hits, walking four, and striking out 8 to move to 4-2 on the year. The 29 year old is a "kitchen sink" type of pitcher, throwing 5 or 6 different pitches without a real standout offering, but after a couple of years in which it looked like he was easing his way out of baseball he has really stepped it up here in the early portion of 2019. It's an odd mix of improvement though, as he's generating more swinging strikes on better velocity, but the chase rate is down and the batted ball mix is decidedly unfavorable (GB rate of 23%). The velo bump is interesting, because at no point in his 7 year career has he thrown this hard before, and honestly between that, the swinging strike rate, and now 13 straight scoreless innings against Houston and NY, he has to be taken somewhat seriously at the very least. He's had a very favorable BABIP to this point given the massive amount of LDs that he allows with a hard contact rate somewhere in the average range (slightly improved from the past two years)....right now I'd view him as closer to a 4.00 ERA arm than a 3.00, but that has value in today's environment, especially with the K bump. I'm a bit skeptical, but I think he is worth a pickup currently in most formats, particularly with the Tigers and Angels coming up next on the docket.
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