Kole Calhoun (OF - ARI)
Calhoun continued his productive play on Wednesday with a 3-for-6 game, bringing his full-season OPS to .834. Quietly a solid power hitter, Calhoun clubbed 33 home runs last season and is probably under-rostered with an 11% ownership rate in Yahoo leagues. One of the most significant changes in Calhoun's performance last season was his batted-ball profile, as his 40.8% ground ball rate was the lowest of his major league career. That shift allowed Calhoun to better take advantage of his strong 95.1 mph average exit velocity on fly-balls and line drives, and he's continued to hit more fly-balls so far this season with a 29.3% ground-ball rate. Combined with a hard-hit rate that consistently sits above 40%, a strikeout rate likely to fall below 26%, and a walk rate likely to sit around 10%, Calhoun's more fly-ball heavy batted-ball profile should allow him to post an OPS above .800 this year, making him worth a waiver claim from fantasy owners looking for cheap power.
Zach Eflin (SP - PHI)
Eflin allowed four runs over six innings with 10 strikeouts against the Orioles on Wednesday. The Orioles didn't make a ton of contact against Eflin as the 26-year-old posted a 21% swinging-strike rate for the night, but the O's made their contact count with six of their 15 batted balls coming off of the bat faster than 95 mph -- including a pair of home runs. Eflin has ramped up his sinker usage so far this season, and that trend continued on Wednesday with the pitch representing 56% of his total pitches. Sinkers aren't generally very good pitches -- the league averaged a .359 wOBA against them last year -- but Eflin's is excellent as it posted a .291 xwOBA last season. Eflin located his sinker differently last season compared to how he had over his career, helping lead to its strong performance. Encouragingly, Eflin has located the pitch similarly so far this season. Eflin probably won't have many more 10-strikeout games but I'd buy his hot start this year, and pitcher-hungry fantasy owners should consider adding him.
Jesse Winker (OF - CIN)
Winker stayed hot on Wednesday with a two-hit game including his third home run of the season. Winker's performance on Wednesday brought his full-season OPS to 1.042, and the 26-year-old's early-season hot streak looks good under the hood, too. Winker has chased a career-low 19% of pitches outside of the strike zone so far this season, and he's done so with a 65% z-swing rate that's in-line with his career-average. Although Winker's strikeout rate is up thanks to an elevated 11.7% swinging-strike rate, his power is up as well. Winker has posted career-bests in his hard-hit rate, average exit velocity, and xwOBA on contact this season, and it appears as though he's tweaked his approach to add more power. Combined with close to everyday playing time even in the crowded Cincinnatti outfield, Winker's elevated power and strong plate discipline should have him on the radar of fantasy owners as his hot start looks mostly legitimate.
Luke Weaver (SP - ARI)
Weaver was knocked around for four runs over 3.2 innings against the Rockies on Wednesday. Weaver has struggled so far this season after posting a 2.94 ERA and 3.07 FIP last year, taking an ugly 12.19 ERA into Wednesday's start. If anything is encouraging about Weaver's slow start, it's that his struggles haven't been strikeout-related. Weaver's 11.5% swinging-strike rate is higher than last season's 10.4% mark, and his 44.7% zone rate is higher as well (despite his 11.3% walk rate). What's killed Weaver so far this season has been a 50% hard-hit rate and a 22% barrel rate that combine to help fuel his .620 xwOBA on contact and .728 xSLG. Weaver's elevated walk rate and poor batted ball quality suggest that his command may ultimately be driving his poor performance, so the 26-year-old may require a mechanical adjustment to see better results. As a result, fantasy owners should remain patient with Weaver, and he represents a potential buy-low opportunity for fantasy owners willing to wait out poor performances.
Ian Happ (2B/3B/OF - CHC)
Happ went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks and a pair of strikeouts against the Indians on Wednesday. Happ has been off to a hot start this season with a 1.015 OPS after Wednesday's game, and it's easy to buy into the 26-year-old's strong early-season performance. Happ has been extremely patient at the plate so far this season with a 37.2% swing rate, and it's come with a 13-point drop in his o-swing rate from last season. Although Happ's more patient approach has come with a significant drop in his z-swing rate as well, a greater proportion of Happ's swings have come on pitches inside of the strike zone this season, helping fuel his breakout campaign. Fewer swings at bad pitches generally mean fewer strikeouts and more walks, and Happ's strikeout (20.8%) and walk (16.7%) rates are both excellent so far this season. Happ's batted ball quality has also benefited from his improved plate approach, with his hard-hit rate jumping to 56.7% and his xwOBA on contact rising to .535. Happ probably won't maintain all of those gains over the entire season, but fantasy owners should expect Happ to post an OPS comfortably above .800 this season.
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