Byron Buxton (OF-MIN)
Buxton had a 3-true outcomes type of day Thursday going 1-3 with a home run, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He also stole a base. This still represents a great day for Buxton who has always tantalized when healthy. After a slow spring where he hit .135 with a .492 OPS the big opening day is nice to see. We have seen how productive Buxton can be when healthy as he has put up a .827 and .844 OPS the past two seasons with 33 doubles, 4 triples, 23 home runs and 16 steals over 126 games. Drawing walks will be huge for Buxton's game, especially on the basepaths as he had a miserable 1.5% walk rate in 39 games last year with striking out 26% of the time. He swung at over 50% of the pitches he saw outside the zone last year, which led to a 17% swinging strike rate and the poor ratios above. Suring up his eye, even a little, could pay massive dividends.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF-TOR)
Hernandez picked up right where he left off last year going 3 for 4 with a home run. The power should now not be in question, as Hernandez has slugged 77 career home runs in 378 games. His batting on average on the other hand is something to watch as he hit in the .230s in 2018 and 2019 but was able to hit .289 over 50 games last year via a slightly inflated .348 babip. Hernandez has always had some holes in his swing evidenced by a 31% career K rate, but he showed improved plate discipline with a 8:14 BB:K ratio in the spring - something he will look to keep up this year. Hernandez should get plenty of RBIs opportunities in a loaded Toronto lineup.
Robbie Grossman (OF-DET)
Grossman went 0-1 but drew 3 walks and stole a base. A hit would have been nice, but you can't ask for much more from a leadoff man then to generate a .750 OBP. Grossman is a career .252 hitter with 50 home runs in 727 career games, so you aren't getting much there but with a 12% career walk and rate and .350 OBP he is a solid leadoff hitter. Grossman had possibly his best career year last year, and despite playing in only 30 games hit 8 home runs and stole 8 bases, just barely off his career bests (11 and 9) as he posted a career high .241 ISO and .482 slug% by pulling the ball a career best 47% of the time. Grossman should get regular at bats leading off for Detroit and is a nice platoon option in fantasy especially against lefties who he owns a .271 career mark against.
Nate Lowe (1B-TEX)
Lowe had a nice opening day going 2 for 6 with 4 RBIs. While he hit just .205 in the spring, he posted a .321 OBP thanks to 8 walks and does have a good minor league pedigree. Lowe came up with Tampa and slugged 43 minor league home runs from 2018-2019 in the minors while hitting .289 or higher both seasons with a 902+ OPS. While he has just 245 MLB PAs over 2 seasons he does have a solid .769 OPS with 11 home runs. He was much better in 2019 than last year, as he had a big drop off in hard hit rate (41% to 25%) and his babip fell 25 points in line with a 40-point batting avg drop off. It's a lower stress situation in Texas playing for a non -contender - but he is worth monitoring.
Major League Debut:
Kyle Isbel (OF-KC)
Isbel made his major league debut and went 3 for 5 with 2 RBIs. Isbel raked in the spring picking up 14 hits in 42 at bats (.333) with 10 runs and 2 home runs while also showing good plate discipline drawing 6 walks. In what is becoming a bit more of a trend with the wash of the 2020 minor league season, Isbel makes the jump without ever playing above A+. His hot spring led to the promotion as Isbel hasn't hit the cover off the ball in the minors. He hit just .216 at A+ in 2019 albeit with some pop (5 HR) and speed (8 steals). He made a good last impression of pro ball prior to 2020 where he looked good in the 2019 Arizona Fall League slashing .315/.429/.438 with 6 xbhs, 6 steals and a solid 14:20 BB:K ratio. If he can hit he should stay, but any prolonged slump may earn him a trip down to AA or AAA for more seasoning.
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