Jonathan Schoop (1B-DET) went 2-4 with a homer, a walk, and 3 RBI against the White Sox on Saturday. The 29 year-old is putting together his best season since 2017, when he hit .293 with 32 homers and 105 RBI across 675 plate appearances for the Orioles. He'd been a disappointment ever since then, but not in 2021 - Schoop now batting .283 with 16 longballs and 49 RBI through his first 333 plate appearances of the season. He has logged a 41% hard-hit rate per Statcast, his highest since 2015, and he's slashed his o-swing% to 37% - exactly what it was in 2017, the only other time in his career he chased pitches outside of the zone at less than a 40% clip. He's also trimmed his swinging-strike rate to a career-best 11%; his second-lowest was just under 14% in - you guessed it - 2017. On a lot of levels, this is looking a lot like 2017 for Schoop, and that's a good thing for those who picked him up in fantasy. The question, of course, will be whether he can sustain this sort of production beyond 2021 - but that's irrelevant for the current fantasy season.
Eric Haase (OF-DET) went 3-4 with a pair of dingers and 6 RBI against the White Sox on Saturday. The 28 year-old has enjoyed a surprisingly productive start to his 2021 campaign, as he now owns a .250 average to go with 11 homers and 21 RBI across just 138 plate appearances. Haase has a long track record of hitting homers (and striking out a ton) in the minors, but he'd made less than 60 plate appearances in the majors prior to this season so there is very little MLB track record to work with here. Haase hit 20 or more bombs in 2017, 2018, and 2019 with the Cleveland organization, but he also fanned at a clip north of 30% each season. So far in 2021, he has unsurprisingly struck out at a 33% rate en route to logging a .313 ISO. A .292 BABIP does not seem at all out of line for him, so he could very well sustain a palatable .250ish average while providing nice power numbers going forward, and at the C position in fantasy no less. The operative word there, is of course, "could." The bottom line for fantasy is that he is hot now, so if you need help at C, make the add.
Cavan Biggio (2B-TOR) went 1-3 with a pair of RBI against Tampa Bay on Saturday. The 26 year-old is putting together a lackluster campaign so far - perhaps because of a nagging neck issue that ultimately landed him on the IL a few weeks back - and is now hitting just .236 with 6 homers, 21 RBI, 23 runs scored, and 2 stolen bases across 228 plate appearances on the year. As usual, he's walking a good bit (14%) and striking out fairly often (27%) while making hard contact at a modest 36% rate per Statcast. Biggio's 22% o-swing% attests that his eye at the dish remains elite, and he doesn't swing and miss often (10%), but his contact rate is a touch low for him at 74% (76%). And he's just not doing a lot when he does make contact, as his .149 ISO is on pace to be his lowest since he reached the majors back in 2019. Concerningly, his .312 BABIP is right about his career rate (.310), so Biggio's fantasy owners can't have too high of hopes for his average climbing much. They'll just have to hope that he can show a little more power and swipe a few more bags than he has so far.
Brandon Lowe (2B-TB) went 0-3 with a strikeout against Toronto on Saturday as he again hit leadoff but was replaced by a pinch-hitter late in the game. The 26 year-old seemingly broke out in 2020 as he batted .269 with 14 homers and 37 RBI across just 224 plate appearances. So, he's disappointed a bit in 2021 as he is hitting just .204 with 16 homers and 39 RBI through his first 314 plate appearances. The power is nice and he's chipped in 4 stolen bases, but a 32% strikeout rate, a career-low 39% hard-hit rate per Statcast, and a career-low 19% liner rate are nerfing his average. Lowe's o-swing% of nearly 35% is a career-high, and he's made contact on those pitches outside of the zone a career-high 45% of the time - that likely helps to account for the diminished hard-hit rate. So, sure, the .250 BABIP comes in well below his .309 career clip in that department, but Lowe is swinging at - and making contact with - more pitches outside of the zone than usual.
Grayson Rodriguez (SP-BAL) is absolutely dominating the opposition this season. The 21 year-old righty began the campaign in High-A, where he logged a 1.54 ERA, 15.4 K/9, and 1.9 BB/9 across 5 starts (23.1 innings) before moving up to Double-A; his 2.31 xFIP confirms that he was pretty darn good, although a bit lucky (his 93% strand rate and .237 BABIP kept his ERA low). Across 5 Double-A starts, it has been much of the same, as Rodriguez now owns a 1.82 ERA, 13.1 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9 over 24.2 innings. His 2.64 xFIP does point to an 87% strand rate and .239 BABIP suppressing his ERA a bit, but the 11th overall pick from the 2018 draft clearly possesses elite stuff and at least solid control. Rated as the #2 prospect in the Baltimore system behind only catcher Adley Rutschman, Rodriguez throws a plus-plus heater that sits in the mid-90s to go with a strong changeup with screwball-like action that might be his best pitch as well as an above-average slider and curveball. He's not expected to make his MLB debut this season, but his name is definitely one that fantasy owners should know for the future.
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