While Aaron Judge and Eric Thames have settled back slightly following their other-worldly Aprils, Ryan Zimmerman keeps steaming along at a superhuman pace, leading the majors in several categories, including batting average, hits, RBIs and homers (tied). But while the first two’s sudden emergence is more easily explained, Zimmerman, 32, has caught everyone off-guard (perhaps even himself) after batting a measly .218 last year and appearing to be on the edge of fantasy irrelevance. The odd thing is many of Zim’s peripheral stats, including swing and contact rates, are unchanged from his career norm. The key one that is, however, writes Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post, is the relatively new term of ‘barrels,’ which is described by Statcast as an “optimally hit ball,” with high-end exit velocity and loft off the bat. Last year, Zimmerman had 23 barrels in 467 plate appearances (4.9%). This year, he already has 19 barrels at a 14.4% rate. And he is doing it mostly at the expense of offspeed pitches, which a year ago were pretty much an automatic out against him. You could point to his unusually high .422 BABIP as a sign that he’s due to come back to Earth. But when you are seeing the ball THAT well and crushing it on a regular basis as he is, BABIP becomes less of a factor.
– Athletics 1B Yonder Alonso has scored 10 runs since April 18 – all on his own home runs.
– Should owners of Mets’ Matt Harvey be concerned about his declinng K/9 rate? That’s from 10.6 in his 2012 rookie season, to 9.6 to 8.9 to 7.4 last year and a paltry 5.8 so far this season. If you’re looking to acquire him from some disillusioned owner, those aren’t bad numbers to trot out when trying to keep the trade cost down. But we’re dealing with mostly small sample sizes here. That 10.6 in 2012 came from only 10 starts. Similarily, his current 5.8 is from only seven appearances. And last season was cut short when he underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder. In the two years Harvey has been healthy and pitched more than 100 innings (2013 and 2015 sandwiched around Tommy John surgery in ’14) he has averaged 9.3 Ks per nine.
– Joey Gallo continues to be the poster boy for the recent all-or-nothing evolution of the game, where strikeouts and home runs rule the day. In 2016, 24.1% of all plate appearances resulted in either a home run or a K. This year it is up slightly to 24.5%. In 2014, it was 23%. In 2013, it was 22.3%. Individually, Gallo at 48% leads the way, striking out or homering in 66 of his 136 plate appearances. Other players in the ball park with 10 or more HRs include Miguel Sano 40.4%, Khris Davis 38.5% and Aaron Judge 37.2%.
– Justin Turner has only one home run this season, but his owners will live with the .352 AVG. Problem is that figure, which is almost 80 points higher than last year, is the product of a .408 BABIP currently sitting 115 points north of his 2016 number. As for his meagre home run total, there doesn’t appear to be anything seriously wrong as his flyball and hard-hit rates are almost identical to last year.
– Closing Time: With a fastball and changeup that differ by only 3 mph, Francisco Rodriguez has pitched himself out of the ninth-inning role with the Tigers, replaced by lefty Justin Wilson who has struck out 23 in 14.2 innings heading into Friday. Be careful, though, righty Alex Wilson has moved up into a setup role so don’t get them mixed up. The Tigers teased the fantasy world by twice promoting young triple-A closer Joe Jimenez, only to not give him a shot. It’s not the first time the Tigers have bypassed their supposed closer of the future in recent years. Bruce Rondon was given similar treatment a couple of years ago and remains buried in triple-A â¦ A.J. Ramos has been stuck on three saves since April 22 for one good reason: The Marlins have not been in a save situation since that night, going 4-13 â¦ Addison Reed resumes the Mets closer’s role with Jeurys Familia (blood clot) likely done for the season.
WAIVER WATCH (With fantasy rating out of 5)
Tommy Kahnle RP, White Sox * *
He’s not in the closer mix, yet, but if his stunning K-BB turnaround from last year isn’t a mirage, he could well be, especially with a David Robertson trade still possible and Nate Jones on the DL. Consider this: The 27-year-old Kahnle’s K/9 has jumped from 8.2 last year to an amazing 17.7 in 2017. That’s 23 strikeouts in just 11.2 IPs, fanning more than half (55%) of the batters he’s faced. Meanwhile, his BB/9 has dropped from 6.6 to 2.3. That’s produced a 0.77 ERA but only 5% ownership in Yahoo! leagues.
T.J. Rivera 3B/1B, Mets * * *
Started the season as a reserve, but injuries to David Wright and Lucas Duda opened the door to more playing time and he burst through it, starting the past 13 games. Take away his 1-for-13 start to the season and he is 18-for-50 (.360) since late April.
Denard Span OF, Giants * * *
Sparsely owned veteran has come off the DL with a vengeance, going 7-for-12 in two games with two HRs and three RBIs. We’ll need a larger sample size, but as long as he is leading off and starting against righties, he could pull off double-digit homers and SBs.
HOT AND NOT (Batters the past two weeks)
Cody Bellinger LAD .347, 7 HRs, 18 RBIs, 16 R
Billy Hamilton CIN .304, 1 HR, 9 SBs, 16 R
Aaron Altherr PHIL .394, 5 HRs, 15 RBIs, 1 SB
Brett Gardner NYY .354, 6 HRs, 12 R, 12 RBIs
Michael Conforto NYM .348, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs
Marwin Gonzalez HOU .379, 5 HRs, 12 RBIs
Aaron Hicks NYY .325, 2 HRs, 7 SBs
– – – – – – –
Anthony Rizzo CHC .122, 1 HR, 2 runs
Trea Turner WAS .152, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs
Andrew McCutchen PIT .125, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs
Carlos Gonzalez COL .175 0 HRs, 5 RBIs
Khris Davis OAK .146, 1 HR, 3 RBIs
Jackie Bradley BOS .114, 1 HR, 0 SBs
JUSTIN SMOAK, Blue Jays
Contact made on pitches in the strike zone
David Price (elbow) takes to the hill Sunday for the first of two triple-A rehab starts â¦ Steven Matz (elbow) is eyeing an early-June return â¦ Hanley Ramirez has been out with an upper back ailment and will likely be confined to DH duties when he returns â¦ Kris Bryant missed the first two games of the Cubs weekend series with a stomach bug â¦ Trevor Story has a strained left shoulder but the Rox don’t know how long he’ll be out â¦ Geovany Soto is on the DL for a second time this season with an inflamed right elbow that may require surgery â¦ Considering he walked off the field Tuesday night with only a mild limp, news that Andrew Toles is done for the year, comes as a disheartening shock to his fantasy owners â¦ Logan Forsythe (foot) is hoping to begin a rehab stint this week â¦ The Brewers say Ryan Braun’s calf injury is nothing serious â¦ Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder) now makes four of the M’s five opening day SPs currently on the DL â¦ A bruised right thumb has sidelined Steven Souza all week â¦ May be back this week: Welington Castillo, Rich Hill, Aaron Nola, Mark Melancon, Stephen Piscotty, Aaron Sanchez, Troy Tulowitzki