Before I provide you with some hot takes and notes from the first two days of baseball action, I want to hit you with a necessary caveat. It has been two days. Do not panic. These words of wisdom go for at least the first three weeks of the season. Even if there is a player below that I say there is reason to be concerned about (and he continues to have a terrible week) that is not license to trade him for 25 cents on the dollar. If you believed in a player and drafted him, do not let 5 PAs or 75 pitches shake you to the core. You did your preparation, now, trust the process before you go about blowing it all up.
Let me give you an example, in 2015, I was all over Evan Gattis in his first year with Astros. He was going to DH and get more ABs than almost any catcher. Gattis had shown huge power in Atlanta and was moving to a haven for right-handed power. I thought I had a 30 HR catcher on my hand. Then Gattis went out an hit .094 over the seasons first three weeks with 1 HR and 21 Ks over his first 58 PA. Gattis looked atrocious.
Despite suffering through a terrible start, I persevered with Gattis and he rewarded my faith by hitting 27 HRs, scoring 66 runs and driving in 88 RBI over the full season. It is difficult and frustrating, but you need to try to ignore small sample noise and trust the process.
With that said, here are my takeaway from the first two days:
-Velocity – With respect to velocity, I actually heard on a broadcast that velocity is being measured earlier in the process of pitching (formerly 55 feet, now at release). With that being the reality, pitching velocity bumps of 1 MPH are actually consistent with velocity from a year ago. This change makes velocity fallers – I.E. Zack Greinke – even more concerning because they should be seeing a bump.
-Byron Buxton – Although batting third should be a boost to his value and his spring was encouraging, Buxton looked lost in his first regular season action. Buxton was 0-5 and struck out three times, including several poor attempts at off-speed pitches. I have warned all offseason that Buxton needs to make major approach changes in order to succeed at the big league level. The early returns are not definitive, but it is not the start that owners, who paid starter prices wanted to see.
-Khris Davis – Khris Davis did Khris Davis things on opening day with two homers. He might be boring with his .245 35 HR line lacking any real upside, but you can sign me up for that type of boring every single day of the week.
-Xander Bogaerts – As I predicted would eventually occur, Bogaerts started the year towards the back-end of the Boston lineup, hitting sixth. That is the discouraging part. The encouraging part – he stole two bases. If Bogaert’s adds some speed to his profile, then he might be able to offset the volume and batting average regression losses. Nonetheless, I do not see a path to top 30 value unless the speed surges to near 30 SB levels.
-Adam Eaton – Eaton hit second in the Nationals’ opening day lineup and got on base on 3 of his 4 plate appearances. Now, there is some caveat because Anthony Rendon was out, but the early returns were still promising for Eaton. In addition to having that role and producing early, Eaton also stole a base, which is a good indicator for his stolen base potential that has yet to be fully realized during his career.
-Jake Lamb – Lamb is receving the opportunity of everyday ABs, however, his first work against a lefty was not promising. Now, granted, not every left-hander is Madison Bumgarner, but Lamb’s 0-4 3K day will do nothing to quiet the “platoon bat” chorus. If you are allowed daily changes, I would definitely wait-and-see on Lamb against lefties and play someone off my bench.
-Dallas Keuchel – Keuchel might be the player that impressed me the most on opening day. His command looked better than at any time during 2016 and he managed to dissect a very good Mariners lineup by inducing plenty of grounders and weak contact. If Keuchel owners can get 90% of 2015 Keuchel, then he will be among the biggest profit plays in fantasy baseball.
Closers – There were blown saves and poor outings all over the map. With Roberto Osuna’s injury, several poor starts (Oh, Melancon, Dyson, Grilli, Rodney) and committees being utilized (LAA and Oak), the position’s volatility seems very high early in the campaign. I would love to buy low from a panicked owner on Oh or Melancon because they have some leash, but you probably need another bad outing before you can pounce.