After witnessing Eric Thames 2.0 this year, I’d bet there are some struggling players around the league pondering a stint in Korea. The ball is exploding off his bat and his numbers are simply unreal. Thames is hitting .426/.491/1.000, leads the league with seven home runs and has scored 70 fantasy points in the first two and a half weeks of the season. If your league is one of the 9% where he isn’t owned, get to your free agent pool and pick him up ASAP.
Down: Masahiro Tanaka
Tanaka was the Yankees’ best pitcher in 2016, but 2017 has not been kind to him. His BB/9 (up from 1.62 to 5.14), HR/9 (up from 0.99 to 1.93) and HR/FB (12.0% to 18.8) have all moved in the wrong direction. It would be one thing if Tanaka had fallen victim to poor defense, but a 5.00 xFIP doesn't really help owners confidence.
He’s simply not hitting his spots, and the Yankees have paid the price -- they are 1-2 in his three starts.
UP: Avisail Garcia
If you had to place a bet on who would lead the majors in batting average after two weeks, I’d venture to guess your bet would not have been on Avisail Garcia. Owned in just over 35% of FOX Fantasy baseball leagues, Garcia is banging the ball all over the yard. The most remarkable thing about Garcia’s hot stretch is that he only has one hitless game. One! He also leads the league in total hits with 22.
Down: Rick Porcello
Porcello’s 2016 success is not carrying over to his first three starts of 2017. His ERA is a bloated 7.56 and he’s giving up a career high 2.70 HR/9. Porcello is having trouble keeping the ball on the ground as indicated by his 38.6 ground ball percentage. If he can get that number up to his career average of 50%, he should be able to right the ship.
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UP: Trey Mancini
The Baltimore Orioles rank second in American League homers. Their power-hitting prospect Trey Mancini has been a big part of that with four of those homers. He strikes out quite a bit (six in eight games), but that won’t matter as much if he keeps hitting the cover off the ball. With four homers and nine RBI already, Mancini is one of the league’s hottest young hitters.
DOWN: Manny Machado
Mancinci’s teammate Manny Machado has clearly been off his game. His current K% would be a career-high and he’s hitting .159/.275/.341. For a career .282/.332/.475 hitter this is disappointing. To his credit, Machado is drawing more walks than ever, and his .156 BABIP means he's most likely been unlucky, but he simply has to start making more contact for his ADP – eighth overall - to pay off.
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UP: Jose Ramirez
Jose Ramirez’s meteoric rise continues as he is slugging .365/.417/.654 with four homers and 15 RBI (third in MLB). Ramirez is also dominating right handed pitchers with a blistering .412 average. Throw in a .308 average with runners in scoring position, and you've got a dynamic offensive player.
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DOWN: Zack Greinke
It’s no secret that Greinke had control issues in 2016, and it appears those have carried over to 2017. Greinke’s problem has been closing the door on at-bats – opposing hitters are batting .304 when the count is 1-2 and .400 when the count is 0-2. This trend must be reversed if Greinke is to restore his fantasy value.
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UP: Andrew Triggs
The A’s pitcher has come out of nowhere to claim a 3-0 record. He’s the proud owner of a 0.00 ERA and is one out short of posting three consecutive quality starts. Triggs is owned in just 28% of FOX Fantasy baseball leagues and averaging 15.4 points per game. Triggs isn't without fault -- He isn't striking out as many hitters as you'd like, and his 4.09 xFIP indicates impending regression for his ERA. That said, three straight wins are hard to ignore.
DOWN: Carlos Gomez
Gomez has always been a hacker, but 2016 was an especially gruesome year for Gomez in that respect. He struck out 30% of his plate appearances, which dragged his average 20 points below his career average to .231. This season hasn’t been any better for Gomez as his K% is 28.1 percent and he’s slashing .164./.281/.382. The bottom line: Gomez couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn right now, and if he were near one, he’d probably miss anyway.