Yoenis Cespedes has been absolutely raking this spring. In 14 games, the Mets outfielder has posted an absurd 1.361 OPS, knocked five homers, and has 15 hits in 35 at-bats. Cespedes has to feel good coming off a season where he nursed nagging lower body injuries (quad and hip) and had a 15-day stint on the DL. If Cespedes’ spring training production is any indicator of how he’ll play once the regular season starts -- look out.
For a player with massive amounts of potential like Puig, the results thus far in spring training have been underwhelming to say the least. After a workman-like stint in the minors last year that allowed him to work his way back to LA’s major-league roster, Puig has still not quite lived up to his potential. Though his offensive numbers could certainly be worse (.250/.333./594, three HRs this spring), his regression from his rookie season is alarming, with dips in just about every major statistical category.
Last season, opposing pitchers walked Bryce Harper. They walked him a lot. In fact, Harper was fourth in the majors in walks (108), amounting to a 17.2% walk rate. This spring has been a pleasant reminder that when pitchers actually throw to him, Harper is more than willing to knock it out of the park. With six home runs and .795 slugging percentage, Harper will remain one of the best fantasy options out there. His batting average dipped to .243 last season, but his on-base percentage was right in line with his career numbers at .373. That's an encouraging sign if the batting average regression scares you.
Despite his apparent power at the plate, Pederson still seems to have issues with his strikeouts. For a player who struck out an average of 150 times over his first two full seasons, it would’ve been nice to see a bit more patience from Pederson to start 2017. However, Pederson has struck out 13 times in 16 games, and his on-base percentage (.273) has suffered because of it. Is it time to press the panic button on Pederson? By no means. But the early results have still been a little discouraging.
Raise your hand if you saw the Pablo Sandoval resurrection coming this spring. Anyone? Sandoval has been surprisingly steady thus far with .349/.364/.651 slash line in 43 at-bats. After he missed virtually all of the 2016 season, it would be nice to see Sandoval rebound with a strong 2017 campaign. If this start is any indication, he could be on track to do just that.
For a relatively consistent player such as Eaton, the anemic nature of his offensive numbers is all the more befuddling. Eaton has managed just 10 hits in 43 spring at-bats and squeaked out a .227 on-base percentage. Yikes. For fantasy purposes, one would think the switch to a better team would yield better results. Let’s hope his sluggish start doesn’t carry over to the regular season.
Stud – Gary Sanchez, C-2
Sanchez lit up the scoreboard last season for the Yankees, and he hasn’t slowed down this spring. The star catcher has been mashing with a 1.207 OPS, four home runs and 13 RBI. Sanchez looks primed to continue MLB’s surge of young talent and is begging fantasy players to disregard any hesitation about a sophomore slump. This spring has proven that Sanchez is without question a top-tier fantasy catcher.
When Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond fractured his hand on March 12, the general consensus was that Reynolds would be able to hold down the fort until Desmond returned. If his production in spring training is any indication, this could be a frightening prospect for NL-only fantasy players and Rockies fans alike. Reynolds has posted a frail .216 batting average and 14 strikeouts with just eight hits in 37 at-bats. Hopefully, Desmond will be back sooner rather than later.
Chicago’s Addison Russell has been sharp this spring, avoiding any potential pitfalls of a World Series hangover. The young shortstop has put up .281/.361/.781 slash line, good for a 1.142 OPS and five home runs. Russell has by no means been an offensive powerhouse during his two years with the Cubs, but it’s encouraging that he’s started the year on the right foot. The Cubs’ loaded lineup should provide plenty of opportunities for Russell in 2017.
Throughout his career, Carter has made a habit of putting up big home run numbers with hideous batting averages (he actually managed to hit .199 in 2015 in 460 plate appearances). This spring has been no exception, with the caveat that Carter hasn’t done much damage with the long ball either. In 15 spring training games, Carter has a stomach-turning .1o8 average and 20 strikeouts. That’s ugly even for a player who hasn’t exactly hit for average throughout his career.
APAlan Diaz/Associated Press
Stud -- Charlie Blackmon, OF-5
Blackmon has picked up right where he left off after a monster 2016. The Rockies star had crazy numbers last year (.324/.381/.552 with 29 homers, 82 RBI, and 17 stolen bases), and is slashing .415/.457/.780 this spring. Injuries to fellow Rockies Ian Desmond and David Dahl may have put a damper on the early part of this season, but Blackmon’s explosive start is another chapter in Colorado’s offensive renaissance.