Turner is sporting a healthy .387 batting average and has been one of the more consistent fantasy baseball assets of 2017. He’s not hitting home runs, but it’s hard to argue with 11 multi-hit games and 12 extra-base hits. The Dodgers third baseman has shown great patience at the plate with a 9.7 percent strikeout rate, which would be a career low.
DOWN: Johnny Cueto
Cueto simply hasn’t been himself this season. Even though he is 4-1, he was carrying a 5.10 ERA and a career low K/9 of 7.20 before Monday’s start. The most confusing part of Cueto’s struggles have been his issues with the long ball. Even when he played in Cincinnati (a notorious hitter’s park) his home run to fly ball ratio was rarely above 10 percent. This season’s 15.8 percent would appear to be the main cause of his problems.
UP: Taijuan Walker
Walker was a top prospect in the Mariners organization who never quite lived up to his billing. This year, Arizona’s investment in the 24-year-old pitcher appears to be paying off. He’s fanning a career high 10 batters per nine innings and walking 2.12. It’s still early, but his HR/FB is way down from 17.6 percent to 9.7 percent. Even if he doesn’t maintain that figure, anywhere in the neighborhood would be a vast improvement.
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DOWN: Jason Kipnis
The Indians were patient with Kipnis this spring as he nursed a nagging shoulder injury. With just five hits in 33 plate appearances, Kipnis is hitting a measly .161 and already has 11 strikeouts in nine games. His batting average on balls in play isn’t as low as you might think at .250 – he just has to start making more contact. I would expect his production to pick up once his current strikeout rate (33.3 percent) regresses to somewhere near his career mark of 19.1 percent.
UP: Yangervis Solarte
Solarte was riding an eight-game hitting streak until a hitless outing Friday. The Padres second baseman is slashing .283/.351/.394 with two homers, five doubles, and 16 RBI. Solarte is crushing it with a .481 BA with runners in scoring position and getting plenty of those opportunities batting fourth for the Padres.
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DOWN: Kevin Gausman
Before the season began, Gausman (SP-33) was ranked ahead of productive pitchers like Marcus Stroman, Dallas Keuchel, Jameson Taillon, James Paxton, and Lance McCullers. Gausman has been a grease fire in six starts with a 1-2 record, 7.50 ERA and 1.97 WHIP. In his last three outings, he was bombed for 18 earned runs and six homers. With just one quality start in six opportunities, it may be time to jump ship on Gausman until he proves 2017 isn’t a total loss.
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UP: Ryan Zimmerman
What were the odds of Zimmerman having a .420 batting average a month into the 2017 season? Five hundred to one? The 32-year-old veteran is a career .280 hitter, but he’s been on an absolute tear for the past month. Zimmerman is the only hitter in the majors with a batting average over .400 and he’s belted a league-leading 11 homers and driven in 29. He’s been the engine powering the National’s top ranked offense.
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DOWN: Aledmys Diaz
Diaz is really struggling as of late, managing just a .192 on-base percentage over the last seven days. Luckily, he is keeping his strikeout rate in check at 10.1 percent, but he’s only walking two percent of the time. Not sure how this is even possible when most batters are walking at least eight percent of the time. That said, his .207 BABIP is way below his 2016 figure of .312. I would expect his offensive game to pick up at least somewhat as the season moves along.
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UP: Kole Calhoun
With 13 hits in his last 10 games, few players have been as on-point as Calhoun over the past week. You’d like to see him register a few more RBI, but he’s batting second in an Angels lineup behind the mediocre bats of Martin Maldonado and Yunel Escobar who are hitting .262 and .234, respectively. They aren't providing him many opportunities. For the moment it appears Calhoun is embracing his opportunity as Mike Trout’s opening act.
DOWN: Jake Arrieta
In his last two outings, Arrieta has surrendered nine earned runs and three homers and watched his ERA balloon to 4.66. The Cubs starter is still striking batters out, but his home runs allowed are up (6 in April 2017 compared to 2 in April 2016) and he’s not inducing as many ground balls. The solution to Arrieta’s early issues would appear to be simple – keep the ball out of the stands and on the ground.