Opening day, time for renewal. Opening day, time for hope. Opening day, time for optimism.
Let’s play a little hint on the home run. Has anyone else made up Miguel Cabrera in the snow before Shane Bieber? When you have done this, please go to the Bonanza Windows. Uncle Sam is your betting partner.
Baseball 2021 kicked off Thursday and was for the most part glorious. Cabrera achieved the first common highlight of the season, unimpressed by the bad spring weather. Bieber tried to sneak a spot on the outside corner and Cabrera put him in a snow bank on the right. Bieber was otherwise untouchable for most of his stint (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 12 K), but Matthew Boyd dodged some base runners and the Bullpen Tigers protected the lead. Bless you guys.
Can Miggy experience a fantasy renaissance in its 38-year season? While his returns for 2020 didn’t look like much, he was mostly unlucky – he posted a hefty hit rate, and statcast data suggests he should have battled .285, 35 points higher than his actual average. Ten home races in 57 games, that’s respectable. And maybe Cabrera, who will occasionally play on the field in 2021 – he started on the first base on Thursday – will help get him involved in the action. If you’re playing in a lower mixed league, at least take the case. Cabrera is represented in a modest 11 percent of the Yahoo leagues.
Robbie Grossman also deserves a look parked at the top of Detroit’s lineup. Grossman is a switch-hitter and an on-base master – note the three walks on Thursday and the career .350 OBP. He gave athletics eight homers and eight steals in last year’s slice of season, and he stole a base on Thursday; This is the cheapest juice category on the mixed board right now. Grossman was ignored during draft season and stood at three percent.
Pirate Bullpen slams the door
While the tigers surprised the tribe, the pirates messed up the boys some 280 miles away. Ke’Bryan Hayes beat a homer from the first inning and seven Pittsburgh pitchers frustrated the hosts and limited Chicago to three runs with two hits. Chad Kuhl struggled with three innings (four base runners, two runs) during his Open, but the Pittsburgh Bullpen was dominant afterwards (1 H, 1 R, 11 K).
The story goes on
Richard Rodriguez had the last moment, working on a ninth inning walk and knocking out two. He’s the presumed closer in Pittsburgh, after a decent 2020, and that has shaped his territory well.
But I want you to also write down what David Bednar did this spring.
Bednar was working Thursday’s seventh inning and it was a quick appearance – two strikeouts, 12 pitches, 1-2-3. The clean opening comes in the heels of a dominant source; Bednar threw 8.2 scoreless innings with one walk and 18 strikeouts last month. Of course, exhibition baseball brings with it a million caveats and disclaimers, but walks and strikes remain the most reliable basic stats in the game.
The goal for every pitcher is to be around the plate and miss out on bats. So far Bednar has done that.
Every year we see heroes from the middle relief coming out of nowhere. Nick Anderson came as a surprise two years ago, and Devin Williams played wipeout in Milwaukee last summer. And these kind of fresh stories are attractive fantasy targets because they’re easy to identify – follow K / BB rates that stabilize quickly – and are usually painless to acquire and stealthily fly under the radar. Bednar currently has a two percent roster at Yahoo.
Even if you don’t choose Bednar, you just appreciate the framework why it could be good. We live in a world with innumerable metrics and measures. Sometimes it feels like we’re going to the moon. Knowledge is good; Blutarsky told us that in the 1960s. But much of the treasure hunt comes back to the walks and the strikers, the simplest display in the toolbox.
Is the timing right for Byron Buxton?
Byron Buxton was one of the most polarizing fantasy contestants this design season, as he always has been. His supporters pointed to the explosion last year (13 perpetrators, 39 games), while critics wondered how he could gamble for six weeks and tackle just two walks and two stolen bases.
On opening day in Milwaukee, Buxton found a way to keep everyone happy. A home run wasn’t a surprise; Since the start of the 2019 season, he has beaten .540. But Buxton also went twice and stole a base, quickly filling in the two columns he couldn’t address last year. A confident, mature Buxton could be a league winner given his reasonable ADP in March. He opened the No. 6 year on the Twins roster, but that could rise quickly if Buxton appears ready to break out into his 27-year season.
Remember, Buxton was once number 1 in all of baseball. Sure, that was in part for his angelic defense, but he has always been viewed as a potential offensive superstar as well.
Perhaps the timing of this perennial teasing is finally right.
Kevin Gausman and Jake McGee – they could be giants
If you didn’t stand up for the Giants and Mariners, your eyes will thank you. Kevin Gausman was excellent in his opening start (6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K) but a number of San Francisco reliefs conspired to give the game away. Jose Alvarez had the last, terrible scene to himself – he hit three straight batters (16 pitches, 12 balls) in tenth place, gave the Mariners an 8-7 win and sprayed baseball Twitter with Ambien. Actually step into Sandman. This wasn’t a squeeze job either; Maybe one of the balls was a borderline call, but most of the Alvarez throws weren’t near the plate.
At least Jake McGee acquitted himself well. The suspected Giants were working closer to a decent ninth inning, in a tie, so to speak. He only needed eight parking spaces, and six were strikes. No base runners, a strike. Gabe Kapler is known as a serial builder when it comes to bullpen management, but McGee will play a hefty role in that group, and maybe he will be able to own the ninth inning of the season. It’s still unclaimed in about 40 percent of the Yahoo leagues.