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Fantasy Baseball Standout Performers – Week 2 (4/11-4/17)

As we head into Week 3 of the MLB season, we get some hot starts to get excited about. Of course, overreacting this early in the season is crazy talk, but digging into some hot weeks is a way to find some fantasy gems.

In this weekly article, I will look to highlight some hot weeks of production, dig into the underlying metrics, and help determine if we should be in or out on these streaks. The goal will be finding some hidden gems or lower rostered players that you can add to your fantasy teams before your league mates catch on. Of course, there will be the occasional, no duh, player (like Suzuki this week), but overall I will look to highlight some lower rostered players to keep an eye on or add to your fantasy teams.

Week 2 Standout Performers

Seiya Suzuki (OF – CHC)

There is always a slight concern that it may take time for players to adjust as they come to the MLB from Japan, but Suzuki has proven those doubters wrong. He hit safely in eight of the first nine games, suitable for a .400 batting average. In addition, the power production has been great, with four home runs, a .560 ISO, and a 1.503 OPS. Of course, we know those numbers are not sustainable, but Suzuki’s overall production can be substantial.

The power is excellent, but Suzuki’s plate discipline shows me confidence for the rest of the season. He walks 25.7% to start the season with a 90.3% Z-contact rate and a 4.8% SwStr. Suzuki hit for power, stole a few bases, and had a strong batting average in Japan. So far, so good with the Cubs. His contact quality (35.3% barrel, 47.1% hard-hit) and plate discipline are elite. The Summer of Suzuki should be a blast, and the Cubs fans sticking out this fire sale are in for a major treat.

Owen Miller (1B/2B – CLE)

Miller entered the season as more of a utility player than an everyday player, but a slow start from Bobby Bradley and a hot start from Miller led to a regular role. Miller has started seven straight games, hitting safely for a .500 batting average in six games. Unfortunately, that batting average comes with a .545 BABIP, 8.3% barrel rate, and 50% hard-hit rate, which is not sustainable.

Some regression is coming for Miller, but just how much is the question. He has never been a significant power and speed source in the minors, so the nine extra-base hits, including two home runs this past week, are well ahead of Miller’s expected production. On the positive, Miller is only striking out 15.2% of the time, which is in line with his early minor league production and not his 2021 production between Triple-A and the bigs.

Miller should play enough to have some fantasy relevance, but there are definite avenues for failure. If Miller begins to slump, we could see more time for Andres Gimenez at second base. Josh Naylor has also returned, which has already taken away some playing time from Miller at first base. Miller’s positional eligibility is fantastic, but the playing time and overall production are tricky. For now, Miller is a deeper league add, but be prepared for the fun to end. I hope I am wrong, but Miller has not showcased the skills to take a giant enough leap for fantasy greatness.

Ji-Man Choi

Choi has started seven of nine games to start the season and has raked. He has hit safely in six games, suitable for a .455 batting average, with two home runs. Choi is barreling the ball 26.7% of the time with a 66.7% hard-hit rate. The contact quality to go with a .615 BABIP is not sustainable, but some quality deep league production could be in store. Choi walked 29% of the time to start the season and in his career has walked 11-13% of the time, which is excellent for those OBP skills.

Choi has always showcased power upside throughout his career, but playing time and health have been his downside. For now, Choi is hitting and hitting a lot. He is the perfect streaming option in 12- and 15-team leagues when the upcoming schedule is favorable. He will likely sit versus LHP, but in a week where the Rays play mainly RHP, grab Choi where you need a 1B, CI, or U fill in.

Jesus Sanchez

The Jesus Sanchez coming-out party has been outstanding to start the season. He has hit safely in six of eight games, with multiple hits in five games. Sanchez’s contact quality includes a 10.3% barrel rate and 44.8% hard-hit rate, which I like seeing. Many of these standouts have insane barrel and hard contact rates, so a sustainable set of rates from Sanchez is nice.

The challenging part of trusting Sanchez is the strikeout rate. He is only striking out 16.7% of the time, which is down a lot from his 31.1% from last season and his near 37% the previous season. However, Sanchez’s O-contact and overall contact rates are greatly improved early this season. If that sustains, we could be in for a monster 2022 season. Regardless, I would pay to find out. He is likely already added in most leagues, but run to the waiver wire and add him to your team if he is available.

Gavin Lux

We may finally get the Gavin Lux season that many prospect analysts have clamored for. Playing time was a concern entering the season, but the late trade of AJ Pollock helped ease that concern. Lux has responded by hitting .320 in the first week with three extra-base hits and two stolen bases. In addition, he is mashing the ball with a 15% barrel rate and a 65% hard-hit rate, which has aided his .368 BABIP.

Lux always had a hit tool, but his early production’s most significant question mark is the plate discipline. Lux is walking 21.2% with an 18.2% strikeout rate. He is only swinging outside the zone 13.2% of the time, which is not bad, but he has a 100% O-contact which is not sustainable. Lux should be productive with the regular playing time, but the big question is how effective. If he is available in your leagues, grab him and enjoy the ride.

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