Freddie Freeman’s BABIP is over .370 again, but there are reasons for optimism even if he finds a few more gloves. His fly ball rate is over 40% and his lower strikeout rate is supported by better plate discipline and contact rates. He is a superstar.
Adrian Gonzalez has eight home runs and a 27.6% HR/FB. His career rate is 15.6% and he has not exceeded 20% since his San Diego days. Given his strikeout increase he could be trading some contact for power, but the odds are against him maintaining this pace.
Joakim Soria has a 50% fly ball rate but has not allowed a home run. That is concerning, but the good news is he is striking out 26.3% of hitters and has a 5.00 K/BB.
Justin Upton came out of the gates fast, hitting .330/.406/.625. Last year he did not have a month where he hit over .300. Correction is looming, he has a .440 BABIP and a 31.7% strikeout rate. His contact% is roughly 12 points below league average. His owners are undoubtedly enjoying the production, but should worry that his stats could look much like Curtis Granderson’s in time.
Johnny Cueto was dominant again Sunday. His 9.57 K/9 is a two strikeout jump from last year. He also has the best K/BB of his career. His BABIP against is .165 and every team he faced is below average in runs scored. Given the improvements it might be worth exploring the trade market.
Jose Abreu is a player to acquire if possible. Sure, his strikeout rate could increase and his HR/FB will not stay over 30% but the power and production is real enough to far exceed his draft position.
With Bryce Harper on the DL Nate McLouth should take his starts. A small sample .032 ISO and .120 BABIP make his 2014 numbers look bad but his 2013 performance was very repeatable.
Count me among those concerned that a velocity drop is making David Price more hittable. He still has a 2.66 xFIP and a stellar K/BB so look for his ERA to dive soon. Still, those who picked him to win the Cy Young (ahem) cannot be confident in that bet.
Will Middlebrooks is making solid contact.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Will Middlebrooks has hit the ball hard six times in two games, with a 1B, 2B, HR, 3 lineouts</p>— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) <a href=”https://twitter.com/GordonEdes/statuses/460141362428796930″>April 26, 2014</a></blockquote>
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He has not solved his plate discipline issues, but offers some power from third base.
The Cubs elected to have Pedro Strop pitch the eighth inning before Hector Rondon worked a perfect ninth. Starlin Castro’s home run pushed the lead from 3-0 to 4-0 so Rondon did not register a save, but take that as a strong indicator of the bullpen pecking order.