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While power-obsessed Fantasy owners headed south down Interstate 45 to grab George Springer, Evan Gattis and Chris Carter, there was one Astros player whose shine wasn’t too bright. Maybe it’s because he could actually make contact with the baseball and can do things beyond torturing potential owners through a summer of Three True Outcomes, yet somehow Jake Marisnick enters this week underappreciated and waiting for you to create an opening on the roster for him.
Marisnick entered Wednesday’s game at the Mariners hitting .361 with a homer and six RBIs, yet it’s the four stolen bases that should grab your attention. His prowess on the basepaths is no fluke, having been a consistent thief throughout his minor league stops in both the Blue Jays and Marlins organizations before he found a long-term home in the City of Syrup last summer.
(As to the City of Syrup reference, it’s a well-known fact about Houston’s love for drank, as this definition and video will attest. Now that we’ve had our urban lesson for the day, allow Professor Williams to return to Marisnick’s value, shall we?)
For the time being, Marisnick is in a centerfield timeshare with the .212 average that is Colby Rasmus. Considering that Marisnick is one of three players on the roster hitting about .244, the smart play is that he will continue to cut into the playing time of Rasmus, whose left-handed presence has given him the bulk of the starts against righties. It shouldn’t take long for the Astros to see why the Cardinals and Blue Jays ultimately became flustered with Rasmus, which will open the door for Marisnick, who is currently owned in just nine percent of polled leagues.
Marisnick is no slappy hitter. At 6’4”, 225 lbs., there is certainly the potential for Marisnick to develop into a consistent 15-18 home run hitter over time, which would make him even more valuable. What I like about him in the early going is a more dedicated focus to plate discipline, which has resulted in a 7.1 percent walk rate while his strikeout rate is at 14.3 percent, which is almost half of what it was last season. The isolated power has taken a sharp climb up, as Marisnick is at .194, more than double his .077 mark from 2014.
Look, he’s not going to maintain his video game-like .400 BABIP. That’s going to fall, but if it falls to his career (including minors) .312 and the walks and strikeout percentages stay in their current territory, Marisnick’s numbers have a good chance to translate into a .280 average with 10-12 homers and 25-30 steals. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber defender, which is another reason the Astros will keep him in the lineup. His batted ball rates (22.6 percent line drive, 45.2 percent groundball and 32.3 fly ball), combined with his speed and power potential, indicate that a breakout is quite possible this season.
Marisnick doesn’t get the hype of a Springer or a coming very, very soon to Houston Carlos Correa, but he’s going to be a big part of the Astros’ rise to contender status. Now would be a good time to go stealth and grab a player who will contribute across the board for your team.
Since I’m in a video-sharing mood, let’s hit the rest of this week’s wire to one of the coolest songs ever. Trust me, if you can’t like this song, then the bad guys win:
Chris Young, OF, Yankees: At the least, let’s thank Young for getting his annual stretch of “Look at me, I’m still in the majors!” hitting out of the way early. Apparently, what’s rubbed off on Alex Rodriguez has touched the bat of Young, who has four homers and nine RBIs entering Wednesday night’s game against the Tigers, while also hitting at a .344 clip that we all know will come down. As long as we’ve been harping/pulling our hair out/cursing ourselves over Young, it’s hard to believe he’s just 31. Maybe the maturity has led to his un-Young-like 10.5 percent walk rate and a 15.8 percent strikeout rate that is well below his career 22.5 percent clip. If you love playing with fire, then give Young (owned in seven percent of polled leagues) a whirl. Just make sure you’re insured when the eventual explosion occurs.
Jung Ho Kang, SS, Pirates: In most cases, .176 hitting middle infielders are an afterthought, but as long as Jordy Mercer continues to deal with a rib injury, Kang’s potential is worth keeping a wary eye on. The slugger from Taiwan struggled early, but may have shown signs of turning a corner when he recorded two hits and his first three MLB ribbies in a loss to the Cubs on Tuesday. Kang’s power will translate here in the majors, he just needs the opportunity. Owned in three percent of polled leagues, Kang will continue to find at-bats as long as Mercer is banged up and 3B Josh Harrison remains in his early season funk. He’s easily a double-digit home run hitter, with plenty of upside.
Hector Santiago, P, Angels: There’s no need for Col. Nathan Jessup to order the Code Red on this Santiago, because if he continues to pitch like this, you’ll want Santiago on that wall protecting your WHIP and ERA. He’s made the most of his first three starts, winning two with a 2.45 ERA while striking out 17 in 18.1 innings and he is locked into the fourth spot in the Anaheim rotation. We tend to forget Santiago has a career 3.33 ERA while holding opponents to a .234 BAA; he’s been a decent AL-only pitcher the previous three seasons. One key factor to his start is that Santiago has become more reliant on his slider, which he’s used at 12.3 percent mark. He’s also become less reliant on his change-up, as Santiago is more confident in his heater. Owned in seven percent of polled leagues, Santiago’s early numbers may be indicating an age 27 breakout.
Ordisamer Despaigne, P, Padres: One of last season’s biggest waiver wire surprises is picking up where he left off, as Despaigne is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA in three starts. He has just nine strikeouts in 18.1 innings, which shows little has changed from 2014, but he’s a solid candidate to help your staff in wins, ERA and WHIP. Despaigne has become more reliant on his fastball (57.7 percent usage), and while it barely averages 91 mph, he’s got tremendous movement and three other pitches he utilizes at seemingly the correct time. He’s owned in 12 percent of polled leagues, yet control artists who pitch in San Diego and play in a division with two other extreme pitcher’s parks will not stay available for long if they continue to pitch at this rate. Be aware that Ian Kennedy is slated to return this weekend, so Despaigne will likely return to the bullpen.