Another week of the 2018 regular season is in the books, which means another opportunity for players to heat up and cool off at the plate and on the mound for fantasy baseball purposes. Each week throughout the regular season, we’ll highlight 20 players (10 position players and 10 starting pitchers) who have either enjoyed the last seven days of play or are thankful that they’re over. To qualify for this list, hitters had to accumulate at least 15 plate appearances during the prescribed time period, while starting pitchers had to log at least 7 innings.
In addition to identifying some players to keep an eye on, we’ll also add some interesting statistics for a few in particular. A very interesting statistic at the moment is the huge popularity of the upcoming World Cup. Fans are going online to place wagers at NetBet Sport to support their favorite teams. Betting on the World Cup is at an all-time high right now, due to both the popularity of the sport as well as the surge in mobile internet users. People can now use both their computer and their phone to bet on the World Cup and they are doing so at a feverish pace.
The most national publicity Brandon Belt received was for the 21-pitch plate appearance he was part of last weekend. While that trip to the plate ended in a lineout, he still has the highest wRC+ among qualified hitters over the past seven days.
His 183 wRC+ on the year is on pace to easily be a new career high, and he’s been accomplishing this through changes in his batted-ball profile. Heading into Friday, Belt’s 21.3% ground-ball rate is the lowest in baseball, while his 53.2% fly-ball rate and 47.9% hard-hit rate are among the top 15.
Michael A. Taylor is starting to shake what was a slow start by hitting his first two home runs of the season this week. Him getting on base is crucial for the Washington Nationals. His three stolen bases over the past seven days are tied for second in baseball, while his 9 thefts overall are also tied for second (with teammate Trea Turner the only one ahead of him).
Marco Gonzales’ most recent outing against the Chicago White Sox was easily his best of the year. What’s been noticeable about his last two starts, though, is a rise in strikeouts — he’s whiffed 8 hitters in each appearance. It’ll be interesting to see how much of his 27.6% strikeout rate he can sustain moving forward if his swinging-strike rate doesn’t change from its current 9.7% mark.
A happy trend for Gonzales is the drop in hard contact allowed. Through two starts, opposing hitters had a 53.1% hard-hit rate and 9.2% soft-hit rate against him. Over his last three starts, those numbers have both improved to 26.5%.
After seemingly taking a step forward in the second half of last year, Blake Snell has kept that momentum going in April. The southpaw owns a 2.54 ERA that’s supported by a 3.53 SIERA, along with a 29.1% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate.
While Snell’s curveball was his most successful pitch in 2017 when looking at opponent wRC+ (29), it was the least-used offering in his arsenal (10.3%). So far in 2018, he’s thrown it 14.7% of the time, second to only his fastball. The results have been good, too — opponents have mustered a -31 wRC+ against it.