Polanco Hits for Cycle
Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco went 5-for-5 and hit for the cycle against the Phillies on a rainy Friday night. He got the hardest type of hit out of the way first, whacking a triple off the center field wall in the first inning. He singled in the third, then drilled a home run off starter Nick Pivetta in the fifth frame. The switch-hitting Polanco ripped those first three hits from the left side of the plate. He batted right-handed in the seventh inning and lined a double to complete the cycle. The last time a Twins player hit for the cycle was Michael Cuddyer back in 2009. Cycles are as rare as no-hitters -- there have been 325 cycles in major league history compared to 299 no-hitters -- although cycles are becoming more common than they used to be. Last year there were five cycles: Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich (twice), Charlie Blackmon and Brock Holt (in the playoffs).
The home run and RBI were Polanco's first of the season. The five-hit game was the first of his career. He is now batting .423/.483/.808 in 29 plate appearances. The 25-year-old has always been a good hitter but hasn't made much of a fantasy impact, largely because of inconsistent playing time. Some of that is his own fault -- he got busted for using performance-enhancing drugs and missed the first 80 games of last season. He broke into the major leagues in 2014 and shuttled back and forth between the majors and minors for a few years. The only time he's played more than 77 games in a season was in 2017 when he hit .256 with 13 home runs, 74 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 133 games. He is a good all-around hitter but doesn't stand out in any particular category. He's stolen 25 bases in 293 career games but has been caught stealing 15 times. His success rate is far too low for him to be given the green light on most occasions. Fantasy owners shouldn't bank on many stolen bases out of him moving forward. The Twins' lineup is expected to be more productive this year. The additions of Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Schoop combined with improved health from Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano should allow Polanco to accumulate better RBI and run totals than in previous years.
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Bellinger Joins Elite Club
Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger slugged a three-run homer against the Rockies on Friday. The young left-handed batter ripped an inside fastball from left-hander Tyler Anderson into the Rockies bullpen in right-center field. He's been white-hot to start the season and now has six home runs and 16 RBI in the Dodgers' first eight games. He is just the third player in history to have six homers and 16 RBI in the first eight games of a season, joining Eddie Mathews (in 1953) and Alex Rodriguez (in 2007). The Dodgers as a team have hit 21 home runs through eight games, which is the second-best in baseball history behind the year 2000 Cardinals team that hit 23 bombs through eight games.
Bellinger is now slashing .417/.447/.917 and leads the majors with six home runs, 16 RBI and 11 runs scored. Still just 23 years old, the third-year player is actually younger than some of the game's top prospects -- including Pete Alonso, Nick Senzel and A.J. Puk. Bellinger won the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year award by pounding 39 home runs with 97 RBI in 132 games. He was not quite able to match that level of performance in 2018 when he batted .260 with 25 home runs and 76 RBI in 162 games. The early returns this year indicate he is taking his game to a new level, indeed considering he is so young there is every reason to believe we have not seen the best of him yet.
There are two aspects to Bellinger's skill set that differentiate him from the typical power-hitting outfielder. He doesn't have an excessive strikeout rate and he is improving in that respect. He struck out in 26.6 percent of his plate appearances in his rookie year and lowered his strikeout rate to 23.9 percent last year. He is striking out at a 13.2 percent rate so far this year. The moderate strikeout rate is an indication that he will hit for a solid batting average. He currently has a .268 career batting average and could develop into .280 or .290 hitter when he reaches his prime years. Bellinger can also run -- he's stolen 25 bases in 30 attempts so far in his career. The speed will likely decline as he gets older but his athleticism is a strong sign that he will age well and won't flame out early. Owners in dynasty leagues should consider Bellinger a top-10 overall asset.
Trio of Double Bombers
There were three hitters who hit two home runs apiece on Friday. Not surprisingly Mike Trout was one of them. The game's best player (ever?) delivered a pair of solo blasts to lead the Angels to a 3-1 win over the Rangers. He victimized starter Lance Lynn and reliever Jesse Chavez. Trout is off to another MVP-caliber start to the season, slashing .375/.515/.833 with three longballs and six RBI.
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story went 2-for-5 with a pair of homers and three RBI in a loss to the Dodgers. He went yard off relievers Brock Stewart and Yimi Garcia in the thin air of Coors Field. Story had been off to a slow start but the great game catapulted his line up to .233/.303/.533 with three dingers and five RBI. He is striking out a ton in the early going, whiffing in 11 of his 33 plate appearances so far. That strikeout rate is not out of line with his 30.1 percent career K rate. He had a .291 batting average last year but that may end being an outlier. Fantasy owners should brace themselves for a low batting average unless the shortstop can develop a better contact rate.
Diamondbacks infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte homered from both sides of the plate and drove in five runs Friday against the Red Sox. One of the bombs was a grand slam. Marte's first tater of the game came off starter Rick Porcello, who was smoked for seven runs in the contest. Marte's second homer came with the bases loaded against reliever Brian Johnson, who was also smoked for seven runs in the barn-burner. Marte showed his first glimpses of power last year when he slugged 14 bombs, although the rest of his numbers were fairly pedestrian. This year he is slashing .306/.297/.639 with three home runs, 11 RBI and seven runs scored. He's stolen two bases as well. He really isn't much of a threat to run -- he stole six bags in 153 games last year.
NL Quick Hits: Kevin Gausman allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 victory over the Marlins while making his season debut. He missed the first week of the season with a shoulder injury... Pablo Lopez surrendered four runs over five innings in a loss to the Braves... Ronald Acuna went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in a win over the Marlins... Tyler Flowers went 2-for-3 with a solo homer against the Marlins... Orlando Arcia went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer, a walk and three runs scored in the Brewers' 13-10 win over the Cubs... Brandon Woodruff was lifted after allowing four runs in four innings against the Cubs... Jose Quintana was lit up for eight runs in three innings by the Brewers... Eric Thames delivered a three-run homer as a pinch-hitter against the Cubs... Daniel Descalso went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer Friday against the Brewers... Zack Godley held the Red Sox to just one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings as part of a 15-8 victory... Adam Jones went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, an RBI double, a walk, and two runs scored against the Red Sox... Jeremy Jeffress (shoulder) threw 25 pitches in his first minor league rehab appearance with Triple-A San Antonio... Rhys Hoskins went 3-for-4 with four RBI, a walk, and a run scored in Friday’s 10-4 victory over the Twins. The 26-year-old has already driven in 10 runs through six games to go along with a .300/.481/.500 batting line... Nick Pivetta allowed four runs (three earned) over five innings in a win over the Twins on Friday... Making his first start of the season, Joe Musgrove spun seven scoreless frames with eight strikeouts in a 2-0 win over the Reds. He limited the Reds to just three hits while walking one batter and hitting one batter.... Sonny Gray was handed a tough luck loss Friday after allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings against the Pirates. He was brilliant, allowing just three hits while walking none and fanning seven... Felipe Vazquez tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Reds for his second save of the season... Matt Kemp went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Friday’s loss to the Pirates. He is now 1-for-16 (.063) with eight strikeouts to begin the year... Tyler Anderson was hit hard in a losing effort against the Dodgers, surrendering six runs on nine hits over four-plus innings... Kenta Maeda picked up his second victory of the season, limiting the Rockies to one run on four hits over his five innings of work. The right-hander struck out four and walked four on the afternoon... Russell Martin clubbed his first home run of the 2019 season as the Dodgers defeated the Rockies... Max Muncy went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI, helping to lead the Dodgers past the Rockies... X-rays on the injured right wrist of Dodgers' reliever Joe Kelly came back negative. He was hit by a line drive off the bat of Charlie Blackmon... Dereck Rodriguez struggled in Friday's loss to the Rays, allowing four runs on seven hits over his 5 1/3 innings... Buster Posey went 2-for-4 with a double as the Giants fell to the Rays.. Fernando Tatis Jr. slugged a two-run homer, powering the Padres to a 5-3 victory over the Cardinals. The rookie sensation is slashing .241/.290/.483 with a pair of homers, four RBI and a stolen base through his first eight big league games... Jack Flaherty pitched well in a no-decision on Friday afternoon, racking up six strikeouts over five shutout innings against the Padres... Paul Goldschmidt smashed his fifth home run and finished the afternoon 1-for-3 plus a walk, raising his season slash to .259/.394/.815 with nine RBI. He is getting off to a much better start than he did last year... Nick Margevicius delivered another outstanding effort in a no-decision against the Cardinals on Friday, surrendering just one run on one hit over his five frames. He now boasts a scintillating 1.80 ERA and 0.50 WHIP, though he has only fanned six batters in his 10 innings of work... Kirby Yates slammed the door on the Cardinals in the ninth inning, working a scoreless frame to protect a two-run advantage... Hunter Renfroe clubbed his third home run of the season, helping to power the Padres to a victory over the Cardinals... Jake Lamb is expected to be sidelined for roughly six weeks after being diagnosed with a Grade 2 left quad strain... Brett Cecil underwent surgery on Monday to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome in his left wrist and left forearm... Braves optioned RHP Shane Carle to Triple-A Gwinnett... Carlos Martinez (shoulder) will resume throwing off a mound on April 13... Colin Moran made his first ever start in left field Friday...
AL Quick Hits: Felix Pena was lifted after allowing one run and striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings against the Rangers... Cody Allen turned in a flawless ninth for his first save of the year... Rick Porcello was tagged for seven runs over four innings in a loss to the Diamondbacks. He’s now allowed 16 runs (11 earned) in 7 1/3 innings through two starts, which gives him a 13.50 ERA... Mookie Betts went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and two runs scored in Friday’s loss to the Diamondbacks... Collin McHugh pitched six innings of one-run ball to defeat the A's. He allowed three hits, walked three and struck out four in his first win of the season... Frankie Montas yielded two runs in five innings in a loss to the Astros... Carlos Correa hit his first homer Friday off Oakland's Frankie Montas. He also walked and is 6-for-18 with four extra-base hits since returning from his sore neck... Ramon Laureano went 4-for-4 with a double and two RBI against the Astros... Jurickson Profar went 0-for-4 in Friday's loss to the Astros, dropping his average to .114 on the season... Jake Odorizzi was chased in the first inning against the Phillies, allowing five runs (four earned) on two hits and three walks... Max Kepler finished 1-for-5 with a two-run homer in a loss to the Phillies... Carlos Santana slugged a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Indians to a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays. Santana has been the only hot bat in the Indians’ lineup so far, with a .417/.481/.583 batting line through seven games... Trent Thornton yielded two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Indians. He allowed three hits (including a solo homer to Kevin Plawecki) and two walks while fanning seven... Making his first start of the season, Shane Bieber was handed a no-decision after allowing two runs over six innings against the Blue Jays... Kevin Plawecki went 1-for-3 with his first homer of the season against the Blue Jays... Jose Ramirez (foot) drew a pinch-hit walk in the eighth inning and stole second base Friday against the Blue Jays. He was held out of the starting lineup after fouling a ball off his foot in Thursday's game... Freddy Galvis went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer against the Indians... Tyler Glasnow was dominant in Friday's victory over the Giants, piling up six strikeouts over his six shutout innings. The 25-year-old southpaw has been outstanding through his first two starts, going 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 10/2 K/BB ratio over 11 innings... Jose Alvarado converted his third save of the season on Friday, working a scoreless ninth inning against the Giants to protect a three-run lead... Kevin Kiermaier clobbered his second home run of the season as the Rays topped the Giants... Yandy Diaz slugged a two-run homer against the Giants... Rangers placed RHP Edinson Volquez on the 10-day injured list with a right elbow sprain. He said he would rather retire than undergo a third Tommy John surgery if that becomes necessary... Nomar Mazara (quad) returned to the Rangers' starting lineup for Friday's showdown against the Angels. Mazara sat out Thursday's game due to a sore quad... Reynaldo Lopez gave up three homers and six runs but escaped with a no-decision in the White Sox' 10-8 win over the Mariners... Yusei Kikuchi was charged with six runs -- four earned -- over five innings in a loss to the White Sox. He yielded seven hits and a walk while fanning four on the day... Dee Gordon (groin) said that he expects to return to the Mariners' starting lineup on Saturday... Alex Colome tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to notch a save in Friday's win over the Mariners... Yoan Moncada's bat stayed hot with four RBI in the White Sox' win over the Mariners. He is sporting a ridiculous .458/.519/.875 batting line in the early going and has plated 10 runs and scored nine... Tim Anderson had a monster day at the plate Friday against the Mariners, going 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and four runs scored... Daniel Vogelbach slugged a solo home run and added a single versus the White Sox... Orioles signed RHP Dan Straily to a one-year contract... Domingo Santana popped a solo home run against the White Sox... Clay Buchholz (forearm) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday... Byron Buxton (back, ribs) remained out of the Twins' lineup Friday. He is still banged up after colliding with the outfield wall Tuesday. He was able to pinch-run Wednesday but still isn't able to return to the lineup even after Thursday's off day... Lance Lynn took a loss to the Angels despite allowing just two runs in seven innings... Joey Gallo homered, walked and struck out twice against the Angels...