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MLB Today: Kevin Kiermaier Bounces Back

May 24, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Kevin Kiermaier is hitting well for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Kevin Kiermaier is known for his glove work, but he’s also hitting well this year. (Sports Illustrated)

Remember Will Venable? The long-time Padre was nearly a top 40 outfielder in 2014 before plummeting to 120 in our 2015 Fantasy baseball rankings. Venable would play just 12 more games after that season before he was done as a major leaguer.

The reason we bring this up? Well, in perusing his similarity scores on Baseball-Reference, we were surprised to see that his biggest comparable is Toronto’s Kevin Kiermaier, the supremely talented glove man who has periodically been serviceable as a hitter.

Armed with a clearer idea of Kiermaier’s potential career trajectory, we examined him closer, and would you look at that: suddenly he is performing at a career-best level, OPS wise, and is worth considering in AL-only leagues. Before taking an 0-fer on Monday, he had hit safely in seven straight games, and has hit extremely well in May (969 OPS) with speed (four steals).

Kiermaier has already nearly matched his run total from all of last year (when hip surgery cut his season short), he’s hitting better than ever (.313), has seen his walk rate bounce back, and he’s been very effective on the basepaths. Hell, he’s even showing some pop (see video below).

After having his 2023 option declined by Tampa Bay, Kiermaier has made a miraculous recovery, looking little like the below average hitter he was over the last three years. It’s one of the better under the radar Fantasy stories of the first two months of the season, and apparently none of this is a surprise to Kiermaier based on his parting comments to the Rays.

Quick Hits

  • After an ugly start, the Chicago White Sox are starting to win, while getting contributions up and down the lineup. On Tuesday, it was Romy Gonzalez‘s turn to play hero, delivering a tie-breaking two-run double in the seventh inning to decide the game. The light-hitting utility man has been showing something lately, going 3-for-3 with two RBI, a run, a triple and a steal on Sunday, and is starting to see more regular PT. Gonzalez could be worth watching in deep AL-only leagues, and at the very least he’s poised to see his most game action yet.
  • Cleveland rookie starter Logan Allen has yet to duplicate his superb MLB debut, but has at the very least been serviceable in his five starts since, having surrendered three earned runs or fewer in each. He’s been allowing too many hits lately, but has limited the damage thanks to keeping the ball in the yard, for the most part. Allen looks like a very steady Fantasy option worth considering, especially given his potential upside.
  • Giants starter Alex Wood hasn’t looked great in his last four outings, and while he was unlucky last year, he’s actually been fortunate to have a 4.05 ERA this season given his xERA of 4.60. Still, there is not a pitcher in the game who gets more spin on his sinker. Having said that, only Wood’s changeup is providing positive value so far, and even with increased usage of the pitch this year, that hasn’t been good enough. He hasn’t provided any length this season, so it’s time to cut bait and consider someone with more upside (like Taj Bradley).

RotoRob Tune of the Day

American singer Johnny Nash was most famous for his 1972 megahit “I Can See Clearly Now.” The same year he released a single which was a cover of the Bob Marley classic “Stir It Up,” and the b-side was “Ooh Baby You’ve Been Good to Me.”

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