This article originally appeared at FantasyPros.com.
It feels like just yesterday we were fretting over the MLB lockout, but lo and behold, the calendar is about to flip to May. We now have nearly a month’s worth of games to work with, meaning some of that early-season statistical noise is getting stickier and becoming more actionable.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still far too early to completely panic on any of your studs who are off to slow starts. But we can start to parse the underlying numbers of some of the biggest April surprises and try to separate the legitimate breakouts from the fool’s gold.
Note: Rostered rates are from Yahoo leagues as of Saturday night.
FAABulous Four: Top Waiver Targets
Ha-Seong Kim (2B,3B,SS — SD): 13% Rostered
It’s always hard to know how overseas production will translate to MLB, but Kim’s numbers during his final season in the Korean league (KBO) certainly stand out: a .306 average, 111 runs, 30 HRs, 109 RBIs and 21 SBs in only 138 games. He didn’t have nearly as much success in his first season stateside but did manage to swat eight homers and steal six bases in 298 plate appearances.
Kim’s off to a much better start this year, hitting .273 with three homers, a steal, 13 runs, and 10 RBIs in 15 games through Friday. With Fernando Tatis Jr. on the injured list and prized prospect C.J. Abrams struggling, Kim has been in the lineup much more often than not, and he even moved up a few spots to sixth on Saturday. Still just 26 years old, this is a player with great positional flexibility and loads of power/speed upside.
Chris Paddack (SP — MIN): 30% Rostered
Paddack took the league by storm as a rookie in 2019, hurling 140 2/3 innings with a 3.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 9.79 K/9 rate. Things got much rougher from there, though, as his ERA hovered around 5.00 over the next two seasons before he was shipped off to Minnesota this spring.
If there’s a knock on Paddack, it’s that he throws too many strikes, but his consistently excellent walk rate gives him a clear path to success if he can just give up fewer homers and strand more baserunners than in years past. He’s actually been a little unlucky so far with a .356 BABIP allowed, but because he hasn’t given up a home run, he’s still off to a pretty strong start.
Paddack is throwing more off-speed stuff this year — particularly his curveball — and it appears to be helping him keep hitters off balance and induce more soft contact. His underlying numbers (2.12 xERA, 2.80 xFIP) and change in approach suggest a rebound could be in store.
Nolan Gorman (3B — STL): 30% Rostered
Stashing prospects in redraft leagues isn’t always the most prudent strategy, but you might want to make an exception for Gorman, who is hitting .338 with 11 — yes, you read that right, 11 — home runs through his first 74 at-bats in Triple-A.
Sure, Gorman is also striking out a whopping 32.5 percent of the time, and Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol says the team has no immediate plans to bring Gorman to St. Louis. But when a prospect does what Gorman is doing at the plate, it eventually becomes too much to resist. Paul DeJong is hitting .137 and is the one member of the Cardinals’ infield who is not a Gold Glover, so he’s the logical player to make way for Gorman if and when he gets the call.
Drew Rasmussen (SP,RP — TB): 24% Rostered
Armed with a 97 mph fastball, Rasmussen missed a lot of bats during his brief minor league career. Last year in Tampa, he had a ton of success as both a reliever and starter, but his strikeout rate plummeted. His strikeout rate has only slightly rebounded so far this year, but he continues to post very helpful ratios anyway. One reason to have confidence that Rasmussen can keep it up is that he’s refined his slider and added a cutter, countering concerns that he was a one-pitch pitcher. Both pitches have been getting great results in the early going.
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