The MLB season is well under way, with some player faring better than others. But, which surprise contributors are here to stick?
To begin the season, there are a multitude of names at the top of statistical offensive leaderboards that are surprises. For instance, Cleveland Guardians utilityman Owen Miller is currently near the top of MLB in many offensive categories including batting average, SLG percentage and OPS.
More on him later.
While the lackluster performances by players such as Dansby Swanson, Jo Adell, Joey Votto and Josh Donaldson are somewhat worrisome, we’re going to focus primarily on the hot starts by players around the league and whether we are buying or selling these strong starts.
MLB Buy or sell: Tommy Edman and Austin Meadows
Buy or sell? St. Louis Cardinals INF/OF Tommy Edman
26-year-old Tommy Edman has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Cards since debuting for the team back in 2019. A switch-hitting utilityman, Edman is a defensive extraordinaire who is capable of playing second, third, short and all three outfield spots above-average. In 2022, he is expected to be primarily used as a second baseman where he won his first career Gold Glove last season.
At the plate, Edman hits from both sides and does it exceptionally well. With no glaring weaknesses against either righties or lefties, Edman possesses high-contact abilities and has many different ways to get on base. He doesn’t strike out a whole lot and draws his fair share of walks too.
Through his first 10 contests and 39 plate appearances this year, Edman has a .371/.421/.714 slash-line with three home runs and an OPS of 1.135. While these numbers obviously are not fully sustainable, a .300 batting average on the year with around 15 home runs and 25 steals is not out of the question for this young Cardinal.
Buy or sell? Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Meadows
Austin Meadows once again found himself on the move via trade this offseason when he was flipped from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Detroit Tigers. Meadows, 27, is defensively limited to the corner outfield spots, where he is at least a passable option.
With the Tigers, Meadows and his huge power from the left side should fit nicely in their lineup. He is an annual threat to hit between 20-30 home runs and does have two top-20 finishes in the AL MVP voting over the years, but there are some glaring holes in his game that will need work if he is to stay successful in the big leagues.
Strikeouts have been something of an issue for Meadows ever since his debut in 2018, as he has struck out in more than 20% of his plate appearances every season since then. While he does draw plenty of walks, the K’s will need to come down.
Another problem for Meadows is his inability to hit left-handed pitching. The Tigers have made it known that he will be a part of a platoon in the corner outfield, seeing as little time as possible against same-handed pitching. In his career, he has just 16 home runs with a .240 batting average against lefties while hitting 54 home runs and a .272 average against righties.
To start the season, the big outfielder has a slash-line of .313/.436/.375 through his first 39 plate appearances. While he has yet to hit a home run this year, he’s drawn six walks against seven strikeouts but is due for a regression as his playing time increases and he sees the inevitable at-bats against lefties.