A stomach bug upended what should have been a celebration for Eric Hosmer. In and out of the lineup the first week of the season, he produced when his constitution let him, going 5 for 10 with a home run and two doubles in three games before ultimately succumbing to the IL.
More important than the numbers, though, was the swing behind them. Hosmer didn't hit a single ground ball in those three games — not only a major accomplishment for a player who had the second-highest ground-ball rate among qualifiers last year but also a stated goal for him coming into the season. Now in his 10th year, he finally recognized that his ground-ball tendencies were preventing him from getting the most out of his hard contact rate, and the upshot of that realization could be a breakout season.
Hosmer went 1 for 4 in his return Monday and, yes, finally put the ball on the ground. Still, if he's available in your league, you take the shot and see what comes next.
Meanwhile, fill-in Jake Cronenworth may have carved out a role for himself in Hosmer's absence, sliding over to second base in Hosmer's return. Jurickson Profar has mustered nothing there to this point, so the door is open. Cronenworth was regarded mostly for his on-base skills in the minors last year but hit .329 with 10 homers, 12 steals and a .934 OPS in 97 games. The walks weren't there during his time filling in for Hosmer, but he made consistently hard contact and had two homers, two triples and three doubles to show for it.
Particularly as a left-handed hitter, Cronenworth may not get the chance to play every day, but he could be a surprise contributor if he does.
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Here are some other players standing out on the waiver wire ...
Ryan Pressly RP
HOU Houston • #55 • Age: 31
You may have thought Ryan Pressly blew his shot at the Astros' closer gig with an unsightly blown save Thursday, but he came right back to earn a save Monday, albeit in shaky fashion. He's the only experienced reliever the Astros have right now, and his track record supports this opportunity.
Ty Buttrey RP
LAA L.A. Angels • #31 • Age: 27
You're scraping the bottom of the closer barrel if you're turning to Ty Buttrey, whose numbers this year and last have been on the dicey side. But despite manager Joe Maddon's claims of a committee, the right-hander has gotten each of the Angels' past three save chances, converting his second Monday.
WAS Washington • #13 • Age: 34
A monstrous game Monday in which he collected two homers and two doubles should serve as a reminder that Asdrubal Cabrera is a perfectly satisfactory Fantasy option, particularly at second base, when you're no longer holding out hope for a stud. He has hit .270 over the past four seasons, averaging about 20 homers and 30 doubles.
Nick Solak LF
TEX Texas • #15 • Age: 25
Nick Solak swiped his third base Monday, and if that's going to be part of his profile, it's hard to imagine he won't deserve a spot in most every Rotisserie lineup eventually. He's no longer DH-only, having already picked up outfield eligibility and on the road to picking up second base, and he continues to show good plate discipline, actually entering Monday's game with a expected batting average of .306, according to Statcast.
SF San Francisco • #34 • Age: 29
A holdover from the weekend, Kevin Gausman has seen his velocity tick up in recent starts and his whiffs along with it. He has 21 strikeouts in 16 innings over his past three starts and has the benefit of a big ballpark for once with the Giants. He has long teased Fantasy Baseballers, so you're right to be wary, but at only 29 and with the change of scenery, he's at least worth monitoring.
Adam Duvall LF
ATL Atlanta • #23 • Age: 32
Yeah, he struck out three times Monday, but Adam Duvall has turned in some big games for the Braves recently and appears to have secured a job for himself in the process, starting five of the past six, all but one against righties. He's a two-time 30-homer man who could offer something similar in a deep lineup, putting him on the radar in five-outfielder leagues.