Remember when the Cardinals were in last place and St. Louis was freaking out? That time is over, and Gyorko was one of the stabilizing forces that ended it. Gyorko has hit .333./390/.620 with seven homers and 18 RBIs to help the Cardinals vault into first place in the NL Central despite Dexter Fowler, Jhonny Peralta, Stephen Piscotty and Jose Martinez all missing time with injuries. Gyorko has hit 37 home runs in 159 games with the Cardinals since joining them in 2016, and has emerged as the premier power hitter envisioned as a prospect.
Current 0-for-19 slump aside, the preseason No. 1 prospect has largely lived up to his billing so far. Benintendi has settled into the cleanup spot in the Red Sox order and is hitting .294/.364/.448 with seven doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs. He leads all American League rookies in hits even with his current slump. Benintendi is grouped with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia among the Red Sox team leaders in every offensive category, and has cemented his status as Boston’s left fielder for years to come.
Diamondbacks’ bounce back
The Diamondbacks have not had a winning record since 2011 but are playoff team at the one-quarter mark of the 2017 season. Arizona’s eight most-used position players are all in their 20s, and that youthful group ranks second in the National League in hits and batting average and third in runs, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. Even better has been the starting pitching. Zack Greinke (4-2, 2.79, 58 SO/9 BB) has returned to ace form, Taijuan Walker (3-3, 3.91) has been a strong offseason acquisition and Patrick Corbin (3-4, 4.17) is quietly having a nice season. The pitching has been so strong, in fact, Arizona is third in the National League in ERA.
The 2015 Minor League Player of the Year was demoted to Triple-A after he gave up six hits and six runs at Boston in his latest outing. Snell is 0-4, 4.71 and most concerning has not gotten his control under wraps. Snell is walking 5.4 batters per nine innings and has compounded that with a steep drop in his strikeout rate, from 9.9 per nine last season to 7.3 this year. The 24-year-old lefthander will try to fix his control problems in the International League rather than trying to maneuver through the vaunted lineups in the American League East.
Espinosa has a strong case to the unwanted claim of worst position player in baseball through the one-quarter mark of the season with a .144/.221/280 slash line. Out of 187 batting-title eligible players, Espinosa ranks 187th in batting average, 186th in on-base percentage, and 179th in slugging. His swinging strike percentage is 19.4, worst in the American League. In short, Espinosa is swinging and missing more than anyone else in the AL, and not much good is happening when he does make contact.
Phillies’ bounce back
The Phillies have not had a winning record since 2011, and that streak does not appear it will end in 2017. Despite playing in an immensely hitter-friendly ballpark, the Phillies rank in the bottom half of the National League in runs as well as hits. Building blocks Maikel Franco (.634 OPS) and Odubel Herrera (.710) and offseason acquisition Michael Saunders (.689) have been the primary culprits. The Phillies have struggled even more on the mound, with a 4.69 ERA that ranks 13th in the NL. The staff simply doesn’t miss enough bats, with their 249 punchouts the third-lowest mark in all of baseball. Young starters Jerad Eickhoff (4.76 ERA), Vince Velasquez (5.63), and Nick Pivetta (6.14) have struggled in particular.