There are some players right now that are doing just great. Maybe you have overlooked them, but here is a quick guide on the whos and the whys.
Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox
He got a new chance with the White Sox in 2017, and now Garcia is not only outhitting Cabrera but also leading the American League with a .342 average. With 11 home runs, he’s just two shy of his career high. He has attributed his success to more experience and a better pregame routine. He’s still an extreme ground ball hitter (top 20 ground ball rate among qualified hitters). His hard-hit rate is up, leading to a few more home runs and doubles. His average on balls in play is an unsustainable .413, compared to .320 and .309 the past two seasons.
Corey Knebel, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
He’s ready for the NL All-Star team: He has a 0.96 ERA with 65 strikeouts and a .147 average allowed, a dominant season lost only in the excellence of Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel. Knebel has at least one strikeout in each of his 38 appearances and is 12-for-14 in save opportunities since taking over as closer.
He throws 96-97 mph with a wipeout curveball. His strikeout rate has improved from 26 percent to 44 percent since last season. The key has been a higher spin rate on his fastball.
Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Cozart can someday tell his grandkids that at one point he was the best player in the league. For a six-year veteran, his sudden emergence (.320/.404/.562) is certainly one of the season’s big surprises.
He has always been an excellent fielder – he never has won a Gold Glove but has had a positive defensive runs saved total each season in the major, this year has been a career-high walk rate, as he has dropped his chase rate, so swinging at strikes has certainly helped. His exit velocity, however, remains below league average.
Ben Gamel, OF, Seattle Mariners
Gamel, when hired, he fit the profile of a fourth outfielder: not enough power to start, not enough speed and defense to overcome the lack of power. However, all he has done is hit this season. In fact, with a few more plate appearances, his .353 average would lead the AL over Garcia’s mark. Gamel is about seven plate appearances short of qualifying, so he could join the leaderboards sometime late next week (you need 3.1 PAs per team game played to qualify). Heading into the weekend, he has hit .444 over his past 15 games, including 10 multihit games.
Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson, SPs, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers lead the Central, and these two have been a big reason why. Anderson ranks fifth in the NL with a 2.92 ERA and Nelson 12th with a 3.50 ERA. Anderson, meanwhile, is riding a streak of six straight quality starts in which he has posted a 1.33 ERA and held batters to a .153 average. His velocity is up from last season, and he has cut down on his walks. Both have done an excellent job of suppressing home runs.
Logan Morrison, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
He hit 14 home runs last year in 353 at-bats. In 2015, he hit 17 in 457 at-bats. The year before that, 11 in 336 at-bats. In 2017, he has 22 in 244 at-bats, hitting .250 with a .582 slugging percentage.
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