“Things Done Changed” is the second track and first song on The Notorious B.I.G.’s debut album Ready to Die. In the song, the chorus of which samples Biz Markie and Dr. Dre, Biggie laments the negative changes he’s seen over time in his neighborhood and in his own life as he turns the page to 1993. His frustration builds throughout the song, going off beat to scream the only escape routes, “Either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.” Then culminating in the last line of the third verse, “My Momma got cancer in her breast, don’t ask me why I’m (expletive) stressed, things done changed.”
While the song deals with some serious issues and it’s still early in the season, things have certainly changed since draft day. I’ll examine a few players who now have different expectations for their output this season than they did five weeks ago.
Travis had shown enough promise to be the Tigers’ number one prospect heading into last offseason and if that’s not good enough for you because of the state of Detroit’s farm, well it turned out it was enough for Toronto as the Travis acquisition appears to be one of the best of the offseason. Back in January, I listed him as an AL-Only target and wrote that he should contribute in every category as I noticed he was both a power and speed threat last year in the minors. Travis hit 10 home runs and stole 16 bases in 100 games with Double-A last year, but I didn’t foresee a start like this even being possible. So far this season, Travis already has seven home runs, 23 RBI, and 20 runs scored. He only has one steal, but he’s hitting .309 and wining leagues for people who were able to grab him late. Since Travis wasn’t a highly touted prospect for very long and dealt with injuries in the minors, there’s a perception that he’s merely playing over his head and is due for regression. While the temptation to sell high on Travis is palpable, it’s difficult to ignore what he’s doing at the plate right now. He’s not only hitting the ball hard, but he’s doing it often and keeping his strikeout rate to a tidy 17 percent.
In a redraft league, I suppose I could see moving Travis for someone you really liked before the season and might be struggling. However, I was asked in my chat Tuesday if I’d give up Travis in a keeper league for Corey Kluber and Brian Dozier on expiring contracts and I told the fellow to aim higher. As I imagine someone in the Tigers front office is writing a hundred times on a chalkboard in the bowels of Comerica Park, don’t give up years of Travis and have only Anthony Gose to show for it.
Marisnick was another guy I was asked about trading multiple times in the chat Tuesday, and he’s not one I’d be looking to move. In February, I listed Marisnick as an AL-only target, noting that he has both power and speed in his game, but there’s also plenty of swing and miss at the plate as he posted a 48-to-5 K:BB in 186 plate appearances with Houston last year. While it’s still early as Marisnick has amassed just 82 plate appearances so far this year, he’s been a different hitter as his strikeout percentage is a mere 13 percent and his walk percentage is six percent, which is double what it was last year. It’s only been one month and this is just a snapshot, but these improvements are encouraging nonetheless. He won’t maintain a .377 BABIP all season, but if he can keep his strikeouts down, he won’t have to in order to post a better AVG than anyone expected before the season. The primary reason why I wouldn’t want to give up Marisnick is his speed, anyway. He has nine steals already and I don’t anticipate him slowing down. Perhaps the Astros will reconsider slotting him so low in the batting order all the time.
Remember they used to thump, but now they blast, right?
Unfortunately for Martinez and the Tigers, things seemed to have changed a lot and there’s no thumping or blasting of any kind being done out of Detroit’s cleanup spot. Martinez enters play Wednesday with a .203 AVG and one double and his .013 ISO is the lowest of any qualified batter in baseball. This is proof that this can happen to any player, even one coming off a season with more extra-base hits than strikeouts. Damn those 36-year-old knees! Martinez clearly isn’t right at the plate as the injury to his left knee, his back knee against right-handed pitching, is still affecting him. The timing of Martinez’ injury also worked against him as he was left without a real spring training. While he’s longshot to get his power stroke back, his at-bats that I’ve seen of late have been a little bit better. Baseball is a game of inches (and Inges), so even though it might look like he’s close to getting back in the swing of things, it could be awhile. In one of my AL-Only home leagues, which is made up of mostly Tigers fans, Martinez was traded Wednesday morning for Elvis Andrus straight up. Things done changed.
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