First Trimester Report Card For Free Agents In The American League
Michael Brantley Has Revived His Career With The Astros
The Two Teams With The Best Records Have Benefited The Most From Their Free Agents
Without a doubt the National League swept the series when it came to the competition for the top free agents over the winter, now that the final two have finally signed deals. It appear so far this season anyway, that the junior league has gotten the better of the deals.
Bryce Harper has been barely better than average after his historical contract with Philadelphia, and Manny Machado has performed below average for the San Diego Padres. Neither Dallas Kuechel of the Atlanta Braves nor Greg Kimbrel of the Chicago Cubs have yet to throw a pitch for their new clubs, who signed them earlier this month.
While the American League signings made few headlines over the winter, most of those deals have benefitted their teams much more than the free agents who singed in the Senior Circuit. In fact, one particular club has soared since acquiring three free agents, not one of whom garnered much ink during the off season.
Here are ten free agents who signed with A. L. clubs, each player being graded on his performance after a third of the season has been completed.
Nelson Cruz: B
Signed to provide pop from either side of the plate, Cruz has been one of the reasons the Minnesota Twins have seen a remarkable surge in power so far this year. He has hit home runs while driving in 25 with a .270 batting average.
Marwin Gonzalez: C plus
The former Houston Astro really struggled for the first month of the season, but his 7 HR and 23 RBI along with a .252 average look decent now. His real value has been in his diversity, especially filling in at third while Miguel Sano was recovering from injury.
Jonathan Schoop B minus
His 11 homers with 31 RBI and .246 average may not jump out at you, until you consider he is regularly hitting in the eighth slot in the Minnesota lineup.
DJ LaMehieu: A
A former batting champ with the Colorado Rockies was signed to be a utility infielder for the Yankees, but he earned full time duties when New York lost shortstop Didi Gregorius and many others to the injured list. All he has done so far is hit .320 with seven homers and knocking in 24.
Michael Brantley A plus
Several seasons were lost to injury, so the Cleveland Indians let their one time star walk. He has rejuvenated his career by batting .316 and hitting 10 home runs with 39 RBI, helping the Astros overcome key injuries to stars like George Springer, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve.
Robinson Chirinos: B plus
Like the teammate mentioned above, the former Texas Ranger backstop has helped the Astros maintain a huge lead in ten A.L. West in spite of injuries to nearly half of their regular lineup. Not only has he filled in admirably behind the plate, but Chirinos has also clubbed 11 homers with 32 RBI and a batting average of .238.
Hunter Pence: B plus
The former National League All-Star outfielder had been beset by injuries over the last few seasons, but his 14 dingers and 46 RBI are almost as impressive as his .293 batting average for the Texas Rangers.
Danny Santana: B minus
Long after the Twins and then the Orioles had given up on Santana, he has sparked the Texas offense with a .289 average and a knack for getting on base or delivering in clutch situations.
Robbie Grossman: C
Oakland signed him to provide some left side balance to their lineup and, while his 5 home runs and 18 RBI are decent, theA's might have expected more than his .250 batting average.
Billy Hamilton: C
Basically, the Royals have gotten what they should have expected from the former Cincinnati Reds center fielder, a .228 batting average, a .306 on bace percentage, and 12 stolen bases along with characteristically dependable defense.