Polanco, Murphy, and a Soler Eclipse of the Heart by Brad Johnson March 19, 2018 Spring Training is interminably inching towards inevitable heat death. With the end of fake baseball comes the advent of actionable fantasy news. Introduction complete. Minnesota sad Jorge Polanco ran afoul of the Joint Drug Treatment and Whatever Protocol. Confusingly, the program does not test for joints – physical or “medicinal” – unless you’re a minor leaguer in which case… Anyway… Interestingly, Polanco apparently requested a B12 and iron supplement from his Dominican-based trainer. The supplement he received contained a banned substance. This is a not uncommon cover story. More often than not, I’m honestly inclined to believe the players. Test 20 supplements from GNC and you’re liable to find a few banned substances where they don’t belong. It’s shockingly difficult to control exactly what goes into your body. I imagine it’s even harder if you have to use an intermediary in the DR. I get upset about unnecessarily stupid policies. That the players – specifically the union – bear the brunt of the responsibility for the policy is doubly frustrating. Deep breath. The Twins will be without Polanco for 80 games. He was a top dollar days breakout candidate for owners who punted shortstop. He has the ability to hit 15 to 20 home runs with 10 to 15 stolen bases. A high contact ensures reliable numbers. He’s basically what Orlando Arcia was supposed to be. Instead, we’ll be treated to entirely too much Eduardo Escobar. The 29-year-old utility man bashed a career high 21 home runs last season. He joined the air ball revolution, meaning we can probably anticipate a repeat of his low AVG/OBP and average home run output. He might be too far removed from the big bats to consistently produce runs. However, his multi-position flexibility more than makes up for his shortcomings. Go ahead and grab a share or three in 12 team deep roster leagues. Meanwhile, in the nation’s capitol… Daniel Murphy is all but officially out for the Nationals opening series. He’s still progressing slowly but steadily from microfracture surgery on his knee. Prepare for a trip to the disabled list. Don’t be surprised if it’s longer than the minimum 10 days. By all accounts, his recovery is going well. We’re just looking at a delayed start to the season. Murphy is one of the best pure hitters in the league. Since joining the Nationals, he’s hit around .330/.385/.570 with 25 home runs per 600 plate appearances and plenty of run production. Notice: he hasn’t actually reached 600 plate appearances since 2014. Even with a repaired knee, expect him to receive frequent rest. Owners in daily leagues should plan to roster a patch. If you’re hurting for stolen bases, pairing a Jose Peraza with Murphy could be a good way to snag a few bags without sacrificing power, runs, or average. In sufficiently shallow leagues, Cesar Hernandez is an even better (and often cheaper) option. In deeper formats, consider turning to Murphy’s actual backup. Washington signed Howie Kendrick to provide quality depth all over the field. He’ll see plenty of early action at his natural position of second base. Expect him to play second roughly every five days for the entire season. He’ll also occasionally work his way into the lineup at third, first, and the corner outfield. Kendrick is a low-angle, hard contact machine. The 34-year-old consistently supplies modest five category production with the help of a .340 career BABIP. It’s no fluke. He’s been doing this for 5,791 plate appearances. I can’t help but wonder if Murphy can teach Kendrick a few tricks… Terrible puns featuring Soler Power Jorge Soler was the first Best Shape of His Life story I saw this spring. As always, intrigued warred with skepticism. The 26-year-old is a finely chiseled godling now. His combination of power, whiff rate, and plate discipline – verging on passivity – reminds me of Chris Young the Small. With Jorge Bonifacio on the PED shelf, Soler is guaranteed a good long run of regular plate appearances. Frankly, he was on course for a healthy look even with Bonifacio on the active roster. To this point, he’s blasted six home runs in 55 spring plate appearances. He’s one good day from pulling a Greg Bird. Of course, Bird is an instructive comp – he was terrible last April despite a superb March. Nobody doubts Soler’s physical prowess. He has the raw power, fly ball, and pulled contact of a 40 home run threat. Doubts swirl around his ability to demonstrate 40 homer contact. The possibility of an over-30 percent strikeout rate is all too real. During his successful rookie debut, Soler’s surprisingly aggressive approach helped him to avoid strikeouts at the price of fewer walks. I’d like to see him get back to attacking more pitches in the strike zone.