Once upon a time, Lonnie Chisenhall was a nifty little prospect. The Indians selected the patient, power-hitting infielder in the first round of 2008's draft, and Baseball America had him in their Top 25 before the 2011 season. A new version of Jim Thome? It sounded reasonable back then.
Three partial seasons in Cleveland followed, none of them particularly impressive. The longest trial came last year, 94 games and 289 at-bats: .225/.270/.398, 11 homers. That's not enough to mark a lineup spot, especially at a position like third base.
With all of those results on the board, it's easy to forget Chisenhall is just 25. The development curve is different for everyone. Maybe the light is finally going on for the lefty swinger in 2014. Perhaps this is the glorious payoff in a post-hype season.
Chisenhall probably teared up when the Indians finally left Arlington on Monday night. Chisenhall was on a 5-for-12 binge there, with a homer, before Monday's game kicked off – and then things really got out of hand in the series-ending 17-7 victory. Cleveland's emerging slugger posted a single, double, three homers, and nine RBIs – a legendary, historic performance. Chisenhall was already owned in around 50 percent of Yahoo leagues before the game kicked off; he's chased up to 63 percent now.
Okay, the ball travels awfully well in Arlington, and it's not like he hit the homers off Yu Darvish. But how often do we see dominance at this level? What do we compare it to?
On my clipboard, this was Tiger Woods cruising to three straight amateur golf titles; LeBron James dunking on overmatched high-school kids; Brad Evans running the shuffleboard table at a Santa Monica watering hole. Sometimes you have to sit back and applaud a brilliant performance, no matter who you pull for, who it came against, or how it impacts your bottom line.
The Indians should have room for Chisenhall in the lineup all year, even when Nick Swisher returns (we might see that later in the week). There are enough flexible parts on the roster. Chisenhall is up to .385/.429/.615 with seven homers and 32 RBIs through 161 at-bats. He's earned his spot. If I were shuffling corner infielders today, I'd have him at $14; while no one is foolish to pay for the numbers Chisenhall has already posted, this sure looks like a breakthrough season to me. (You want to mention Chisenhall's .420 BABIP, fine - just accept that it's not all good fortune. The guy's raking a line drive 29.4 percent of the time.)
Not everyone in the Cleveland lineup took part in the 17-run, 18-hit beatdown. Jason Giambi went 0-for-5, and then there's the collar Carlos Santana took (5-0-0-1, one RBI, two strikeouts). Santana's down to .169 on the year.
To be fair, Santana was terrific in the first three games of the series: four hits, two walks, one homer, zero strikeouts. One off night shouldn't change anyone's opinion of him. Some believe in his comeback chances, some don't. If you're looking for full catcher prices, we ran them Monday morning.
• Waiting for Godot. Waiting for Guffman. Waiting for Polanco. (The latter is finally over; how was it for you?)
It turns out the best source for Gregory Polanco news is Gregory Polanco. The buzzy Pirates outfielder broke the story Monday night; the Pirates are finally bringing the 22-year-old outfielder to the majors.
Polanco had nothing more to prove in Triple-A; the Pirates obviously kept him down this long for monetary concerns. He posted a .347/.405/.540 line at Indianapolis, with seven homers and 15 steals over 62 games. No one knows what rookies are ready for when they arrive (the Chisenhall Youth nods), but Polanco certainly looks like he might hit the ground running. It should be fun to watch him play.
• Before we leave Pittsburgh, let's note the solid work right-hander Charlie Morton has been doing. He had no problem with the Cubs on Monday (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K), grabbing his third victory in four turns. He's only had one blowup start over his last nine appearances, and although the K/BB clip is barely over two, he does induce a ton of ground balls (56.1 percent this year). A 1.25 WHIP isn't great, but a 3.14 ERA is playable (if not repeatable, natch).
The upcoming schedule plays nicely: at the Twins, at the Cubs. You can make the Morton addition in 89 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• We've had lots of Corey Dickerson talk in this space, and yet he's still available in three-quarters of Yahoo leagues. I don't know why his ownership tag isn't much higher. We can't make the point and click for you.
Dickerson has been terrific when asked to play this year: .324/.380/.620, eight homers (including one Monday), three steals in 108 at-bats. Colorado is a float, sure, but he's also mashing on the road. And the Rockies need Dickerson to play, given the recent setbacks with Carlos Gonzalez (exploratory finger surgery) and Michael Cuddyer (shoulder injury, expected to miss 6-8 weeks). Dickerson has a snappy minor-league pedigree and he's already shown returns at the big-league level; there's a sizable upside here. Why won't you come along for the ride?
• We picked up Danny Santana for the steals and the leadoff slot in Minnesota, not to mention the three tasty positions (second, short, outfield) in the Yahoo game. We didn't expect home runs to come with the package. Nonetheless, Santana has two homers in his last four days, pairing nicely with his .364/.395/.506 start through 23 games. He's also 4-for-4 on the bases.
Sure, he's playing over his head – but the recent surge marks his spot in the lineup nicely. Santana waits for a call in 77 percent of Yahoo leagues. It's always fun to own at least one Swiss Army Knife.