Fantasy Baseball: 10 Players Who Surprised Us in 2017
Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners
Preseason ADP: 277.42
Depending on the size of your fantasy league, Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino was either selected in one of the very last rounds or went undrafted completely and became a waiver-wire option. Based off the early part of his big league career, that wasn't outrageous at all.
He did display a fair amount of power through his first 1,247 plate appearances, slugging 50 dingers with a .175 ISO, which is extremely valuable for a position that's typically light on offense. However, Zunino torpedoed just about every other category, slashing .195/.262/.370 with a 32.6% strikeout rate during this time, resulting in a 77 wRC+.
Zunino did show signs of progress in the 55 games he played for Seattle in 2016 (115 wRC+ in 192 plate appearances), but put it all together this year with a much healthier .251/.331/.509 triple slash, 25 homers, and 64 RBI, leading to a career-high 125 wRC+. The only catchers that slugged more dingers than him were Gary Sanchez (33) and Salvador Perez (27).
Of course, watching his strikeout rate balloon up to 36.8% wasn't ideal, which coincided with a career-low 63.7% contact rate. The good part, though, is that his pull rate (50.9%) and hard-hit rate (38.6%) were both single-season bests, and while his fly-ball rate did decrease a bit, the 45.6% mark was still more than 10 percentage points above the league average.