The first week of the season is in our rearview mirror, Pearl Jam, and I’m seeing overreactions everywhere I turn around, Bonnie Tyler. Ask yourself this: If a fantasy player has a bad week in an otherwise good year, does it matter? The first week of the season is nearly as meaningless as Spring Training and the only takeaway I’m, um, taking away from it is whether a player is injured and that the Rays are going to win the World Series. Just because a player hit several home runs in the first week doesn’t mean he will keep hitting them. It also doesn’t mean that he won’t keep hitting them. The first week is too small a sample to discern any real meaning because there are too many variables at play, like which pitchers the hitter faced, the ballparks he’s been in, the impact of the wind, whether he’s been sick, and so on. There could even be something crazy that we do know about, like Brandon Moss having a kid (well, his wife anyway), or something we don’t know about. What I’m trying to say is that I won’t change my expectations for a specific player just yet. Although it’s never too early to take advantage of people in your leagues who are overreacting and pull the trigger on a potential buy low or sell high opportunity. Anyway, here are a few players who have had unexpected starts that I’m interested in:
Mike Trout – I somehow haven’t talked about him enough, but that’s partially because I’ve felt bombarded by talk of him by everybody else. His slow start doesn’t have me worried at all and I fully expect him to post similar numbers to last year. I kept hearing the “fact” that he would regress because he was “lucky” to an extent, but I don’t think that’s a given. Regression is never inevitable and any deviation from an expected baseline can’t simply be dismissed as luck. Additionally, most of the arguments I’ve heard about why he will regress could be turned around the other way. For example, if you are worried that pitchers are going to better adjust to him, then you could also be excited because he could better adjust to pitchers. I’ll end this mini-rant by saying that you should give your studs the benefit of the doubt for the first month (or two).
Carlos Quentin – Why is he available in so many leagues? Please pick him up for me. It’s not like he’s injured… yet. The Padres are benching him a little initially, but he appears to be healthy, so his playing time should become more frequent in the near future. In February, I said, “A .250/.350/.490 line should be attainable when healthy.” I still think that’s his baseline, which might represent the best OPS guy you can find on waivers in most leagues.
Shin-Soo Choo – I’ve been high on Choo (which is legal in my state) since his move to the Reds and his hot start is encouraging. Especially because he appears to be taking full advantage of his home ballpark, with an elevated fly ball rate. I expect to see a career high in home runs and runs. He feels like one of the safest players to me, even if Dusty decides to bat him ninth at some point.
Norichika Aoki – He’s a player who I believed would repeat his performance from last season but, the more I think about it, the more I think he’s going to show slight improvement. Maybe the nicest thing so far is his increased walk rate, which could lead to an uptick in steals, if he can sustain a higher OBP.
Brandon Moss – Don’t drop him yet! He may get benched against some tough lefties throughout the season, but that should only help his production. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post a .250/.340/.500 line.
Jed Lowrie – I’ve always thought he had the upside for an .800 OPS, but his current .500/.567/1.000 line is video game worthy. I’m thinking that he could post a higher than expected slugging on the year with some of that magic Billy Beane spread across his team last year. I expect him to continue to contribute when healthy, but sadly don’t expect a full season.
Giancarlo Stanton – Yes, he’s got a bad team around him, but I don’t think they’re causing his power drought unless they regularly heckle him from the dugout. But who would dare do that to him, considering that Ted Lilly isn’t on the Marlins? I really wouldn’t be concerned with him unless he hasn’t hit a handful of home runs by midseason. The power is yours, Giancarlo.