So you are in 8th place out of 12 teams? No big deal. The baseball season is very long. Two months does not a season make. So far this season Lance Berkman has 12 homeruns and 40 RBI. Teammate, and perennial fantasy baseball MVP, Albert Pujols has 13 and 38. If you had to make a bet on who will hit more homeruns and RBI for the remainder of the season who would you put your money on? I know I’d go with Pujols.
There actually aren’t a whole lot of over-achievers that standout this year. Matt Joyce of the Rays, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians, and Corey Patterson of the Jays are the closest things to over-achievers we have this year. There is a fair share of pitchers out there that you should be wary about. Jared Weaver continues to fall back to earth after his near perfect start. But who I would be most cautious with is the young pitcher. There are a few young pitchers having great years so far. Alexi Ogando of the Rangers, and Michael Pineda of the Mariners are two examples. These are two good, young, promising players who have great careers ahead of them. But that doesn’t mean they will keep up what they are doing right now.
Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals was great during the first half of 2010, he had an ERA of 2.17 and struck out 80 batters. He was okay in the second half of the season, but a 3.53 ERA with only 52 strikeouts is a big drop-off in fantasy value. This wasn’t as bad as Mike Leake of the Reds. Leake was 6-1 with a 3.53 ERA and 70 strikeouts in the first half of the season. In the second half he only went 2-3 with a 6.91 ERA with only 21 strikeouts. Dillon Gee of the Mets and Josh Tomlin of the Indians are two more inexperienced starting pitchers to monitor.
To be a truly successful fantasy baseball manager, you cannot just know when to dump players who are about fall off a cliff. You have to know who to replace them with too. Finding value is not always easy. I doubt anyone was dumb enough to drop Albert Pujols after a slow-start. What about Shin-Soo Choo? He has been dropped in 4% of Yahoo public leagues. Not a very high percentage but it’s worth a look to make sure he is not available in your league. He claimed to the media that he has felt added pressure following his DUI and has not been playing well. But as he gets further and further removed from his arrest, I would expect him to bounce back closer to the .300 average he has had the last couple seasons.
A couple of Chicago White Sox head up the all-disappointment team so far. Adam Dunn has long been a great asset to a fantasy baseball team, his statistics remarkably consistent; over 40 homers and 90 RBI for the last 7 seasons with an average around .250, until this year. On top of that, Dunn is typically a better hitter in the first half of the season (2/3 of his Homeruns before the all-star break), despite this I would take a waiver on him. He is a free agent in nearly 20% of all Yahoo leagues, and he might be close to a free agent in your league. It may not take a very big offer to get Adam Dunn on to your team. If you are a team in dire need of homeruns, he is your guy to get. Dunn’s teammate Alex Rios is another guy to look at. He had 34 steals just one year ago, but only 4 so far this season. His steals are down because his average is down. He currently has a BAbip of .205, over .100 points lower than his career average. Babip tends to average out, so I would expect Rios’s fantasy stats to rise along with it.
One final player to watch is Delmon Young of the Twins. He is having an absolute awful season, batting .215 with only 1 homerun. He’s actually hitting more flyballs then groundballs for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, he is currently popping up at an alarming rate. Thirty percent of his flyballs have not left the outfield. Once he settles down and stops swinging for the fences on every at bat I would expect his totals to return to normal.
Starting pitchers are a different story. Just because a guy had a great season last year, does not mean you can count on him repeating his performance. So don’t think you can pick up a struggling Ubaldo Jimenez or Zach Greinke and automatically have them turn into an All-Star. If you really want to find value, look at the closers department.
Some closers appear to be underperforming with a low save number. Francisco Cordero of the Reds appears to be having a subpar season; he is only tied for 17th in the league with 11 saves. But then you realize he is 11 for 13 with an ERA of 1.59. You would expect the Reds to play in a higher percentage of close games as the season goes on. If Cordero keeps up his stats, his value as a closer will skyrocket. Some other closers that fall into this category are Neftali Feliz of the Tigers, Fernando Salas of the Cards, and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays. In the opposite direction you have some guys with high save totals, but otherwise shaky stats. Brandon League of the Mariners is tied for 5th in the league in saves despite a 4.68 ERA. Leo Nunez of the Marlins and Craig Kimbrel of the Braves have each pitched well this season, but they are both the benefactors of the most save situations in the league. If you need hitting or starting pitching, sell your closers high.
Fantasy Baseball is like the stock-market. Ride a player while he’s hot, but make sure you sell him before he slumps. This is the key to fantasy baseball.