Saturday, April 13 – 2:36 PM
"Don’t pay any attention to your league’s standings until mid-May." I find myself repeating this mantra over and over again this time of year to panicked owners who are already on the verge of overhauling their entire roster simply because two weeks into the season, they are cellar dwellers. Not a good idea. I mean, would you even notice it if your squad was batting .204 between August 1st and August 15th? Probably not. But because you’re hitting .204 through April 12, well, it’s time to freak out. Anyway, the funny thing about this brilliant advice is that even though it is indeed brilliant, even I sometimes have difficulty following it. After all, it’s human nature to stare at the standings and shake your head in disgust upon realizing that you’ve lost 15 points in one day and are now 70 points out of first place. It’s human nature to wonder how you will ever make up that deficit.
Similarly, it’s human nature to get too giddy if you’re in first place by a wide margin, giddy to the point where you miss golden opportunities to make your team better because you already have the perfect team. And it’s to the cocky owner that I dedicate this week’s column. Just out of curiosity, I wanted to figure out what the cocky owner’s offense might look like. Including pitchers would get tricky since all starters haven’t pitched the same number of games, so we’ll stick to bats. Using the current NFBC Player Rater along with some common sense (if you were able to draft Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen, you are in a one-team league), here’s what I came up with. Call them the mid-April Fantasy All-Stars.
1B Prince Fielder
2B Chase Utley
SS Jose Reyes
3B Todd Frazier
CI Chris Davis
MI Jed Lowrie
OF Justin Upton
OF Bryce Harper
OF Alex Rios
OF Coco Crisp
You really can’t start a conversation about early 2013 breakout players without talking about Chris Davis. A .412 batting average with six home runs, 19 RBIs and a 1.541 OPS through 11 games? Are you kidding me? Playing in his age-27 season, the former top prospect while with the Rangers’ organization is finally living up to the sky-high expectations. Listen, the power is legit, but I’m very skeptical that his so far solid 8-to-6 K/BB ratio is anything more than a fluke considering that his career K/BB ratio stands at a woeful 518-to-113. Take note of Davis’ .270-33-85 line from last season and expect something similar. I’m not buying that he’s all of a sudden a .285-38-115 guy.
John Buck is without question the biggest surprise here, as he’s tied for the league lead in RBIs with 19 and is batting a ridiculous .351 through 10 games. Sell, sell, sell, though if you’re in a league that is above beginner level, that’s probably not an option. Look, this guy is a career .237 hitter. He does have some power, but who knows what will happen to him once Travis d'Arnaud gets called up. Buck owners need to enjoy this hot streak while it lasts, because it’s not going to last much longer. I bet that by June 1st, Buck will not even be worth a roster spot in any mixed league.
I still don’t fully trust Todd Frazier, as his minor league numbers are good but not great and he’s always struck out a lot. On the bright side, he did launch 19 homers in 128 games last season and already has three home runs through nine games this year, so to say that he carries minimal mixed league value is foolish. That said, I don’t own him in any of my leagues and I’d like to keep it that way. Why? Call it a gut feeling but as I said, I just don’t trust him.
Don’t mistake me for a huge Jed Lowrie fan, but he deserves credit for his 16 homers in 340 at-bats last year and three homers in 11 games so far this season. I’m starting to warm up to the idea that Lowrie can be a reliable power source from the MI position. His mediocre batting average and lack of speed, however, relegates him to middle of the road mixed league MI status. Counting on anything more is asking for trouble.
So what’s the moral of the story? If you’re an owner of Chris Davis, John Buck, Todd Frazier or Jed Lowrie, or all of the above, please don’t be cocky about it. Be cautiously optimistic, but don’t be cocky. Instead, go and talk to Jose Reyes owners. Do they care that their starting shortstop is a mid-April Fantasy All-Star?