At what point can a hot start be considered a great season, a season free from the inevitable regression rules that fantasy pundits always talk about? 30 games? 60 games? 100 games? I did take a statistics class in high school, and another in college, yet I don't have a definitive answer to this question. Maybe there was a time when I could have figured it out and I just forgot how to do it. Or maybe there simply isn't a definitive answer. And, that's too bad, because knowing the answer to this question would surely help me as a fantasy baseball owner, as I would have a much clearer idea as to whether I should "sell high" on a certain player or hold onto him and enjoy the ride.
Ultimately, the best we can do is use the information available at the time to make the best possible educated guess. My unscientific approach has generally been to wait until Memorial Day before I take certain statistics too seriously. Well, we're getting pretty close to Memorial Day and there are still several wacky (or maybe not so wacky?) player stats to consider. Focusing on the standard five hitting categories, let's take a look at some of the unlikely names that appear on the various leaderboards heading into Saturday's games. Note that I'm using hits in place of batting average since I'm certainly not taking batting average seriously at this point.
Mike Moustakas: 37 (Tied for 8th in MLB) - Moustakas has been in the post-hype sleeper conversation for several years now, but it hasn't been until this year that the former top prospect has performed at a consistently high level over an extended stretch of games. Moose's .392 OBP over his first 28 games this season is crazy stuff being that his career OBP still stands at a lowly .296 and his BABIP this year is .343. But being that he has only three home runs so far, I wouldn't be surprised if his home run rate increases going forward. He's also striking out at a career-low rate, which is an encouraging sign that the batting average correction might not be quite as drastic as many expect. Moustakas owners should be open to dealing him if an especially attractive trade offer comes along but the chances of that happening are minimal since there are plenty of doubters still out there. Don't be afraid to hold onto him.
Wil Myers: 26 (1st in MLB) - Sticking with the post-hype sleeper theme, Myers has played a huge role in transforming the Padres from the lowest-scoring team in the NL a year ago to the highest-scoring team in the Senior Circuit this season. Batting leadoff in a lineup that includes Matt Kemp and Justin Upton will continue to provide Myers with plenty of run-scoring opportunities, and keep in mind that Myers tallied 50 runs across 88 games in his 2013 Rookie of the Year campaign, so perhaps we should not be all that surprised by this.
Bryce Harper: 10 (Tied for 2nd in MLB) - The longball has never been Harper's specialty, but with five homers over his last two games entering Saturday, Bryce is within three homers of his total from last season. Barring a prolonged stint on the DL, Harper will shatter his previous single-season home run high of 22. The elite power potential has always been there with Harper. Now, in his age-22 season, we're finally seeing it. Harper is also tied for 4th in the Majors in both RBI (25) and runs (23). Would you really be surprised by a .290-30-100-100 end of season line?
Stephen Vogt: 25 (Tied for 4th in MLB) - Vogt's fantasy appeal heading into this season mostly centered around his catcher eligibility. Perhaps he could be a serviceable No. 2 backstop in mixed leagues. Forget serviceable No. 2 backstop. How about reliable No. 1 backstop? Through 29 games, Vogt is batting .322 with seven home runs to go along with the 25 RBI. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves here. His HR/FB is currently at an unsustainable 17.1 percent, and he's batting .481 with runners in scoring position. Expect high-end No. 2 catcher production from here on out and you won't be disappointed.
Anthony Rizzo: 7 (Tied for 12th in MLB) - So we're roughly one-fifth through the season and Rizzo has more steals than home runs. Huh? All it took was 24 games for Rizzo to set a new personal single-season high in the swipes category. Before you dismiss this as a complete anomaly, realize that stolen bases, or more specifically stolen base attempts, can be heavily influenced by organizational philosophy. With the aggressive Joe Maddon at the helm, it's not inconceivable to think that Rizzo could have one of those Paul Goldschmidt-type seasons where he steals 15-plus bags to go along with the 30-plus home runs.
And here I was thinking that I might have temporarily lost my mind when I decided to shell out 40 bucks for Rizzo in Mixed Auction Tout Wars.
And here I was thinking that my team was well short in speed.
But it still might be. Rizzo won't be stealing 35.
At least that's what my unscientific calculations tell me.