For those of you who didn't hear, I was hospitalized for three days with a hideous case of the flu (throwing up 20 times, and I'm not exaggerating for effect, ain't fun). I'm back at it today, at least I'm trying to be. Fantasy Alarm pays me to be witty and informative. I will not be witty today, so let's hope I will be informative. With this being the first day of May, the season is unofficially a sixth over, let's look back on a handful of players who excelled in April or those who were unable to get things on track. Again, nothing witty, but hopefully there will be some things in here that are at least informative.
Yuniesky Betancourt has 21 RBIs in 24 games, and it's caused all people to lose their minds a bit. Folks, this guy has been around since 2005. This is his 9th season and to this point of his career, per 162 games played, he's averaged 11 homers, 67 RBIs, 64 runs and five steals. Now we know he isn't going to play 162 games, right? Only once has he hit 15 homers (2010). Only once has he had 70 RBIs (2010). Only once has he scored 70 runs (2007). Only once has he had six steals (he had 11 in 2006). Only once in the past five years has he hit .260 (.279 in 2008). For his career his slash line is a pathetic .266/.290/.395. Good luck with that.
Jay Bruce is hitting .252. His career mark is .255. His OBP is .312 this season. His career mark is .329. Pretty much right on line there. However, the big issue is the lack of pop. His career .476 SLG has been reduced to .339 on the young campaign. Here's what we know. Bruce has increased his homer total every year, up to 34 last season. Bruce has upped his RBI total every year of his career, up to 99 last year. Bruce has upped his runs scored mark each of the past three years, up to 89 last season. This doesn't sound like the track record of a guy who will fail to get hot at some point. And that's just it with Bruce. His yearly numbers have shown a ton of growth, but the path is never linear in-season despite the end results. Here are his career OPS marks per month from April to September: .781, .912, .726, .661, .882 and .879. Expect better days ahead.
John Buck leads catchers with nine homers and 25 RBIs (Mike Napoli leads fantasy catchers with 27). At the same time Buck has seen his average fall from .300 to .241 the past 10 games. At this point his .241 average is only five points better than his career mark. Also, his OBP is down to .269 which is well below his career .302 average. His current OPS is only .200 points higher than last season and .133 points above his career level. Oh yeah, he's also piled up more than 3,200 at-bats in his career. We know who Buck is. He isn't a star. He isn't going to hit 30 homers with 100 RBIs this season. You've been warned (as you were three weeks ago).
Brandon Crawford was hitting .317 with a .939 OPS on April 20th. On May 1st those numbers sit at .272 and .857. Folks, Crawford is not an all-star with the bat (you can argue he is with the glove). He's not a 20 homer hitter. He's nowhere close to being a .300 hitter. By the time the year is over he may not even be a middle infield option in mixed leagues. Add to together his numbers over the first 209 games of his career and you have a guy who hit .235 with seven homers, 66 RBIs and 66 runs scored. In the minors Crawford hit .266 with 21 homers and 98 RBIs in 265 games. Face it. The guy you saw for most of April isn't who you are going to be seeing the final five months of the 2013 season.
Nelson Cruz had a big April hitting .306 with six bombs and 20 RBIs showing that his boom stick is still pretty impressive. Unfortunately he's no longer an elite fantasy option on the base paths. A 30/20 performer in 2009, Cruz stole 17 bases in 2010 before dipping to 17 the last two seasons (nine and eight). This season he doesn't have a single theft. The power bat is nice, but without the speed his value is substantially lessened, especially when you have to figure his batting average will come down (.269 for his career), and given that continual injuries have precluded him from ever reaching 95 RBIs in a season.
Carlos Gomez is hitting .360 this year. He hit .260 last year. Last year was the first time he ever hit .260. Gomez had a career BABIP of just under .300 entering this season. This year that mark is .403. The previous three years Gomez never had a line drive rate of 17 percent (his career rate is 16.8). This year the mark is 20.6 percent. The last three years Gomez had a K-rate of at least 21.7 percent every season (career 22.0 percent). This year that mark is 16.0 percent. Do I really need to go on? Unless you think this is the second coming of Jose Bautista, you had better be honest with yourself and note that Gomez is going to regress. Lost among his blazing start is also the fact that he's stolen only four bases putting him on pace for about 25 steals this season, a year after he swiped 37.
Torii Hunter has scored 18 runs in 23 games, a great total. However, he also hit one homer and stole zero bags in April. Sure he's hitting .370, but come on now folks. After last years insanely high .389 BABIP, a number he cannot duplicate this year, he's somehow up at .429 this season. A major correction is coming, not minor but MAJOR. There's just no way anyone can explain him posting a .400 BABIP over the course of more than 160 games than by just saying it – he's been very fortunate.
Chris Johnson is hitting .369. It's a sample size situation. His BABIP, the league average is about .290-.300, no one in baseball had a mark of .400 last year, and given what I just noted about Hunter, how long do you think Johnson will hold on to his .460 mark? Come on now. Are you thrilled with the idea of your third baseman stealing zero bases while hitting 12 homers with 55 RBIs this season? That's Johnson's pace right now.
Manny Machado, not everyone's first love in Jurickson Profar, is the one having success at the big league level this season (I'm still stunned so many wanted Profar over Machado this season given that Profar didn't have a job). Machado, after a slow start, has really kicked his game into gear. Check out his numbers. Machado is hitting .304 with 16 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 27 games. He could stand to walk a bit more, a lot more actually, as seven walks in 27 games means he will never hit .300 unless he picks up the patience.
Dustin Pedroia is hitting .337 with 16 runs scored and six steals in 26 games for the Red Sox. I know he has zero homers and 12 RBIs, but given his start, I'm OK with that. Don't know why he fell so far in so many drafts this season.
Pablo Sandoval has a wonky elbow that is causing him some discomfort, but he's producing like a champ anyway. Pablo is up to .333 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 26 for the World Champs. Folks, the guy can flat out hit. He needs to lose 40 lbs, and to do it immediately, but with a bat in his hands there is nothing that guy can't do.
Jake Westbrook leads baseball with a 0.98 ERA through four starts. How? Luck. His 4.55 K/9 mark is a 9-year low. His 4.55 BB/9 mark is a 12 year high. A ground ball pitcher, he hasn't allowed a single homer yet (his career HR/9 mark is 0.77). His 1.37 WHIP is only 0.02 under his career mark. His xFIP says his ERA should be --- 4.55. If you own this guy TRADE HIM IMMEDIATELY. There may not be a more deceiving number in baseball than his current ERA.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
Rounding The Bases - Todd Zola Looks At The First 10 Rounds of a Likely 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft
Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola - Looking Ahead To The 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season
Rounding The Bases - Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (20 Prospects for '14)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 24
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (September Call-Ups)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 23
Rounding the Bases: A Day For the Little Man
Rounding The Bases: Morse, Willingham On the Move?
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Roster Expansion)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 22
Rounding the Bases: Five Surging Pitchers & Hitters
Rounding the Bases: Rookies, Veterans & Roster Movement
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Pitching Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 21
Master Notes From Todd Zola - Taking A Look at Starting Pitching In Keeper Leagues
Rounding the Bases: Small Names, Big Production?
Rounding the Bases: A First for Stephen Strasburg and the (Near) Final Round-Up
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Hitting Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week Twenty