While remaining patient in fantasy baseball is one of the most difficult things to do, it is also one of the most critical at this time of year. Sitting back and watching underperforming players is ridiculously frustrating, especially if those that aren’t pulling their weight are the ones you were relying on most, and their lack of production has you sitting, if not all the way at the bottom of your standing, at least real close to it. But as we get set to enter the final week of April, your patience with these players is now more important than ever.
Case in point: Albert Pujols
I was on the Fantasy Alarm Show on Sunday with Jeff Mans and Ted Schuster and we were taking some phone calls from the listeners. One guy called in, an obviously frustrated Pujols owner, and asked if he should bite at an offer made for his beleaguered slugger. The offer included Yoenis Cespedes, Stephen Strasburg, and suddenly, for the life of me, I can’t remember the third player offered in the deal, which should tell you something. It wasn’t so much that the third player was a joke, but when I hear someone teetering on the edge of getting ready to sell one of the premier hitters in the game for a relatively unknown commodity who is playing real well, a star pitcher you know is getting shut down near the end of the season, and someone else, the someone else is almost irrelevant.
Don’t get me wrong here, I really like Cespedes. I own him in a pair of leagues, having snagged him in the 18th round and beyond, and he has been a delight on the production front. He’s racking up RBIs, hitting for some power and running well on the base paths. What he’s doing right now, giving you high-round production from a low-round pick, is what every owner covets on draft day – to have your late round sleepers pan out. But with only three weeks gone by, can we really trust him to do this the full season? Maybe he can, or maybe he can’t, but even if you’re throwing in Strasburg and another player, who is obviously not a high-round draft choice himself, I’m not taking that chance at the expense of my number one draft choice just because he’s off to a slow start.
I understand that Pujols is hitting a woeful .246 and has no home runs to his credit. I understand that you drafted him because he was a huge stud with St. Louis and was moving to an equally great situation with the Angels. I understand that getting zero to no production from your first round draft choice is frustrating, but patience remains the key here. The guy is going to hit, there’s no question about it. He’s not pulling an Adam Dunn here. But he’s still making adjustments to a new team, a new league and a slew of new pitchers to attack. It’s going to just take a little bit of time.
And if you’re concerned that losing out on April home runs is going to kill you, just think about this – a season is six months long. For a player to hit 36 home runs in a season, he needs an average of six per month, right? Easy math here, folks. Stop me if I’m going too fast for you. Let’s say Albert hits one home run between now and the end of the month. That means he only needs to hit an average of seven per month the rest of the way, right? Well, over the last 11 seasons, from May through September, Pujols has averaged 6.15 home runs per month which would still give him at least 31 home runs for the season. That means he needs to exceed his monthly average by a home run or two for two of the next five months to achieve what you reasonably thought he would give you this season. Doesn’t sound too difficult when you break it down like that, does it?
I guess, in a roundabout way, I’m giving you the old adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” There is a ridiculous amount of time left in the season and you need to be patient with your studs. Trading them now while they’re struggling is a mistake – first and foremost, because you are selling them low. If Pujols had 5 home runs and was hitting .300, would you be selling him off for Cespedes, Strasburg and someone else? Probably not. Should the guy who owns Matt Holliday and his .197 average sell him off? What about Justin Upton and his .205 average and thumb issue? A .212-2-7 hitting Jose Bautista? What kind of value do you think they get in return for that? These guys will turn their seasons around in no time. Just be patient.
I’m not saying you give then until the end of June to right the ship, but three weeks into the season is nowhere near enough time to give up on them.
OK, let’s get to some of the highlights…
With no big events like a perfect game or anything, this should be an easy run here….
|Gerardo Parra, OF ARI||2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, SB|
It’s almost comical to refer to someone like Gerardo Parra as a fantasy beast, but we’ll take a day’s worth of stats like that from him anytime. He might just be a quick-fix band-aid right now while we wait for the aforementioned Upton and Chris Young to return from the DL, but he’s playing every day and acts like a catalyst for the Diamondbacks in so many ways that he cannot be ignored. As the fourth outfielder, his overall playing time might be limited, but between injuries and days off, Parra should still see plenty of at-bats to help make him a worthwhile bench player for you. Think of him as a plug-and-play specialist. You don’t start him on a regular basis, but if you have an injury in your outfield or someone slumping a little too hard for you, then Parra can be a nice replacement for a week while he’s playing regularly. If fantasy baseball is about striking while the iron is hot, Parra’s got a little bit of sizzle in him right now.
|Josh Hamilton, OF TEX||3-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB|
|Nick Hundley, C SD||2-3, 2 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI|
|Rafael Furcal, SS, STL||3-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB, SB|
|Wandy Rodriguez, SP HOU||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 6 K|
|Kyle Lohse, SP STL||W, 1.29 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 5 K|
While Josh Hamilton, Rafael Furcal, Kyle Lohse and even Wandy Rodriguez will more than likely see their names in this section on more than one occasion this year, I’d like to focus more on Nick Hundley today. For those familiar with my work around the interwebs, you’ll know that Hundley was one of my big sleeper picks for catchers this year. I was convinced that this guy had solid raw talent and was just a victim of bad luck with injuries and playing time issues over the last few seasons. Last season, he was struggling at the plate early on and it was learned that he was having elbow problems. He opted for mid-season surgery to remove loose bodies from the joint and rehabbed his way back to playing for the last two months of the season. And boy did he play. He hit .389 with a pair of home runs in August and followed it up with four home runs and a .351 average for September. He was healthy, he was playing regularly and the Padres showed the confidence to enter this year with him as their primary backstop. He may have started off the season on a 0-for-21 skid, but has since gone 10-for-29 (.345) with two home runs and eight RBI. If your catching situation is a disaster, then check for Hundley on your waiver wire. Most people will bypass him with the notion that he plays for a lousy team in a pitcher’s ballpark, but that shouldn’t be a concern for you. He’s going to be a surprisingly productive catcher this year.
|Colby Rasmus, OF TOR||0-4, 3 K, BB|
|Ian Stewart, 3B CHC||1-5, 3 K|
|Clete Thomas, OF MIN||1-4, 3 K|
|Scott Rolen, 3B CIN||1-5, RBI, 3 K|
|Chad Billingsley, SP LAD||L, 13.50 ERA, 2.40 WHIP, 2 K|
Here today, gone tomorrow. Perhaps that’s what I should have said to you about Colby Rasmus yesterday. Oh wait….I pretty much did.
While I think Ian Stewart can really up his power totals in Chicago this year with steady playing time, I think we’re going to see his name here quite often this season as a he will, undoubtedly, struggle with the batting average all season long. Not to mention the number of strikeouts he’ll provide.
As far as the others go, what can you say…? A rollercoaster ride it is!
We’re all very fortunate that there are no new injuries to report from Sunday’s games, so if you missed anything from the weekend, check out the list from yesterday.
Yesterday’s rainouts pushed the first game on Monday to 4:10pm (ET), so get those lineups in…
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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