Wednesday was a pretty big day in the world of baseball – both real and fantasy. You’ve got the news that Michael Pineda has a torn labrum in his shoulder and is headed for season-ending surgery before throwing even one regular season pitch for the New York Yankees. Then there’s Paul Konerko hitting his 400th career home run, a solo shot to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning and force it into extras. Or how about The Kansas City Royals ending their 12-game losing streak with a four-home run assault? And if you stayed up late, then what about Javy Guerra taking a vicious line drive off the face and still staying in the game to finish the innings? Just a day steeped in baseball deliciousness.
But after all of that, I still want to talk about Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes and the ball he is playing. If you drafted The Showcase, then you either got sucked up into that hype vortex or you genuinely believed in the talents of the 26-year old sensation. Either way, although you probably didn’t let on to anybody, your expectations were pretty high coming into the year and now seeing him with five home runs, 18 RBI, and four stolen bases, it’s not just joy and excitement you’re feeling, but a little sense of relief as well. When we drafted him, and yes, I am included in that group, there was a certain amount of apprehension we all probably felt caused by the draft day catcalls and criticisms we took even though we waited until the 18th round to grab him.
And while Cespedes did everything in his power to assuage those fears with a two-run home run during the second game of that series with the Mariners in Japan, followed up by back-to-back home run games during the A’s first two games States-side, we probably all still felt a little buyer’s remorse as the strikeouts began to pile up. The power display was great, but with so many Ks, it was hard not to think that we were looking at a .230 hitter who would hopefully knock 20-plus out of the park if he managed to maintain his playing time. However, now that we’ve cruised through most of April and have seen some of the peaks and valleys we will likely endure all season long, we can all breathe again. Cespedes is for real. He is a true power/speed threat that will be a huge boost to any fantasy team and Wedneday's 14th inning heriocs are just yet another example as to the fantasy joy he will bring.
Sure, we’re going to have to endure a number of strikeouts and Cespedes probably won’t hit for a high average. However, while he’ll go through his stretches where he ends up 2-for-16 with half a dozen Ks, he’ll have enough runs like these last six games where he goes 8-for-22 (.364) to help keep his average in a decent enough place. If he can clear 20 home runs while swiping anywhere from 15-20 bases, then I’ll take an average that ranges between .265 and .275 as I’m sure you would too.
Now, obviously, there’s that little skeptic inside of me that is screaming to trade him. There are no guarantees that he continues to produce like this and a 27.8-percent strikeout rate with a swinging-strike rate of 15.7 percent can be awfully worrisome. But sometimes you just have to buck the trend, forgo some of the numbers, close your eyes and take that blind leap of faith. Maybe the Cuban leagues are only comparable to High-A ball, but between his performances in the World Baseball Classic, which was riddled with major league pitchers, and the fact that we’d all be super-jazzed about some prospect in High-A crushing 35 home runs in a season, we should give the benefit of the doubt to Cespedes and stick with him. Unless someone comes in with an offer that significantly helps my team in some other fashion, I see no reason to trade this commodity……yet.
Now let’s hit the highlights…
|Billy Butler, 1B/DH KC||2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI|
You know, with all of that raw talent sitting in Kansas City, it was just a matter of time before someone stepped up and screamed a little louder with the bat. That it happened to be Billy Butler as opposed to someone like Eric Hosmer, shouldn’t come as any real surprise. He’s now in his sixth season as a major leaguer and has always been a high-average guy with solid power potential. He’s broken the 20-home run barrier once but has flirted with it in both these last two seasons. With strong plate discipline and high contact rates, the breakout was considered imminent and when he was destroying pitchers during the spring, it seemed that his time was now. He started off strong right out of the gate and maintained despite the Royals struggles as a team. Only recently, when Ned Yost switched him in the batting order did he start to slump, but that was short-lived as he earns the top honors for Wednesday. I think we’re looking at another strong season for Butler. Between an expected rise in walk rate and BABIP, he should see both his average and OBP increase and at just 26-years old, his power is still developing which leads me to believe that we could be looking at a season with 20-25 home runs as opposed to 15-20. Not too shabby, eh?
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B PIT||3-8, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Alex Gordon, OF KC||3-5, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI|
|Yoenis Cespedes, OF OAK||2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, CS|
|Jason Hammel, SP BAL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 7 K|
|R.A. Dickey, SP NYM||W, 1.29 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7 K|
Well, if we’re going to throw the top honors Butler’s way, we can’t go without acknowledging a nice breakout game for teammate Alex Gordon who has been struggling here in a season where expectations were crazy high. After posting a .303-101-23-87-17 stat line last year, the former top prospect was considered a top-20 fantasy outfielder coming into 2012 with assumptions of a number of 20-20 seasons to follow. But after starting the season on a 0-for-17 skid, things got a little testy. Not enough to drop him, because that would have been stupid, but enough to throw him onto the bench and wait it out with some waiver fodder to fill in. He started to pick things up and went on a six-game hitting streak, so another multi-hit performance here certainly gives his owners hope. Something tells me you’re going to see a lot of trade offers for him as May will probably look a whole lot brighter.
Pedro Alvarez seems to really be putting last season’s atrocities behind him by already matching his 2011 season’s power totals in just one-fifth of the at bats. And while that’s great and all, a strikeout rate of nearly 40 percent is still pretty alarming. I’d like to give him a little more time before fully passing judgment, so I won’t rain on his parade here. Let’s just give praise where praise is due and thank him for homering in each game of yesterday’s riveting Pirates/Rockies double-header.
Solid outings from both Jason Hammel and R.A. Dickey, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t see either of these guys as being full-time options for you this year. You might be able to stream them in every so often if the match-up is right, but neither is a player whom I feel very confident using on a regular basis.
|Giancarlo Stanton, OF MIA||0-3, 3 K, BB|
|Jeremy Hermida, OF SD||0-3, 3 K|
|Jed Lowrie, SS HOU||0-5, 3 K|
|Hector Santiago, RP CHW||L, BS, 81.00 ERA, 15.00 WHIP, K|
|Javy Guerra, RP LAD||L, BS, 81.00 ERA, 15.00 WHIP|
The home runs will hopefully pick up soon for Giancarlo Stanton, but we’re also probably going to see him in this section quite a bit as he, like Cespedes, will rack up the strikeouts on a regular basis. It’s definitely painful for Stanton owners right now, but look on the bright side….you didn’t draft him top 5 overall like Albert Pujols’ owners did. Tell you what – the first five Stanton owners who correctly predict the game in which he hits his first home run of the season get a promo code for a free, all-new Fantasy Alarm iPhone app. You can either email me or send me a message via Twitter.
OK, so raise your hand if you saw Javy Guerra get hit in the face with that line drive yesterday? Oh, you can’t because you’re still vomiting at the image still running through your brain? Yeah, me too. And what was Don Mattingly thinking leaving him in the game like that? I don’t care if his machismo and adrenaline are keeping him on his feet and pitching, that guy needed a seat in the dugout and an ice pack. Everyone is telling you to run out and grab Kenley Jansen now. I’m telling you to go watch the video again and thank whatever being you worship for not letting that happen to you. Just brutal. Besides, if you own Guerra, you should have had the foresight and intelligence to already own Jansen.
Can’t wait to listen to Jeff Mans’ next broadcast to hear the Hector Santiago bashing!!
But before you run away, let’s do a quick injury inventory check…
Jim Johnson, RP BAL – illness (doubtful)
Nolan Reimold, OF BAL – neck (questionable)
Shin-Soo Choo, OF CLE – hamstring (doubtful)
Jason Castro, C HOU – neck (questionable)
Danny Duffy, SP KC – elbow (out until atleast May 2)
Juan Rivera, OF LAD – hamstring (questionable)
Chris Parmelee, 1B MIN – head (questionable)
Michael Pineda, SP NYY – shoulder (out for the season)
Luke Hughes, 3B OAK – illness (questionable)
Jesus Guzman, 1B SD – head (questionable)
Aubrey Huff, 1B SF – anxiety disorder (15-day DL)
Jon Jay, OF STL – shoulder (questionable)
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B WAS – shoulder (questionable)
Congrats again to Paul Konerko on his 400th career home run.
Got a travel day on Friday so there’s a good chance I take the late night tonight/early morning tomorrow off, but I’ll be back by the time you wake up on Saturday!
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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