I wanted to write a column about the early hot/cold trends and how they can engulf owners. So, naturally Katy Perry popped into my head. This is one of my favorite running songs — I simply run faster while this song is playing. Weird, I know, but I’m fast — I ran four miles in 26:44 last week. Anyway, the song’s lyrics seem apropos for fantasy wheelings-and-dealings and well pubescent girls and the pre-pubescent boys that love them:
In actuality, this entire column is my way of allowing myself to view Katy Perry YouTube videos.
So who’s hot?
Kosuke Fukudome — I detailed Fukudome’s hot start already. I want to reiterate that I think this is a mirage. I wouldn’t be buying him. Ride his hot strike if you have someone to drop, but don’t drop or trade anyone of value thinking this will continue.
Endy Chavez — Chavez is a somewhat interesting player. With all the love going to speedsters Nyjer Morgan, Dexter Fowler and Emilio Bonifacio, Chavez provides some good low-cost speed numbers. He stole 32 bases in 2004, and has a 162-game average of 17 SBs. He has been off and running early this year. He wont kill your batting average (about .270) and won’t provide any power, but could score some runs. He’s not as bad as you think.
Nyjer Morgan — Speaking of speedsters, I like Morgan more than Bonifacio and probably more than Chavez. He does bat in a nice spot of the order and should get some scoring love. He has more HR upside than Chavez and perhaps more upside than Fukudome. I’d be willing to bet he hits around .290 -.300 and registers a .355 OBP.
Chris Duncan – Duncan was a major league sleeper going into the 2008 season, after he hit 21 HRs in 127 games in 2007. However, he suffered some injuries and played in only 76 games, while hitting only six HRs. Duncan has appeared in 13 games so far, already hit two HRs and knocked in 11 runs. He could bat .270 or so with 20-25 HRs. If you pick him up, make sure you don’t play him against lefties. He wont likely play and if he does he wont do anything productive. He is a career .215 batter against southpaws.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Cabrera was a supposed breakout candidate last year after he hit .283 in 43 games in 2007. However, last year he struggled to a line of .259 with six HRs 48 runs and 47 RBIs. He is off to a good batting average start and could score near 100 runs and knock in around 70. That isn’t bad from a middle infielder. He was a .287 hitter in the minor leagues with a .350 OBP, so he could be a .300 hitter in the majors. I wouldn’t be selling much to get him though.
Jason Kubel – There has been lots of talk in the fantasy community about Kubel surrounding whether he will get the ABs or be stuck in a platoon or hurt. He will easily hit .270 and has some power (likely 20-25 HRs). If he could manage to hit lefties at all, there would be some more upside. In 221 at bats against southpaws, Kubel has hit just .240 with six HRs.
Cody Ross — Ross hit the quietest 22 HRs last year, yet people are surprised he is hitting it again. He doesn’t have much track record, but neither did Brett Boone. I like him as a low-cost power source, but he could hurt your batting average so tread lightly.
That said, lets head to those cold salamanders that are likely owned in your league. These are the players who have started ice cold, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright.
Justin Upton — I’m not fond of young players. More often than not it takes longer than expected to take the leap. So, I don’t trust Upton too much, the potential is there, but who knows when it will come. In non-keeper leagues, I wouldn’t hold tight, but monitor his stats as the weather gets warmer in the desert.
Geovany Soto – Soto is my best keeper. So far, he has been injured, so you cant hold his slow start against him. I wouldn’t drop or trade him at this point. While Soto is only batting .136, his OBP is .321, which isn’t great, but indicates he isn’t seeing the ball horribly.
Alexei Ramirez – I never loved Alexei – best case scenario is a 20-10 player and that’s not all that special from a middle infielder, especially where he was going in drafts. So far, he is hitting just .159, and, unlike Soto, isn’t taking many walks (and never will). His OBP is .213. It’s hard to steal those 20 bases when you can’t take four balls.
J.J. Hardy – I’m heavily invested in Hardy, so take my analysis as you will. That said, he is an incredibly streaky player. He has perennial back trouble, which could explain why he stinks in the cold weather. For his career, he is a .231 hitter with just a .297 OBP in March/April. He will spread his HRs out, so you don’t have to worry about that. You should hold tight and reap the rewards when he finishes strong.
David Ortiz – I think the 30+ HR hitting Ortiz is gone forever. He is 33, which is pretty old. He did manage 23 HRs in only 416 at bats last year, so he wont completely fall of the edge of the world. But if he isn’t hitting 30+ HRs, he doesn’t have as much value. If you are counting on anything better than a .280 average with 25 HRs and 90 RBIs, you’ll be sorry.
Stephen Drew – Drew, much like his teammate Justin Upton, has gotten off to a slow start. I touted Drew as a shortstop sleeper heading into the draft and I’m not backing off that now. As the temperature gets warmer, Drew heats up. He is a career .252, .257 and .227 hitter in March/April, May and June. He does heat up precipitously, going .282, .291 and .304 in July, August, and September/October. That said, he certainly doesn’t seem safer than a Jhonny Peralta at the moment. Keep an eye on him and wait for someone to get sick of his lack of production and grab him in mid-summer.
Brandon Phillips – What a Jekyll and Hyde season last year (.280/15/19 SBs in the first half, .225/6/4 SBs in the second half). Unfortunately Phillips has been more Jekyll than Hyde this year. If I owned him, I’d strongly consider selling at this moment. That is a lot of at bats of ineptitude – maybe pitchers have the book on him. He seems a far cry from a 20/20 threat.
Howie Kendrick – I’ve never loved Howie Kendrick, yet he is on my most important team. He is supposed to be a batting title contender as long as he stays healthy, yet he is hitting .196/.226/.294 this year. Still, he has a career line of .300/.327/.423 in almost 1,000 at bats. Kendrick is healthy now, so you have to give the hype a month to prove himself, but if he is hitting below .300 come May 1, I’m dropping him for someone who is contributing.
Troy Tulowitzki – Tulowitzki has gotten off to a nice power start with three HRs. That’s about all you can say about his start, though. I’d keep the faith on Tulowitzki. He is a poor first half player in general, and posts really horrible March/April statistics – in 229 at bats, he has six HRs, with a .197 BA and a .284 OBP. So, he’s actually ahead of that pace.
Blue label guys you ain’t worrying about: Jimmy Rollins, Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Alex Rios, Carlos Beltran. They will be fine. There is no reason to be concerned. Do not think of dropping them. If you try to trade them, insist upon value in the same round you drafted them or at a similar price you paid for them.