These days it's tough to tell whats real and whats not. Things aren't always as they appear and with it being only a third of the way into our fantasy season, we need to keep this in mind. It's easy to bail on a fallen superstar, just ask Roger. However, in fantasy you need to choose your loyalties wisely. Sometimes its tough to recognize whether a guy is just a flash in the pan (Chris Shelton 2006) or if he is the real deal (Ryan Braun 2007). When analyzing these breakouts, I like to consider three main things; the players previous year stats, their peripheral stats for the current season, and their reputation among baseball players, managers and executives (In that order). If there is anything that Moneyball has taught us, it's that baseball more than any other sport is a science. Sure, intangibles play an immeasurable factor in clubhouses and even on the field, but a little scratching beneath the surface statistics can go a long way in showing whether what you see is truly what you get. And without further ado, your 2008 fantasy baseball early season studs...
Who else would we start with? Let's first start with the good. Uggla is 3rd in the Majors with 16 Home Runs and leads all ML Secondbaseman, including Chase Utley, in XBH. Not too shabby for a guy coming off a season where he slugged just .479. Also, the Marlins lineup, like most of their team, has produced much better than expected, which bodes well for Uggla's Runs and RBI totals. Now for the bad. Uggla struck out 167 times last year and actually has a slightly higher K-rate this year. Obviously, the Power numbers are astounding, but take his current .307 BA and drop it about 40-50 points and that seems about right. His .368 BABIP and .496 FB% indicate that his average is ready for the downswing, but getting Adam Dunn like stats from your Second Baseman is nothing to sneeze at. Start Uggla with confidence the rest of the year knowing that his 40 HR potential will easily give you a 20-30 HR advantage over the other Secondbaseman in the league. With that being said, if you can sell him as a .300 hitter on top of that power then please do not hesitate.
Verdict- Sell High...If held, stay confident
I'm sure by now everyone and their mother's has heard of Hamilton's Triple Crown Run. His freakish 58 RBI have some hoping he can make a push at Hack Wilson's record of 191 RBI (Please). Table setters Ian Kinsler and Michael Young both have become proven and reliable players to get on base and its no accident that Hamilton leads the Majors in RBI. However, credit Hamilton with his 31 XBH and .324 BA with his new team. He has always been a natural and has had all the tools to be successful at this level (Then again so has J.D. Drew...God Damnit). He has an impressive .225 Line Drive % and his balance of a .424 GB% and .351 FB% indicate that he can sustain both his power and average. However, it's tough to judge Hamilton because he literally has no track record before last year. Many wonder whether his body can handle the full 162 game season seeing as he has never played more than 96 games in a season at any level of the Majors. And while he is just 27, who knows what kind of effect his past abuses have had on his body (Miguel Tejada is actually 63 in Drug Years, just check his Birth Certifi...nevermind). To put it bluntly, Hamilton is a freak and while his RBI projections are insustainable, a 35-40 HR 120 RBI and 315 BA are totals that are very attainable.
Verdict- Hold...And see if he's got anything left over from the past few years...just kidding...but really we don't want that going to waste.
First off, can you beleive how unreal the Volquez-Hamilton trade has been for both sides. Seriously when is the last time a trade like this worked out so well for both teams. I guess they have both been overdue for an intellegent executive move for some time so it only makes sense. Volquez is tied for the NL lead in Strikeouts and has ONE, yes ONE, start in which he has let up over 1 run. And in that start he got lit up to the tune of TWO runs. Volquez's track record in the Majors is weak to say the least but his 9.21 Minor League K/9 and downright nasty stuff leave many hitters wondering if they are witnessing the next Pedro Martinez. It's tough to argue with his stats right now, but I beleive that Volquez is the most prime sell high target on this list. To start, his 4.79 BB/9 is downright frightening. He's keeping the ball in the park with only 3 HR allowed this year, but keep in mind this is the first time NL hitters are seeing him. Once teams have gotten a good scouting report on him, I think we will see the ERA balloon to over 3. His K rate should take a small hit, but that is the one thing that Volquez has consistently shown he can do. Also, I find it hard to believe that with Dusty Baker's track record of young pitchers, that the Reds front office won't do everything in their power to baby Volquez. This team is not going anywhere this year but their future is bright and I doubt they will do anything to risk sacrificing that. I'm still not sold that Volquez will outproduce Johnny Cueto for the rest of the season and while he is real to an extent, I think the value you can get for him right now is too good to pass up.
Verdict- Sell High, Real High...Like Josh Howard High
I've seen McLouth everywhere on people's rankings, but props to Eric Karabell of ESPN who predicted McLouth to go 20/20 before the season started. With all due respect to Mr. Karabell, I don't think he could have even dreamed of this start. McLouth has an impressive 29:26 K:BB, 32 XBH and one shitty team to play for. His career high for HR's is 13 and .258 for BA and what's even more interesting is that not only do I think his start is for real, I think he can actually produce more, just bear with me. In one 3 year span, McLouth swiped 105 bags in just 260 games. To put that in perspective, thats 65 SB per 162 Games. While that period was roughly 4-6 years ago, McLouth stole 16 bags in just 67 Second Half Games last year. His .466 FB% and .201 LD% indicate that his power is in fact fo' real but his .333 GB% may bring about a slight drop in his batting average. Right now McLouths power is actually hurting his stolen base oppurtunities seeing as literally half of his 64 hits have been for Extra Bases. I firmly believe that Mclouth can reach 30/30 in his magical age 27 season and a line of .285 25 HR and 25 SB is an absolute minimum for his production. Start with confidence.
Verdict- Buy High...Does that make sense?
What would a Rich Man's Matthew Berry column be without some Just Saying's...
...That Barry Zito has let up 3 runs or less in each of his last 5 starts, if you are in a deep league don't be embarassed to grab him
...That Chipper Jones had has ONE month of batting under .364 since the beginning of Last June. I think the HOF hears him loud and clear
...That Evan Longoria will fill in for Jason Bartlett at SS when he needs rest. Longoria in a keeper league at Shortstop, now thats scary
...That Johan Santana led the AL in HR's allowed last year and has given up 12 in 74 innings this year. Scouts are starting to say his velocity is down and thats not a good sign for those of you who gave up a first rounder to get him. Right now I'm taking Webb, Hamels and a healthy Jake Peavy over him
...That Tim Lincecum has 10 Quality Starts this year. Tim Lincecum has 10 total starts this year. You do the math
...That Fausto Carmona had 22 K's and 35 BB's in 56 IP with a 2.25 ERA BEFORE he got injured. Something ain't right there
...That Lance Berkman has a .145 LD% and a .397 BABIP and is batting .384. Right now he's battling the 1996 Brady Anderson for luckiest season of all time
...That they are still the Devil Rays. You know it and I know it.