Fantasy Baseball: Will the Return to Tampa Continue to Energize Carlos Pena?

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IApril 10, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG - APRIL 08:  Infielder Carlos Pena #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his home run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on April 8, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Carlos Pena has started the 2012 season with a bang.

Fantasy owners that plugged him into their early lineups couldn’t be more pleased. After three games and 12 at bats, Pena is hitting a cool .500 with a killer 1.654 OPS.

No, I’m not going go extrapolate his 108 home runs and 378 RBI (OK, I just did) if he continues on this pace.

Obviously, reality will set in for the .240 career hitter.

That would be a welcome mark for a player that has hit .216 over the past three seasons. It seems like forever ago, but he did post a .282-99-46-121-1 line back in 2007. I don’t think he can touch those numbers, but a return to .247-76-31-102-1 that he produced in 2008 is a possibility.

It could be a challenge because of Pena's strikeout rate.

Even with his hot start, Pena has already struck out five times. He only has made six outs this year, and all but one have come via “the whiff” to borrow from Dan Patrick.

If he continues to struggle putting the ball in play, Pena takes the luck factor away. You can’t get funny bounces when the ball ends up in the catcher’s mitt.

Pena will turn 34 next month. You basically know what you’re getting from him. He obviously still has some power, will never be a great hitter, but can be effective against right-handed pitching.

If you are in a daily league, avoid starts against southpaws like the plague.

If you pick your spots, Pena shouldn’t be such a burden.

Who knows, perhaps he can have a late career renaissance and produce a .250+ batting average. The odds aren’t in his favor, but 30+ HRs wouldn’t be a stretch.

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