Fantasy Baseball 2013: Proof You Should Be Patient with Established Hitters
It’s easy to forget that there are 162 games in a season. Even the best players in the game will do absolutely nothing over a two-to-three week period during a season, and then eventually end up among the league leaders in several categories.
So what happens when that two-to-three week period comes in April? Everybody panics! They see the sub-.200 batting average and lack of extra-base power and wonder if that particular player is done.
Sure, some of the less-established players never come out of it and end up in the minors or on the waiver wire. For the most part, though, these guys with strong track records will snap out of it and their end-of-season numbers look pretty familiar by September.
Here are a few examples of some veteran players, with a history of success, who started off 2012 so slow that many fantasy players were at least considering dumping them while their value was at its lowest…
NOTE: Team name listed for each player corresponds with their 2012 team.
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Through April 30th: .181 BA, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 2B, 16 BB, 12 K, 2 SB
Rest of the Season: .261 BA, 24 HR, 55 RBI, 12 2B, 43 BB, 51 K, 3 SB
Considering he came out of nowhere to become one of the best hitters in baseball at age 29, it’s not surprising that anyone would doubt him if he ever starts slow. Bautista proved he wasn’t a one-year wonder, though, by following up his 54-homer season in 2010 with 43 more in 2011 and a career-high 1.056 OPS. He was also that same great hitter for May and June of 2012 before a wrist injury ended his season prematurely.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cleveland Indians (2012 Team)
Through May 3rd: .209 BA, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 5 2B, 11 BB, 19 K, 3 SB
Rest of the Season: .292 BA, 16 HR, 58 RBI, 38 2B, 2 3B, 62 BB, 131 K, 18 SB
His 2011 season was injury-plagued and less than stellar so his early struggles in 2012 came with valid concerns. If you gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured he needed a few weeks to get back into the swing of things after missing most of the second half of the previous season, then your fantasy team was rewarded with solid numbers across the board the rest of the way.
Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets
Through June 1st: .167 BA, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 5 2B, 13 BB, 50 K
Rest of the Season: .255 BA, 27 HR, 69 RBI, 21 2B, 48 BB, 91 K
If any of you researched Valley Fever— a condition that Davis was battling in 2012— and tried to determine if that would affect his play throughout the season, I’m pretty sure your conclusion was not that he’d hit 27 homers over the last four months of the season.
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Through April 30th: .190 BA, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 2B, 5 BB, 15 K
Rest of the Season: .288 BA, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 25 2B, 3B, 37 BB, 82 K
Admit it. After the first few weeks of the 2012 season, you were thinking, just as I was, “It wasn’t just Petco Park that took away Ludwick’s power. He’s just done!” And then he went on to post his best numbers since 2008. Maybe it was Petco and he just needed some more time to mentally recover from that stress.
Russell Martin, C, New York Yankees (2012 Team)
Through May 2nd: .150 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2B, 12 BB, 16 K, SB
Rest of the Season: .221 BA, 19 HR, 47 RBI, 17 2B, 41 BB, 79 K, 5 SB
The top free agent catcher on the market, Martin wasn’t highly coveted this offseason. Even the Yankees passed on him in favor of a Chris Stewart-Francisco Cervelli platoon behind the plate.
He’s probably not highly coveted in fantasy leagues, either. Hint, hint.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels
Through May 11th: .192 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 8 2B, 6 BB, 17 K
Rest of the Season: .308 BA, 29 HR, 94 RBI, 42 2B, 46 BB, 60 K
The Angels, who had just given Pujols a $240 million deal, had to be wondering if they were stuck with a player on a serious decline in year one of a ten-year commitment. Fortunately for them, and those of you who were patient enough to hold onto him during his five-week slump, the three-time MVP showed he had plenty left in the tank.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers
Through May 1st: .205 BA, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 6 2B, 3B, 6 BB, 16 K
Rest of the Season: .317 BA, 25 HR, 95 RBI, 44 2B, 2 3B, 38 BB, 66 K, 7 SB
Losing Prince Fielder to free agency and replacing him in the cleanup spot with Ramirez wasn’t a very easy pill to swallow for Brewers fans. Doing nothing at the plate behind superstar Ryan Braun for the first month of the season didn’t help, either.
Now raise your hand if you thought Ramirez would put up Fielder-type numbers over the last five months of the season. Anyone? Anyone?
Hanley Ramirez, 3B, Miami Marlins/Los Angeles Dodgers
Through May 3rd: .198 BA, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 3 2B, 13 BB, 24 K, 6 SB
Rest of the Season: .268 BA, 20 HR, 76 RBI, 26 2B, 4 3B, 41 BB, 108 K, 15 SB
The Marlins gave up on their former star player too early, trading him to the Dodgers for a good, not great, pitching prospect. Did your fantasy team also give up too early? OK, stop punching yourself in the face now and don't make the same mistake this season.
Jose Reyes, SS, Miami Marlins (2012 Team)
Through May 2nd: .216 BA, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 6 2B, 2 3B, 12 BB, 9 K, 6 SB
Rest of the Season: .298 BA, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 31 2B, 10 3B, 51 BB, 47 K, 34 SB
While he didn’t exactly make a good early impression on the new fans in Miami, or his 2012 fantasy owners, Reyes put up huge numbers over the last five months of the season. Even if no one was paying attention in Miami, the fantasy baseball world took notice.
Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles
Through May 2nd: .136 BA, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 4 2B, 11 BB, 31 K
Rest of the Season: .235 BA, 23 HR, 66 RBI, 22 2B, 62 BB, 128 K
A poor defensive third baseman prone to a ridiculous amount of strikeouts, Reynolds always had value in fantasy because he hits homers. But I was telling anyone who’d ask that it was only a matter of time before his own real-life team dropped him and made him useless to your fantasy squad.
But the O’s moved him to first base, where he turned out to be a pretty good defender. He stayed in the lineup. He started hitting home runs. He never lost his job.
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
Through May 26th: .225 BA, HR, 8 RBI, 6 2B, 16 BB, 32 K, 9 SB
Rest of the Season: .260 BA, 22 HR, 60 RBI, 27 2B, 5 3B, 46 BB, 64 K, 21 SB
He certainly isn’t the same player he was when he won the NL MVP back in 2007. But he really wasn’t that far off if you look at what he did over the last four months of the season.
Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Through June 7th: .160 BA, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 8 2B, 3B, 34 BB, 70 K, 4 SB
Rest of the Season: .264 BA, 16 HR, 50 RBI, 21 2B, 3 3B, 40 BB, 99 K, 12 SB
If you gave up on Weeks, you should probably get a pass since his slump lasted for two months. But if you held on to him, or were lucky enough to pick him up after someone else dropped him, it’s likely you had one of the top second basemen the rest of the way.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals
Through June 23rd: .218 BA, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 10 2B, 20 BB, 42 K, 3 SB
Rest of the Season: .321 BA, 22 HR, 73 RBI, 26 2B, 3B, 37 BB, 74 K, 2 SB
This was more injury-related as Zimmerman battled a shoulder injury throughout the season. But this is why you never underestimate the power of cortisone. I’ve had a cortisone shot myself. It works almost instantly. It may not be good for you long-term but it sure turned Zimmerman’s 2012 season around and multiple shots kept him strong through the end of the season.