Fantasy Baseball: Players off to Quick Starts That You Should Consider Adding

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2013

Fantasy Baseball: Players off to Quick Starts That You Should Consider Adding

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    Quick starts can often provide fantasy baseball owners with false promise and unfilled dreams. In other cases, they hint at a pending breakout or a short-term solution.

    Chris Davis could become the second incarnation of Chris Shelton, but he’s well worth starting in the mean time before he eventually cools off.

    Although guys like Davis and Mike Morse should be accounted for in all leagues anyway, these players are still available in a chunk of leagues despite promising starts.

    Some are stop-gap options to use sparingly during a hot streak, but others could clear a permanent roster spot.

    Note: All statistics, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of FanGraphs.com

Mark Reynolds

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    Rely on Mark Reynolds for too long and you’re going to hate him, but he’s dangerous when he catches fire.

    Reynolds has smashed four homers so far in the early stages of 2013. Only striking out eight times in seven games is actually a positive step for the free-swinger.

    Although that .250 average will never last, such all-or-nothing hitters are prone to wild swings of hot and cold spells. He’ll probably hit .221 while striking out 200 times again, so don’t bank on him carrying your squad for 162 games.

    If you need someone to fill in for Brett Lawrie and David Freese while they sit on the disabled list, plug in Reynolds for a week or two.

Paul Maholm

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    So is Paul Maholm an ace now?

    The 30-year-old quietly yielded impressive results late last season for the Atlanta Braves, registering a 3.54 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 59 strikeouts through 68.2 innings. That momentum persisted into the new season, where Maholm has won two scoreless outings.

    Is the lefty peaking late in his career? Over his last 30 starts, Maholm has posted a 3.09 ERA with a 7.02 K/9 ratio. That could just be an over-manipulation of data, but it wouldn't hurt to add him and find out.

    He’s currently owned in 68 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which leaves a bunch of managers who should grab him before it’s too late. Don’t expect Kris Medlen 2.0, but Maholm could serve as a solid back-end starter with sneaky potential for more.

Daniel Murphy

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    He brings mediocre power and speed numbers to the table, with a 10/10 season existing as an optimistic projection. How’s that for a strong sell to add Daniel Murphy?

    If that doesn’t raise an eyebrow, consider that he’s still a second baseman who receives regular at-bats and can hit .300. Is that better?

    For those who participate in a standard 10-team mixed league with no middle infield slot and a shallow bench, ignore this. He’s of little use to you. But for those who can use some depth to alleviate early injuries and slumps, insert Murphy into your plans.

    The 28-year-old is hitting .303/.361/.636 and has already tallied two homers. Give Murphy a week to see if he stays hot.

Jose Fernandez

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    So much for being rushed to the majors far too soon.

    The Miami Marlins’ decided to jump Jose Fernandez up from Single-A to their big-league squad, which drew criticism from skeptics with common sense.

    Well, about that. In his debut against the New York Mets, Fernandez allowed one run through five superb innings, striking out eight batters while walking one.

    There are reasons to approach the 20-year-old with caution. As Miami showed during his first start, they will handle him with extreme care, which means he will frequently hand the ball over to a subpar bullpen after five or six innings.

    Also, one start does not put to rest any concerns of him holding up in the show throughout the season after skipping Double-A and Triple-A.

    There’s also the chance he morphs into the next Felix Hernandez and you hate yourself for staying stagnant when you had the chance to grab him. His stuff, highlighted by a ferocious heater he fires at 96-98 miles per hour with rapid movement, certainly looks ready for the majors.

    Fernandez is still available in 44 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but that number will shrink drastically with another impressive outing.

John Buck

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    This won't last. There's no way this lasts. 

    Come August, we'll all share a good laugh about that time John Buck was the top catcher in baseball with a 1.246 OPS. With Travis d'Arnaud possibly seizing the catching duties in New York by then, Buck's torrid start will seem an even more distant memory.

    But for now, go ahead and reap the rewards.

    Buck is hitting .375 with five homers during the first nine games. He's recorded a hit in every one of his starts so far. When a catcher rakes like this, fantasy gamers must take notice. 

    He's not a long-term solution at catcher, but for now, go Buck wild and wring this hot streak dry.

Kelvin Herrera

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    Let the closer carousel commence.

    Carlos Marmol was the first reliever to lose grip of his ninth-inning duties, but more will undoubtedly follow. Held in much higher regard than Marmol this spring, Greg Holland might be next.

    The controversy began when he nearly blew a four-run lead against the Philadelphia Phillies during the season’s opening week. He walked three batters and surrendered three runs before Ned Yost removed him from the contest.

    Kelvin Herrera stepped in for the final out to boost his impressive early numbers. In his first five appearances, Herrera has struck out 10 batters in 4.1 innings without allowing a run. This is following a year in which he recorded a 2.35 ERA through 84.1 innings pitched.

    Tim Collins and Aaron Crow also have not relinquished a run this season, so Holland better regain control fast before the Kansas City Royals vanquish him to middle relief purgatory.

Brandon Moss

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    Just grab all the Oakland hitters.

    Chris Young is receiving more playing time than anticipated, and Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp are also red-hot Athletics who should be owned in all leagues, but let's focus on a lesser-appreciated slugger owned in one-third of Yahoo! leagues.

    Brandon Moss tore the cover off the ball last year, hitting 21 homers with a .596 slugging percentage in 265 at-bats. But nobody was impressed due to the small sample size, his unimpressive track record and a .359 BABIP that signaled a major letdown.

    Well, here he goes again. Moss is hitting .367/.457./.633 in the first nine games with two homers and 10 RBI. 

    There's no denying that 30 at-bats is an incredibly small collection of data, so Moss obviously isn't hitting .367 this season. He can, however, hit 25 homers with regular playing time. Why not give him a brief trial run to test his hot streak's merit? 

Any Pitcher Facing the Pirates or Marlins

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    This slide originally belonged to the Houston Astros, who lead the league with 101 strikeouts and were at one point hitting .201 as a team.

    Then they trounced the Seattle Mariners for 16 runs on Tuesday. Before getting to chance to propose the question, "What pitcher isn't worth a look against Houston?", we found the answer: Brandon Maurer. 

    They previously couldn’t score off Joe Saunders, so don't completely rethink using pitchers facing off against the Astros. However, there are now offenses with far worse numbers over the first two weeks.

    Through nine games, the Marlins have amassed a measly 16 runs with a .283 team slugging percentage. The Pittsburgh Pirates hold a slightly better run tally at 21, but the team has registered a collective .153/.230/.218 slash line.

    Both squads boast a superstar, but Andrew McCutchen is hitting .233 while Giancarlo Stanton has yet to clear the fences. They'll both heat up eventually, but until then these offenses are futile.