Fantasy Hitters Early Analysis
It's only April and there is already a ton of things to talk about for fantasy baseball. We have seen players hit for the cycle (Orlando Hudson, Ian Kinsler and Jason Kubel), hit milestone home runs (Gary Sheffield) and rookies rising (Ricky Romero, Rick Porcello, Travis Snyder).
Fantasy owners tend to pull the trigger early on guys that are slumping, but it's one thing to sell late-round draft picks and another to sell early-round draft picks. Each position has had its early birds, late bloomers and inconsistencies. Here is an analysis of each position and which players to buy low, sell high and take a chance on.
There is no question the early leader for catchers is Victor Martinez. If anybody had any question marks about him coming into the season, he has answered.
Now, it is early and there are health concerns. But it looks like Victor is looking like his old self. After a slow start, the Indians look like they are going to mash.
John Baker (FLA)
The only thing standing in his way is more playing time—he is splitting time with Ronny Paulino. He is hitting .297 with 11 hits already, including a homer and four doubles. He also hits in between Emilio Bonifacio and Hanley Ramirez, so he is going to see pitches to hit. Take a chance on him.
Pablo Sandoval (C,1B,3B-SF)
If he is still available, grab him because of eligibility and potential at first and third base. He's already showing signs of breaking out of his early season slump and should be on the rise.
Yadier Molina (STL):
Molina is mashing early, hitting .310 with 10 RBI, two doubles, one triple and seven walks. He also hits in a dangerous Cardinals lineup. Grab him if your catcher, like Chris Iannetta, is struggling.
John Buck (KC):
Buck is off to the hottest start he's ever had. The only problem is that he isn't starting everyday right now. But if he keeps it up, he's going to start forcing his way into more playing time.
Brandon Inge (C,3B,OF-DET):
Inge is starting off hot and hits in the solid Tigers lineup. His position eligibility is also a big factor so add him now before he cools off.
Ivan Rodriguez (HOU):
If you took a chance on him after his hot spring training, it's about time to cut him loose. He's hitting a low .227 and is showing signs of the same washed up "Pudge" from last year with the Yankees. There's no need to hold on to him.
Ramon Hernandez (CIN):
I still think he's going to have a solid season by year's end, but he is doing nothing to give me proof. He's hitting .188 with one homer and four RBI. He's not worth holding on to right now.
Ryan Doumit (PIT):
He's had a few big games and a few off games. Yet he's still contributing and will finish as one of the top catchers. He already has nine RBI and two homers. If he can stay healthy, he's going to mash.
Russell Martin (C,3B-LAD):
Martin is off to a slow start, but there's no need to panic because Joe Torre isn't going to sit him. Martin is one catcher you can rely on. You know he's going to finish with great numbers for a catcher.
Chris Iannetta (COL):
He's off to a really slow start after his homer on opening day, but showed signs of breaking out of it after homering Sunday and getting a hit last night. He still plays in a dangerous lineup and the only guy who might cut into his playing time is Yorvit Torrealba. Why would the Rockies try and slow down Iannetta's development?
Brian McCann (ATL):
McCann is dealing with eye issues and may spend quite a bit of time on the DL at some point so see what you can get for him now before that happens.
Jorge Posada (NYY)-Posada is off to a nice start, but you know that shoulder will act up on him at some point. There's no room for him at first base right now and until Matsui gets hurt again, he won't be playing DH much. See if somebody wants to take him off your hands.
It's early, but it's clear Pujols is still the king. Miguel Cabrera is giving him a run for his money by getting off to another hot start but Pujols is still the best.
I'd view Pujols as one of the rare players that are priceless and can't trade under any circumstances unless there's a deal that blows you away. First base is still one of the top positions and players such as Carlos Pena, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau and others are showing that it's the deepest infield position in fantasy.
Paul Konerko (CWS):
Konerko is off to a hot start and is continuing his big second-half and spring training. Konerko is in a great spot in a top-heavy lineup with the White Sox and hits after Jermaine Dye, who's also off to a hot start. Once Alexei Ramirez figures it out, this is going to be one of the best lineups in the AL.
Nick Swisher (1B, OF NYY):
The door is now open for Swisher to get full-time at-bats with Xavier Nady probably done for the year. He's off to a great start and if somebody hasn't scooped him up already, get him now.
Chris Duncan (1B, OF STL):
Duncan is showing signs of big time power and bats in the Cardinals lineup, which provides plenty of RBI opportunities. Duncan may be due for a break out year.
Carlos Guillen (1B, 3B, OF DET):
He's off to a miserable start and there's no reason to hold on to him at this point. He might turn it around, but isn't worth keeping right now.
Kendry Morales (LAA):
He is not off to a good start and isn't worth hoping he'll turn it around.
Todd Helton (COL):
If you were hoping he would turn back the clock to his old self, you're out of luck. Helton looks washed up and is easily expendable.
Prince Fielder (MIL):
Prince is off to another slow start for the Brewers, but there's no worries here. You know he's going to hit at least 40 homers and finish in the top five. Get him now before he goes off.
Mark Teixeira (NYY)-"Tex" is finding New York a tough place to play so far and is off to a very slow start. The thing is once "A-Rod" comes back, his lineup protection will be much better and should be comfortable.
Derek Lee (CHC): Lee is not off to his usual hot start, but the Cubs lineup looks dangerous and once they all start mashing, Lee will pick it up too. You can't afford to drop him right now and have no choice but to stick with him.
Carlos Delgado (NYM):
Can he keep it up at his age and in a contract year? Maybe, but if you can swing a deal for a Prince Fielder or somebody struggling, don't even blink and take the deal.
Kevin Youkilis (1B, 3B Bos)-"Youk" is off to a hot start, but I doubt he stays this hot the whole year. Sure he hits in a dangerous Boston lineup, but will he finish better than Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira Lance Berkman or Ryan Howard? Probably not. So see if you can get one of those players for him.
Ian Kinsler is showing why he was an early-round draft pick and is showing no signs of slowing down. He's off to an even better start than last year and should continue to be dominant. Chase Utley is also off to a nice start, but Kinsler is more valuable right now. You can't go wrong with either guy.
Orlando Hudson (LAD): The "O-Dog" is off to a hot start and is enjoying life hitting in front of Manny Ramirez. His stats should continue to rise, because of his lineup spot. Plus, he's in a contract year. Get him now if he's somehow available.
Aaron Hill (TOR):
Hill is off to an even better start than last year and at age 27, there's no reason why he won't continue to hit. He hits in an improved Blue Jays lineup and can produce at a high level all year.
Marco Scutaro (2B, 3B, SS TOR):
He can play three positions and is an easy pickup if you're struggling at second base. He won't keep it up, but why not take a chance on him now while it's early?
Ian Stewart (2B, 3B COL):
He's going to have to force his way into more playing time, but it looks like he might have already. He's even getting starts in the outfield so take a chance on him now before he starts to play every day.
Kazuo Matsui (HOU):
He looks awful right now. Even at a weak position, there are plenty of guys to add right now.
Alexi Casilla (MIN):
He looked like a good break-out candidate, but isn't giving owners much hope right now. Cut him until he shows signs of life.
Brandon Phillips (CIN):
He's off to a very slow start. But there's no reason to panic because he's going to finish as one of the top second basemen. Get him now before he starts to pick it up.
Rickie Weeks (MIL):
He looks like a much better hitter than last year and has shown more patience. He's one of those rare guys that gives you power and speed and even has seven RBI for a lead-off man. This could be the year he puts it all together.
Mark DeRosa (2B, 3B, OF CLE):
DeRosa was off to a brutal start, like the other Indians players. He has now picked it up. If somebody panicked early and dropped him, grab him.
Robinson Cano (NYY):
He has looked much better this year, but he's not going to keep hitting .388 all year and gives you no speed. He probably won't top 20 homers either so see what you can get for him.
Emilio Bonifacio (2B, 3B FLA):
Wow! That hot start looks like a mirage now. He's cooled off after a great start and is probably coming down to earth. If the sell-high window is still open, get whatever you can get for him.
Evan Longoria has picked up where he left off last year and is proving to be one of the best players in the game. He already has five homers and is easily one of the top third basemen moving forward.
David Wright is off to a slow start, but you know the numbers will be there once he heats up. Aramis Ramirez has been very clutch for the Cubs and fantasy owners. Look out once these guys take off.
Alex Rodriguez is close to returning and fantasy owners, along with the Yankees, can't wait.
Mike Lowell (BOS):
Some owners cut him after his slow start, but he's starting to pick it up and will get plenty of RBI opportunities in that lineup. He's a solid pick-up right now if you're hurting at third.
Scott Rolen (TOR):
Rolen has looked like vintage Rolen of a few years ago and is worth grabbing if you're weak at third right now. He's hitting in a much better Toronto lineup and isn't slowing down.
Mark Reynolds (AZ):
Reynolds was cut loose by impatient owners after an early season benching and slump, but is heating up lately. He's going to hurt your average, but 20+ home runs is great value to pick up.
Chase Headley (3B, OF SD):
He's hitting behind Adrian Gonzalez and will get plenty of RBI opportunities. He already has 8 RBI and is a rising prospect. He'll play every day so take a chance on him.
Joe Crede (MIN):
Crede looks done and is not worth holding on to.
Edwin Encarnacion (CIN):
Edwin does not look good at all right now and is not proving to be a break-out candidate. Cut him until he starts to heat up.
Aubrey Huff (1B, 3B BAL):
Huff is always a slow starter, but still has 11 RBI. See if you can pry him away from somebody before he starts to turn it around.
Garrett Atkins (1B, 3B COL):
He's never been a fast starter. Hitting in that ballpark with a young and improving lineup makes him an easy buy-low candidate.
Chris Davis (1B, 3B TEX): Davis is off to a very slow start, but his power potential and the fact he hits in a hitter's ballpark means he's going to turn it around soon enough.
Chipper Jones (ATL):
He always seems to make it on this list, but I can't stress enough his durability concerns. He just missed the entire Marlins series and you know a DL stint is looming at some point. Sell him now before it's too late.
Russell Branyan (1B, 3B SEA):
He got off to a hot start, but has cooled down and isn't likely to keep it up. See if anybody wants to take a chance on him in a trade.
Hanley Ramirez is easily the best shortstop in fantasy. Yet after a hot start, he's starting to cool off. You know he's going to finish with the best overall numbers at short, so there's no need to panic.
The same goes for Jose Reyes, who is off to yet another slow start. He is starting to pick it up though after a big series against the Brewers.
After those two, there hasn't been much production from this position on a consistent basis. But if you drafted these players high then you have to stick with them.
Jason Bartlett (TB):
Bartlett has been this year's biggest surprise at shortstop and is showing no signs of slowing down. Grab him now if you don't have Reyes or Ramirez, because nobody else is hotter right now.
Ryan Theriot (CHC):
He is one of the best base stealers at short and is raking with a .400 batting average. He's likely to keep scoring runs and stealing in the dangerous Cubs lineup.
Yunel Escobar (ATL):
Escobar came back from an abdominal strain, but appears to be fine. He's off to a hot start so get him if you're hurting at short.
Orlando Cabrera (OAK):
He's off to a slow start and he's not worth holding on to with guys like Bartlett and Theriot available.
Jimmy Rollins (PHI):
He's off to one of the worst starts of his career, but you know he's going to get it going soon enough. This is a great time to see if you can get him.
Stephen Drew (AZ):
Drew is off to a brutal start and is battling injuries but has way too much potential to give up on. See if you can get him at a discount.
J.J. Hardy (MIL):
Hardy is such a streaky player. Still, he's one of the rare shortstops that has 25+ home run power. He's off to an awful start but if you can get him cheap, do it before he goes on a tear.
Derek Jeter (NYY):
Jeter is one of those players whose name is bigger than his fantasy impact. He has never been a great fantasy player and now is as good of a time as any to see if you can deal him for a Jimmy Rollins or Troy Tulowitzki.
Rafael Furcal (LAD):
Furcal is off to a decent start and his stealing potential might be enough to make a deal. He won't stay healthy and now is the time to sell.
Matt Kemp broke out last year but that was nothing compared to his hot start. His numbers stand at .383, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 12 R, and 4 SB. Those numbers are eye-popping and he's likely to keep it up with his potential while hitting in one of the best lineups in LA.
Vlad Guerrero will be out for quite some time and it's a shame to see him break down. Vlad appears to be on the decline and if you have him, you have no choice but to stash him on the DL.
Outfield is proving to be one of the deepest positions and there's plenty of potential left untapped.
Adam Lind (TOR):
If he's somehow still available, grab him now. He has already driven in 12 and is finally showing some promise to his potential.
Kosuke Fukudome (CHC):
He wore out his welcome last year, but this year he looks better. He's finally starting to hit for power and will play every day as long as he keeps hitting.
Mike Cameron (MIL):
Cameron is off the a hot start and is somehow still available. He's one of those rare 20-20 players and even though his average will come down to earth, his other numbers look good for the future.
Nyjer Morgan (PIT):
Morgan is showing his wheels with four stolen bases already and will stay put at lead-off if he keeps it up. Get him if you need some stolen bases.
Hideki Matsui (NYY):
Matsui and his balky knees look like he's on the decline. He will likely miss more time on the DL and lose at-bats to Jorge Posada when he needs a day off.
Pat Burrell (TB):
He's too streaky to hold on to right now with so many better players on the wire.
Josh Hamilton (TEX):
He only has one homer thus far, but you know he's going to have his coming-out party soon.
Ryan Braun (MIL):
He is off to a slow start like last year, but there's no need to worry. See what you can do to acquire him now before it's too late.
Carlos Lee (HOU):
Lee is struggling right now, but he's going to rake no matter what. Buy him now because he's going to tear it up soon.
Alex Rios (TOR):
Rios is off to a horrible start. But if the Blue Jays lineup is doing well without his production, just think how good it will be once he breaks out of it. Rios will be fine.
Raul Ibanez (PHI):
He's off to a blazing start, but he's not good enough to keep it up as a top outfielder so see if you can get a top outfielder like Braun or Hamilton in a trade including him.
Vernon Wells (TOR):
The only thing that holds him back is his health and now is the time to sell before he gets hurt.
Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS):
Ellsbury does not look great at the plate so see if you can convince somebody he's going to turn it around. He looks like a one-dimensional player who will steal bases.