Well, the fantasy season is one-fifth complete. This season has already had quite a few surprises, a number of stars on the DL, John Smoltz return to the pen, Nate Mclouth and Carlos Quentin’s incredible start, you name it.
However, it’s the time of year to discuss who’s for real and who’s to deal.
- Ryan Church (NYM) +
Church is off to the finest season of his career. Church was a key player in a measly Nationals lineup for a number of years. In his first year as a Met, Church is hitting .310 with 22 RBI, 23 Runs to go a long with 4 long balls as well. All the evidence points to a breakout season. Sandwiched between Jose Reyes and David Wright in the batting order, Church will provide RBI opportunities and no doubt about it runs across the board. Wright and Beltran’s protection in the lineup creates all the more chances he will see a pitch to hit.
- Corey Hart (MIL) +
Although Hart is off to a slow start in terms of power he too is in a similar situation as Ryan Church. Hart was pre-ranked 69th by the Yahoo Fantasy draft for good reason. Hart is a .300 hitter, he has power, speed, and he hits in front of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Slumping power numbers and minimal run production have left Hart owners discouraged early this year. Hart too is a steal for the right price; there is no doubt about him hitting .285-plus averages, 15-25 HR, and being an 85-85 run and RBI man. See if you can’t find a deal to shore up that OF by acquiring Hart before he heats up.
- Mark Teixeira (ATL) +
Teixeira too is off to a slow start by his standards. Although, as I recall Tex had a slow start in ’07 as well and was among the best in the league after the all-star break. Teixeira is a premium first basemen and is far too good to continue at this pace. Perhaps a frustrated manager looking to shake things up may be willing to undersell Teixeira for the right offers. Look for Tex to get back to his true form soon, make sure you have him when he does.
- Jim Thome (CWS) +
Thome is putting up solid numbers across the board despite a .209 average. Yes, he is getting up there in his years, but Thome will find a way to get it done. In ’07 Jim hit .275 with a .410 OBP and a .563 SLG % while putting up nice numbers. Thome is an excellent source of power to fill empty UTIL spots, at worst he will hit for a .255 average – but he more than makes up for that in OBP. Don’t be fooled by the slow start, Thome will put up the numbers when all is said and done.
- Conor Jackson (ARI) +
Jackson can hardly be called a sleeper by this point in the season. However, many of owners have to be wondering, is he for real? It appears so; Jackson was all the hype a year ago and was unable to put up big numbers aside from a solid .285 average. The D-Backs drafted this kid with the 19th overall pick in 2003 – he can hit, no doubt about it. Arizona has exploded onto the scene as an offensive juggernaut to go along with the games best Ace – Brandon Webb. With players like Chris Young, Eric Byrnes, and Orlando Hudson in front of Jackson it seems inevitable he will drive in well over 100-plus runs.
- Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) +
Due to a recent groin strain Ellsbury has shared time in CF with Coco Crisp. However, Jacoby averages a stolen base once every 3 GP. Leading off a potent Red Sox lineup, look for Ellsbury to be one the AL’s premier runs-men. For more on Ellsbury see
- Edinson Volquez (CIN) +
The Reds rookie is off to a CY Young caliber season. Volquez leads the league in strikeouts after fanning 10 Cubs in today’s series finale. Volquez has an arsenal of pitches he trusts in any count – in many ways he's comparable to Fausto Carmona of ’07. The only knock on the rookie is his compiling walks. Expect Volquez to be among the league leaders in strikeouts and a respectable ERA.
- Travis Hafner (CLE) –
What is wrong with Travis Hafner? Pronk was a legitimate MVP candidate in ’06 while mashing 42 homers and an incredible .439 OBP. However, his HR production was nearly cut in half in ’07 and he hasn’t showed any signs of turning it around in ’08. Hafner’s ’06 success was in large part define by his ability to turn around an outside fastball and flip it over the opposite field fence. It appears Pronk has become a predominately pull hitter, which will result in a dismal ’08 just as ’07 was for the Tribe slugger.
- Carlos Delgado (NYM) –
Delgado’s slugging percentage dipped .100 pts from ’06 to ’07 and is down an additional .100 pts early in ’08. There is no reason to believe Delgado will return anywhere close to 2006 form. His power numbers are on the demise – Delgado’s only fantasy value is as a desperate UTIL slot.
- Troy Tulowitzki (COL) –
Someone explain to me why Tulowitzki was pre-ranked higher than Carlos Guillen preseason? Tulowitzki had an outstanding rookie year in Colorado and is surrounded by superstars in the batting order. However, I hate spending a 4th round draft pick on a player with one year’s experience – especially position player. Carlos Guillen has been solid every year as a Tiger and remains one of the most versatile and well-rounded fantasy players. Tulowitzki’s current stint on the DL has left his owners in more of a mess than his .152 batting average had before. Look to deal Tulowitzki when he returns near the All Star break, for an inferior SS such as Orlando Cabrera and some RP help, or trade up for the likes of Carlos Guillen. Tulowitzki is too big a gamble for my style – get the best value you can for him.
- J.J. Hardy (MIL) -
Hardy broke onto the scene last year in which he was the games hottest hitter for a period of time. Hardy compiled an impressive ’07 with 26 dingers and 80-80 runs and RBI. Unfortunately since that mid-season tear, Hardy has been average at best. He is currently hitting .226 with a single homerun. It’s hard to imagine Hardy can do much worse than he is now, but don’t expect the results he cast in 2007.
- John Smoltz (ATL) –/+
Smoltz is currently on the 15-day DL and has announced he will return to the bullpen when he returns. Tough blow to your starting rotation – the upside is he can still bring it at 95 MPH and has a filthy slider. If all goes well in his return – Smoltz may be the NL’s most dominant closer only to Billy Wagner.
Best of Luck Fantasy Owners