5 Early Breakout Fantasy Baseball Stars to Avoid Like the Plague

Eric Matula@EricMatula11Contributor IIApril 16, 2013

We're two weeks into the season, and several players are on fire. Some of these players will be fantasy heroes and will become this year's version of Edwin Encarnacion. Others, however, will fizzle out faster than Bryan Bullington's potential.

These five players have gotten off to terrific starts, but you shouldn't invest too much stock into them.

Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado Rockies

Fowler is off to a great start. In his first 12 games, he is hitting .298 with six home runs, nine RBI, 10 runs scored and one stolen base. His six homers rank him tied for second in the MLB.

While Fowler might seem like a solid breakout candidate, let's take a look at his career splits. When he is home at Coors Field, Fowler owns a .296 batting average and .888 OPS. When he is on the road, on the other hand, he owns a .248 average and .710 OPS.

Fowler is on a power surge right now. His 54.5 percent HR/FB rate will certainly come down. Once that number returns to normalcy, Fowler's numbers will return to earth. If you throw in his home/away splits, you cannot expect him to remain a top-15 fantasy player.

John Buck, C, New York Mets

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Would you have ever guessed that John Buck would be tied for the major league lead in RBI after the first two weeks of the season? He is hitting .317 with six home runs and nine runs scored to go along with those 19 RBI so far.

If you needed emergency help to fill your catcher slot, Buck is a good pickup for the time being. He's just a stop-gap, though. There is no way you can think of Buck as a long-term solution.

He has pop, and he has produced 15-plus homers in three of the last five seasons. The power isn't a fluke, but it will most likely simmer down soon. My biggest concern is the batting average. Buck is a career .236 hitter. He has hit higher than .250 just once in his career. Chances are he'll run into a dry spell sooner rather than later.

Justin Masterson, SP, Cleveland Indians

Masterson has been masterful in his first three starts of the season. He is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and an 8.18 K/9 rate.

His ERA might look sparkling right now, but his FIP is 2.40, and his xFIP is 3.23. These numbers are still very good, but they show you that he isn't as dominant as his numbers indicate.

Some other stats that jump off the page are his BABIP and LOB percentage. Masterson's BABIP is currently .196. Since 2009, the lowest mark he has recorded is .302. Similarly, his LOB percentage stands at 94.7. He is stranding runners at almost a 95 percent clip, and you cannot expect him to continue that trend.

Bud Norris, SP, Houston Astros

Norris is one of the few bright spots on the Astros team so far. In 18.1 innings pitched this season, he is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

Although he owns an impressive ERA right now, he has a 4.07 FIP and 4.32 xFIP to go along with it. With that big of a discrepancy through the first few starts, it's obvious that Norris is getting pretty lucky out there. It will be just a matter of time before his ERA catches up with the FIP mark.

His strikeouts are also down. He's always been known as a strikeout pitcher, but his 6.87 K/9 rate is way down from years past. I know it's early, but it's certainly a situation to monitor.

Norris plays for a pretty bad team, and he will be facing stiffer competition this year in the AL West. I wouldn't expect this hot start to last long.

Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland A's

Now, I wouldn't say to avoid Crisp entirely, but you cannot expect him to continue the stretch he's on. He is hitting .333 with four home runs, seven RBI, 15 runs scored and four steals.

His four homers are already 36 percent of his total from 2012 and 50 percent of his totals from 2010 and 2011. His 18.2 percent HR/FB rate is guaranteed to come down, as his previous career high with the A's is nine percent.

Health is also a concern with Crisp. He has played in 145 games or more just twice in his career. Over the last five seasons, he has averaged just 99 games played. It seems like a certainty that he'll spend time on the DL this season for an extended period of time.


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