Fantasy Baseball – Hardball High: Week One

Arizona Diamondbacks

Paul Goldschmidt

Alright, class, school is in session. With the first two full weeks of Fantasy Baseball (and in the case of head-to-head leagues, the first matchups) in the books, we’re starting to get a better idea of the Fantasy Baseball 2014 outlook, separating contenders from pretenders. For the most part, those who invested in bats early have reaped the rewards. First round picks like Carlos Gonzalez and Paul Goldschmidt, as well as second to third round picks like Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Bautista have been major contributors to their respective owners’ teams. Meanwhile, highly touted players such as Andrew McCutchen and Prince Fielder have been massive disappointments, with the latter touting a miserable -2.57 on the ESPN player rater.

HOWEVER, do not panic! With such a small sample size it’s impossible to know the true nature of a player. Recall Josh Hamilton’s torrid start to the 2012 season, where he put up 4 HR games, batted close to .400, and put up several franchise record numbers. But he cooled off spectacularly after the All-Star break, hitting near .200 and experiencing a significant drop off in power. In a similar way this season, many people were quite high on Hamilton, and he produced quite well until a recent thumb injury sidelined him for the better part of the next two months. The moral of the story is, don’t panic if a player is healthy but not producing. Don’t let someone else capitalize on impatience; the season is still very, very young.

Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez

We’ve spoken at length about the hitting categories, but hitting is only half the battle. There are five categories to be won on the mound as well as in the box. While many high-rated arms are meeting their potential (Jose Fernandez, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale: I’m looking at you), others have not fared so well. The number one pitcher coming into the season, Clayton Kershaw, looked strong for one whole start in Australia, then landed himself on the DL. Cliff Lee hasn’t had a game where he’s given up less than 10 hits. And a winless Stephen Strasburg has been having command issues. Again, all these trends can and should change, but ultimately are out of your hands.

That being said, this upcoming week looks to be ripe with players returning from either preseason or early season DL stints. Look for athletes such as Shane Victorino and possibly Aroldis Chapman to return to action soon; if any other people in your league have lacked the patience to keep roster spots open for these players, swipe them up ASAP, as they have the potential to dramatically improve your team. Another DL note: there is no reason to have an empty DL spot on your roster. If there’s a player with even a shred of potential sitting out there on the waiver wire and you have the real estate on your roster, pick them up. I’ve had M’s upstart Taijuan Walker on my DL all season, because he’s shown promise in the past and I had nobody else needing the DL spot. It could ultimately be the difference between making the playoffs and sitting in the stands.

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