Fantasy Baseball: The State of Play (Week 1)

The State of Play – Week 1

By: Kyle Brown (@CavghtLooking)

This is the debut edition of a new weekly fantasy baseball column  for Fantasy Judgment called “The State Of Play”. Each week, Kyle Brown will offer his thoughts on players who are making noise and players who are hiding under the radar. Should you try and trade for Yu Darvish right now? If you own Darvish, should you be shopping him? What can you take away from Roy Halladay’s bizarre outing this week? These are the kinds of questions he will aim to answer each week with the hope of improving your fantasy team and your fantasy acumen.

Pitchers of Note:

Yu DarvishYu Darvish was one out away from a perfect game this week. Consequently, everyone in baseball is talking about Yu this week and is either patting themselves on the back or breaking out the flagellant, depending on their preseason predictions. I ranked Darvish pretty low in my pitcher rankings this season, citing control issues and a lack of consistency. So what, if anything, can we take away from his one magical start of 2013? Not much. It was nice to see Darvish pitch so well, but we all need to remember that he was pitching against the Astros. In the first game of the 2013 season, Matt Harrison (career 5.57 K/9) struck out nine Astros. Alexi Ogando followed up Yu’s performance by striking out ten Astros. Dan Straily just punched out 11 Astros. Earth-shattering conclusion: the Astros are going to be dominated by many, many pitchers this season. As such, do not look at Yu’s start and conclude that his control problems are a thing of the past. Remember that he still pitches half of his starts in Arlington, had a very high walk-rate last season, and faced a AAA team in his first start of 2013. My advice: if you own Yu Darvish then you should shop him around and test the market in your league. If you can parlay his 2013 start into a better pitcher like Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander then pull the trigger immediately. On the other hand, if you do not own Darvish, avoid being swept up by the early-season hype machine and wait and see how he does in his next few starts.

Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum had ugly starts this week. Lincecum walked seven batters and Halladay failed to make it through four innings of work. I am way more concerned by Lincecum’s seven walks than I am by Halladay’s poor outing versus the Braves. Lincecum struggled mightily with his control last season and every manager should view his first 2013 start as a gigantic red flag. My advice: avoid Lincecum like the plague. On the other hand, I am mildly encouraged by Halladay’s start. His velocity was back up and his nine strikeouts tell me that he hasn’t completely lost the ability to miss bats. Giving up two dingers and letting his pitch count get very high early on in the game is obviously no good, but it is only one start and the velocity gives me some hope for the future. My advice: don’t start Halladay for his next start. However, if someone else in your league has Halladay, then I think it is a good time to make a lowball offer (a very lowball offer).

Hitters of Note:

Chris Davis (as of 4/6/13) is hitting .600 with four dingers and a 1.600 SLG%. His 2013 home runs have been towering shots. However, do not take his start to the bank just yet. Chris Davis has always been a streaky hitter. His 2012 slugging percentages by month were: .563, .489, .397, .427, .438, .660. Also, two of Davis’ four home runs were off Jeremy Hellickson (a pitcher he has hit well in the past) and Roberto Hernandez (a bad right-handed pitcher). I really like that Davis was able to tag Jake McGee, a nasty left-hander, but I am not going to look at Davis’ hot start as anything other than a hot start by a streaky hitter. My advice: shop Chris Davis around and try to capitalize on the bombs by trading him for a better player. The hot streak will end in a few weeks. 

Michael Morse (as of 4/6/13) has hit four home runs in five games. Unlike Davis, Morse has showed consistent power production throughout his career. With the new dimensions at Safeco and the Houston Astros in the division I think that Morse can hit 30 home runs this year. My advice: do not trade Morse if you own him, the power is real. If you do not own Morse and want to acquire him, then it is probably a good idea to wait a little while.

Quick Hits:

I love what I am seeing from Rickie Weeks and Chase Utley right now. However, don’t do something foolish like trade for either of these oft-injured second basemen.

Both Jeff Samardzija (8ip, 9k) and Matt Harvey (7ip, 10k) came out smoking. I expect a bigger and better season from Samardzija due to the innings limitation that Harvey will be placed on late in the year. That said, Harvey has more talent and stuff than the Shark.

Dexter Fowler absolutely abused John Axford in the Rockies opening series. He has hit three home runs already this season. Keep an eye on him as the window to buy-low might be closing. 

Run, don’t walk, to the manager who owns Giancarlo Stanton and try to convince him that this slow start is a symptom of the Marlins inability to protect him. Stanton hit one home run in his first 21 games last season and two home runs in his first 22 games in 2011. Start with the nonsensical narrative that his season will be lackluster because of the other hitters around him, add it to his slow start, and land yourself 40 home runs for a third of what it would have cost you a week ago.

Albert Pujols is 1-14 with three walks. It’s too early to say anything, but I’m on a serious Pujols-is-gonna-plummet-in-value watch.

I believe in (i.e. think they can have great seasons) the good starts from Todd Frazier, Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, Carlos Santana and Desmond Jennings. I have zero faith in John Buck, Gerardo Parra, Jed Lowrie, and J.P. Arencibia. 

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