What is our next top 9 list you ask? Well it will be about some of the best players taken in the first couple rounds of most fantasy drafts that have gotten off to slow starts in one way or another and what should be done with them. General rule of thumb is that most teams/players have only played between 12-15 games, a small sample size and certainly no reason to panic, but let’s face it, fantasy owners are in the business of panic. Under that same rule of thumb, what has changed in two plus weeks that makes you think a player you loved a month ago, that was worth an early draft pick or high auction value, won’t be that player at the end of the season? Not all players get off to hot starts. Some take a month or so to get in the groove. Patience is a skill not many fantasy owners possess, but one that needs to be preached and practiced. The opposite view of the spectrum is also true, it’s not like Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is going to hit 54 home runs either. I’m not going to include any players that are currently on the DL on this list, we’ll get to them next week.
- Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels: Pujols has yet to hit his first home run as a member of the Angels but I wouldn’t be calling my local electric company wondering where the power went. First, no matter how good you are, there has to be a period of adjustment when not only switching teams, but switching leagues as well. Second, it took Pujols almost two months to get untracked last season, but by season’s end, his numbers were there. The problem could be for his H2H owners, you might get off to a really rough start before Sir Albert starts to carry your team. Everything being equal however, I’m holding onto him, unless I get an offer that I (cough, cough) can’t refuse.
- Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks: Another top 15 player that not only doesn’t have a home run yet, but also hasn’t driven in any runs, ouch. The bad news, he is dealing with a thumb injury that is preventing him from playing at the moment. The good news, the injury is not expected to require a DL stint, and Upton may be back in the lineup as soon as this weekend. Fantasy owners should just want Upton to get healthy whether or not it requires two weeks off. I’d rather him hit the DL, come back healthy, and put up his usual numbers, than not be able to hit for power as he tries to play through the injury. Not dealing him either.
- Jordan Walden, Los Angeles Angels: Normally I wouldn’t put a closer here, but it’s worth noting that the Walden does not have a save yet. Now you can’t blame this on him as he also hasn’t had any opportunities. Still, he was expected to save somewhere around 40 games this season and those projections may have to be altered as the Angels are looking like they might get swept by Oakland and may not be quite the team we thought they were heading out of spring training.
- Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays: Now Bautista does have two home runs, but he’s only batting .231 with a.783 OPS. I put him on this list for two reasons. One, he was a consensus 1st round pick in most drafts and two he may be the best player in baseball that still quite a few fantasy owners don’t know what to make of. Sure he has put up great numbers the past two seasons, but there are still quite a few owners how have their doubts that he can continue to hit for that much power and they will use this slow start to justify their position. I still believe and I would be looking to buy low on Bautista if I could.
- Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants: Do we really have to go over the numbers for Lincecum so far this season? We know they’re terrible. The question is, is this just a blip on the radar, or a sign of things to come. Lincecum went through a similar period last season as well before becoming his dominating self down the stretch, so once again, he just may need time to get into the swing of things. What worries me the most is that we have heard Lincecum state that he is throwing less sliders now to protect his elbow. That certainly raises some red flags. The velocity that is lost off of his fastball is also a concern. I wasn’t a big fan of Lincecum coming into the season and only drafted him in one of 14 leagues in which he was eligible. I was offered a trade in an NL only league today of Lincecum straight up for Craig Kimbrel, and while I ultimately decided not to do it, I didn’t just reject it without giving it some thought first. That should tell you where I am with Lincecum at this moment in time.
- Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox: Now I know Youkilis wasn’t drafted in the top of to many drafts but after the comments his manager, Bobby Valentine, made this week regarding his efforts, I felt the need to talk about him. Youkilis’ dedication to his craft should never have been questioned. Sure, his biggest problem has been staying on the field as he hasn’t been able to play 140+ games since the 2008 season, but you have never heard another Sox player say he was dogging it. Is he ever going to hit 30+ HRs and drive in 100+ RBIs again, probably not, but he can still be useful player, just probably not one who should be batting in the 3-5 spot in the order anymore. As a low end 3B or CI, he could still have a place on your roster.
- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins: Stanton has yet to hit a home runs this season. This from the man that was the odds on favorite to lead the National League in home runs. Two worries here with the Stanton formerly known as Mike. One, is the vastness of the new ballpark in his head. We saw on opening night some frustration as Stanton smashed two shots to right-center, but both ended up being nothing but long outs. Two, we keep hearing that he’s going to have to play with his knee issue all season, that it won’t heal unless he has significant rest. Certainly not a good sign. You have to wonder if this is also playing into his lack of power to start the season. Problem is, since Stanton’s only true fantasy value is his power, you may not be able to get much from him as far as trade value.
- Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals: Hosmer’s run production has been okay to start the season, 2 HRs and 7 RBIs, it’s the .167 average this is throwing fantasy owners for a loop. This is especially annoying after Hosmer may have had the best spring of any player. It seemed his ADP went up after each spring training game and some people were even thinking he could possibly join the top six 1B (Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez) as soon as this season. Relax folks, he hasn’t even played the equivalent of a full season in the majors yet. He’s going to be just fine.
- Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees: Tex did hit his 1st home run of the season earlier tonight. He seemed to be thrown for a loop in the opening series of the season by the drastic shift that Rays’ manager Joe Maddon put on for him. It did take away quite a few hits when he was batting left-handed. You even started to hear rumors that he should abandon hitting from the left side. Tex did mention during spring training that he wouldn’t be against bunting to beat the shift, that’s all fine and good, but you could just hit a ground ball single to the left side as well. That would also do it for you, and if you were able to do that a few times, that shift would go away. Don’t think you’re ever going to see Tex have a .270+ avg again, but his power numbers will be there by season’s end.
Remember, you can ask me any fantasy questions you like on Twitter, @GeorgeKurtz