Hamilton, Gonzalez proving to be class of fantasy at key benchmark
A baseball season has long been broken down into thirds: The beginning, middle and end. This week marks the one-third point in the season, and for fantasy, you know what your team will be by now.
If you're a league leader, don't change a thing -- save for tweaking here and there, maybe selling on some surprises you picked up late (or off waivers) and selling young pitchers before they hit the wall. If you're a bottom-feeder, it is either wholesale changes or prep for your fantasy football draft. Those of you in the middle of the pack, now is the time to make your move.
GMs say the first third of the season is the time to evaluate what you have; the second third is evaluate what you need; and the end is where you get what you need and make your push.
In fantasy, since the postseason comes during baseball's regular season, we skip the middle part (or combine it with the first) and use this time to get what we need.
Here is a first-third review of what has been a surprising start to the season:
Apparently, contract years might not be overrated after all. Hamilton is on pace for a legendary campaign, a .368-70-186-130-14 season that would put Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire to shame. Hamilton isn't going to challenge the single-season home-run record, but he is the most untradeable player in fantasy right now. No one can offer enough. And if you don't have him, you shouldn't try: Just remember the injuries.
There is no such thing as a Cy Young in fantasy. We could call it the Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens, we suppose, but we will just go with MVP II. Gonzalez, baseball's strikeout leader through 10 starts, has loved life in the NL, going 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA and 0.941 WHIP. The fact he is turning 27 this season and finally pitching for a contender makes it possible he stays among the elite. But he is a pitcher -- not to mention one that hasn't had the track record of consistency -- so consider him a sell-high candidate.
Trout is not the highest-scoring rookie in fantasy; that is our honorable mention below, but Trout scores high marks in the "wow factor," for his age and his look of a potential future fantasy No. 1 overall pick. If you project his numbers in 27 games since his call-up for a full season, he looks like a .300-20-80-110-40 player. That is coming at the age of just 20! We said in the preseason, this year's rookie class isn't deep, but it could rival 2001's arrivals of Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki. Trout, and Bryce Harper, have not disappointed.
It was a first third that didn't make complete sense to us in fantasy -- a wacky year, especially for closers -- but it will be interesting to see what the next third of the season brings. Hopefully it brings you closer to a championship.
Now on to the rest of the weekly fantasy baseball trends ...