Baseball can be a fickle game. If you have played fantasy long enough you know this all too well. Now that the first four weeks of the season are in the books, it can be a good time to sell-high on some hot starters.
It's also a good time to have some fun with some ridiculous on-pace numbers:
Braves outfielder Justin Upton is on pace for 88 homers.
? Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is on pace for 60 homers.
? Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is on pace for 190 RBI.
? Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson is on pace for 169 runs scored.
? Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is on pace for 77 steals.
? Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish in on pace for 330 strikeouts.
? Breakout starting pitchers Mike Moore and Clay Buchholz are on pace for 35 victories.
? Orioles closer Jim Johnson is on pace for 70 saves.
Of course, projecting all of these seasons is absurd. It is also arguably the best way to explain why you cannot overrate the first month of baseball's six-month marathon.
We wouldn't advise dealing any of those hot starters, even if they are inevitably going to cool off. They are all legitimately capable of carrying this hot start through to a career year.
But here are five decent sell-high candidates we do advise you shop around right now:
Five sell-high candidates
1. SP Matt Harvey, New York Mets -- He has been the best pitcher in fantasy, but he is also the only one of fantasy's hot starters incapable of sustaining this kind of dominance. This is his first full major-league season and young arms always hit that wall in the summer. You might consider dealing him closer to the All-Star break, getting more run out of this high-ceiling talent, but if someone ignores the probably 180-inning cap, perhaps you can get your best return right now.
2. OF Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics -- My cohort Michael Beller wrote this week Crisp's hot start can be sustained, citing advanced metrics. Hogwash. Numbers guys shouldn't ignore the most extensive data: The mediocre first 12 years of Crisp's career. Statistics are always more telling in larger sample sizes. This one-month of positive data on Crisp just might be enough to convince a too smart-for-his-own-good data head to trade something significant for Crisp.
3. SP Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals -- Just look to the 2012 season of Miller's predecessor Lance Lynn. Lynn was 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA through May before slumping in June (5.67) and regressing in the second half (4.32). Miller looks like an ace now and might be able to get you a full-season ace in return. Heck, Lynn is a better bet to sustain his own 2013 hot start through a full season because he has already gone through a first full year. Like Harvey, Miller is likely to have a cap of around 180 innings this season.
4. C John Buck, New York Mets -- Like Crisp, Buck has had too many years of struggles to believe his hot start is the signal of a career year at age 32. That is the age of breakdown for a catcher, not the age of breakthrough. Buck is on pace for 61 homers and 177 RBI. He won't get half way to those numbers. He might not get one-third of the way there.
5. OF Vernon Wells, New York Yankees -- It is not a coincidence we have three New York players on this list. The Yankees look like they have struck gold with Wells (.294, six homers), but Wells tends to be a hot starter over his career. He has hit more homers, more doubles and scored more runs in April than any other month over the course of his career. He is going to fall into a funk that made him a Mendoza Line hitter in 2012 (.231) and 2011 (.218). Flip him now if someone is believing Wells is back at age 34.
Player of the week
3B Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays -- He got off to a slow start, but he ripped five homers in four days, proving his 2012 wasn't a complete fluke. Sluggers famously do 50 percent of their damage in 25 percent of the season. This streaky slugger is a must-start in all leagues again. Hopefully, you didn't sit him for this run. If you did, consider it a lesson not to.
Player of the weak
SP R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays -- He came into the week with back-to-back quality starts, but his two-start week proved to be a bust. That is what Dickey has been for fantasy owners overall this season. He lost both his starts and looks nothing like the Cy Young Award winner he was a year ago. To add injury to the insults, Dickey is dealing with an issue in the back of his shoulder right now. He could get an MRI and might head to the DL. The body breaks down at age 38, what can we say? Don't start Dickey this week and pray he can prove to be trade bait before he becomes waiver-wire fodder.
3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies -- On the one-year anniversary of Bryce Harper's major-league call-up, we get the arrival of this future star. Arenado didn't have a great 2012 season, but he was a hot name in spring training and he scorched in his 18 games in Triple-A: .364 (24-for-66) with three homers, 21 RBI, 14 runs and just nine strikeouts. Arenado is a high-ceiling talent that is worth owning in all leagues immediately. He was hitless in his debut Sunday for the Rockies, but he is talented enough to be the best prospect call-up of the year. Seriously.
SP Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics -- We featured him as the No. 1 minor-league starter to pick up Friday in the Prospects Watch and he gets the call for a spot start for Brett Anderson (ankle). Straily already has an 11-strikeout start to his credit for the A's earlier this month and was 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in his three Triple-A starts. He is a must add in all leagues and he should stick around in the A's rotation with some many of the back-end starters struggling right now.
1. OF Nate McLouth, Baltimore Orioles -- It has been years since he has looked this good. For that reason, consider this more of a mere hot streak than a career renaissance.
2. 2B/3B Yuniesky Betancourt, Milwaukee Brewers -- Another 30-something on a torrid stretch and earning starts he might not have gotten otherwise. Over the long haul, he is only viable as a stopgap second baseman in mixed lineups.
3. SP Garrett Richards, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- He past start (five earned) was more indicative of his fantasy potential. He isn't quite good enough to trust consistently.
4. CL Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers -- With this start, why did it take so long for the Tigers to go back to the well here? He is going enough to trust in all leagues. He is still undervalued right now.
5. 3B Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics -- The 27-year-old is off to a start the portends a career year. The power still isn't intriguing enough to consider him a full-season option at third base in mixed formats.
1. SP Chad Billingsley, L.A. Dodgers -- He officially had Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. Ignore him.
2. RP Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals -- He is struggling even in middle relief. He doesn't look like he will be a candidate to get that closer's role back. Trevor Rosenthal is closer Edward Mujica's handcuff now.
3. 3B Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins -- He has showed signs up coming out of his slow start. Watch him for a potential hot stretch. He is a streaky hitter.
4. RP Joaquin Benoit, Detroit Tigers -- He can contribute in fantasy still as a setup man, but if you only have relievers for saves, you don't need to own Benoit any longer.
5. C Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers -- We shouldn't be giving up on him and should have a hard time believing he is done as a fantasy starter at age 26. He can still get hot and have a rebound year.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. SS Didi Gregorius, Arizona Diamondbacks -- His 7-day concussion DL stint comes at an unfortunate time. He was hot. You need a replacement for him this coming week in all formats.
2. CL Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers -- The 35-year-old has a shot at being a fantasy revelation. Get on board while you still can. This is the 2011 Valverde.
3. C Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves -- Those two homers in his rehab stint debut are a signal he can progress quickly. Take that flier on him now if he's available in your league.
4. SP Andrew Cashner, San Diego Padres -- That past start was certainly an eye-opener. This is a great breakout candidate. Pick him up.
5. 3B/1B Kevin Youkilis, N.Y. Yankees -- He has cooled considerably and might need a DL stint due to his back woes. You are justified cutting him in smaller leagues.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins -- Like Encarnacion above, this is another 50 percent of his damage in 25 percent of the season case. Stanton's three-homer series versus the Cubs is a signal many have given up on him too soon. BUY
2. OF Matt Kemp, L.A. Dodgers -- See Stanton above. This was the best buy a week ago and he still hasn't scorched. Take advantage. BUY
3. SP Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants -- He was coming off a career year and was a postseason hero. Those are always bad times to buy on a guy in fantasy. He is still much better than he is pitching, so you shouldn't sell low. HOLD
4. OF Josh Hamilton, L.A. Angels -- You knew he was streaky and risky. You have stay confident he will produce around his career levels eventually. HOLD
5. SP Yovani Gallard, Milwaukee Brewers -- The 27-year-old has won his past two starts, but his walk rate suggests he won't get to that elite potential we once thought he had. It might be a good time to see what you can get for him. SELL
Tout Wars moves
Still looking for some pitching help -- There is a lot of dead weight on my roster, including slow-starting setup men/saves sleepers Bruce Rondon, Drew Storen and James Russell. All three are worth cutting for fill-in Cubs closer Kevin Gregg or starting pitchers. Here are the top free agents to get this week (unfortunately Straily is owned):
1. RHP Kevin Gregg, Chicago Cubs
2. LHP Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
3. RHP John Lackey, Boston Red Sox
4. RHP Justin Grimm, Texas Rangers
5. LHP Scott Kazmir, Cleveland Indians
Going back to the well at catcher -- Francisco Cervelli has been a solid addition, but his broken hand sent him to the DL. Have to go find his replacement now, starting with the guy that replaces him for the Yankees and then the one that was cut to get him:
1. C Austin Romine, N.Y. Yankees
2. C Jason Castro, Houston Astros
3. C Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds
4. C Nick Hundley, San Diego Padres
Taking a flier on another hitter (or two) -- With Travis d'Arnaud still sucking up a reserve spot and Jedd Gyorko now eligible to replace Zack Cozart at the middle-infield, it is time to get in on the ground floor on some hitters with upside. Here are the best of them (unfortunately, Arenado is already owned):
1. 1B Justin Smoak, Seattle Mariners
2. OF Nolan Reimold, Baltimore Orioles
3. OF Jarrod Dyson, Kansas City Royals (for steals)