Weekly Planner: First month of season yields surprising stars
We are through one full month of the season, so now it seems like a good time to reassess the preseason rankings and the current points leaders among hitters, by position. This has been an interesting beginning to the year, because so many of the elite stars are off to slow starts, namely Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.
The top two in the draft averages aren't even in the top five of their positions through four weeks. They should be considered potential buy-low candidates, though, if anyone is selling. Hitters hit and the numbers are going to level out.
Let's see where we're at:
1. Albert Pujols, STL
1. Votto, CIN
A-Gone has just one homer coming off shoulder surgery, but he has remained productive otherwise. Berkman has been a fantasy MVP and 27-year olds Fielder and Gordon are making good on potential career years.
1. Robinson Cano, NYY
1. Ben Zobrist, TB
Utley still hasn't even started playing live games yet, proving he was far overrated amid his knee issues. Pedroia and Uggla aren't performing up to potential either. They are all buy-low candidates. Zobrist could be a sell high, we suppose, but he is capable of a career year here. Kendick is another 27-year old off to an impressive, career-year-like start.
1. Evan Longoria, TB
1. Bautista, TOR
This position was the mess we said it would be in the bold predictions -- mostly due to the surprise injuries of Longo and Zimmerman. Bautista hasn't let down after his career year, while Polanco and Young are proving capable of hanging on. A-Rod is a decent buy low, while Bautista is a decent sell high. He just can't produce another 50-plus homer season, right?
1. Ryan Braun, MIL
1. Bautista, TOR
As repeated often in spring training, outfield is the deep, level position that rotates its top players more than any other. Kemp, Berkman and Zobrist are back after down seasons. They are not necessarily sell-highs, though, because they can be just as good as anyone over the long haul. Braun is having a strong age-27 season, while Gonzalez and Crawford are a lot better than they have shown. Hamilton was the injury bust he was probably destined to be.
1. Joe Mauer, MIN
1. Russell Martin, NYY
Mauer and Martinez were injury-hit, but Posey has proven to be rock-steady in his sophomore season. McCann and Napoli are fine and should rise in the current points standings. Martin, Montero, Santana and Avila have proven to be great sleepers in mixed leagues and each can be considered viable top-12 options at the position now. Mauer and V-Mart are buy-low candidates at a position with no current sell-high options.
Now on to the rest of our weekly look at fantasy trends:
Ten RBI in a week is a productive one for any position in fantasy. Zobrist almost did it in one game, driving in eight in Game 1 of a doubleheader and coming back in the nightcap with a two-run homer. Ten RBI in one day is just ridiculous. It is still too early for full-season paces, but Zobrist is on pace for 42 homers and 150 RBI. He is back to being a must-start in all leagues, especially with his second-base eligibility.
This could help you deal with injuries or forecast the returns of your stars:
1. 3B Roberts, ARI
Journeymen Roberts and Hannahan are taking advantage of their surprising opportunities and are on hot streaks that won't last. They are producing on an elite level, but it will eventually come crashing down for these players best suited to be big-league reserves and deeper NL- and AL-only fill-ins. Barney is in the same boat. Colon and Leake are a bit underrated and could be on this most-added list for a few more weeks.
1. SP Chris Narveson, MIL
Narveson, Harrison and Wood have hit the skids after decent starts out of the gate. They won't be completely useless in mixed leagues, but they can be dropped until they prove effective again. Then only use them when the matchups are right. Snider is back in the minors and shouldn't be lost sight of. He is still young enough to be considered a prospect; he was just rushed to the major leagues. Ruiz hasn't been hitting and is now out with an injury that won't send him to the DL but will keep him out of fantasy lineups this week.
1. 3B Roberts, ARI
A trio of Indians got healthy off Tigers pitching over the weekend. LaPorta is the most interesting of them, because of the hype that once surrounded him. Youkilis and Lee are banged up and question marks. Youk is the much safer play of the two right now. And, how about Norris? He is making good on his promising talent and is a must-own in all leagues at this point. He could be on the verge of a 15-win, 200-plus strikeout breakthrough, even for the Astros. He has ace-like stuff.