There is an old baseball adage that fits perfectly as a reminder for impatient fantasy owners right now: Sluggers do 50 percent of their damage in 25 percent of the season. Don't bother crunching the numbers; just think about the meaning.
It is hurry up and wait time with the monster bats on your team. Don't overreact to the highs or lows. Don't sell the farm for Josh Hamilton. Don't deal Albert Pujols for a bucket of brews.
Hitting homers and driving in runs is contagious. Hot streaks can carry a slugger's numbers through the thin parts of the season. You have to wait for them, celebrate them and cope with the thin stretches.
We say this on the heels of watching Hamilton have an unforgettable week in fantasy. Carlos Beltran even hit a bunch of homers last week, picking up the slack for April's star Matt Kemp, who has cooled off considerably and is now banged up.
See how quickly things can turn?
A first-month bust candidate Jose Bautista woke up with three homers in a pair of games last week. Struggling Albert Pujols should not be far behind. Neither should Mark Teixeira. Those two are the most-traded hitters in fantasy right now.
Those giving up are doing so too soon. Big Tex is always a slow starter, as is Troy Tulowitzki. You should have known that when drafting them.
Pujols is, well, Pujols. He is not hurt. Sure, he is still trying to find himself in a new home and it can take awhile, but he is the most-traded hitter in fantasy right now -- by more than double the amount of recent deals than Big Tex (in the past two weeks on CBSSports.com).
Just remember how streaky the biggest sluggers in fantasy are. Hamilton and Beltran, while they are indeed better than most anyone projected this season, will cool off. Pujols, Big Tex, Tulo and Justin Upton will catch up.
No, they won't enjoy the monstrous week Hamilton did, but all three might perform on Hamilton's level here on out.
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- Five-homer weeks are rare. Six-homer weeks come once a season in fantasy. How about a nine-homer week, including a four-home game? Legendary. Hamilton is making good on the preseason predictions that a contract year would do him wonders. He scorched in Week 6, and trumped Carlos Beltran's own six-homer week, with a monster performance of .467 (14-for-30), nine homers, 18 RBI and 10 runs. Hamilton has, at least temporarily, taking the baton from Matt Kemp as the most productive player in fantasy.
(An interesting side note here related to the opening note above: Of the 16 outs Hamilton recorded, 11 came the way of strikeout, tying for the fantasy high for the week. That is a serious BABIP! Hamilton's free-swinging approach during this ridiculous hot streak is probably going to lead to a slump. Interestingly, Pujols has slowed his own strikeout rate and took a walk last week. His approach makes it look like he is staying back more and preparing to pounce.)
OF B.J. Upton, Rays -- OK, so not all contract-year players are created equal. Upton mustered just a pair of singles in 22 at-bats. Eleven of his outs came via the punchout, tied with Hamilton. The good news here, which makes B.J. a buy-low candidate, is he is at least healthy. He will come around, just like Hamilton will cool off.
1. OF Josh Reddick, A's -- Boy, the Red Sox could really use this production in their own outfield right now. Reddick is breaking out at age 25 and proving worthy in mixed fantasy leagues. He probably isn't this good, but you might as well take advantage of this while it lasts.
2. OF Allen Craig, Cardinals -- No Albert Pujols. No Lance Berkman. No problem for the Cardinals, who have gotten Herculean efforts out of Beltran and Craig of late. Craig can do mixed-league fantasy damage in spurts. He is breaking out at age 27, so this could be a legit coming of age for him.
3. OF Andy Dirks, Tigers -- What a week for outfielders. Dirks is yet another red-hot one getting picked up in mixed formats. He is the least likely of the above to sustain this production, so give him a quick hook when he cools.
4. RP Casey Janssen, Blue Jays -- Janssen picked up a pair of saves in the wake of Francisco Cordero's inability to hold down the job until Sergio Santos returns. Santos is targeting late May, so Janssen has a week or two worth of saves to gobble up.
5. RP Brian Fuentes, A's -- He hasn't been flawless, but he has been better than Grant Balfour and he has picked up a few saves. Fuentes has experience in the role, so consider him a decent bet to hold down the role -- even if there are some hairy moments with him.
1. RP Javy Guerra, Dodgers -- The early season surprise might never get the closer's role back. Kenley Jansen is just the better arm.
2. C Wilson Ramos, Nationals -- The torn ACL ends his season, so he is yet another unfortunate injury victim in a season full of them. If you need a backstop, Ryan Doumit has showed some life for the Twins of late and is available in about 50 percent of leagues.
3. RP Francisco Cordero, Blue Jays -- If Ramos is the latest injury victim, Coco Cordero is the latest closer to implode. He has been brutally bad and might not save another game with Janssen in the role until Santos returns.
4. SP Joe Saunders, Angels -- He was pitching great and was used by a slew of two-start-pitcher hounds in fantasy. Well, that went over poorly. He allowed 12 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. He is not mixed-league worthy, even if he does go on another streak. He does this to us too often.
5. SP Phil Humber, White Sox -- He finally righted himself after the post-perfect-game funk. He still isn't a completely trustworthy option for mixed leagues. Just consider him when the matchups are right and he is going well.
1. 1B Albert Pujols, Angels -- While that homer last Sunday did open up some RBI production last week, it didn't lead to the sustained hot streak many expected. Stay faithful. Jose Bautista woke up. Pujols will, too. He did at least draw a walk and slow his strikeout rate back to his career norms. That's a sign he will come around. BUY
2. SP Chris Sale, White Sox -- The elbow checked out well enough to return to the rotation. It is just enough good news to shop him around. Even if he is healthy, he is not going to make it past 150 innings. There is value here because of fantasy's sometimes overboard love with young pitchers. SELL
3. 3B Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox -- Clearly the Red Sox cannot send him down. But how in the world can they fit him in the lineup once Kevin Youkilis returns (maybe this week)? The answer looks easy, right? Middlebrooks has to play over Youk, but he won't. Maybe the Red Sox can consider moving Youkilis to the outfield, now that they said Middlebrooks will only play third? HOLD
4. 1B Ryan Howard, Phillies -- He looks like a much better bet to help fantasy owners near his previously lofty levels than Chase Utley come June. Howard's Achilles' injury isn't chronic like Utley's knees are. BUY
5. RP Dale Thayer, Padres -- Three consecutive saves last week without allowing a run makes it academic: Thayer is the Padres' closer over wild flamethrower Andrew Cashner and mediocre setup man Luke Gregerson. Thayer is mixed-league worthy for as long as Huston Street is out. Street could be back in June, so use Thayer's quick rise as a reason to... SELL
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).