It is now almost a month into the season and we have seen some surprising performances. The question is which ones will continue and which ones will go back to what we expected. We use that big sabermetrics term called regression to explain the fact that all performances come back to earth. This leads to those great trade high/low questions everyone is asking this time of the year. Yet for some reason all I hear in my head is some teenage girl saying “Are you for real”. That is truly what we want to know as we try to make our lineup changes, waiver wire pickups, and trades. It can be easy to say that every guy outperforming his numbers will drop and those underperforming will pick it up. This is true for many players, but not all. No one is going to give up on Miguel Cabrera who was the #2 overall pick this year. He has too many good years to think that his position rank of 15 (3B) per ESPN is for real. There are no numbers at this point of the year that I am willing to take that override the 11 years we have seen prior. At 31 we may see him decline some, but he should be fine for several more years to come. I decided to go position by position and pick out guys that are far from their expected values to tell you if they are for real. Make sure you understand that For Real means they may continue what they are doing good or bad, while Not for Real means they will see their numbers return to what was expected. For ease of reference all player position ranks and ADPs I use will be from ESPN as of 4/28/14
At catcher an injury throws some extra questions at the #1 rated catcher this year, Devin Mesoraco. He has been on our radar for years. He was a post hype guy that was so far post hype he was not even post hype hyped. This was demonstrated in the fact he was undrafted in most leagues. He however found his way onto many teams with his unsustainable .468 average. Truefuly, that is unsustainable for everyone. I have to say that I do believe he can be a top 10 Catcher this year if he gets back on the field at or near the end of his 15 day disabled list time. His former manager never has been very friendly to the young guys. The new managerial staff seems to be giving the young guys plenty of leash to run. If someone drops him and you have room on your DL grab him. He is worth taking a lottery ticket on. He is For Real (well maybe not .468 for real, but you know what I mean)
On the other side, Carlos Santana is rated 52 after having an ADP of 74.5. That is a giant slide in production. I have never been as high as others on his upside. I do love that he is eligible at three positions. Guys like this help in daily move leagues to fill out your lineup on those Mondays and Thursdays. This start is Not For Real. You can expect a rebound here.
Pujos has flashed back to his 2010 self. Rated #3 at 1B he has made us remember why he was the #1 overall pick for many years. Maybe the feet were that bad. I am beginning to think they were a problem for longer than we knew. I do not expect him to hold up as the #3 guy all year, but if I have him I am not trading him. I also would not trade for him as his owner will want much more than his preseason value. Pujos is probably maybe For Real. Okay, that was a terrible(sounds better if you pretend Charles Barkley is saying it) answer. The truth is I want to believe he is back.
Adrian Gonzalez, He hit 40 HRs with Petco as his home field once. He hurt his wrist and it seems that it took time to get his power stroke back. We have seen this with wrist injuries before. I say he is For Real.
Jose Abreu is rated #1 right now. He may not be the #1 1B, but if can keep his K Rate down he is For Real.
Edwin Encarnacion looks to be his old self after 2 great years. I will be staying away because this start may be For Real. With 25Ks in 25 games something seems to be wrong here. He had only 62 Ks in 621 PA last year. He is over a 1/3 of the way there in just 107 PA so far this year.
Prince Fielder has me nervous but as I said about Miguel earlier he has a long track record that is hard to ignore. The only issue that concerns me is that last year was not up to his previous standard. I am sticking with him for now and saying this start is Not For Real.
Brandon Phillips is off to a poor start after an offseason that the Reds tried to off load him. He his currently rated the 28th at 2nd base. He was the 6th 2nd baseman drafted on average. If you can get anywhere near that value you need to sell as I think this start is For Real.
Rated #1 at 2nd Brian Dozier is showing speed and power you rarely see from 2nd. The scary thing is his Uggla like .217 BA. I think he ends up as an easy top 10 2nd Baseman this year, just not a top 5 much less #1. The .217 BA is For Real. The 40-40 pace is Not for Real.
Emilio Bonifacio has done this before. He has created a game they use on the Fantasy Focus Podcast. Which although they are doing good job, the new host have no understanding of the game. If you know the game is is definitely Bonifacio.
Anthony Rendon see the Fantasy Targets Blog. FOR REAL!
3rd Base is a train wreck this year! Injuries have destroyed the ratings. Looking at the top ten drafted, other the Miguel, everything looks as it should due to the injuries. The surprises here are Nolan Arenado who was a great post hype buy in my book this year. He has a good pedigree and a great home field. He is For Real.
.394 BABIPs are unsustainable so Trevor Plouffe is Not For Real.
Alexei Ramirez is looking like the guy I thought he would become years ago. The problem is that was years ago and he has not shown anything like this the last couple of years. With that said he has hit 21 HRs in a season (Rookie Year 2008) and stole 30 bags (last year). So somewhere in there is a 20-20 guy, I just think at 32 we may never see it come out. This start is Not for Real. With that said he could still be a 15-15 guy and valuable to your team.
I’ll make this quick like Dee Gordon, he is For Real. (well the speed is, not the .353 Ba)
J.J. Hardy has no HRs so far this year and that is what you drafted him. He will hit 20 HRs this year so this start is Not For Real.
Bryce Harper plays the game aggressive and that is making him a risky player. He has talent and he has passion for the game. I just do not know when or if he will put it all together and stay healthy. He is looking like the guy you can only plan for 130 games a year. So after a slow start and now he is injured what can we expect from him the rest of the way. This start is Not For Real, however the injury risk is ForReal.
Charlie Blackmon has really helped those that had him on their rosters this year. Now find that guy in your league that believes what the stats say this year and unload him now. I am not saying he is bad he just is not this good. Make sure you tout that he is the #1 rated player overall. Just don’t tell them that this is start is Not For Real.
Here are two PED guys that we all have questions about. Melky Cabrera is off to a hot start, the kind of numbers he only put up in one other season. Ya, that one he got hit for PED use. I may be a skeptic on him as I say Not For Real because I am worried how his next test turns out. With that said I think that Nelson Cruz is For Real. Maybe I am a hypocrite because I believe in one and not the other. I feel that Cruz has shown his power before and I feel more strongly it was not all PED enhanced. In addition, he should thrive at Camden Yards.
Chris Colabello simply Not for Real. He is a great story. I am rooting for him as he lives a dream that he has worked hard for. I just simply can not advise for him. The one thing I will say his 2013 AAA numbers are amazing, however he was 29 years old.
Johnny Cueto is dealing like we know he can. The problem is will the injury bug bite him again. This start is For Real. Just beware of the injury risk.
Now for the reason so many people advise you to get hitters first and fill in your pitching staff later. There are 5 pitchers of the top 12 rated SPs that carried an ADP of 260, which means they were not drafted in most leagues. They are Jason Hammel, Aaron Harang, Martin Perez, Scott Kazmir, and Tim Hudson. I think that Scott Kazmir is For Real. The Rangers Believe in Martin Perez and although he will not be this good he is For Real. I am not buying any of the other starts to Hammel, Harang, and Hudson are Not For Real.
I am afraid I may have been wrong on Homer Bailey, I thought he finally turned the corner. I have to say at this point I have to say this start is For Real. Here is the glimmer of hope for those that want to believe it is not for real, his BABIP against is .414.
Matt Cain is struggling to start this year. He had some troubles last year also. I do not see any signs that he is this guy. I feel that he can turn it around so this start is Not For Real.
Here is the key to closer being for real. Now this is a secret and don’t tell anyone. If they are the closer they are for real right up till they get removed from the role. Then the next guy is for real until he is replaced. This repeats forever kind of like the decimals in π.
Just remember its still just one month into the season.