With two and a half weeks of the season in the books, here are my picks for fantasy studs and duds so far.
Matt Kemp — His numbers are just ridiculous: .450 AVG, 17 R, 9 HR, 22 RBI. Easily the leader for Most Valuable Player of the National League, in my eyes. He has the the Dodgers leading the NL West with a 12-4 record. Everybody thought Kemp could win the award after last season, so this season is no surprise. He’s always working hard in the offseason to improve. This season just reinforces that.
Josh Hamilton — When healthy, Hamilton is one of the top-five players in baseball. His numbers so far: .418 AVG, 15 R, 7 HR, 17 RBI. The Texas Rangers are in the midst of a torrid start. They’re 13-3 and looking to run away with the AL West, and a lot is due to Hamilton. He dominated some headlines before the season due to his relapse with drinking, and many fans didn’t know how he would play this year. Now he’s dominating the early headlines because of his play. Hamilton is just a straight beast.
Stephen Strasburg — By a show of hands, who’s surprised of his start so far? No one, huh? Strasburg is out-of-this-world good with a 2-0 record, 3 BB, 25 K, 1.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in four starts. He’s leading the way for the most surprising pitching staff in baseball. The Nationals are 12-4 and leading the NL East. There was one guy who saw this coming *cough cough* but I’m not going to say who, though. Many worry that Strasburg’s innings-pitched limit will hold this team down. I just hope the GM and coach will let him pitch if the Nats are in the midst of a division race. Strasburg is the real deal and will be for many years to come.
Kyle Lohse — Lohse could be the fantasy pickup of the early part of the season. With a 3-0 record, 16 K, 2 BB, 0.99 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP in his first four starts, Lohse is surprising many. The Cardinals are surprising many, as well. Especially in the post-Pujols days. They’re 11-5 and have the early lead in the NL Central. Lohse went undrafted in many leagues, but owners who did are thanking Mr.Lohse.
Jered Weaver — Weaver’s numbers this year are pretty solid: 3-0 record, 28 K, 2 BB, 2.43 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in four starts. The Angels aren’t having their best season so far, but Weaver is doing his best to change that. He is coming off his first complete game of the season and his second win in a row. He’s had two shutouts going into the ninth and struck out at least five in every game. I look forward to him continuing his success, especially in the strikeout department.
Jose Reyes — He received the big contract in the offseason from the Miami Marlins with hopes he could help change the team. It hasn’t happened yet. He’s batting .230 so far with only six runs, two runs batted in, zero home runs and four stolen bases. Not the numbers the Marlins were expecting after Reyes won the batting title last season. I’m sure his numbers will increase and get better, but with the so-so start in Miami, they need as much production from Reyes as they can get.
Tim Lincecum — What’s wrong with big-time Timmy Jim? He’s off to his worst start to a season. The former Cy Young winner hasn’t won a game yet and is struggling. His numbers so far in three starts — 0-2 record, 16 K, 4 BB, 10.54 ERA, 1.90 WHIP — are horrendous. Very unlike Lincecum to post numbers like these. He’s normally the stalwart in the Giants rotation. His struggles combined with the loss of the beard, Brian Wilson, have lead to a 7-7 record for the Giants. If the Giants hope to make the playoffs this season, they need Lincecum to regain his form and return to dominance.
Adam Wainwright — Wainwright missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. It sure has showed this season. He has yet to regain his dominant form of the past and has yet to reach the seventh inning in a game so far. His numbers after three starts — 0-3 record, 14 K, 4 BB, 9.88 ERA and 1.61 WHIP — are troubling. What is also an unusual stat for Wainwright is his whopping 3.12 HR/9 IP. Which is a far cry from his career number of 0.68 HR/9 IP. He has been the only sore spot in the Cardinals rotation; the rest of the starters have accounted for 10 of the 11 wins so far. This type of production can’t continue if the defending champs look to continue their hot start.
Mark Reynolds — Fantasy owners know what they are getting with Reynolds. He’s a batting-average killer with a career average of .236, but he has tremendous power potential. He averages around 26 home runs with a high of 44. So when you look at his stat line so far — .125 BA, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB — it hurts to think you drafted him. The Orioles have gotten off to a good start, but that’s in part to the emergence of Nolan Reimold, Robert Andino and Matt Wieters. Fantasy owners are hoping for a quick turn-around from Reynolds or you might see him in the most-dropped list pretty soon.
Josh Johnson — Many owners were looking forward to Johnson bouncing back from his injury-ending season last year. Johnson, the 28th pitcher (on average) taken in most drafts, has not started off so great, to say the least. It could be the rust from the long layoff (like Wainwright), but it is still cause for concern. He hasn’t won a game in his three starts, but if his last start is a sign of things to come, then fantasy owners can possibly wipe the sweat off their brows. He threw seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out three while getting the no-decision. His numbers so far, 0-2 Record, 8 K, 6 BB, 5.94 ERA and 2.04 WHIP, in three starts leave a lot to be desired. He’s allowed 28 hits in only 16.2 innings, and his velocity is down a little bit. Hopefully, Johnson bounces back soon and proves owners right who took a flier on him.
Good luck to everyone for the rest of the fantasy baseball season!