Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

By the Numbers: No mere April fools

  •  

Remember the great Aprils that Ryan Sweeney, Carlos Pena and Anthony Bass had a year ago? I'm guessing not many of us do, which goes to show how premature it can be to make judgments about a player's value after just one month. A handful of starts by a pitcher or 100 or so plate appearances for a hitter still represent a small statistical sample, but that doesn't mean that a strong April can't lead to great things the rest of the year.

Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Willingham and Jonathon Niese each started off hot in 2012, and all were quality Fantasy options throughout the season. Lots of players are capable of taking off on a month-long spree, but it's not easy to tell which ones can sustain their value.

This week, I'll take a look at seven players with strong starts who are showing signs of having more long-term value than they appeared to have just a month ago. The common link among these players is that each is succeeding due to some improvement in their skill indicators, and some portion of their past history suggests that the improvement could be more than just fleeting.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

While each is a risk to regress to his previous level of performance, the players analyzed here each have shown something in the early weeks that, at minimum, make them worth tracking. Owners willing to take gambles should start them or look to acquire them if the asking price isn't too high. Even though each is off to a good start, their own owners may think that it's too good to be true.

John Buck, C, Mets: With nine homers, Buck is nearly halfway to his career-high of 20 just a month into the season. It helps somewhat that Buck is on pace to demolish his career high in plate appearances, though prospect Travis D'Arnaud could still steal playing time late in the season, once he has time to recover from the broken bone in his foot. For now, though, Buck is not only playing regularly, but he is hitting flyballs at the highest rate of his career. He probably won't continue to turn nearly one-fourth of them into homers, but as long as Buck has an elevated flyball rate, he's capable of 25-plus homers. Given that he has always trended as a flyball hitter, it's looking more and more like a probable scenario.

A.J. Pierzynski, C, Rangers: After years of declining power, Pierzynski shocked the Fantasy world with a 27-homer campaign to cap off his White Sox career. Now in his first year with the Rangers, Pierzynski is helping owners to shed doubt that his 2012 surge was just a one-year fluke. Last season's 17 percent home run-to-flyball ratio was far out of line with his career norms, even from his better seasons, but so far this year, he's exceeded it with a 21 percent mark. Pierzynski is surely due for some regression in that stat, but then again, he can maintain his home run power by raising a 28 percent flyball rate that is below average for him.

Josh Donaldson, 3B, Athletics: When Donaldson emerged out of spring training last season getting the lion's share of starts at third base, he looked like a promising Fantasy option. He had a history of good plate discipline with decent power, and he had catcher eligibility. Donaldson no longer qualifies at catcher in most leagues, but this season, we're seeing a return to a more patient approach and increased doubles power. He is also capable of hitting flyballs at a higher rate than his current 28 percent, so we could see more homers in Donaldson's future. He probably won't hit .300 over the long run, but his contact and power skills are good enough to keep him relevant in standard mixed leagues.

Lucas Duda, OF, Mets: Duda is currently a top 40 outfielder in points leagues, even though he is batting just .246. He has been incredibly patient, averaging 4.54 pitches per plate appearance and sporting a 22 percent walk rate. When Duda swings, he misses too often, but a decreasing ground ball-to-flyball ratio shows that the contact he does make is usually hard. Duda showed good home run power in the minors, and there's room for him to improve his batting average, not only by cutting back on strikeouts, but by improving on an .059 flyball BABIP. It's time to think about Duda as more than just a reserve outfielder.

Paul Maholm, SP, Braves: Last season, particularly during the second half, Maholm mysteriously became more of a strikeout pitcher. The southpaw had always been able to strike out lefty batters, but suddenly he was getting less contact from righties. Perhaps it's no coincidence that, according to BrooksBaseball.net, Maholm started throwing more two-strike sliders to righties last year, as the slider is Maholm's best pitch for whiffs. CBSSports.com blogger Chris Cwik has also noted that Maholm uses his cutter to set up his slider and fastball to great effect, but he's been getting strikeouts at an even higher rate this year, even though he hasn't thrown many cutters. Maholm has been good at avoiding walks and homers for years; now that he has been good at avoiding contact over an extended period, he has elevated himself into the top 60 of starting pitchers.

Kyle Kendrick, SP/RP, Phillies: Like Maholm, Kendrick took a step forward late last season while spending the last two months in the Phillies' rotation. Kendrick started throwing more strikes and getting more grounders, and while he's getting fewer whiffs so far this year, he's still keeping flyballs to a minimum. Even recently, though, Kendrick has continued to be vulnerable to home runs at Citizens Bank Park, so he's hardly a must-start in mixed leagues. However, he's been good on the road since 2011, so he may be a better streaming option than you think, especially in weeks with away starts.

Patrick Corbin, SP, Diamondbacks: Back in spring training, I thought Randall Delgado would be the better choice to be Arizona's fifth starter, but while Delgado is flailing in Triple-A, Corbin is proving that the Diamondbacks made the right decision. Corbin has increased his fastball velocity, but he hasn't lost his pinpoint control. The increased velocity has also translated into more swinging strikes and strikeouts over his last three starts. That span covers just 21 innings, so it could just be a blip on the radar, but at worst, he could be an efficient innings-eater for points leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Struggling Adam LaRoche gets second straight night off
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:05 pm ET) Scuffling Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has been given the night off Thursday in Miami. Kevin Frandsen is set to start instead. LaRoche is hitless in his last 15 at-bats.

LaRoche also sat Wednesday, as did all the Washington starters after the clinching of the division title.


Jean Segura can't hit Shelby Miller - and won't Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:00 pm ET) The Brewers are sitting shortstop Jean Segura in St Louis on Thursday in favor of Hector Gomez. He is hitless in 15 at-bats lifetime against Cardinals starter Shelby Miller.

Segura has not driven in a run in his last 21 games.


Dizziness causes Dioner Navarro scratch Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:48 pm ET) A bout with dizziness that prevented Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro from playing Wednesday has also kept him out of the lineup Thursday night against the Yankees. Josh Thole is set to start instead.

Navarro owns a stat line of .282/.324/.410.


Red Sox issue Thursday lineup sans Rusney Castillo
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:42 pm ET) Red Sox ballyhooed rookie outfielder Rusney Castillo is not in the Thursday lineup in Pittsburgh. He had his major league debut Wednesday night and went 1 for 4.

Arismendy Alcantara absent from Thursday lineup
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:38 pm ET) Cubs rookie outfielder Arismendy Alcantara has been ruled out again Thursday against the Dodgers. A wrist issue has caused him to miss the last two games.

Alcantara has been on an all-or-nothing run throughout his time with Chicago. He has nine home runs and 75 strikeouts in 245 at-bats.


Yoenis Cespedes set to sit Thursday night
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:33 pm ET) The Red Sox have benched disappointing left fielder Yoenis Cespedes for the Thursday night game in Pittsburgh.

Cespedes, who has not homered since Aug. 22, has just four hits in his last 34 at-bats and one RBI since Sept. 6.


Pedro Florimon lands with Nationals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:24 pm ET) The Nationals have claimed veteran infielder Pedro Florimon, who managed just seven hits in 76 at-bats early this season for Minnesota.

Florimon was a regular for much of 2013 with the Twins, but finished that year with a weak stat line of .221/.281/.330.


Manager: Chris Bassitt to receive another starting opportunity
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:39 pm ET) Robin Ventura has right-hander Chris Bassitt pegged for another start this season despite an outing Tuesday in wich he allowed three earned runs on six hits and four walks in just 3 2/3 innings.

"He's going to get another shot at it," Ventura told MLB.com. "I see Bass still throwing in the Detroit series."

Bassitt is currently scheduled to pitch Monday against the Tigers.


Josh Reddick nursing left ankle injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:19 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick is dealing with a sore left ankle sustained on a fall heading to first base Wednesday night against Texas. He is being checked by trainers and is not in the lineup for the Thursday afternoon game.

Eury Perez sent packing by Nationals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:15 pm ET) The Nationals have designated for assignment outfielder Eury Perez, whom they demoted to Triple-A Syracuse in late July.

Perez will likely finish this season without a major league at-bat.


 
 
 
Rankings