April 1st may not be a recognized national holiday, but we all cringe when we get the office, afraid of what our co-workers may have in store for us. Did you realize that April Fool’s Day was mentioned as far back as 1392, the same year Jamie Moyer threw his first MLB pitch, in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In the spirit of April Fools Day, I present my Fantasy April Fools. These players are in line to trick their owners, for better or worse. Here are 5 players who are in line to produce below ADP expectations for the month of April and 5 more who should produce better. The wise owner would target the slumpers and deal off the over-achievers.
5 players in line to produce below ADP expectations
Ryan Braun: Fresh off his PED-induced suspension in 2013, Braun faces a tough April, as the Brewers head on the road for 13 games. You can look at his stats and think Braun will do just fine. Braun has looked like the Braun of old this spring, and his career splits show that he has been a more proficient hitter on the road (0.315 to 0.309, 602 hits to 554 hits), however, he has been less productive. In essentially the same number of at-bats over approximately 470 home and away games, Braun has hit 15 more HR at home (113 to 98), driven in 19 more runs (350 to 331) and scored 32 more runs (338 to 306). Owners expecting Braun to start 2014 with a bang in hopes of erasing the whispers about PEDs and increased performance may need to wait until May.
Max Scherzer: The 2013 Cy Young Award winner now has the pressure of owners expecting him to be a top arm. Scherzer had some interesting split stats last year. His home ERA was actually more than a run higher than his road ERA (3.55 to 2.28). He stands to make 5 April starts, with 3 on the road and 2 at home. However, one road start would be in LA versus a very deep Dodger lineup. While his K/9 was an insane 13.21 in April of 2013, I still expect Scherzer to have a few hiccups this month as he looks to defend his hardware and justify a huge free agent contract.
Eric Hosmer: Traditionally a slow starter, don’t expect Hosmer to bust out of the gates this season. In 42 career games in March and April, Hosmer has a 0.217 batting average with 5 HR and 31 strikeouts. August is traditionally his best month, as he sports a 0.295 career average with 11 HR and 48 strikeouts in 86 games.
Jon Lester: Owners expecting Lester to start 2014 with a continuation of his 2013 postseason success would be wise to check his career numbers. Since 2008, his ERA in April has been under 4 only twice. Couple this history of early season struggles with a schedule that includes series with the Orioles, Rays, Rangers, Yankees and Blue Jays in Toronto, and owners should temper their expectations. Savvy trade partners are wise to target Lester, who was practically unhittable in the second half of 2014, and has a career ERA under 4 June through October.
Hunter Pence: Pence has 6 straight 20-homer seasons with 75 runs and 70 RBI, but if you just looked at his April numbers you would not expect this consistency. Pence is a career 0.264 hitter in April. It is his least powerful month (18HR in 147 games). His 64 runs are the lowest month total, and nearly half of what he has produced in May. He has driven in 74 runs in April (again, the lowest month) compared to 120 in May, or 136 in September (clutch). Expect Pence to produce another 20-HR season, but expect another rough April.
Shane Victorino was originally slated to be here due to a nagging spring training injury and the fact that the Red Sox play 25 of their first 28 games in potential cold weather locations. A trip to the disabled list altered those plans and sent Victorino owners looking for alternatives for now. Needless to say his ADP for April is below our expectations.
5 players in line to produce above ADP
Dan Haren: I fully expect Dan Haren to produce above his ADP all season, but early season could be the best time to get a return on your draft investment. If you take out his 6+ ERA in 2013, his previous 5 April ERAs were 3.13, 1.54, 4.50, 1.23 and 3.34. With potential starts against the Diamondbacks, Phillies and Twins, Haren should produce a very solid April for fantasy owners.
Justin Upton: April has been Upton’s most powerful month of his career, with 29 career HR in the month. In 2013, Upton blasted 12 HR in the month, and then managed only 15 the rest of the season. Upton is traditionally a fast starter, struggling in the middle of the year. Another quick start in 2014 could yield a dealing owner a very nice return.
Brandon Moss: With an ADP of 131, Moss was selected after other possible 1B/CI like Matt Adams, Michael Cuddyer and Billy Butler. Now I may be higher on Moss this season than some owners, I think his 30 HR in 2013 are a sign of what is to come this season. Not a huge sample size for Moss, who hasn’t been a regular starter for more than about a season and a half, but in 2013 he did hit 0.295 in April, with 4 HR. He also drove in 19 runs, which tied his monthly high, and scored a monthly high of 17 runs. Seven games against the hapless Astros should help pad Moss’ as well as a few other A’s stats to start the season.
Nick Swisher: Swisher was selected around pick 200, and while he is prone to hot and cold streaks, April has been one of his more productive months during his career. His 38 HR and 130 RBI make April his 3rd most productive month (he has been productive late in the season as well). The Indians have the Twins, White Sox and Padres on the schedule for April, so Swisher should have another nice start.
Marco Estrada: Alright, so maybe I am grasping at straws a bit here. Especially if you consider that I mention you cannot put too much weight into how Jon Lester finished 2013 when his April’s are usually not strong. Am I talking out of both sides of my mouth when I recommend Estrada here? Sure, he was terrific down the stretch in 2013, an ERA of 2.61 in August and 1.63 in September. He has tossed 17 straight scoreless innings, and has not walked a batter in 24 straight. The Phillies, Padres and Cubs are all on the schedule for April. With an ADP around 206, 55th among SP, he should produce more in the range of 30-35, at least to start the year.
Shout out to Fantasy Pros for their tremendous work to compiled ADP from 71 different experts and put them into a neat table.