We are less than 10 days into the new season, so it is time to start tracking player performances and overreacting to how their production in less than 5% of the season will impact their value the rest of the way. If I can give you any advice as we start the new season, it is this: The season is a marathon, not a sprint.
How a player performs in this first couple weeks of the season is not an automatic barometer of how they will play the rest of the way or even the rest of the month. With that in mind, striking early and nabbing a high-performing player off of waivers at this point in the season can result in great production when done correctly (looking at those of you who claimed Max Muncy early on). Keep track of new, now on the radar performers and those who have been fantasy darlings for some time. Some of these fast or slow starts will stick and paying attention to their performances will allow you to make the best decisions for your roster as the season progresses.
As always, if you have a player you would like profiled or have a question about, feel free to post in the comment section or reach out to me on Twitter @hedenson18 with that or any other questions. We will be working our way around the diamond so you can submit your player requests in advance.
- Matt Chapman
2019 Matt Chapman is working hard to prove to everyone that his scintillating second half last year was not a fluke. Take a look at that second-half production compared to his recent work:
Flat out raking no matter how you look at it. The increased walk rate thus far (14.3% BB%) is great to see, especially given the lowered K% (11.4%) that accompanies it. He is still hitting the ball with authority (44% Hard%) and his current .490 wOBA ranks in the top 9% of the league. Nuff said.
- Christian Yelich
I have to admit that I was one who expected Yelich to drop off after his incredible MVP season in 2018. And he has! After posting a 48.1% HR/FB% and generating a 50.5% Hard% in the second half of 2018 this slouch is now posting a meager 40% HR/FB%, completely undercutting his slight improvement in Hard% (57.9%).
He also only managed to tie the MLB record by homering in each of his team’s first four games to start the season. 2018 second-half Yelich would have broken that record. So, clearly, time to jump off the Yelich train before it further runs your team into the ground.
- Dwight Smith Jr.
Smith was a late addition to the Orioles, coming over in an all avian mascot trade with the Blue Jays for international slot money. Despite being the new guy in town, Smith acclimated quickly and currently boasts a .350/.381/.400 line through the first five games of the season.
He showed a good blend of power and speed in the minors and could offer sneaky value if he continues to get consistent playing time. A sky-high BABIP (.389) supports his current production, but he has the speed to maintain a higher than normal rate there and should be a source of cheap steals at the very least.
- Marco Gonzales
Marco Gonzales took over the Opening Day mantle for the Mariners this season and has been one a bright spot in their hot early season start. Gonzales is already 3-0 on the short season and tossed his best game Tuesday against the Angels, limiting them to one run over 8.1 innings.
His overall numbers (3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) are solid, though advanced metrics (3.57 FIP, 4.57 xFIP, 4.40 SIERA) paint a different picture. His strikeouts have also been muted compared to last season (13.4% K%). His impeccable control (3.7% BB%) allows him to succeed at the MLB level without wipe-out offerings, though he may regress a bit as the season continues.
- Marcus Stroman
Stroman struggled to live up to expectations after a strong 2017 season (13-9, 3.09 ERA), limping to a 5.54 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in only 102.1 IP last season. Advanced looks at his work last year were more optimistic (3.91 FIP, 3.84 xFIP, 3.47 SIERA), and his limited work in 2019 reflects those views so far.
He owns a 1.42 ERA in two starts (2.20 FIP, 3.10 xFIP, 3.12 SIERA) and has struck out 24.5% of hitters faced in those outings. His walk issues are still there (10.2% BB%), but if he can maintain this start to the season he could be useful as a mid-tier arm moving forward.
Other fast starts to watch: Joc Pederson, Kolten Wong, Jake Odorizzi, Maikel Franco
- Zack Greinke
The doomsday clock started for Greinke after his atrocious first start for 2019. The Diamondback ace lasted only 3.2 IP, surrendering seven earned runs (four on HR) and walking two batters in an ugly, abbreviated outing. Owners everywhere immediately took a ‘Sky is Falling’ approach to this effort, pointing to diminished velocity and other factors as harbingers of the end for the former CY Young winner.
And yet, Greinke came out and posted a quality start in his next outing, allowing three earned runs over six innings while striking out 10. While his velocity is down compared to last season (90vFA in 2018, 89.4 vFA in 2019), Greinke dealt with the same issue last year and was able to work around it. His unsightly 9.31 ERA is undercut by mostly sparkling advanced metrics (8.91 FIP, 2.86 xFIP, 2.64 SIERA) and he is currently striking out 29.6% of batters faced.
You can be wary of Greinke given his age (35), but I would give it a bit before deciding to deal or cut him. He knows how to pitch and I imagine that Dodgers start will stand out as an aberration when his final season production is finished.
- Matt Carpenter
Carpenter has started 2019 slowly, batting .190/.292/.381 with one slam on the short season. It is way to early to jump to any conclusions on his performance, but owners are likely to be more reactive than usual with Carpenter given his impressive, power-heavy second half (17 HR) and sustainable it may be moving forward.
Continue to monitor the Cardinal, but now is not the time to make any decisions on his production. Carpenter should be a strong fantasy asset this season, especially given his multi-positional eligibility.
- Brian Dozier
Dozier’s move to Washington has not helped him at the plate. The Nationals 2B is 1/13 in his first four games and has yet to do anything to alleviate the concerns that arose after a disappointing season in 2018 (.215/.305/.391 with 21 HR and 12 SB).
Despite his struggles last season I still think Dozier can be a useful fantasy asset moving forward. He offers a good blend of power and speed at the position and should benefit from the move to Nationals Park (Top Five in Run and HR Factors in 2018). His early season struggles have me worried though and I will give him a shorter leash in 2019.
Other slow starts to be aware of: Juan Soto, Chris Sale, Trevor Story, Carlos Carrasco
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