We'll spare you the "be patient, it's early" cliche advice. That said, we're only human. We all have fantasy teams we're rooting for and have made calls on players that have influenced our readers' teams. In that spirit, I posed this to the Knights:
I wasn't nervous. Maybe I was a little bit concerned, but that's not the same thing.
We all recognize that's what the grandson (Fred Savage) said to his grandfather (Peter Falk) in "The Princess Bride."
What players are you not nervous about, but maybe a little bit concerned?
Roy Halladay: Captain Obvious leads off. I didn't see it, but his plus outing against the Miami Marlins' independent league lineup probably doesn't mean much. If he's not injured, super. I'm not convinced that he's hurt, but I've heard good arguments to the contrary. If he's not, he'll get it together, but it'll take time. I think he's over-striding and exerting too much effort in general to recover some lost velocity, and all it's doing is flattening his fastballs. A greater worry for me is that, if he doesn't make mechanical adjustments, he'll end up on the DL.
Looming large on Zola's list
Matt Kemp: This is based on only a little observation of him, but in the ABs of his I've seen in which he's made contact, the contact isn't extra-base power and doesn't inspire much hope that extra-base power is around the corner. This is lending some credence to the fears of those who were worried that October shoulder surgery would affect his power output. I saw him put some decent plate appearances together in the last week or so, but none that would've inspired hope for his slugging percentage in the immediate future.
Tim Lincecum: Maybe. I think all the contemplation and physical work he did to get back to basics should be yielding better results by now, or at least be reflected in his rate of walks handed out. Considering that he had to answer some doubts in spring training and not just get into pitching shape, I don't think he's proven much. I haven't followed his case closely and haven't watched any of his starts, just caught highlights and checked out the numbers, so I'm no authority. I'm no authority anyway. Maybe this is just going to be a longer process than I expected. If I had to predict his future right now, though, I'd say that he's a reliever heading into next year.
No one else comes to mind, off the top of my head, other than dudes who are already injured. Was Jered Weaver's drop in pitch speed that big a deal in April? I'm really not sure. I wasn't much concerned about CC Sabathia after his first start.
Jarrod Parker: I am slightly concerned about Parker's rough start to the season and hope that he can start to turn things around soon. It looks like he is having problems throwing his signature change-up for strikes and just generally missing his spots. He is a pitcher that walks a fine line to begin with and a tough lineup like the Tigers will make you pay if you make mistakes. I am being patient in hopes that he can harness his best pitch again, but he's doing it on the bench this week in deeper leagues. In a few of my 12-team leagues he has been dropped for alternatives like Jose Fernandez and Ross Detwiler.
Mike Moustakas: Moose was one of my favorite sleepers this year, and a frequent target in any league that I decided to wait on drafting a third baseman. The good news to start the year is he was inserted in the cleanup spot by manager Ned Yost, the bad news is he's been terrible so far and has already been moved down one spot in the lineup due to his cold start. He's hitting only .158, and has looked lost at the plate thus far. I am still a believer, but my previous enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat. Regardless, I am still holding him in all leagues I own him in, for now.
Brandon Belt: Belt lived up to his name this spring as his seven home runs tantalized drafters, myself included, who decided that the young slugger was poised to take the next step up and become a force to be reckoned with. Sadly, he looks like the same guy he has always been at the major-league level, striking out too much and not showing much pop in his bat to start the year. I am not confident at all that he is going to turn the corner and become the 20- to 30-home run threat that would make him worth starting in mixed leagues.
The performances of players like Parker, Moustakas and Belt aren't all that worrisome, in my opinion. Besides the fact that we're only a couple of weeks in, those three have the kinds of flaws or other characteristics we associate with risky performance just as much as they might have the kind of upside we're hoping for. I don't think it should surprise us if Belt hits .290 with 25 home runs, and I think it shouldn't surprise us if he remains a .250 hitter with 15 home runs.
I really thought that this would be the year Pedro Alvarez takes that next step forward, not only providing elite power production but also finishing with an average that doesn't kill your team. Fortunately, I ended up drafting him in only one of my leagues. Alvarez has shown no improvement whatsoever in the K/BB department and through 13 games, he has zero extra base hits. He's always been very streaky, so I'm hoping that a hot stretch is right around the corner, but I can't say I'm overly optimistic. He might turn out to be one of those fantasy enigmas whose maddening inconsistency frustrates his owners to no end.
Cameron Maybin is another guy who I gambled on in one of my leagues, buying into the theory that a disappointing 2012 campaign would depress his draft day price tag to the point where it was virtually impossible to get a negative return on your investment. Well, he's been awful. Three hits through his first 33 at-bats with no stolen bases. Some might be still waiting for that breakout 20/40 season, but I'm not holding my breath. I know it's early, but since this particular league is a 12-team mixed, I'll seriously consider dropping him if he doesn't snap out of this funk relatively soon. Unlike Alvarez, Maybin isn't helped by the position scarcity factor.
Well, I like to draft guys who ...
About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.
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