Most seasoned fantasy baseball veterans know that the first couple weeks are not an indicator of a players success or failure. That doesn’t stop some from giving up hope much quicker than they should, though.
That’s where you, the savvy vet, needs to capitalize.
Every year there is a list of guys that start off way too slow. Some seem to be a bit of an anomaly, while others seem to make a habit out of poor play in April. My main interest is in the latter. Players that make a habit of starting slow are usually owned by people that are aware of this from the get go. Players that get off to unusually slow starts tend to send owners into panic mode rather quickly.
This season, I already have my eye on a few such players. Guys that, if done correctly, can be acquired for much less than they should be.
1. Carlos Gonzalez
First things first, half of his games are played in Coors Field. Literally the most hitter friendly park in baseball. Much like in 2015 when Gonzalez hit a measly .200 through April with only two HR and 6 RBI, you should expect a big bounce back. Cargo went on to hit .284 that year with 40 HR. In fact, besides his rookie year, Gonzalez has never hit less than 22 bombs in a full season.
Second, CarGo seems to be one of those hitters that’s just over thinking things and getting a bit unlucky. Remember, he’s only 31 years old so the chances of him just completly losing the ability to hit are slim. His K rate (20%) is right on par with last season (20.4%) but his BABIP is a terribly low .220 leading to his .192 average. Look for that to normalize much closer to his career average BABIP of .335 which will bring his average up with it. More hits = More HR. Especially in Colorado.
2. Joey Votto
See: Gonzalez, Carlos
I’m only half kidding. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t go in to any sort of detail. So far on the season, Votto is hitting .208 with 3 HR and not much else. Last season he started out slowly as well hitting .229 in April before going on a tear and ending the year as a top five first baseman in most formats.
Votto’s issues this year are a lot less walks and a much lower BABIP. His 9.1% BB rate is well below his career mark of 15.8%. His BABIP is also weirdly low at just .175, half of his career mark of .356. Although this may have a bit to do with his career worst soft contact rate (20.9%), it seems to be more of the exception than the rule. Despite all of this, many signs point to this actually turning in to a monster year for Votto once he gets control of that BABIP. He is currently only striking out in 10.9% of his at bats and has an impressive .250 iso. That is actually the second highest iso of his career. The only time it was higher was in 2010 when he had an iso of .276, hit 36 doubles, 37 HR and won the NL MVP award.
Votto might be down, but he is certainly not out. Capitalize on his struggles now before Votto starts to take advantage of that great Reds lineup.
3. Jonathan Villar
There may not be a power/speed combo like his in baseball. Guys like Altuve and Trout come close, but Villar’s 19 HR and 62 SB last year were unrivaled. Fast forward to 2017 and, despite his nasty batting average, Villar is showing signs that a repeat performance could be on the way.
I get it, his 35% K rate and .145 average don’t seem very enticing. Especially in points leagues where strikeouts really hurt. If you dig a little deeper though you’ll see that his BABIP is only .162 meaning you can expect a fairly large bump in average once that evens out. Not only that, his isolated power this year is .200 putting him amongst guys like Giancarlo Stanton, Kris Bryant and Charlie Blackmon. The uptick in power and the fact that he’s already swiped 4 bags this year means he could be in line for a 25/60 season, besting the amazing season he put together last season.
A key to being successful in fantasy baseball is not necessarily winning early, it’s preparing your team to be a juggernaut come playoff time. These three hitters, should you get them, have the ability to take your team to a championship level.
Take advantage while you still have the chance.