Itâ€™s time for smart fantasy GMs to take advantage of the general panic that may or may not be setting in for their league mates. Fantasy GMs are still a cowardly and superstitious lot. Swing in like the Dark Knight and snag some fantastic buy-low options for pennies on the dollar because â€œso-and-so is killingâ€ some sad sack GMâ€™s team.
Take Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, for example. Moustakas was a legit sleeper in the off-season who was gaining steam as Opening Day drew near. Moustakas has suffered through a brutal start. Heâ€™s slashing .163/.226/.204. Brutal. He has zero homeruns. Brutal. He has one more RBI (1) than Lenny Melnick. Brutal.
The good news is that heâ€™s a victim of statistical variance over a small sample size. Moustakas has a 0.0% HR:FB ratio because he doesnâ€™t have any homers. Heâ€™s hitting fly balls 64.3% of the time he puts the ball in play. Thatâ€™s a ton of fly balls and absolutely nothing to show for it. Those balls will start finding the cheap seats and GMs with Moustakas on their roster will be able to breathe easier soon.
Moustakas is walking more (7.5% BB %) and striking out less (13.2% K %) than he has at any other time in his major league career. He is not this bad, but he can probably be pried away from a frustrated fantasy GM. It might be a good idea to call on Moustakas if you just lost Ryan Zimmerman to the DL.
Royals DH Billy Butler is another player that has annoyed most fantasy GMs during the first three weeks of the season. Butler is a guy who owns a .299 career BABIP, but heâ€™s currently rocking a .212 BABIP. Heâ€™s never posted a GB:FB ratio under 1.00 and heâ€™s posting a 2.50 GB:FB right now, so we know heâ€™s not one of those guy that maintains a lower than average BABIP with a high fly ball rate.
Butler is doing two things that are useful at a 20.0% clip. One is drawing walks and the other is hitting line drives. His numbers will improve as long as he continues to see pitches and spray line drives all over the field. He could probably be had for pennies on the dollar right now and he could be useful for a fantasy GM in need of a competent guy for a utility/corner spot.
Sticking with the all Kansas City theme…Eric Hosmer, ladies and gentlemen! Hosmer has picked up 2013 in almost the exact same spot he left us in 2012. Heâ€™s frustrating everyone. We see flashes of what Hosmer could be with his 11.6% BB %, but we also see what Hosmer is with his 20.9% K %.
There is cause for optimism. Â Hosmer is hitting line drives 25.0% of the time he makes contact. Heâ€™s also only swinging and missing 7.7% of the time the bat comes off his shoulder. Thatâ€™s lower than the 8.5% mark he posted last year. Heâ€™s also managed to get his o-swing % under 30%. These are baby steps, but they are steps in the right direction. Hosmer could probably be had for less than what he cost on draft day.
To avoid making this an all Kansas City version of LDLAAM, letâ€™s take a look at Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera is another player that has struggled out of the gate and could be worth trying to lure away from a fantasy GM ready to toss his or her hands in the air. Cabrera has opened the 2012 season with a .150 actual BA and a .175 BABIP. He has a 2.09 GB:FB ratio with a 17.3% line drive %. He is striking out a ton (26.9% K %), but heâ€™s also finding a lot of gloves when he does put the ball in play.
Cabrera will probably set a career high in strikeouts, but there are much worse things than a few extra Kâ€™s. Fantasy GMs with a hole in the middle infield should try to pull him away from anyone ready to give up on him.
Weâ€™ll stick with the AL Central theme with this post and end with Tigers kinda-catcher ( but not really) mostly-DH Victor Martinez. Itâ€™s been a rough ride for those who chose to have Martinez on their roster while â€œthat-guyâ€s like John Buck, Chris Iannetta and Francisco Cervelli have gotten off to much better starts while being drafted much, much later in most fantasy leagues.
Martinez has yet to homer, but he is drawing walks at a 14.1% clip and not whiffing as much as he did before his knee blew up (9.9% K % this year compared to an 11.0% career average). His .017 ISO is among the leagueâ€™s worst for full-time position players. Heâ€™s hitting fly balls 46.3% of the time, but has nothing to show for it. Martinez will find the cheap seats eventually and his numbers will improve. Heâ€™s absolutely someone a fantasy GM with Buck, Iannetta or Cervelli on their should be trying to put together a package for.
Weâ€™ll be back around the same time next week and we might even discuss a pitcher! Stranger things (looking at you and your 1.03 ERA, Paul Maholm) have and will continue to happen in baseball.