Baseball is a game of statistics. It always has been more than any other sport. Batting over .300, hitting more than 30 HRs, driving in more than 100 runs, striking out more than 200 batters, and getting 20-plus wins are just part of what defines a successful season. It’s May 2 now. What players have done up to this point really doesn’t mean much in our evaluations. It’s a small sample size to say the least. Some teams have played very few games in what most would consider baseball weather. What matters now is how we evaluate a player from this point forward. Was it just a hot start they got off to? Were they performing poorly because they were slumping, weather, injury, or a combination of the three? It’s these evaluations and the decision that come from this that could determine future success or failure.
1. Jarlin Garcia, Miami Marlins: There is no denying how well Garcia is pitching. He has an ERA of 1.09 and WHIP of 0.85. It is however hard to explain why he is pitching so well. The Marlins are a bad team, so wins were always going to be tough to come by, so we can’t knock him for only having a single W. With only 23 strikeouts in 33 IP, what categories are you expecting him to help you in from here on out? The ratios are certainly going to come up, along with his BABIP, which currently sits at .157. Fantasy owners should be selling Garcia while selling for a profit is still possible.
2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals: Molina has had quite a power resurgence the past two seasons, which is something of a surprise seeing as though will turn 36 in July. Molina finished with 22 bombs last season, which was his most since 2012 and seemed to be an outlier season when you consider he had only hit 31 HRs in the four seasons combined between 2013-2016. This year he already has six dingers which puts him on a pace for 30-plus. I’m not going to speculate as to why all of a sudden he’s a power-hitting catcher, but once again, I expect these numbers to come down. I’m not big on catchers anyway as they always seem to get hurt or banged up as the season goes along, so if someone wants to pay top dollar for Molina, I’m all ears.
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: When you look at his overall numbers, you won’t be all that impressed. You need to look a little bit closer with Hernandez. Yes, his ERA is just south of five but most of that is because of one bad start versus the Giants where he gave up eight runs in four innings. In his other six starts he has gone at least 5.3 IP and given up no more than three earned runs. He’s not King Felix anymore, but can still be a useful part of your Fantasy staff in the short term. He’s another player however, that I would look to sell if someone in your league believes he’s reverting to the All-Star he used to be.
4. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays: It looks like Snell may finally be making his mark in MLB. Outside of a poor start versus the Yankees in which he gave up five runs in 3.1 IP, he has been pretty close to lights out this season. In his other six starts, including two versus Boston, he has only allowed seven earned runs 39 IP. With the Rays offense, there will be games in which he doesn’t get a W because the team can’t score for him or because the bullpen gives up a lead, but that doesn’t mean Snell still isn’t a must start for your Fantasy team.
5. Yonder Alonso, Cleveland Indians: The Indians, as a team, haven’t started to hit yet, don’t worry, that will come, but Alonso at the very least is providing power. He’s only currently batting .222 and I might worry that although I do expect the average to come up. It probably won’t come up enough not to be a detriment in that category at the end of the season, but the power is legit, another 25-plus HRs should be coming.
1. Brett Gardner, New York Yankees: General manager Brian Cashman has tried to trade Gardner for at least the past three offseasons. That should tell us all we need to know about how the Yankees view Gardner. As for Fantasy owners, what category is he helping you in? His average is barely above the Mendoza line. He only has two SBs and with power hitters like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez hitting behind him, the Yankees may prefer that he not risk an out on the bases. Runs are the only category you may be able to rely on and that’s just not enough of a reason to start Gardner.
2. Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays: Sure, there are plausible explanations as to why Stroman has pitched so poorly to start this season. Maybe the Jays and Stroman did rush him back when he missed about half of spring training with a shoulder problem. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. He can’t be started right now, not with an 8.88 ERA and 1.82 WHIP, at least not until he has one and possibly two solid starts under his belt.
3. Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox: This has become somewhat of an epidemic in MLB. It seems that players who missed most or all of spring training are not performing up to expectations (Stroman, Pomeranz, Greg Holland, Alex Cobb). Pomeranz has lost over three MPH off his fastball from last season. Perhaps he is still working on his arm strength but like Stroman. He is best left on your bench until you see some positive results.
4. Ian Desmond, Colorado Rockies: His second season in Colorado is not starting off all that much better than his first. Last season, he could use the broken hand that he suffered in spring training as an excuse, but this season he is supposedly completely healthy. The numbers are poor. If he continues to bat well south of .200, Desmond will eventually lose playing time to any one of several players once the Rockies are at full strength.
5. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels: Pujols still has three years left after this one on a contract that pays him $25.4 million per season. The Angels are already regretting that deal and it will only get worse. Yeah, he’s going to get his 3000th hit any day now, but he should be doing that on your bench or on the waiver wire, not in your starting lineup.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Tony Dejak