Saturday, April 19, 2008

Chronic Tardiness?

It's one of those things that just can't be explained - certain people are just traditionally slow starters in baseball. Three weeks into the season and there are many concerned owners out there wondering if their team is filled with busts or just players who are showing up late to the party. Let's take a look at some big name guys who are off to a slow start and see if this is the norm for them or if there is genuine cause for concern.

Robinson Cano: So far, Cano is batting just .171 with 1 HR and 5 RBIs. Many people projected Cano to be north of .315 20 and 100 this season after a spring in which he put up great numbers. So what should we make of Cano's terrible start? For one, the Yankee lineup as a whole has just not clicked yet. I say yet, because it will happen. Their first off day of the season is April 21st and they'll been on the road for most the month. Cano also has a history as an incredibly slow starter over his time in the majors. Conclusion - be patient with him. The Yankee lineup will click and Cano will be in a great position to match his projections of just a few weeks ago.

Ryan Howard: For many fantasy owners, this is a make or break year for Howard in that he needs to prove he is closer to the MVP of 2006 rather than the player he was last year when hit just .268 with 199 Ks. Granted, he still put up monster power numbers last year, but his .318 average in 2006 made him truly an elite fantasy player. As of today, Howard is hitting .197 with 4 HRs, 9 RBIs and 23 Ks. In leagues where you're penalized for Ks, it's to the point where owners are happy to take an 0-5 night from Howard as long as he doesn't strike out 3 times. What's to make of his slow start? It's beginning to look like Howard will never match his all around production from 2006, but there's no reason to think that he won't hit 40 HRs and get to 100 RBIs, at the very least. But, he will continue his trend of establishing a new career high in strikeouts (and possibly even a league record). He's been a slow starter every year of his Major League career, and even needed an early season stint on the DL last year to turn him around.

David Ortiz: Ortiz has never battled early season slumps since joining the Red Sox in 2003. He currently posts a .134 average with a ridiculously low slugging percentage of .224. This even includes 5 games against the Yankees, who Ortiz usually brutalizes. Is the offseason knee surgery in which he had a tear in his meniscus repaired still a factor? For anyone who's seen his ABs this year, it certainly seems as if Ortiz just isn't right. Whether it's the knee or just an old-fashioned slump, we'll probably never know. Expect a significant dropoff in Ortiz's numbers this year. He won't be as bad as he is now for the rest of the year, but Ortiz suffered a hit to his power #s last year and I expect a similar trend this year as well.

CC Sabathia: The 27 year old lefty is the projected prize of the 2008 free agent season. Coming off his Cy Young year last year, Sabathia firmly entrenched himself as a bona fide stud. However, after 4 starts this year, Sabathia has no wins and a 13.50 ERA. He hasn't lost anything from his velocity - his problems seem to be with his control. Last year, in 241 innings, Sabathia issued just 37 walks. So far, in his 18 innings pitched, he's already walked 14. So the question is...are Sabathia's problems physical or mental? Is the pressure of his impending free agency too much for him to deal with? It's hard to imagine him not being able to pull it together and make a run at a huge offseason payout. His career numbers don't indicate anything otherwise. Buy low if at all possible.

No comments: