Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Names Busting Out?

We're a quarter of the way through the season, which is a nice enough sample size to make determinations about player performances. As is this case every year, a lot of high draft picks got off to slow starts, something that most fantasy teams can't avoid. But as we enter the 2nd quarter, it seems like some big name players are turning it around and are on their way to their customary place atop the fantasy ranks. Let's take a look at some players who fit this bill.

CC Sabathia: After a terrible start to the season, Sabathia's last two starts have netted him 20 strikeouts, just one earned run, and a CGSO. Compare that to his first 4 starts, where he gave up a whopping 27 runs in just 18 innings. Since dropping to 0-3, Sabathia has had 5 starts in which he's gone 3-2 (one of the losses was a 1-0 loss where he tossed 8 innings). More importantly, he's had 43 Ks during the 5 game stretch. Although a member of the dreaded 3500 club, Sabathia looks like he's shaken off the early season rust and is primed to make a big push toward a fat contract in the offseason.

Ryan Howard: While last year proved that Ryan Howard's MVP season of 2006 produced an unlikely average, it also proved that Howard is a production machine as he finished the year with 47 HRs and 136 RBIs. As April wrapped up, it looked like Howard would be lucky to reach even half of those numbers. But May rolled in and it looks like Howard has finally found his power stroke. He's homered the past two nights, bringing his May total to 4. His average is still well below the Mendoza line, but his .182 average is actually an improvement from last month. He is still striking out at a record pace, which definitely hurts in leagues that penalize Ks. Throughout his career, Howard has been a perennial member of the all Chronic Tardiness Team (players who get off to terrible starts but eventually turn it around), and it looks like this year is no different.

Robinson Cano: We might be a bit premature by proclaiming Cano out of his miserable season opening slump which has extended to May, but he is showing all the signs. With his 4 hit performance on Wednesday night, Cano finally crept his average over .200. He has 11 hits in his past 7 games and has collected at least 1 hit in 10 of his past 12 games. Anyone who saw Cano's ABs in the beginning of the year could tell that he was just in a nasty funk. He wasn't his usual, patient self and was putting lazy swings on the ball that usually resulted in weak outs. For the past 2 weeks, he has shown a much more patient approach, and it seems to be paying off. Also a member of the all Chronic Tardiness Team, this is nothing new for Cano. Expect his average to keep rising and some hot streaks to make up for his awful start.

Ryan Braun: As giddy as everyone was about what Braun did in limited time as a rookie last year, it was nowhere near how worried we were when he got off to a slow start to the 2008 season. It's safe to say we can all relax, as Braun is well on his way toward proving that last year was not a fluke. Braun is already up to 10HRs and 30 RBIs with a .286 average. He only has 1 SB, but he will most likely see a fairly substantial decrease in stolen bases every year if he keeps hitting with the power that he's showing. After just 3 HRs in April, Braun has blown up with 7 in May already, and has 5 in his last 5 games. Hopefully this slow start won't be the norm for him every year. And just to be clear...this is Ryan J. Braun we're talking about.

Carlos Beltran: Beltran seems to be one of those alternating year fantasy studs. His standout years always come in the even years, so superstitious owners were hoping that the trend held true this year. It wan't looking that way in the early going, but Beltran is starting to heat up as of late. He's raised his average from .211 to .246 in the month of May. He's currently riding an 8 game hitting streak in which he's put up 10 RBIs. The power is still lacking a bit, as are the stolen bases, but it appears as if Beltran is finally getting his stroke back.

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