Fantasy Baseball: Hot or Cold

So the first week of fantasy baseball is nearly over and with just the Sunday games to go players in weekly leagues will be thinking about their rosters and starting line ups for week 2. Add in the daily league players who are looking to get off to a fast start and everybody wants to know the players that are blowing hot or cold. Of course after 1 week the sample sizes are small but it is still possible to see which guys may be on a role to start week 2. As of writing this the Sunday games are still to be played so the stats from those games have not been included.

Ownership % is in brackets

Hot

When it comes to picking hot players I have tried to pick some guys who are not 100% owned as well as guys who are so that this can double as a waiver wire article.

Batters

Giancarlo Stanton (OF) Miami Marlins (100%)

Image courtesy of sportsillustrated

Many people were down on Stanton after last year where he failed to dominate pitchers the way he was expected to but those who did take a shot on him have been rewarded handsomely in the first week. Playing in a arguably better line up this year he has received a little more protection allowing him to really take on pitchers. So far he has scored 7 runs, drove in 11 and hit two homers all while hitting for a .360 average. Add in that he has also matched his tally for stolen bases last year already (OK it is only 1 but still…), he has had an RBI in every game so far this year and he has done it all in his supposedly pitcher friendly home park and I have to say I’m excited to see where this streak could go. Coming up this week he travels to Washington and then hitter friendly Philly so another good week is easily possible.

Mark Trumbo (1B) Arizona Diamondbacks (100%)

Trumbo was a slightly different story than Stanton in that many people were quite high on him with his move to hitter friendly Chase Field this year. Another high point that was missed was that he will now play 5-10 games a year in Colorado which is extremely hitter friendly and he has demonstrated that with two homers in two appearances there so far. He also hit a homer in the opening series in Sydney and then finished his home stretch against San Fran with one to give him a total of 4 on the season which has helped him to a total of 11 RBI to go with 6 runs. The power isn’t overly surprising but the fact that those numbers have come at a an average over .300 will be extremely encouraging to Trumbo owners and if he can keep that up he could easily be a top 5 first baseman come the end of the season. This week gets a little tougher for Trumbo with a trip to pitcher friendly San Fran before returning home to play the Dodgers.

Casey McGehee (1B) Miami Marlins (19%)

This one is a real shocker of a name to be fantasy relevant for me because McGehee wasn’t even on the radar in preseason at first but he has got off to a flyer this week getting a hit in every game so far to leave him with a .450 average. To go with that average he has driven in 10 and scored 2 of his own but has yet to hit a long ball or steal a base which may concern potential owners. He has played all his games in the power sapping Marlins Park so seeing how he gets on this week when he is on his travels may give you an idea if this week’s effort show promise for the future.

Emilio Bonifacio (2F/OF) Chicago Cubs (81%)

The Cubs have been the early games a lot this week it has seemed and that means I have seen a lot of them and the name I keep hearing is Bonifacio and looking at his stats I can see why. He is hitting at a stunning .542 average, has 4 stolen bases already (on pace for about 120) and has scored 3 runs. The downside is he hasn’t driven in a run, but batting atop the order you’re not expecting that from him anyway, and he is playing in one of the worst line ups in the league, so being driven in consistently may be an issue. This upcoming week he plays Pittsburgh and St. Louis so it will be interesting to see if he continues hitting well and steal bases because if that slows down rapidly there isn’t much else in his repertoire.

Dee Gordon (SS) Los Angeles Dodgers (31%)

Gordon slid under the radar a little in spring with many expecting Alex Guerrero to sew up the starting second base job but he didn’t and now it appears Gordon has got his hands on it until he shows otherwise. He had a nice start over in Sydney and has continued to hit reasonably well since returning to America and is currently going at a .421 average. He may be hitting at a lower average than Bonifacio and he ‘only’ has three steals but in addition to three runs he also has 3 RBI due to him bouncing between the top and bottom of a good LA line up. The bad news this week is that he only plays five games and one of those is against Max Scherzer last year’s Cy Young winner in Max Scherzer. However, there is good news for daily leagues, he plays Arizona late in the week at Chase Field so if he does have any latent power there may be the chance to see it there.

Charlie Blackmon (OF) Colorado Rockies (17%)

After a relatively slow start Blackmon burst into fantasy relevance Friday and then reinforced that Saturday by going a combined 9/10 with 5 runs, 1 homer, 5 RBI and 1 steal. All the talk has been of a bit of a time share in centre field for the Rockies but a couple more top end performances from Blackmon could earn him the full time job in a very hitter friendly park. He did struggle a little at Miami early in the week going 3/10 (OK that’s still a .300 average!) with a solitary RBI and steal as well as only starting two of the four games. It’s hard to put two much stock into a relative unknown guy having a good week but in deep leagues he is worth a speculative pick up and with three games at home to start the week against Chicago we could see a continuation of his good run. The second half of the week sees him travel to San Fran where he will come against Bumgarner and Cain so in weekly leagues he would be a tough start for me.

Brandon Belt (1B) San Francisco Giants (100%)

Belt pretty much exploded to start the week with three long balls in hitter friendly Chase Field but came down to earth a little more once he returned home to San Fran. However, a week that reads 6 runs 3 homers with 6 RBI at .296 is something that fantasy owners will be more than happy with. In the long run he will need to hit better at home to be a top fantasy performer and with 6 home games coming up this week we could see a slowdown in the numbers so don’t get carried away until we see whether Belt can hit at home like he did on the road.

Justin Smoak (1B) Seattle Mariners (96%)

So Smoak actually had a bit of a mixed week because he started off on storming form with 6 hits including two homers. Add in 5 runs scored and 7 RBI and you certainly have to like what you see. The second half of the week however, was a little more of an issue and nearly caused me to leave him out of this article because he has played two games in Oakland and has gone a combined 0/8 with no counting stats as well as sitting on Friday. Next week we have the odd situation that he is once again playing LA and Oakland but at home in a pitcher friendly park. The big question that owners will want to see answered over the next month is, was the performance against LA the real deal or all Smoak and mirrors?

Josh Hamilton (OF) Los Angeles Angels (100%)

Hamilton was another person that fantasy owners were down on going into drafts because of his pretty rotten year in 2013 but for those that did take a chance on him this week has been fairly promising. His home series against Seattle was nothing to write home about but he still managed to hit at a .300 average with one 1 and a steal. On his travels in Houston he has gone 6/8 with two homers and 5 RBI which will have his owners rubbing their hands. The bad news is that he struggled against the good pitching he faced this week in a tough hitter’s park and did well against average pitching in a good hitter’s park. This week he faces another game in Houston followed by two games in power sapping Safeco Field before a home series against the Mets so we should have a better idea of what Josh Hamilton we will see this year after that.

Angel Pagan (OF) San Francisco Giants (55%)

Of the two outfielders whose surname begins with P in the San Fran outfield Pagan is probably not the one you expected to see here (more on the other one soon) but he has had a really nice week to start the season. He has had a hit in every game so far with multiple hits in 4 of those. Add in that in all bar one game he had an RBI and there is a lot to be excited about when you see a line of 4 runs, 1 homer, 8 RBI and 1 steal at a better than .400 average. So what’s the downside? The majority of those stats came in Chase Field and not at home and with 6 games at home this week we could see him crash back to earth.

Pitchers

Image courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Mark Buehrle (SP) Toronto Blue Jays (43%)

A really nice outing against a misfiring Tampa Bay side, fanning 11 while giving up 4 hits and a walk. He didn’t give up a run in the outing and will carry a lot of confidence into his two starts next week. Both starts will be considered tricky because although the first is only against Houston it is in a hitter friendly park and the he faces a strong Baltimore line up in Camden Yards. Don’t rush out and grab him for this week.

James Paxton (SP) Seattle Mariners (35%)

Paxton exploded onto the scene this week against the Angels with seven shutout innings in which he fanned 9 whilst walking 2 and taking 2 hits. His next start is against the Angels again but at home this time in arguably a better park for pitching. An exciting pitcher who you might want to consider picking up.

Johnny Cueto (SP) Cincinnati Reds (100%)

People had their doubts about Cueto coming into the year after the injuries in 2013 but he has put some fears to rest with two dominate 7 innings outings. In those 14 innings he has struck out 17 and given up a total of 3 runs. His next start is at home against Tampa who don’t have the strongest hitters but the Cincy park is home run friendly so there is the potential for it to all go wrong for him.

Scott Kazmir (SP) Oakland Athletics (33%)

Kazmir was superb on Wednesday against the Indians fanning 5 in 7.1 innings of shutout ball. His next game is in the cold climate of Minnesota which should be a pitcher friendly atmosphere. He is definitely someone I am looking to pick up.

Felix Hernandez (SP) Seattle Mariners (100%)

Hernandez has dominated both sides he faced this week striking out 11 Angels and 8 Athletics while giving up a paltry 3 runs in 14.1 innings. He pitches at home next week against familiar opposition so should be dominant once again.

Jose Fernandez (SP) Miami Marlins (100%)

Fernandez has made his two starts for the week and he blew the opposition away each time. 17 strikeouts in 12.1 innings while only giving up one run means that people are starting to take him seriously and it is going to take a lot to acquire him after a great first week. Pitches @ Philly next week which could be potentially tricky in a hitter’s park.

Tony Cingrani (SP) Cincinnati Reds (100%)

Cingrani made a fantastic start to 2014 against the rival Cardinals with a start that was stopped from being perfect by him not getting the win. He picked up 9 strikeouts whilst walking 2 and giving up 2 hits in 7 innings of no score ball which should fill him with confidence going into a 2 start week. He faces St. Louis away and Tampa Bay at home in those two starts and the way he pitched this week another two dominant performances would not surprise me.

Craig Kimbrel (RP) Atlanta Braves (100%)

The stats here speak for themselves; 3 saves, 6 strikeouts, 0 hits/walks, 0 runs given up in 3 innings of perfect pitching. The best closer by a mile.

Trevor Rosenthal (RP) St. Louis Cardinals (100%)

Rosenthal has been fairly exceptional himself with 2 saves, 3 strikeouts and no hits, walks or runs allowed. Could easily end up the second best closer by the end of the year.

Steve Cishek (RP) Miami Marlins (100%)

Cishek has been solid so far in his two outings as Miami have got off to a good start. Two saves whilst giving up 1 hit with zero earned runs means fantasy owners will be very happy with his work.

Cold

Conversely when it comes to picking cold players I have tried to ensure the majority of players are 75%+ owned so that I don’t just list a load of player irrelevant to most leagues.

Batters

Image courtesy of sportsunbiased

Colby Rasmus (OF) Toronto Blue Jays (75%)

Rasmus is considered by many to be an underrated player when it comes to fantasy but his start to the 2014 season won’t help change the opinion of the masses as he has gone 2 for 22 with 1 run in the first week of the season. That means he currently has an average of .091 which won’t inspire much confidence but things look like they could improve this week. He has three home games against a underwhelming Houston pitching staff followed by three games in hitter friendly Camden Yards so a good week could be in the reckoning.

Alfonso Soriano (OF) New York Yankees (100%)

If Rasmus has been bad then Soriano has been dreadful. He has yet to register a hit and his counting stats currently read like this 0000. The worst part is he had a relatively nice match up in hitter friendly Houston and still couldn’t do anything. This week he has SEVEN home games against Baltimore and Boston but Yankee stadium suits lefties more than righties so I would be tempted to bench him in a weekly league because right now he looks likely to hurt you more than he could help you.

Billy Hamilton (OF) Cincinnati Reds (100%)

Yeah Hamilton has essentially been Soriano with less expectation. No hit in 12 at bats and no walks either means that he has yet to register a counting stat. It is all well and good being the best prospective steals guy in the league but if you cannot get on base that’s not much help. He is now day to day with a finger injury to add to his misery. Hard to know what to do with him this week with the injury and games against St. Louis and Tampa who are unlikely to give him anything for free.

Chase Headley (3B) San Diego Padres (99%)

Finally a player on this list with a +.100 average but hang on don’t celebrate yet because .105 is hardly worth shouting about. Two hits in 15 AB’s and no counting stats will remind many why they were down on him in preseason. For those that did draft him there is solace in that he had an injury in spring and is still getting back to full speed after that so don’t panic yet. Looking ahead he travels to Cleveland for three games and then hosts Detroit so while it’s not a disastrous week he will have to contend with Verlander and Scherzer to end the week. I’m sitting him this week for sure!

Justin Upton (OF) Atlanta Braves (100%)

Upton has started 2014 in almost the polar opposite fashion to 2013 where he was on fire to begin the season. This year he had to wait until the 5th game of the week for his first counting stat and second hit of the season. So far he is 3/15 with 2 runs and steal which will have fantasy owners scratching their heads especially when you consider he started the season in hitter friendly Milwaukee. Next week he returns home for 3 against the Mets and 3 against the Nationals so hopefully he can find his feet in the familiar setting of Atlanta.

Mike Moustakas (3B) Kansas City Royals (12%)

Ok so he isn’t owned in many leagues but he had a great spring and many people loved him going into 2014 so I felt his start needed to be highlighted. He has yet to register a hit having gone 0-15 but does have a sacrifice RBI and has scored a run on a walk. He sat Thursday against Detroit after an 0-8 start but it hasn’t done the trick as he came back against Chicago 0-7. This week he faces a tough home match up against Tampa followed by a trip to Minnesota where he will have a real chance to ignite against some week pitching. There is trouble in that trip to Minnesota however, it is still snowing there and will be very cold which favours pitching greatly.

Josh Donaldson (3B) Oakland Athletics (100%)

Donaldson got off to a nice start on opening day going 2/4 but since then he has failed to register a hit including going 0-10 in a double header on Wednesday. He sat Friday in an attempt to clear his head but returned Saturday with a 0-4 performance. He does have a counting stat to his name with a run coming from a walk in the double header but apart from that he showing zeroes across the board. Ok so he has played all his games in his pitcher friendly home park but it doesn’t get easier this week with three games at Seattle proceeded with three games in freezing cold Minneapolis.

Allen Craig (1B/OF) St. Louis Cardinals (100%)

Craig was fantastic last year but has got off to a sluggish start in 2014 going 2 for 19 with just 2 RBI to his name. He is a quality player who has had a tough week against a good staff in Cincy and then a tough park in Pittsburgh but fancy owners will be a little concerned. This week he returns home to Busch Stadium but will be met by that same tough Cincy rotation before the Cardinals welcome the top of the Cubs rotation. To put it bluntly this is not going to be an easy week for him and concern could have grown by this time next week.

Hunter Pence (OF) San Francisco Giants (100%)

Pence got off to a really poor start going 1 for 20 in his first 5 games but managed to salvage a little pride by going 2 for 5 yesterday to boost his average over .100. So far he has scored two runs and driven in one which considering his ADP of 70 is well below expectation. This week he has two reeling pitching staffs in Arizona and Colorado heading into San Fran. Being in that huge park may help him because he isn’t a power guy and the big open spaces may allow him to get on base more and drive in more runs.

Bryce Harper (OF) Washington Nationals (100%)

Since Harper took a knock on opening day he has slipped under the radar due to his .143 average and solitary run. Considering how high many were on him entering the season it is odd that we haven’t heard more about Harper’s slow start to the year. He has yet to register a multi-hit game even against the back end of the Braves depleted rotation. This week they face Miami before travelling to Atlanta where he will hoping to bounce back and show he still one of the best young players in the league.

Pitchers

Image courtesy of sportsillustrated

Homer Bailey (SP) Cincinnati Reds (100%)

A really poor first start for Bailey against the big rival Cardinals means he starts the season under pressure. He gave up 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks over 4.1 innings and only struck out three but has a two start week to out that right this week. Those two starts are against St. Louis and Tampa Bay and I am less confident with him than I am Cingrani.

Clay Buchholz (SP) Boston Red Sox (100%)

Clay was absolutely pounded by the Brewers Saturday night giving up 13 hits and 6 earned runs over just 4.1 innings. This just increases worries that owners had over Buchholz coming into the season and his next start is a tough one in Yankees Stadium. You may see Buchholz appearing on waiver wires with another bad start.

Shelby Miller (SP) St. Louis Cardinals (100%)

Miller got rocked in his first start of 2014 in pitcher friendly Pittsburgh giving up three long balls in a 5 earned outing whilst striking out just two. His next start is at home against Cincinnati and he will be looking to bounce back right away and get back to where he was in 2013.

Alex Cobb (SP) Tampa Bay Rays (100%)

Cobb also struggled in his first start of 2014 against a Toronto line up that is full of danger. He walked four and gave up 5 hits in a very unCobblike outing which saw 4 runs charged against him in 5 innings of work. He has a start tonight against Texas which I am not confident about if he doesn’t regain his control. His next start is Saturday in home run friendly Cincinnati so he could be rocked again there if he doesn’t sort his command out.

CC Sabathia (SP) New York Yankees (100%)

Sabathia also has another start tonight and will want to bounce back after being hurt by a relatively weak Houston line up. He gave up 6 runs on 8 hits and a walk with 6 strikeouts in the loss on the Yankees opening day. There were a lot of questions surrounding him coming into the season and his first start will have done nothing to help him there. Next week he faces Boston at home but in a one start week I wouldn’t be risking him.

Jim Johnson (RP) Oakland Athletics (100%)

3 outings with a total of 2 innings pitched have resulted in 5 earned runs on 6 hits and 3 walks with only two strikeouts. Add in that he hasn’t made a save yet and the only way is up for the ageing closer. Slight worries he could lose his job may be realised if he has a couple of other bad outings.

Jason Grilli (RP) Pittsburgh Pirates (100%)

Not a good start to 2014 for Grilli giving up a run 3 hits and a walk over 2 strikeoutless innings. He has also blown a save already and Pittsburgh have other options up their sleeves.

There we have it for the week 1 hot or cold review. It may be on the short side in terms of statistical backing and for many of the pitchers one start is nothing to go on but for the hitters we can get a good idea who is hot going into week 2. If you have any questions regarding waiver wire pick-ups or start sits then be sure to direct your questions to me over @brolfe1507 on twitter or by leaving a comment here.

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