Well, folks, it was quite the weekend in Augusta. Bubba Watson sure came to play, didn’t he? There was also a lot of baseball going on, which means us fantasy geeks are trying to figure out who is for real and who is about to fall apart. It is still early but thus far there have been some pleasant surprises.
Take, for example, Giancarlo Mike Stanton. I had a chance to make him one of my keepers entering the 2014 season but I passed for two reasons. He burned me bad last season and every fantasy junkie has “The List”: a group of players that no matter how good they are will never appear on your team again because they were a bust for you the one time you had them. I was also worried about the lingering injuries that slowed him last season. Boy, was I wrong. He is the top scoring player in most fantasy formats right now and he is absolutely smashing home runs. I’m talking about moonshots here, folks.
Enough about Stanton and how he continues to find ways to screw my fantasy team without even being on it. Let’s take a look at a few guys that came out of the gate on fire and are still under owned in many fantasy leagues.
5 BIG SURPRISES IN THE 2014 FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON:
5. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies.
I have followed Blackmon for awhile because my friend Ariel, aka Earl, grew up with him. He has never been a big power bat but he can hit and hit at a high average. Any player who is good at making contact and has the luxury of playing at Coors Field definitely deserves a look. He’s currently batting .488 and getting on base nearly half the time he comes to the plate. He only has one homer, but again, he plays in Colorado. The air there can make me a double-digit home run guy, so as long as Blackmon keeps putting that bat on the ball, he has a chance for a few dingers. His speed also helps as he already has registered three stolen bases. That speed also helps him leg out extra bases turning singles into doubles.
BUY IT? In some leagues, he is still a free agent. If you are in one of these leagues, again, please leave me an invite in the comment section below. There is no question that he should be on your fantasy team. He has simply been waiting for the chance to be an everyday player and now he has it. No matter how much the Rockies struggle, it is most often due to their pitching, not their offense. Blackmon bats leadoff in a line-up that features Michael Cuddyer, CarGo, and Tulo hitting right behind him. He will continue to hit right around .300 all season which means he will continue to get on base for the big boppers in Denver and score tons of runs. If you are in a standard three outfield league, he is a fringe starter right now depending on your options. If you are in a four outfielder league, however, get him into your lineup now.
4. Scott Feldman, SP, Houston Astros.
This hot start truly came out of no where. I mean, seriously, let’s face reality. He hasn’t had any fantasy value since his fluke 2009 17-win season. His surprising start isn’t just based on his sexy 2-0 record, 0.44 ERA, or 7 Ks. The real shock comes when you see who he has done it against. All three of his 2014 starts are quality starts and he has pulled it off against the Yankees, Angels, and Rangers. Allowing one total run to those powerful lineups make you start to wonder. Maybe Feldman has turned the corner.
BUY IT? No shot. Despite this hot start, he has three factors against him. One, he plays for the Houston Astros. Unless Feldman continues to hurl shutout innings, the losses will begin mounting behind that offense. Two, he has 8 walks over those three starts. He is getting bailed out for now, but control like that comes back to haunt you. Three, he’s Scott Feldman people. There is a reason that he, in his tenth year in the league, has soared to the great heights of being the “ace” of the Astros staff.
3. Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Milwaukee Brewers.
K-Rod is about six years removed from being the best closer in the game. Here’s the thing though. He “busted” out with teams like the bottom-of-the-barrell New York Mets. Then he came to Milwaukee and was relegated to the set-up man role because John Axford was already the closer. Now, he has been given the opportunity once again to close and he is taking full advantage of it: 4 saves, 11 Ks, 1 BB, and ZERO runs.
BUY IT? No question. In my CBS league, only 82% of teams own K-Rod and a mere 75% start him. That is outlandish. His only competition is Jim Henderson, whom, much like Brewers’ skipper Ron Roenicke, I have no faith in whatsoever. Plus, many casual fantasy players think in his 13th season that he’s a weathered veteran. Remember, K-Rod came into this league at the young age of 20 and is only 32 right now. That cannon has a lot of ammo left in the tank and this Brewers team is going to rack up wins. K-Rod is a must start right now.
2. Scott Kazmir, SP, Oakland As.
I remember drafting Scott Kazmir in my Donkey League draft to man the bench for The Lammerts. Shortly after we drafted him, my teammate J.D. asked me if he was injured yet. Well, it is halfway through April and the oft-injured lefty is on fire and not the DL. He threw yet another gem today as he took a no decision after six shutout innings against the Mariners. Kazmir currently sits at 2-0 with 19 Ks and just four walks to go along with a dazzling 1.40 ERA. All three of his starts have been quality starts as well. He is the number two in a solid Oakland As rotation.
BUY IT? For now. Talent has never been the issue for the former first-round draft pick. His fragile body has always held Kazmir back. He is very rarely going to go more than seven innings and may never see 30 starts in a season again. That being said he is in a great situation. The As are really good. There is a chance that if Kazmir is healthy he could be sitting at 8-2 at the All-Star break. If that’s the case then you need to move him, maybe even before that if he has two more amazing starts. There is a sucker in every league, find the one in yours who will take him for a high price early so you don’t get burned later.
1. Jose Abreau, 1B, Chicago White Sox.
Here’s another guy on The Lammerts current 2-0 fantasy squad. He was actually an accidental pick. Our draft room froze (I know, I know, you’re thinking, “You had problems with the CBS Sportsline Draft Room? That never happens“) and we “auto-picked” Abreau. Instead of complaining we rolled with it and I’m thankful that we did. Yes, much was expected of the highly touted Cuban import, but I don’t think people saw it coming this quickly. He isn’t simply mashing homers but, more importantly, hitting them when runners are aboard. His low .255 batting average isn’t much of a surprise as an adjustment period was expected but he is getting on base at a high .351 tick. Abreau has already been intentionally walked three times on the young season so clearly pitchers are fearing him. His four homers and 14 RBI are only going to grow.
BUY IT? Does a bear use rabbits for toilet paper? We are looking at the AL Rookie of the Year here. I personally expected a Rob Deer (or for you younger folks, Mark Reynolds) type season with a ton of home runs and a low batting average and very little RBI. This hot start, however, is frightening for other teams. He is seeing the ball extremely well and appears to be making a seamless transition to stateside baseball. It is going to be exciting to watch him unload all season long.
It is only two weeks in, but hopefully you are beginning to make minor tweaks to your lineups. These surprising stars are still out there on waivers in quite a few leagues so if you have a shot at them, grab one and roll the dice. Until next time, enjoy watching the last game of this wonderful Red Sox/Yankees opening bout!
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