The Salem News
---- — Fantasy Forecast
Chris Davis is off to a torrid start for the Baltimore Orioles. He’s hitting .400 with a 1.100 slugging percentage, 6 homers an 19 RBI. He probably is the hottest hitter in baseball right now. He’s striking fear in the hearts of pitchers.
Now’s the time to sell.
Sure the power is legit, Davis has always been able to hit for power. But clearly he’s going to cool down at some point. The question becomes how much does he cool off and is what is left after the hot streak justify keeping Davis as opposed to cashing in now and reaping huge rewards.
The biggest difference for Davis this season — and the one I think he cannot keep up — is his strikeout rate. Davis has consistently struck out about 30 percent of the time in his Major League career. Even last season, when he had a career year, Davis struck out 30.1 percent of the time. This season, Davis has cut that in half to 15.8 percent. There’s no way he keeps his strikeout rate this low. Power hitters tend to strike out a lot, Davis in particular has historically struck out a lot. I would bet that by the end of the season that strikeout rate is up in at least the 20s. And his OBP will drop as his strikeout rate increases, as he is unlikely to keep his walk rate at 15.8 percent (over double his 2012 walk rate of 6.6 percent).
The other thing that concerns me about Davis is his reliance on a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) to keep his average decent. In fairness, Davis has historically had high BABIP. But, should his BABIP drop his average will drop like a falling rock.
There is certainly a chance Davis will have a monster year and be a top fantasy player. But I have enough concerns about Davis regressing to his career averages in non-power categories that I would see what I could get for him now while he’s raking. There will never be a better time to sell than now, so don’t get caught holding the bag.
If you rolled the dice on Jason Motte late in your draft you got dealt some tough news this week.
Motte was checked out this week and it was reported that he has a torn ligament in his throwing elbow. The team will re-examine Motte on May 1 and if he does not show improvement he could face reconstructive surgery. I think at this point it’s safe to drop Motte in all leagues as I don’t think he will pitch at all this season.
The Cardinals have long been a source of frustration for fantasy owners when it comes to closers and Mitchell Boggs has struggled thus far this season. Which means it’s not safe to assume at this point that Boggs will survive the season as the closer. Keep an eye out for Cardinals results to see how long Boggs hangs onto the ninth-inning duties.
It was a tough week for starting pitchers in L.A. as both the Angels’ Jared Weaver (broken left elbow) and the Dodgers Zach Greinke (fractured collarbone) suffered injuries that will keep them out for a while.
If you’re looking for a couple of decent stream/pick up options I have a few names to consider.
I would also keep an eye on Miami’s Jose Fernandez, who pitched well in his debut against the Mets giving up one run on three hits with 8 strikeouts and 1 walk. Fernandez has a mid-90s fastball and a strong slurve. Fernandez struck out 158 batters in 134 innings in High-A last season, so it’s reasonable to expect high strikeout totals. It’s hard to get too high on Fernandez, as he has such a limited professional track record, but he has a lot of upside and he might be worth a flier, especially if you are weak in strikeouts. If he can stay in the big league rotation he could turn into a potential sleeper.
A solid stream option might be the Braves’ Paul Maholm, who is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 13 strikeouts. Maholm hasn’t had the greatest win-loss record for the last three years, but he has posted under-4.00 ERAs in each of those seasons. I don’t think he’s a long-term play, but I think he’s a player who you can ride a hot streak on.
Two other names to consider are Cleveland’s Justin Masterson and, believe it or not, San Francisco’s Barry Zito. Both are 2-0, both have sub-1.00 ERA. I know some people will be skeptical on Zito because he has been bad from seemingly the moment he signed his big contract with the Giants, but Zito was surprisingly decent in 2012. He wasn’t a great fantasy pitcher, but he did post a 15-8 record. He won’t get you strikeouts, but he does have a good shot to get you wins. Masterson, meanwhile, has pitched well despite giving up more walks (7) than hits (5) thus far this season. If you can stomach his wildness, I think Masterson could provide solid value.
Andy Silva writes the Fantasy Forecast column for The Salem News. You can read his blog at blogs.salemnews.com/fantasyforecast and reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Fantasy Forecast on Twitter at twitter.com/sn_fantasysport.