This is a guest blog sent over from my friends at TradeDebate.com, where users are able to post possible trade scenarios and the community votes on the winning side.
Hot starts in baseball are a lot like hot woman. Some are good from far, while others are far from good. Some may be super attractive on paper, but their underlying stats scream crazy. Just like most males on this planet, we are as naturally drawn to hot women as we are to hot starters in our Fantasy Baseball leagues. We turn our heads, gawk, comment, and occasionally even approach them. Most of the time though, we stand idly by as someone else scoops up the dime piece before we do.
In Fantasy, the trend is eerily similar. When a hot pitcher fires off a 7-inning, 8-K win, we turn our heads, gawk, comment, and occasionally run to the waiver wire. The key difference is that instead of texting our newest conquest to ask her out for drinks, we instead text our buddy and say, “Look who I just scooped up!” As a person who has had moderate success with woman, and a shade above moderate success with Fantasy, I have to say — texting a woman is better. Although, in my case, I am more likely to get a response about Fantasy. After three “U around?” text messages, I am checking stat tracker for the fifth time that evening, but I digress.
The key is deciphering between who is Courtney Kardashian, and who is Khloe. Or for you Fantasy geeks out there, who is last year’s Alex Gordon and Ryan Vogelsong, compared to every year’s Howie Kendrick. (One of these years, Kendrick’s going to win a batting title, I know it.) Why didn’t I use Kim, you ask? Because I like to think I stay married to my waiver guys longer. Yup, I went there, and yes, it has been horribly over used. I’m sorry, but I promise primo Fantasy advice and subpar dating advice for the rest of the column.
Hot Fantasy Starters to Trust
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, TOR: .271-13-34-24-6
The problem with this guy has always been health, but not only does it seems like he’s found a permanent spot in Toronto, but he seems to love hitting there with the protection of Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie around him. E5 is already halfway to his HR totals from ’08, which was his best year to date. The best part is that none of his stats point to luck. Going back to the woman analogy, it’s like when you were drunk she looked like an 8, but now that you are sober, she’s more like a 5. In fact, he’s actually been a little unlucky with his BABIP (Batting Average of Balls In Play) being lower than his career average, and all of his other underlying stats seem to be pretty sustainable across the board. Ranked third in Yahoo! Points leagues and seventh in Head-to-Head, this guy is looking more and more like the waiver stud of the year.
Rafael Furcal, SS, STL: .351-2-18-28-7
I think most people wrote this guy off after last season, but clearly he is doing something right in St. Louis and his resurgence has been year long. The fountain of youth has been good to him sitting atop one of the NL’s best hitting teams, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. Of course, there will be a regression in his batting average as his BABIP is 70 pts above his career line. His walks are down as well, but right now, he is stroking the ball and getting on base at an above average clip. With those hitters behind him, he is guaranteed to be an excellent source of runs the rest of the way, while still contributing in stolen bases, average, and even netting some RBI. He’s a top-five shortstop rest of the season at the price of a top 25 shortstop — enjoy it!
Josh Willingham, OF, MIN: .289-8-24-23-1
Not the sexiest guy in the world, but for a guy who you would normally rate a 4 or 5 on the hotness scale, he is actually putting up 6.5-7 type numbers. You could say he is batting way above his average — and in fact, he is. This guy isn’t going to carry you to a title, or even be considered anything more than a No. 3 OF in standard mixed leagues, but someone has to drive in the runs in Minnesota all year. His BABIP is only slightly higher than usual, but he is walking at a higher rate than his career average and striking out at a lower rate. With decent pop, and a better eye at the plate, he can easily be .280-25-80-80-5 guy when it’s all said and done. He hits in the middle of the order, and should get a bunch of nice pitches behind C Joe Mauer. For a guy that you most likely got for free, you could do much worse.
Speaking of hot starters, where would you take Josh Hamilton in a Fantasy Baseball Redraft?
Bonus Hot Fantasy Starter to Trust
Bryan Lahair, 1B/OF, CHC: .315-10-21-18-1
Talking heads will tell you to sell, sell, sell, but I’m not so sure. Granted, his BABIP is way above league average, so the regression police are already on the lookout. But I don’t believe it’s going to be as bad as people think. Yes, his K-rate is unsightly, but so are many women without makeup. Have you seen Drew Barrymore in the morning? Neither have I, but judging from a recent Google search, I bet she looks a lot like Lahair. He is taking more walks and showing more plate patience than he hasat any other level he has been on. This has the feel of Russell Branyan all over again — a career quad-A guy who finally gets a chance in a full season, and runs with it. Then the league figures him out and he fades back to mediocrity. With Anthony Rizzo breathing down his neck, I’d ride the wave as long as I can with him.
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