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Random Thoughts
NL Beat
Written by Christopher Kreush   
Thursday, 12 April 2012 03:17

It always amazes me how many fantasy players have to be talked off the ledge this early each season.  I regularly listen to the fantasy sports channel on Sirius and can’t believe how many callers are asking if they should ditch their slow performing players.  Or trade them for some hot starting flavor of the week.  It has always been preached here that the season is a marathon, not a sprint.  And, to give them credit, all the hosts on Sirius spout the same message but still field many questions that deal with making bad early trades.

I don’t even look at the standings for the first month of the season.  To take it even further, I ditched the use of draft software this year which tracked categories and showed the league winner – which I always thought was the kiss of death anyway.  I replaced this with my own spreadsheet to keep track of the draft and auction and combined my budget sheet within.  An added benefit of this was learning a bit more about Excel and the things you could do with it – vlookup, etc (you can teach old dog new tricks).  All I do this early is look to replace injured players and make sure I have the players active each day or week that I want.  In my keeper leagues I start to look for any minor league players I might want to add if I have room for them.

If you made decisions for your teams based on what has happened this early in the season you’d go out and trade for every Houston Astros player you could get your hands on.  After all, they are in second place and have the second highest batting average in the National League.  Maybe loading up on Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers is the key to success this year since they lead the NL with a 1.50 ERA.  Obviously, I am saying this in jest.  But there are some interesting things out there in the baseball world.

The Washington Nationals will be an improved and competitive team that I’m going to like watching.  The New York Mets not so much, in my opinion, as I took the under for total wins for them this year.  But the Nationals and Mets are at the top of their division with the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and Miami Marlins bringing up the rear.  I do think the Braves and Phillies will struggle with scoring runs this year but you can’t complain about either team’s pitching.  The Marlins should be in the thick of things as long as they don’t get too distracted by Ozzie Guillen’s off the field ridiculousness.

In only one week, Omar Infante has hit about half of his projected home runs for the year.  He has hit more round trippers for the Marlins than Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, and Logan Morrison combined.  As of this writing, no NL hitter has more home runs than Miami’s second baseman.  Players like Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Zimmerman, Dan Uggla, and Justin Upton have yet to smack their first of the year.

The St. Louis Cardinals have surprised me with their hitting thus far.  They lead the league in hits, HR, runs, batting average, total bases, and OPS, among other things.  Their team OPS of .913 is higher than the OPS Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, and Mike Stanton had in 2011.  It is also higher than Troy Tulowitzki, Joey Votto, and Hanley Ramirez in 2012.

Starlin Castro leads the league with five stolen bases in five attempts.  The only other Chicago Cub with a successful attempt is Jeff Baker.  The Miami Marlins as a team have the most swipes with seven.  The Philadelphia Phillies are second with five and haven’t been caught yet.

The man many say is the fastest in the big leagues, Dee Gordon, has four stolen bases in five attempts. His .238 average is a drag so far but he is taking some walks.  I am taking the over on 60 total for the year working with Davey Lopes.

David Freese is continuing his torrid play from the 2011 postseason.  In six games, the Cardinals' third baseman is batting .427 with three home runs and 10 RBI.  All of his extra base hits have been of the over the wall variety.  What has me a bit concerned is an early 7:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Although a very small sample, it is more than twice his career mark.

In the first three games started by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels the Phillies have come away victorious in only one of them.  Their opposition scored a total of four runs off the troika in those games but Philadelphia hitters only managed to plate the same number in support of them.

Every year there are differing opinions about drafting or obtaining closers or potential closers in an auction due to their volatility.  2012 hasn’t been a disappointment in this regard.  Antonio Bastardo, Javier Lopez, Rex Brothers, Heath Bell, David Hernandez, Carlos Marmol, and Kerry Wood have already blown saves this year.  On top of that, Ryan Madson and Drew Storen have already been sidelined with injuries – Madson out for the season with Tommy John surgery.

These are just a few of the interesting tidbits from the first week of the 2012 season – some good and others not so good.  The challenge as fantasy players is not to overreact to results at either end of the spectrum at this point.  Forget about the standings for the first month and manage your team in relation to who you want to start from your roster or who you have to replace due to injury.  After that, you can start to worry about categories and where you are in the standings as there will be enough of a sample size to actually get a good grasp of how things are playing out.
 

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