|Don't hate me, Manny. (USAT)|
The quarter point of the baseball season is here, and that gives us enough time to reflect back and see what's really going on in the world of Major League Baseball. Sure, the injury bug seems to be running rampant over the first quarter and there does seem to be a large percentage of players playing way above their pay grade (eh, Jean Segura?). But a quarter of a season does not a baseball season make. Some players will slump and others will rise, but there are some players that have jumped out at me that I didn't expect to at all.
I'm going to list some players that are exceeding my expectations, and I expect them to keep going. I did throw together some fantasy crush picks back in March, and some are looking pretty, preeetty, preeeeettttay good so far. But I'm not just going to rehash the players I missed (although looking back, I do regret not expanding it to all players so I could present my love for some higher ranked players I had tagged early on, like Paul Goldschmidt). Onward!
Manny Machado, 3B - Orioles
Not that anyone didn't expect Machado to be good. He's bred to be a superstar. But that he's this good already is shocking. The Macho Man has 23 XBH, .920 OPS, and plays gold glove defense just for fun. I had him moving along at this pace early in 2014, not right now. His 2012 was solid, but there have been no signs of a slump for Manny. He's a star for years to come.
Carlos Gomez, OF - Brewers
Carlos won't be keeping up his .365 AVG, but everything else is for real. The power, the speed, the increased walk rate. Everything is in line for Gomez to build off his post-sleeper break out last year. Yes, I was a member of the Carlos Gomez fan club last year, but my faith waivered heading into 2013. With his deserved ranking, I was just too nervous to invest in Gomez. I hit pay dirt last year, why not get up from the blackjack table, cash out, smoke a cigar, and let the wonderful memory that was the 2nd half of 2012 remain? Well, this is why.
Justin Morneau, 1B - Twins
The one-time MVP of the AL, Morneau has battled a lot of injuries over the past couple of years. I was happy to drive his fantasy self to the local dump and dispose of the body. Thus far in 2013 though, he's been showing flashes of the old Morneau. Healthy and confident, Morneau leads the team in RBIs and is batting over .300. While his slash line matches up with what he did in 2012 (134 games, 19 HR, 77 RBI) - if he can stay health he can get to 100 RBI. The power is just something that will never be back, but in the wasteland that is 1B, Morneau is looking ready for a bounce back.
Ike Davis, 1B - Mets
Speaking of horrible 1B - it's not all roses for predicting fantasy baseball. I listened to what the other experts said about Ike coming into the year. His strong finish to 2012, the quietest 30 HR you'll ever find, his health coming into the season that will lead to great things. Well, he's as horrible as ever. Delivering a line that if he keeps up for 3 more weeks, will likely see him in the minors. Last year Davis put up similarly horrid numbers, then turned it around on Memorial Day. He's worth keeping an eye on to see if history repeats, but Davis is looking like a complete wash out.
Carl Crawford, OF - Dodgers
Kudos for Crawford for finding health and peace of mind in LA. Few others have. Early favorite along with Justin Upton for the Change of Scenery Award, Crawford has rediscovered himself after a miserable stretch in Boston where health and happiness were not easily found. He's off to a great start, and while he will need to be rested every now and again, he's running and being productive atop a weak Dodgers line-up.
Pitching, by and large, has been a disaster. I'm not sure if I dodged a bullet with my picks or what, but there's very little to report from a disappointment standpoint. I still thought Stephen Strasburg was overrated for this season, I loved Yu Darvish, and who could have guessed that proven stars like David Price, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Yovani Gallardo would go in the tank. If I had to pick one major disappointment, it'd be Roy Halladay. Beating yourself up over injuries is never a good way to go through life, but with Halladay, I wanted to believe he'd be fine just because he's Doc. After admiring him north of the border in Canada and when my Phillies acquired him, I couldn't have asked for a better baseball experience. He's the best pitcher of a generation, and I'd hate to see his career come to a close like this. But history says it will. Sure, he might come back, pitch for some completely weird team like the San Diego Padres, but it won't be the same.
SOME LATE ENTRIES
Willin Rosario - C, Rockies
With Rosario, I was nervous about his propensity to strike out often, and along with his below average defense, a road to the bench or even AAA crossed my mind. Well, the defense might not have gotten any better, but his 8 HR and 3 SB are music to an owner's ears. Sure he's come down off his astronomical start, but that'll happen with a streak-ish player like the Baby Bull. Coors helps anyone, but it's not as apparent for Rosario who is actually only carrying a .664 OPS at Coors compared to mashing at a .960 clip on the road. Both will even out to a certain extent, but the moral of this tale is that the end product is a great offensive catcher.
Anibal Sanchez, SP - Tigers
Sanchez always had the potential to be special. He appears to have gotten past the injuries that slowed him early in his career, but I always thought he was just one of those guys that had the stuff, but would never figure things out. A thrower, not a pitcher - as the derisive crowd would say. After a strong playoffs, Sanchez has apparently figured things out. His K% and velocity is up, and with a porous defense behind him, he is still operating with a fantastic 1.45 FIP, which is tops in baseball.
|The Funkman says: "Look at this guy! He drafted Ike Davis in the 10th round!"|