Lots to get to here. This is basically going to be a review of what matters, or more accurately what should matter to you, as you attempt to assess a player's early season performance. Which numbers matter? Which don't? What are the indicators you should be looking at? Basically this is going to be a refresher course in the way you should evaluate players. So sit down, strap in, and prepare yourself to be bombarded with the knowledge you will need to work through the morass of early season data in fantasy baseball.
I wrote a two page article on this very topic in March. Here is a link to that piece. It will help you understand how I think of players. How many at-bats do we need or how many innings should a hurler throw before we can start to get a solid feeling about what he will have to offer over the course of the season?
REMEMBER YOUR PLACE
I'm not talking about the first place you lived on your own in, and I'm certainly not referring to your flea infested college dorm room that always had a burning lava lamp and a 12 pack of Natural Light in the fridge. By “Remember Your Place” I'm referring to where we are in the season. It's the second week of the regular season. That means we're about a week an a half from when this whole shebang got a going (sorry Australian trip doesn't count). Remember the Player Rankings that I spent months setting up for you all to draft with? You know, the 600+ players I ranked. If you read the sample size piece I linked to above you will know that I do not believe in radically adjusting any player (other than relievers) this early in the season. Do yourself a favor and refer back to those rankings. If a guy was ranked 23rd at his position 10 days ago why are you thinking he's a top-10 player now? If you don't trust my evaluations that's one thing, but if you didn't would you be reading this?
Refer to the Player Rankings page. It's still plenty early enough that they should be able to help guide you when trying to determine players worth (note the rankings are no longer updated on a daily basis. There will likely be a re-release of the updated rankings at mid-season).
Don't be swayed by the raw numbers, up or down. It's been less than two weeks. Everything is amplified in April. Everyone starts off with a zero next to their name on day one. If the player starts well the numbers look great. If the guy starts off a wee bit slow his numbers look horrible. Remember that is merely an artifact of where we are at in terms of the season.
We all tend to pay too much attention to the start of the season like that will determine the outcome of a players total effort (I touched on this a bit in Do Early Numbers Matter?). We all overemphasize strong/putrid performances because it's all we have to work off of. Consider the following efforts from 2013 to illustrate what I'm talking about.
Miguel Cabrera went .348-44-137 last season in a massive performance that led to him being taken 1st or 2nd in nearly every draft this season. We can agree = superstar. However, did you know that he hit .278 with one homer and seven RBIs in September last season? How nervous would you have been if that was his April? Be honest. You would have been very nervous.
Max Scherzer had a blah 4.02 ERA last April. Nervous were you? We all know how well he finished.
What a Gio Gonzalez and that 5.34 ERA... did you drop him cause of his April struggles?
Justin Upton hit 12 homers in April. Everyone thought he would win the MVP. He hit only 15 homers the rest of the season and people thought he stunk. If he had hit 15 homers the first five months and then 12 in the month of September, would you feel differently about him this season? Sure you would.
The point is this. If Player X hits .412 for two weeks in August you may not even notice. If Player Y loses 3-straight starts and is sporting a 6.00 ERA for the month of July you may or may not notice. Now if either of those performances happen in April... you get the point by now, right?