Planet of the Apes: Early Surprise Hitters
Are these players evolving or are you in the forbidden zone?
Last night while we were triaging through all my teams, I noticed something interesting. There are players that are performing way above expectations. What a surprise! At this point in the season, you need to be careful. Don't move too quickly. However, you can speculate on which players may be great values for the rest of the season and make sure that we keep them and/or trade for them.
So, of course, I broke out a movie to reflect on this. I chose Planet of the Apes. Not the Marky Mark and the big headed bunch that made the 2001 version with CGI monkeys. The 1968 Charleton Heston classic where real actors are forced to wear so much make-up that they look like man-keys. Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter are dressed like monkeys and play the role of scientists in a futuristic world where apes have evolved from humans. I remember when I first saw it. I was about seven years old and was at the drive-in with my two brothers and two sisters shoved in the back of our station wagon. We called the station wagon – “ The Bandaid,” It was white with blood red interior and seats with air holes in them. The bandaid. We were three across laying down on the tailgate watching the saga unfold while the two oldest siblings were sitting in the backseat. I remember SCREAMING at the top of my lungs at the end. "NOOOOOOO!"
“Some apes, it seems are more equal than others”
Let’s run through some players who have had hot starts and will continue to do that.
Brandon Belt – 1B – SF (.323 4 HR 7 RBI 7 R) – This past week on Colton & The Wolfman which you can listen to each Tuesday night at 10 P.M. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (XM87/S210), I pushed up my prediction for Brandon Belt to hit over 25 homers. I set the bar at 30. Realistically, it is likely between the two, but if you paid for him in the middle rounds of your draft or in the $18 range, you are going to be excited to watch him all season. Last night, he took a ball that was low and across the middle of the plate into the right center bleachers at Chavez Ravine. Those owners who think they can sell high, you should be buying there too. When getting the other owner to bite on trading him to you, you can highlight his inability to take pitches. He hit an 0-2 waste pitch for the homer last night and has yet to walk this season.
Mark Trumbo – OF – AZ (.314 5 HR 13 RBI 7 R) – Many of us at Fantasy Alarm were Trumbo believers. As many of you know, the SMART system says that players who change teams with big contracts often start slow. I know that I expected a slow start and then for Trumbo to get in a nice groove and provide value for his owners especially in the park he plays in. The fast start just magnifies the fact that Trumbo is ready to take the next step. He is 28 years old with three full years under his belt with 29+ home runs each year. Look for 40 home runs and 100+ RBI this year even on a weaker D’Backs team.
Giancarlo Stanton – OF – MIA (.345 2 HR 12 RBI 7 R 2 SB) – “Players who get hurt, tend to get hurt again.” You have heard me say it over and over again. So will Giancarlo “don’t call me Mike” Stanton get hurt? Probably. He played 116 games last year and 123 games this year. So go with caution if you are trading for him. Remember he is only 24 years old. This is a risky play, but I think that this year, it will pay off. This year is the beginning. I like Mike.
Chase Utley – 2B – PHI (.458 2 HR 6 RBI 3 R) – Another often injured player in our “more equal” side of the ledger today. This one is different than Stanton. Utley is much older and much more likely to be hurt. However, he plays a scarce position and rostering a guy like Utley, who frankly, when he is on the field he is a top 5 second baseman in the National League. So, recognizing that his replacement value is low, but he can be gotten at a discount makes sense. He never hurts you in the lineup, but don’t expect more than 120 games. Even at that, he will deliver good number for the 2B position.
“Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape.”
Let’s talk about some players who are having hot starts that will come back to earth…the real earth…Statue of Liberty and all.
Melky Cabrera – OF – TOR (.323 3 HR 3 RBI 4 R) – He is as red hot as he gets, but his roto-value is still below what you would normally like to see from the outfield position. The batting average will never hurt you. The key thing is that he keeps away from those pasticcios that he likes to have tossed at him by porn stars. Just kidding. He just doesn’t do enough. Pass.
Chris Colabello – 1B – MIN (.391 1 HR 11 RBI 4 R) – Not many players have games with six runs batted in. Not many players have another game in the same week with four runs batted in. Downside is that he is already 30 years old and has tried this before. We can expect him to drop back down to what he is: a below average power hitter. If you are desperate for power, you can invest now, but be ready to cut bait if he starts batting at the Mendoza line.
Angel Pagan – OF – SF (.419 1 HR 8 RBI 4 R 1 SB) – After missing more than half of last season and turning 32 years old, he cannot be trusted. He never had a lot of power and the older legs will cause him to be caught stealing a lot more. He is one for two this year and nine for thirteen last. The stolen base value will be limited and the rest simply isn’t that great. Add injury risk, and the whole thing unravels.
Michael Cuddyer – OF – COL (.433 2 HR 7 RBI 6 R) – After a huge season last year, many expect that to continue for 162 games. If it does, WOW. More than likely, he will have regression back to .270 or so and miss some games. He is simply not a 35 year old player that I will be banking on. He will get multi-positional qualification before the month is out, but there are a lot of good first basemen in the National League and for my money, I will keep the younger guys like Belt and Rizzo instead.
“You are a menace. A walking pestilence.”
So like the apes that abducted Taylor and tried to make him fit in with the other humans, some of these players will fit in and some will simply be bad. There is no argument that Planet of the Apes is a classic movie with a classic surprise. Certainly one of the Top 10 surprises in all of film. I know it is way back in the annals of time when most of you were not born, but hopefully you saw this movie along the way. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth viewing.
More importantly, the eight players above are off to a hot start and watching them and other fast starters is critical to your success. Remember this: hitters that hit for the two weeks leading up to June 1st will hit for the rest of the season. So, if you decide to follow these guidelines that can bring you a championship, it will from the words of young Julius in Planet of the Apes…