When you’re looking through the stats page of your fantasy league, there are plenty of familiar names sitting at the top due to hot starts to the season. Matt Kemp has been a beast, once again, and leads the majors with eight home runs while players like Curtis Granderson, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, and Hanley Ramirez, continue to prove their fantasy value and worthiness of their draft spots this spring. But this season, there sits another name atop the value rankings and given the last few season’s worth of playing time and results, he stands out like….well I hate to use the expression, “like a turd in a punchbowl,” but really, he’s that noticeable. I’m talking about Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold, who has begun this season raking like a champ and already way out-earning his draft position.
Now obviously we can throw the whole “small sample size” argument immediately into this discussion. Full-time starting players are all hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 at-bats and that still isn’t quite enough to fully determine whether a player is for real or not, but if you’ve watched Reimold play this season, you’d know that his hot start looks more for real than it does a fluke.
Reimold first burst on the major league scene back in 2009 after an outstanding 2008 in Double-A and incredible Triple-A numbers just prior to his in-season call-up. His power potential was outstanding, his walk rate and on-base skills were great for a young power hitter and his strikeout rate in the minors hovered just under 20.0%. Obviously not ideal, but it was still fluctuating in between levels as Reimold quickly moved through the ranks.
His rookie campaign was fairly solid as he posted a triple slash line of .279/.365/.466 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI in just over 400 at bats. The numbers were very impressive. However, he was shut down near the end of the season due to a fraying in his Achilles tendon and surgery was necessary. That surgery, more or less, put the kibosh on the beginning of his career as he basically needed all of 2010 to really recover. He tried to start the season, and broke camp with the club that year, but after a little more than 80 at bats, Reimold looked far from the player we saw in 2009 and he was demoted to the minors to continue working on his recovery.
Last season, the Orioles corner outfield and designated hitter situation was rather clogged and Reimold ended up sharing time most of the year with Luke Scott and Felix Pie. It was a near impossibility to build any sort of momentum until finally, late in the season, when Pie was in the minors and Scott was on the DL, Reimold was given the chance to shine all on his own. He responded with a .281 average, five home runs and 17 RBI over the final month of the season. Reimold had, once again, arrived and the plan was for full-time work in 2012.
So now with the right opportunity, a clean bill of health, and the confidence of his manager, Reimold is turning it up right now. He’s started 11 of the team’s 14 games, getting a couple of routine days off and sitting out once with a stiff neck, and has hit safely in all but one – Opening Day. He’s put together a solid 10-game hit streak with five multi-hit performances in there, has five home runs in his last six games and is batting .370 with a solid .383 on-base percentage. Kick in 10 RBI and a stolen base for the year and you’ve got yourself a nice little fantasy package there.
Obviously though, there are a few caveats here. Reimold’s average has been supported by a .400 BABIP which will regress towards the more average .300-range and unless he fixes that 23.4% strikeout rate, his BA is going to dip substantially. He’ll also need to see his walk rate move a little closer to his ~9.0% career mark because a 2.4% walk rate just isn’t going to cut it and his on-base percentage is going to plummet. Then of course there’s the expected reduction in his line drive rate and
Now while I love to give players the benefit of the doubt, a lot of these outliers are giving me pause. I own Reimold in a few leagues and it’s time to start asking yourself if you need to sell high or decide that this guy is for real. For me, it’s actually pretty simple. It’s not that I don’t believe in certain players’ hot starts. It’s more that I like to sell a player at his highest value and some of these peripheral numbers make me think that the iron is hot enough for me to strike now. I’m a trader, by nature. Sure, he could still go on to hit .270 with 20 home runs on the year, but with each and every possible slump and decrease in rate stats, he loses his value in comparison to where it is today. He’ll still have value moving forward, but there’s someone in your league right now, staring at his name on your roster and wishing he had used his 23rd round pick on him too. Why not make his day and pry away some slow-starting stud he picked up in the third round?
Now let’s hit the highlights…
|Adam Dunn, 1B/DH CHW||3-4, 2 R, 2 B, 2 HR, 5 RBI|
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? I’m just gonna pretend like I’m some annoying six-year old sitting in the backseat of my daddy’s car and we’re on a long road trip. Except my daddy here is Adam Dunn, the car is his bandwagon and the road trip is this beloved 162-game season. And when I ask if we’re there yet, I want to know if it’s finally time to forget about 2011 and move on with a powerhouse, comeback year. Friday’s home runs were his first since Opening Day and while he’s hitting a much more tolerable .265, the power has not quite been there yet. And I’m sorry, but I did not draft Dunn this year for his potentially improved batting average. Give me the power, baby! Start mashing like you’ve never mashed before. This will be a crucial test for him, in my eyes. If he can carry the power momentum through the week, I’ll feel a whole lot better, but if he goes another 10-game stretch without going yard, I’m going to have to seriously consider some alternatives. Good thing he only cost me an 18th round pick.
And as for the rest of the top performers and bottom feeders…
|Drew Stubbs, OF CIN||3-5, R, 2B, 3 RBI, SB|
|Eric Chavez, 3B NYY||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Nolan Reimold, OF BAL||3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI|
|Brandon Beachy, SP ATL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 5 K|
|Ross Detwiler, SPP WAS||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 7 K|
|Hanley Ramirez, SS MIA||0-4, 3 K|
|Ryan Braun, OF MIL||0-3, R, 3 K|
|Miguel Olivo, C SEA||0-4, 2 K|
|Ike Davis, 1B NYM||0-5, 2 K|
|Hector Noesi, SP SEA||L, 40.50 ERA, 6.00 WHIP, K|
If time permitted, I’d sit here and go off on a diatribe as to why Brandon Beachy is just a stud, but alas, it doesn’t so you’ll just have to take my word for it right now. But don’t worry….I’m all but guaranteeing that he will be a major staple in this section all year and thus, his studliness will be more well known.
Other than that, you know where I stand with most of these guys. Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Braun can sit in the “losers bracket” for a day; that’s no big deal. And I would like to see Stubbs take his game to the next level here but the plate discipline remains an issue.
And, thankfully, with nothing new on the injury report, the rest of the day is yours…
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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