And just like that, after the long, cold winter, the MLB season is back in full force and the fantasy baseball season has officially begun. Happy Opening Day to you all. Worth the wait? I’d say so. We got a nice, little taste on Sunday night as the Astros won their very first game as an American League team and then Monday was just one of those days that made you feel like a little kid all over again. We saw some great baseball played with the promise of so much more to come.
But enough of the sappy, sentimental crap. We’re here to talk about fantasy baseball as there are likely many of you thinking that you’re just dancing towards your championship while others are, one game in, ready to start blowing up their teams. Given the amount of prep work you probably did and just how much we all fall in love with our fantasy teams, it’s difficult to contain the emotions on Opening Day. Whether you’re completely over the moon because you’re players soared or absolutely devastated because they stunk up the joint, just remember……..there’s still another 161 games to go. We are so far from over that you need to just rein it all in and not do anything rash. Don’t go blowing up your team after one day and don’t go making a bunch of moves for no reason. It’s ok to just sit back and let things marinate. Ease into the year and give your boys a chance to play. Making moves too quickly can be detrimental. If you had a great day, sit and enjoy it. If not, just remember how no one even considers the data with such a small sample size. Just take a deep breath and relax. There’s so much more to go.
That being said, let’s go back and take a look at some of the fantasy winners and losers from Opening Day. Normally here, we would highlight one guy as the Fantasy Beast of the Day and then hit some of the highs and lows, but with so much buzz and excitement over Opening Day, I figured we should highlight (and lowlight) a few more than usual. Good or bad, they all deserve a moment in the spotlight.
So let’s start with the winners….
|Bryce Harper, OF WAS||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Chase Utley, 2B PHI||3-5, 2 R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI|
|Collin Cowgill, OF NYM||2-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI|
|Freddie Freeman, 1B ATL||3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI|
|Rick Ankiel, OF HOU||1-2, R, HR, 3 RBI|
Could we generate any more excitement over Bryce Harper? With home runs in his first two at-bats, nearly every broadcaster was ready to switch to the Nationals game the moment he stepped into the on-deck circle. Given the skill set, it’s hard not to have visions of a sophomore 30-30 season and I imagine guys who own him in re-draft leagues are clamoring for a rules change to a keeper format, but again, keep it in perspective. He may be on pace to hit 324 home runs this year, but he probably won’t.
Score one for the O.G. as Chase Utley shows the fantasy world the error of their ways for allowing him to slip down to the 10th and 11th round ion most drafts. Personally, I still think he’s a bit brittle for my liking, but it looks like he’s out to prove his mettle right now.
You’ve got to love it when a guy surprisingly gets named a team’s starting center fielder and then turns in a performance like Collin Cowgill did on Opening Day. First grand slam of his career? Boo-yah! He’s probably only got 10-15 homers in him this year, but the hot start is always appreciated.
Though his average took a huge hit last season, Freddie Freeman showed solid growth from his rookie year and appears primed to continue his ascension up the first base rankings. Twenty-five home runs are what’s to be expected here, but if he can continue to maintain a solid walk rate as well as continue reducing his strikeouts, he has the potential of giving you an amazing season.
Rick Ankiel? Meh. Always good for a highlight or two each year, so we’ll throw him a bone here and give him a nod for his Opening Day heroics. After all, how many more times do you expect someone from the Astros to be highlighted in this section?
|Clayton Kershaw, LAD||W, CG, 0.00 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 7 K|
|Jeff Samardzija, CHC||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, 9 K|
|Felix Hernandez, SEA||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, 8 K|
|Stephen Strasburg, WAS||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 3 K|
|Chris Sale, CHW||W, 0.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7 K|
While I’ve long been a proponent of waiting on pitching in drafts, it’s always nice to see those who just couldn’t help themselves get a top-flight pitching line from their aces. Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Stephen Strasburg each cost a top three (maybe four) pick in their draft and proved exactly why so many covet them so early. Just dominant performances all around and kudos to Kershaw for helping his own cause with his first career home run.
Chris Sale probably went somewhere in fifth or sixth round in most drafts, so he too can probably be lumped together with the aforementioned big three, but Jeff Samardzija continued to be underrated during the spring. Despite a solid ERA and strong strikeout rate last year, Samardzija was left on the board until roughly the 11th or 12th round. Now while he’ll certainly have his fair share of bumps along the way, starting out the year like this is a huge bonus.
And the losers…
|Ike Davis, 1B NYM||0-5, 4 K|
|Jay Bruce, OF CIN||0-5, BB, 4 K|
|Cliff Pennington, SS ARI||0-4, 3 K|
|Aaron Hicks, OF MIN||0-4, 3 K|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B WAS||0-3, 3 K|
It’s hard to criticize a guy after one lousy game, but just because you know that the season is long and that there’s so much more to go, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck to see your guy throw up a doughnut on the stat sheet on day one. We’ll probably see plenty of these days from most of these guys, but it still hurts a little. Especially when a guy like Aaron Hicks is such a springtime darling and everyone and the expectations are way above his actual level of play. You expect the big strikeout days form Ike Davis and Jay Bruce though because you at least know they’ll back them up with 25-30 homers each. As for Ryan Zimmerman, well….I’m just glad he didn’t hurt himself yet.
|Carlos Marmol, CHC||27.00 ERA, 6.00 WHIP, K|
|Edinson Volquez, SD||L, 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 4 K|
|Cole Hamels, PHI||L, 9.00 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 5 K|
|John Axford, MIL||BS, 9.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP 3 K|
|CC Sabathia, NYY||L, 7.20 ERA, 2.40 WHIP, 5 K|
Again, tough to criticize here as Cole Hamels and CC Sabathia should be fine the rest of the way, Just a little Opening Day blues. But the closers….well….always a problem, aren’t they? At least we all expected this from Carlos Marmol. Most had end of April as the time pegged for Kyuji Fujikawa to take over the closer’s role anyway, but I don’t think anyone is ready to deal with another year of blown-up ratios from John Axford. It should be interesting to see just how long a leash Axford really has this year. It’s probably a bit longer than you’d either expect or be comfortable with, but if you own him, I’d still have my trigger finger ready and wait on a Jim Henderson waiver claim.
So how are we feeling right now? Pretty damn good, I can imagine. So whether your team was filled with highlights or lowlights, the important thing is that baseball is officially back and the fantasy season is upon us. Again, be patient right now and don’t go making any crazy moves you may regret later on. You’ve heard it a million times already, but once more can’t hurt – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a vaiety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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