Big Statisticles: Special Opening Day Edition
Welcome to Big Statisticles, where mild inappropriateness and fantasy baseball reign supreme. Each week this will be your home for roughly 1,000 words dedicated to players that are crushing it, crashing down, or have cream rising to the…never mind, you get the idea. The below is an abbreviated version of what to expect on a weekly basis when there’s more stats to digest. But for now, here’s highlights from the recent happenings in the world of fantasy.
Crushing Per Usual
Bryce Harper (2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI), Nationals
Apr 1, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) acknowledges the crowd after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY SportsIt took two pitches. Two pitches to say I’m not a prospect, and I’m not a project. Roughly 15 minutes after accepting his Rookie of the Year award, Harper sent a Ricky Nolasco offering on a magic carpet ride into the seats in right-center field. If that wasn’t enough, the 20-year old phenom followed-up with another tater in the fourth. Sadly, the bags were empty again but the point had been made that his time is now. Harper owners could literally trade him for any outfielder not named Trout or Braun, but I wouldn’t recommend it. At this point the sky’s officially the limit.
Troy Tulowitzki (2-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI) and Carlos Gonzalez (2-5, 1 HR, 2 R), Rockies
With Harper hot on his coattails in the MLB outfield rankings, CarGo didn’t disappoint with a performance reminiscent of those that made him a top three overall pick in 2011. Tulowitzki showed no ill effects from the groin injury that marred his 2012 campaign, as he and his cohort provided all the offense for the Rockies in Milwaukee. Tulo is the premier shortstop in fantasy baseball when he’s on the field, and after playing in only 47 games last year, on the field is where he’s determined to stay. CarGo has the skill-set to rank at the top of his position as well, and that’s why this one-two punch in the Rockies’ three and four spots can be the most proficient in baseball when healthy. So for the time being, keep a positive attitude and enjoy the production.
Aces Hold Up
Clayton Kershaw (W, 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 7 K), Dodgers
April 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) heads to the dugout after a solo home run in the eighth inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Dodgers won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SportsNow if hitting stats counted for pitchers, the article tonight would be dedicated to Kershaw. After outlasting Matt Cain in another epic duel, Kershaw was left in the game to hit in the bottom of the eighth by Don Mattingly. The 2011 Cy Young Award winner validated his manager’s bold move by sending a towering shot over the fence in dead center (first career HR) to break the 0-0 tie. The Dodgers would tack on three more runs and coast to victory over their hated rivals. Needless to say, Kershaw just jumped out to a monster lead in the National League MVP race. This guy is lights out and must never be benched. Never.
Chris Sale (W, 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 7 K), White Sox
A young Kansas City lineup in chilly conditions were no match against Sale on Monday. He stifled the Royals and silenced the whispers of elbow trouble in his throwing arm. Just a couple days removed from his 24th birthday, he is poised to push Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander for the starting pitcher throne in the American League. In his second full season as a starter, he has top-10 potential written all over him.
Felix Hernandez (W, 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K), Mariners
King Felix took the mound in enemy territory and blanked an A’s team that boasts one of the game’s most exciting players in Yoenis Cespedes (0-4). Felix looked to be worth every penny of the $175M contract he signed in the off-season, and he too seems to have put rumblings of elbow concerns to rest.
Meet Me at the Warp Zone
Jeff Samardzija (W, 8 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 9 K), Cubs
April 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning at PNC Park. The Chicago Cubs won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsThe former Golden Domer silenced the Pirates on their home turf and made it look easy in doing so. Samardzija was dealing heat in the mid-90’s, but on the next pitch, he would pull the string on achange-up that wouldn’t break 80 MPH. Pittsburgh hitters didn’t stand a chance. The talent and potential was never a question with Jeff, but his run support was cause for concern. If he continues to consistently show the power and command he displayed today, it won’t matter if the Cubs are swinging broomsticks in the batter’s box, because Samardzija will most likely bring home the win. And who knows what will follow? Maybe a Cy Young…runner-up. Let’s be real now, but I’d target him in trade talks (preferably after a rough outing).
Freddie Freeman (3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI), Braves
I’ve seen some people pick Freeman as their dark-horse candidate to win the home run title and after watching him at the plate tonight, it’s hard to argue against them. Freeman carried the Braves to a win over Cole Hamels and the Phillies by driving-in clutch in separate scenarios with two outs. Hitting in the heart of that lineup will offer plenty of chances for Freeman to go yard, and I’m gonna bank he does that at least 30 times this year. He will be undervalued in mixed leagues and late drafts. but it won’t last for very long. Act accordingly and make some offers.
Dip in the Clunk Tank
Ike Davis (0-5, 4 K, 4 LOB), Mets
Not a great start to a breakout season. After hitting the fourth-most home runs in baseball after the All-Star Break (20), Ike is looking to carry that momentum into 2013, but he ran into a speed bump on opening day. I’m still a believer in the break-through and he should drastically improve on his .227 AVG from a year ago, but when your team scores 11 runs and you go hitless with four whiffs? You put that break-through on brief hold and take a dip in the clunk tank. Make it up to us next game, Ike.
Jay Bruce (0-4, 3 K, 6 LOB), Reds
He will make up for it some day soon, but wow, Bruce could have really stuffed the stat sheet against the Angels in baseball’s lone interleague opener. With the game tied 1-1 in the eighth, Bruce struck out with bases loaded to end the inning, and later in the 13th, he struck out to end the game in extras. Not the start we were looking for from someone who usually rakes in April. Tomorrow is another day. Oh Crap, the Reds have it off.
Yeah You Better Be Scared
Edinson Volquez (L, 3 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K), Padres
You can’t trust Volquez on the road anymore and that’s the bottom line. After posting dismal numbers on the road last year (5.60 ERA and 1.65 WHIP), the perpetually regressing Volquez was chased in Citi Field in an ugly 11-2 loss to the Mets. He hasn’t been on my draft list for years, but if you are an Edinson owner, only start him at Petco Park in favorable match-ups. His ship has sailed. Trade him if you can find a