By Chris Cwik, CBSSports.com
The end of week 4 marks the unofficial end of the first month of the fantasy season. In reality, April doesn’t end until midway through week 5, but that won’t stop owners from taking stock after nearly a month has passed.
While a month may seem like an appropriate amount of time to start judging players, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it typically takes at least 150 plate appearances before strikeout rates stabilize, according to an article written by Russell A. Carleton.
Considering Paul Goldschmidt leads all of baseball with 107 plate appearances, it’s just too early to start judging your team. Just in case you need more evidence that a month of data is misleading, look at Goldschmidt’s breakout in 2012. He spent the first month of the year splitting time with Lyle Overbay at first and hitting .193. He finished the year hitting .286/.359/.490, with 20 home runs.
Take a deep breath and step back from the ledge. There’s no reason to panic if your studs aren’t hitting yet.
Tyson Ross, SP, Padres (65 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Giants, home against Diamondbacks
Ross had some command issues early in the year, but was able to straighten things out for a few appearances. Though he’s coming off his worst outing of the season, Ross is looking at some really great matchups Week 5. The Giants play in spacious AT&T Park, and have been slightly below average to open the year. Arizona is starting to look like last year’s Astros, for which any opposing pitcher was a must-start. This should be the week Ross really starts rewarding his owners.
Players I would start him over: Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo, Jon Lester
Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, Athletics (69 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Rangers, home against Red Sox
It doesn’t get much better than playing in Texas or Boston, particularly for a power hitter like Moss. There’s always a concern when Moss faces left-handers, and that’s going to be the case for two of the three games in Texas. While that’s worrisome, one of Moss’s three home runs did come off a lefty this year. Even if he doesn’t play, the run environments of both parks are tough to pass up. And given how well Oakland’s offense has performed to begin the year, Moss should have plenty of chances with men on base.
Players I would start him over: Chris Colabello, Michael Morse, Christian Yelich
Tyler Chatwood, SP, Rockies (19 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Diamondbacks, home against Mets
How desperate are you for standout pitching performances? Admittedly, starting Chatwood is pretty risky. He posted an under the radar 3.15 ERA despite pitching in Colorado last season, but got off to a late start in 2014 due to a hamstring issue. The appeal here, again, is the start against Arizona. Chatwood not only plays a terrible team, but he’s set to oppose Mike Bolsinger, who is only in the majors because the D-Backs are that bad. Facing the offensively challenged Mets in his second start doesn’t hurt either, though that game is in Coors Field.
Players I would start him over: R.A. Dickey, Travis Wood, Jason Vargas
Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds (68 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: Home against Cubs, home against Brewers
Hamilton entered the year as the latest prospect du jour, but his early struggles have left Fantasy owners concerned. Hamilton isn’t a home run hitter, and, because of that, his offensive surges aren’t as highly publicized. A closer look at his recent stats reveals that Hamilton might be getting more comfortable against major-league pitching. He’s quietly compiled 11 hits in his last eight games. All Hamilton needs to do in order to be effective is get on base. It looks like he’s starting to figure out hit at this level.
Players I would start him over: Adam Eaton, Christian Yelich, Torii Hunter
Curtis Granderson, OF, Mets (47 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Phillies, home against Rockies
It’s been pretty ugly for Granderson to open the year, but that’s nothing four games at Coors Field can’t fix. If he’s going to finally get things going, this might be the week. The team plays two games in Philadelphia then heads to Colorado. Both parks play exceptionally well for home run hitters. Given that’s Granderson’s only asset at this point, he better take advantage of the tasty matchups.
Players I would start him over: Norichika Aoki, Dayan Viciedo, Torii Hunter
Kyle Lohse, SP, Brewers (69 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Cardinals, home against Reds
It’s tough to sit Lohse considering his strong start, but it’s not like he’s faced many offensive juggernauts. Aside from Atlanta, who should be strong offensively, he’s faced Philadelphia, Pittsburgh twice and the Padres. None of the those clubs can be considered offensive threats. That changes week 5, as Lohse gets the Cardinals and Reds. St. Louis may not have gotten off to a strong offensive start, but they have plenty of threats. The Reds seem to be hitting their offensive stride, and play at home. Neither start is particularly appealing for Lohse.
Players I would start instead: Tyson Ross, Tim Hudson (one start), Ervin Santana (one start)
Dee Gordon, 2B, Dodgers (73 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Twins, home against Marlins
Gordon has two main draws right now: the abilities to hit for average and steal bases. The problem here is that his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is through the roof. Forty percent of the balls Gordon is putting in play are going for hits. While his speed can help in this department, Gordon’s .400 BABIP is higher than anything Mike Trout or Ichiro Suzuki ever posted over a full season. All told, Gordon is in for some regression. Playing in some big parks may speed up that process. If that doesn’t slow him down, owners should consider selling high.
Players I would start instead: Howie Kendrick, Neil Walker, Danny Espinosa
Justin Masterson, SP, Indians (63 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Angels, home against White Sox
Masterson has settled in after two rough starts at the beginning of the year, but matchups against the Angels and White Sox should cool him down again. The clubs rank fourth and second respectively in offensive wOBA, an advanced stat that measures a team’s offensive performance. All it means is that both the Angels and White Sox are hitting well, and that could spell trouble for Masterson. Chicago already worked Masterson for five earned runs earlier this season.
Players I would start instead: Tim Hudson (one start), Bartolo Colon (one start), Hiroki Kuroda (one start)
Marco Estrada, SP, Brewers (61 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Reds
Estrada has impressed to open the year, but things could get dicey week 5. Not only are the Reds emerging as a solid hitting team, but the game takes place in one of the friendliest home run parks. The long ball has always been Estrada’s Achilles heel, and it’s not hard to envision a game in which the ball starts flying out of the park. Estrada’s not a bad start considering how well he’s performed early, but there are safer matchups out there. Why take the risk?
Players I would start instead: Rick Porcello, Drew Hutchison, Alfredo Simon (two starts)
Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, Padres (51 percent started Week 4)
Week 5 schedule: At Giants, home against Diamondbacks
Gyorko is a prisoner of his own home park. While getting away from Petco would normally be a good thing, AT&T Park is even worse for power. Outside of the team’s recent three-game set in Milwaukee, Gyorko has played every one of his games in pitcher’s parks. Unfortunately for Gyorko owners, that’s led to some majors struggles to open the year. He’s still a major rebound candidate, but it might be tough to get things going offensively week 5. Be patient, better times are ahead.
Players I would start instead: Howie Kendrick, Xander Bogaerts, Todd Frazier
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