Monday, April 18, 2005
There are a lot of guys in the league off to some unexpected quick starts and I said last week that I wouldn't include a guy in the MVP or Cy Young race if I didn't think he could maintain it all year. So why did I include Brian Roberts? Do I think he'll be able to win the MVP award this year? No. But he's just doing so good that I had to include him. And I think that while he won't keep up at the pace he's at now, he will surprise some people this year.
Here's a look at some guys that are out to quick starts and how I expect them to do this year.
Brian Roberts - He's already tied his career high homer total with five and we're only 12 games into the season. He's on pace for 81 steals and 67 homers to go along with his .449/.534/.898 line. Obviously the guy is going to regress, but I think he's going to be very solid this year. Many prospects have their power potential judged by the number of doubles they hit. The logic is that as a player matures and grows into his body he'll start getting the extra pop needed to smack those balls off the walls a little harder and put them into the seats. Roberts hit 51 doubles last year. At 27 years old and with 5 years of major league playing under his belt I'm not suggesting that Roberts is a prospect. But it's not too hard to believe that maybe he made an adjustment to his swing or hit the weight rooms a little bit harder this year. He's not going to stay among the league leaders in home runs, but I do think that he might have another 15-20 homers left in him this year. He could end up with 25 homers and 40 steals this year to go along with a near .300 average.
Gustavo Chacin - I'm just excited that I finally learned how to pronounce the guy's name. This 24 year old rookie has had mixed success in the minors, but is considered to be a prospect with a decent shot to make it in the bigs. Apparently last year he added a cut fastball to his repetoire of pitches and then went on a tear for Toronto's AA team. After a few failures at AA, Chacin had good numbers in AA, AAA, and in two major league starts. His first game this year against Tampa Bay might have been a fluke. His second start against a struggling Oakland line up wasn't as impressive as his first, but it was still a decent outing. His third start of the year was his best so far and it was against a strong hitting Texas club. Two of the three runs he's let up this year have been on solo shots and he's walked only 4 batters in 19 innings. It's tough to tell after only three starts, but Chacin seems to be the real deal. He's become an early favorite for the AL ROY and I know I've added him to my fantasy team.
Pat Burrell - Burrell's stats pop out at you because he's already managed to rack up 17 RBIs. He's been pretty hot this year, but obviously you can't judge a guy by the number of RBIs he's had. His .354/.400/.667 line is very impressive, but it's bound to drop significantly. With that said, Burrell could still manage a hell of a year in 2005. It was only a few years ago that he was a legitimate slugger. His struggles during the last couple of years have been blamed on everything from injuries to an unhappy clubhouse, but with the way he's playing so far this year it's obvious that his wrist is feeling 100%. The average will drop back to a more Burrell like .280 but he could easily hit 30 homers with 120 RBIs this year.
A.J. Burnett - The only thing holding this guy back is the injury risk. Tommy John surgery before last year eliminated all but four starts of the season for BUrnett. In 2005 he looks stronger than ever. Two out of his last three starts have been complete games and neither of them have been all that taxing on the arm. One was only 103 pitchers and the other was 105. As long as his arm holds up, and there's no reason why it shouldn't, the guy might be in the running for a Cy Young this year.
Jason Lane - Lane has been waiting for years to get a shot at a starting job and he's making the best of it so far batting .326 with 4 homers after only 11 games. The guy is for real and now that he has a starting job he is going to produce this year. The average will drop a little bit, but the power should stay. A .280 average with 25 homers this year is within his reach. The only problem with Lane so far this year is that he hasn't drawn a single walk and that could easily come back to bite him in the ass. His OBP is actually lower than his AVG so far on the season. He's had moderate patience in his career so he could just be trying to be too agressive to prove that he is worth the starting job. Once he settles in his walk numbers should go up.
Mike Hampton - Hampton has started the year off with three very good starts, but he's continuing a trend that he had last year. He doesn't strike out anyone. He's struck out only 5 batters this year. That kind of non-dominant stuff has a way of catching up with a starter. He might be able to get away with it for a little while, but he certainly won't have a sub-2.00 ERA by the end of the year. He'll be lucky to have a sub-4.50 ERA. To quote Baseball Prospectus Hampton is "a fifth starter with #2 name recognition".
Clint Barmes - At the age of 25 Barmes had a breakout year in AAA in 2004. He has doubles power and manages to get the bat onto the ball, but he doesn't walk very often. A solid, but average season can be expected out of the guy. He's not going to stay amongst the league leaders in home runs like he is now, but he could approach 20 if everything falls his way. He's not going to be a superstar though.
Tim Wakefield - The one thing Sox fans know about Tim Wakefield is that you never know about Tim Wakefield. The knuckleball is the most unpredictable pitch out there. Some games (hell, some seasons!) the guy can look like the ace of the staff while others he gets hammered pretty hard. You never know what to expect. So far this year Wakefield's three starts have come against two teams that he's always seemed to have success against; the Yanks and the Devil Rays. So maybe that's why he's started off so good. Or maybe he really is in line for one of his good years. Or maybe the moisture in the air caused the knuckler to knuckle a little more. You never know with this guy.
Joe Randa - Maybe the change in scenery has really helped him? Maybe now that he was able to escape Kansas City he'll turn into one of the game's best sluggers? Nah. Joe Randa is 35 years old and got off to a hot start. This is the guy that has always been so sickenly average. He'll get on base just enough to not suck. He'll have just enough extra base hits. He'll play an average defense. He's just...vanilla. He'll hit 10-15 homers this year even with the 4 he has already. He'll even manage to come within 20 points of .300. It seems like he always does. But he's not anything spectacular out there. He never has been.
I don't really have any scientific method going on...just judging them by how I think they're doing. I added Konerko to the list because even though he has a low average, he's leading the league in homers. I have Buerhle as the Cy Young because he's leading the league in innings and ERA to go with a nice number of k's.
Just stuff like that.
Chavez has struggled this year. Struggled so bad that some moron actually dropped him in my fantasy baseball league. I'm sure he'll come around. But until he does, he doesn't get to be on my very prestigious list.