Memorial Day is a noted, if arbitrary, milestone in the major league season. It’s widely accepted that numbers at this point begin to actually mean something. Fluky Aprils that continued through May give ways to the breakouts, regressions, and disappointments that define fantasy seasons. This mix of meaningful information along with the still considerable sample size caveat makes this time an exciting one in fantasy baseball circuits.
At this point in your season, your team’s categorical needs and strengths are crystallizing, as are opinions around players. However, there is still room for intelligent opinions to differ, which means that owners have the opportunity to position themselves on either side of various player propositions. This is a good time to proactively attempt to answer questions around notable players for yourself and act on those decisions.
So, it looks like Josh Reddick is a pretty good player; he showed potential late last year as well. But, do you think he’s truly a 30+ homer star? The beauty of this question is that Reddick’s current owners probably don’t have much consensus on the answer to this question, though by the All Star break they most likely will.
So, if you are a Reddick owner and you don’t think this is real, it’s time to act because I can guarantee you that somebody in your league does believe. And, if you are a believer, it’s time for you to find out whether his current owner is one as well. While after one month, many owners were taking the wait and see approach, most owners are now settling on a commitment to either double down or seek an opportunity to cash out with their profits or losses when it comes to players outlying their expected performance curves.
Obviously, one of the best ways to inform your decisions about issues like this is to look at the most fundamental numbers. It’s impractical to look in-depth at a ton of players in this single column, so instead I’d like to attempt to define some of the types of players that pique my interest around this time. I often try to lump players into buckets in an attempt to identify those who I want to look at more deeply.
Established track record, got out to a slow start and has since picked it up, but overall numbers have not fully caught up yet.
Examples: Justin Upton, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes
What I’m looking for: Which is the real story of the 2012 version of this player?
Post-hype breakouts, perhaps overperforming a bit, but most of leap due to underlying skill set which previously existed but didn’t translate to results
What I’m looking for: Did this player really make a leap?
Under the radar players who I liked coming into the season who have shown no reason to change that opinion but have not “blown up” yet either
Examples: Michael Cuddyer, Mike Moustakas, Zack Greinke, Colby Lewis, Jonathan Niese, Lucas Duda, Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters
What I’m looking for: Further confirmation of my opinion, the opportunity to get the best that’s yet to come.
Trendy picks who are disappointing and whose owners may have drafted based on hype and therefore may not have much confidence that the player will emerge from his funk
Examples: Brett Lawrie, Eric Hosmer, Ike Davis, Matt Moore
What I’m looking for: Do I still like this player? How committed is his team to giving him the opportunity to break out.
The devil is always in the details and I will not come out on the “buy” side of every one of these players. Immediately, I’m skeptical about those of whom we’ve fairly likely seen the best stretch of 2012 they’ll have to offer. That’s where I net out on players like Reddick or E5; even if this is real, we’ve still seen a disproportionate amount of production in a limited slice of time. The fact that a player has truly made a leap does not, in and of itself, imply that current production is sustainable. You can grow, while also reaping the benefits of luck or a well-time hot streak at the same time.
Now is the time to be proactive. Dive into the details on the players for whom there is market dissent, pick a side, and place a wager on being right. The opportunities and returns around their most fertile now and will begin to shrink as we go from the 33 percent to 50 percent mark of the season.