Monday, May 9, 2011
What To Do About: Slow Starts
There he is, folks. The phenom known as Pedro "El Toro" Alvarez of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is also my fantasy third baseman. I picked him in the hopes that he would build off of his solid rookie campaign (he hit .256 with 16 homers and 64 RBI in 95 games), and also continue to grow into his Manny Ramirez-like hype.
Instead, young Pedro has hit .212 with one home run (although it was a monster) and 7 RBI in his first 28 games. Most recently, he's missed 5 straight games with a quad injury. We are now in week 6 of the season. What do I do? What should anyone do when their fantasy player struggles early in the season? Here are some things to take into account before dropping a struggling player.
1. How long has he been struggling?
Sometimes players just get off to a bad start. April and May are colder now than they once were. Cold temperatures can mess with a hitter's flexibility, timing and even how far the ball travels when they hit it. Traditionally, when the temperatures heat up, so do the bats.
2. Age and Injury Record
How old is your player? If he's in his late 30s or has had a history of injuries or other physical problems, he might not be struggling. He might be done. If he's a young player, or a player in his prime years, odds are he's just off to a slow start.
3. Previous track record
What kind of career has your struggling player had? If Albert Pujols has a tough first few weeks, as he did this season, it's safe to say he'll come around. If John McDonald has one, that's just how he plays. Why the hell did you draft John McDonald, anyway? He sucks! Also, some players are known as slow starters, like Mark Teixeira. You should have known this when you took him, so don't cry about it now. If a player is a rookie, and his only previous track record is in the minor leagues, or in limited major league action... again, you should have known this before you had him. Sophomore slumps are very common, as "El Toro" will tell you.
4. Has he had any bad luck?
Sometimes, the ball gets hit hard, but goes right at someone. A good peripheral statistic to use is BABIP, or batting average on balls in play. If a player has an extraordinarily low BABIP compared to his career numbers, he's probably going through a string of bad luck. The same thing can be said about a high BABIP. If your player has a very high BABIP, he's going through a lot of very good luck, which might soon run out.
5. Strength of the position
Are there many other viable options at that position for you to pick up? If so, you might be better off going with another player. If it is a weak position, like middle infield and third base, where there simply aren't that many good players available this season, you are better off keeping your guy in the hopes that he'll turn it all around.
6. Draft position
When did you draft your player? If you drafted him early on, you pretty much have to keep him. You know he has the talent, or you would not have drafted him so highly. The opposite can be true as well. If you drafted someone in the later rounds, or even picked him up off of the waiver wire, then it should be an easier decision to drop them.
7. Your position in the standings
If you're in good overall team shape, you're definitely better off keeping your player. When he turns it around, he'll add to your already potent offense and maybe make it unstoppable. If you're in last place, you might not be able to afford to wait out players that aren't playing well. You might have to make some tough moves in order to spark a playoff run.
In summary, I stress patience when it comes to dropping your players. You don't want to drop a player during a cold streak and see him go on to hit 50 home runs for someone else. That happened to me in 2007 with Prince Fielder. The same season, i benefited from Magglio Ordoñez's .366 batting average because someone dropped him during a cold streak as well. As far as Pedro Alvarez goes, I'll continue to put up with the inexcusable lack of manhood he has shown at the plate this season. He might be an asshole, but I drafted him in the 9th round, so he's my asshole... for better or (gulp!) worse.