Ryan Braun - With many first and early second round draft picks slumping to start the season (I'm looking at you A-Rod, Jose Reyes, and Ryan Howard), Ryan Braun is at least displaying a power stroke similar to his incredible break-out in 2007. Through 8 games, Braun's production isn't exactly at superstar level again just yet, but he is showing signs of slowly climbing back to that level. With his 3rd HR of the season last night,Braun is averaging a HR for every 12.0 AB, an improvement from last year's stellar performance of 13.3. He has yet to draw a walk, dropping his OBP to sub-.300 compared to .365 last year and a BB/K of .26. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I would expect Braun's numbers to even out nicely. While another 0.88 FPI season will be difficult to obtain, a sophomore slump for this young Brewer is not in the cards.
Roy Oswalt - All fantasy eyes will be on Oswalt tomorrow when he takes the mound for the first time after feeling a "twinge" in his arm. Of course, Oswalt assured manager Cecil Cooper that it was nothing serious, but there is some writing on the wall that the Astros' ace may be on a slight decline. Let's take a look at his K/9 and start with 2005. His strikeout rate for the last three years looks like this: 6.77, 6.54, 6.50. Steady, but still a slight decrease. This year, in 12 IP his K/9 is 4.50. Looking at it a different way, his K/I declines from 0.76, 0.75, 0.73, and in 2008 to 0.50. WHIP is another nice measure of a pitching trends and Oswalt saw a big jump last year from 1.20 and 1.17 in 2005 and 2006 to 1.33 in 2007. This year, he has already allowed 21 hits in 12 IP, which drives an astronomical WHIP of 1.92. While this "twinge" doesn't sound too serious, it will be interesting to see how he rebounds from a slow start over the next few weeks.
Mark Teixeira - Are we looking at another repeat of 2007? Tex is off to a slow start again. He was just 1-for-4 on Wednesday (which actually raised his average to .167). Time to break-out the calculator and calculate his April performance in 2007 relative to his full year production and, hopefully ease your worries. In April 2007, Tex hit .231 with an FPI of .47 and an OPS of .686. For the full-year, he finished hitting .306 with an FPI of .78 and an OPS of .964. So basically, for the next 5 months (May through September), Teixeira out-performed those full-season totals to make up for his lackluster April. The longer you can survive (and stay in roto contention) with your slumping first / second rounders, the greater the benefit from the statistical correction for the remainder of the season. Tex is a perfect example.
Adam Dunn - Since I play in some leagues that use OBP instead of AVG, I always put Dunn at the top of my list of guys to pick earlier than usual during drafts. Of course, going into last night's game, I was starting to panic a little (yes, we panic too). He did finally hit his first homerun of the season yesterday (and you know he's going to hit 40 again - he has "dunn" it for 4 straight years now). The interesting thing about Dunn is that you can drive a truck through his OBP and AVG differential. He walks a ton. So far this season, Dunn is hitting only .160 - just 4 hits in 25 AB. His OBP is a whopping .405 with 11 walks and 7 K's. While his last 4-years give us a BB/K rate of 0.60, he still has averaged 109 walks per season during that time with an OBP of .376. Obviously if you're in a league that counts strikeouts as negative points, Big Donkey drops considerably. But power, OBP, and a sure bet to drive-in and score 100 runs keeps Dunn high on my list (and under-rated on other lists).
Justin Germano - A large bonfire and a gigantic up-arrow is attached to Justin Germano's name to start the 2008 season. Another impressive performance by the Padres' fill-in for Mark Prior pitcher. Two quality starts in as many outings for Germano gives him a total pitching line of 13.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R (none earned), 6 K's, 3 BB, and, unfortunately, no decisions to show for it. You gotta love his 22:12 GB:FB rate. Wtih Prior being Prior once again, Germano is here to stay for at least the short-term. Grab him or keep him in all leagues. The unfortunate news is that his spot in the rotation will probably be skipped with off-days today and on Monday. The Padres play the Rockies and the D-backs next week so he should get a start at some point during those two series. The rotation picture should be clearer by the weekend.
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