Adam Wainwright - Sometimes, fantasy players are just a bit too premature when assessing value in players. Alex Gordon is a prime example, as he had a rough debut year and is now looking like he's going to have the true break-out season in year #2. Adam Wainwright might be a similar case. When he moved from the 2006 closer's role to the starting rotation in 2007, he was highly touted and sported a relatively high ADP in early season drafts. While his 2007 was far from a disappointment, it wasn't quite as great as everybody thought it would be. He ended the season 14-12 with a 3.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, K//9 of 6.1, and a BB/9 of 3.1. Again, not bad considering it was his first full season on the mound. He was still able to record 200 IP (which can only be said by 37 other pitchers in 2007 and no other Cardinals). So far in 2008, he's showing the fantasy world what we thought he would be last year. He has recorded at least 7 innings or more in each of his 3 starts this season with two of them coming as official Quality Starts. He has a combined 22.2 IP for a record of 2-1, an ERA of 2.86, WHIP of 1.09, and K/BB of 5.33 (K/9 of 6.6). I'm not claiming he's going to win the Cy Young award this year, but I do claim he is underrated given his 2007 performance and could be a cheap trade candidate in your league.
Derek Lee - Is it too early to say Lee's power is officially back? Sorry Cub fans, don't want to jinx you, but the 2008 Derek Lee looks like the Lee of a few years ago. Power, average, and production has been his forte so far this season with no signs of letting up. Let's dig into the stats a little and see just how well he's doing. First, the power. Lee is averaging a HR for every 10.2 AB and has an OPS of 1.243. Checkmark in superstar box #1. Now, onto the production. Through 14 games, Lee has 13 RBI and has an overall FPI of 1.12. Check #2! Actually, that FPI is an astonishing level that ranks above just about everybody in the game right now for '08. Finally, for you old-schoolers out there... batting average. He's hitting .393 and has a batting eye of 0.78. We've been claiming that a healthy wrist for Lee should lead to a return of his power game and fantasy eliteness and its certainly looking that way right now. If this continues, Murphy's Bleachers should see an increase in sales as fans wait on Waveland Ave for more HR balls to fly over the bleachers.
Justin Germano - Not quite as dominant as his previous two starts, but still another quality start for the Padres back-end starter. He hurled 7.0IP , gave up 8 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, and no K's in his first decision of the season (which unfortunately was also a Loss.) He could be (or should be) 3-0 rather than 0-1 on the season, but you can't help the run support, especially from a lineup like the Padres. One thing to keep your eye on as the season progresses isGermano's half splits from last season. Before the all-star break, Germano posted a 3.90 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and was 5-3. In the 2nd half, he dropped to a 4.98 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and a 2-7 record. At just 25 years old (he'll turn 26 in August), its tough to say if he became tired over a long season or if it was just tougher opponents seeing him for a 2nd time. Furthermore, with a 1.35 ERA to his name now through 3 starts, you have to assume a correction is due in the short-term. He's not Cy Young,after all. He'll be a 2-start pitcher next week against Houston and the D-Backs. Monday's start against the Astros (vs Roy Oswalt) should be telling about which way he's trending going into a tough Diamondbacks game next Saturday.
Adam Dunn - I woke up early this morning ready to crank-out the statistical anomaly known as Dunn's early-season power struggles. Of course, he hit adinger in his last AB of the game on Wednesday to make me about 8 hours too late. But its still worth noting that a HR surge is likely to come in the near future for Big Donkey. In the last four years, Dunn has not only hit 40+ HR per season, but has averaged a HR/AB of 12.3, 13.6, 14.0, and 13.1 from the years 2004 through 2007. This year, through 40 AB, he has just 2 HR for some simple math of a 20.0 HR/AB. On the flip-side, he has replaced his power-stroke with less K's and more BB's (for now). His batting eye in the aforementioned 4-year span was 0.554, 0.679, 0.577, and 0.612 (that's BB/K). This year, its an astonishing 1.545, almost 3x the rate from his most recent performances. Its not only that he's walking more, but he' striking out less too. He is recording 3.4 PA per walk recorded compared to his 4-year average of 6.0 while posting a 5.2 PA per K compared to the 4-year average of 3.7. For now, you're giving up power for higher OBP, but expect the trend to reverse in due time.
Kaz Matsui's, uh, injury looks to be completely healed and he is expected back to the lineup on Friday to make his season debut against his former team, the Colorado Rockies. Cecil Cooper indicated he's a go for Friday and Saturday and that its time for him to "tee it up." Sounds like he'll resume his regular starting duties at 2B. Looking back at 2007 season with the Rockies, Kaz hit .288 with an FPI of 0.69, 4 HR, 32 SB, and an OPS of .747. Speed and decent average from a cheap 2B is not bad, not to mention he will have plenty of run-scoring opportunities with Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee knocking him in. A change in venue should have little effect on the slap-hitter, so expect similar numbers from Kaz for 2008. Not a bad pickup if you need some speed out of your MI or 2B slots.