Kelly Johnson - Johnson bashed his third homer of the young season yesterday in the 6-4 loss to Baltimore. I think Johnson is in store for a big year north of the border, as he's coming off of a second year in three in which an abnormally low BABIP conspired to keep his AVG down to an area that causes him to be overlooked for fantasy purposes. Johnson can contribute in every category, plays a weak position, and has a solid lineup surrounding him. What's not to like? Perhaps the K rate, but I'm choosing to see last year as an aberration as far as that goes.
Jemile Weeks - Weeks had one of the five hits for the A's yesterday, and that double was his 4th XBH of the year through eight games. It's far too early to extrapolate that figure, but I think it is safe to expect more power from Weeks than we saw last year. Weeks is now 25 and already has the chops to hit for a decent AVG and swipe some bases, so the addition of some power would possibly elevate him into the elite category at 2B. I would not be concerned about the AVG thus far, as he's making contact at nearly an 85% pace, and he's hitting line drives at a greater rate than he did last season. I am bullish here.
Nolan Reimold - Reimold had a two-run homer to break the tie in the ninth yesterday against Toronto, and he's now hit in six straight for the O's as their de facto leadoff man. Reimold had over 55 XBH for two years in a row when he was moving up the ladder in 2008 and 2009, and we see disappointing performance so often when a player gets sent back to AAA after an extended stint in the majors that we'd be foolish not to take emotion into consideration here. I am optimistic about Reimold's performances thus far, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see 20+ homers out of him this year.
Clay Buchholz - I'm going to resist the urge to make too much out of the first two starts of the year for Buchholz, but I will point out that in those few innings we've seen a continued decrease in velocity, control, swinging strike%, GB rate....basically everything that I look at to help my eyes judge pitcher effectiveness. Buchholz was obviously rather lucky last year, with an ERA nearly a full run lower than his FIP ERA, and I'm certainly concerned that that issue may have helped mask some deterioration here. I do not expect to see an ERA under 4.00 at year's end for Buchholz.
Henderson Alvarez - Alvarez tossed his second straight quality start to open the year, both of which have come against fellow AL east competitors. Alvarez held the O's to three runs over seven innings yesterday, walking one and fanning two. His control and ability to generate ground balls are elite-level, but without the K's I can't expect more than peak-level Derek Lowe or "the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona"-type numbers, and the downside with that type of a pitcher is fairly sizable. Alvarez is the style of pitcher that I tend to shy away from, although he is good enough in two of the three critical areas to be a back-end rotational option in just about all formats.