Ryan Braun- This week has been a huge step towards Ryan Braun regressing towards a more favorable mean for his owners. Braun had been absent during the first three weeks of the season, but he finally seems to be coming to life. Owners can take some solace in the realization that Braun wasn't going to be that bad for the entire season, but also, be aware that he isn't likely to ever see the MVP status that made him an elite fantasy option again. Owners should be aware that his upside is probably a slightly higher value than he produced in 2014 at best. With that said, he should regress towards his three year averages over the course of the next several weeks, which should mean this hot streak is here to stay for the near future.
Jay Bruce- So far Jay Bruce has been an even more exaggerated version of the player we expected coming into the season. Bruce has an increased fly ball rate (42.9%), an increased HR/FB (22.2%), and a lower BABIP (.211) than we expected. These will eventually regress slightly, and Bruce will begin to flash a bit less power and a bit more average, but if you drafted Bruce, you should have known you were buying a power generating outfielder who would drag down your batting average. There is nothing in the first month of the season to dispute this picture of Bruce.
Shelby Miller- Shelby Miller has been an odd pitcher to follow the last couple of seasons. After being a top tier strike out pitcher in 2013, Miller lost his swing and miss stuff in 2014 as he generated only a 7.0% Swinging Strike Rate. His rate in 2015 is even worse at 5.9%, but he has managed to be very successful by generating ground balls at a 57.1% rate. The new found ground ball rate may be due to Miller finding a new pitch in his arsenal. He is throwing a cutter about 20% of the time after not really throwing the pitch at all in 2013 or 2014. This new pitch makes it difficult to base projections on Miller's past seasons. As is, I like Miller moving forward as he is proving to be an elite ground ball pitcher. On Thursday, he is a fair daily play due to a short slate. Fanduel Salary- $8,400.00.
Dee Gordon- Dee Gordon has opened the season in similar fashion to his 2014. He is still among the league leaders in stolen bases (8). His .400 average is obviously unsustainable, but he is a player with a traditionally high BABIP so while his .462 will eventually regress negatively, it shouldn't cause his average to dip to severely. Overall, Gordon is a solid first half player, and I would milk as many steals as I could out of Gordon during this early season run. After that it may be best to attempt to sell him high as his numbers begin to regress back to his norms.
Bryce Harper- It appears that Bryce Harper is coming into his own as a truly elite offensive force in 2015. The biggest positive in Harper's early season success has been his ridiculous increase in Harper's plate patience. Harper has taken 21 walks in 95 plate appearances, which is an astounding 22.1% BB Rate. The added plate patience appears to be paying off as Harper is also hitting for more power early in the season. While it is unrealistic to believe that Harper will continue to walk as frequently as he has to start the season, it is a huge reason to have hope that Harper will finally make good on the massive potential he has shown throughout his career.
You can follow Nicholas Rossoletti on Twitter @NRoss56
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