Week 1 of the 2013 MLB regular season is in the books and I’m ecstatic to present the first Three Up, Three Down with statistics that actually count in fantasy baseball. The Spring Training Movers pieces were fun and all, but now it’s put up or shut up time for spring studs like Domonic Brown, Julio Teheran and Aaron Hicks. Will they help lead the fantasy owners that invested in them to a league championship? Or will they become waiver wire cast-offs come June? We’ll find out soon enough.
If you're anything like me, you've been glued to your league’s Live Scoring pages all week, tracking every at-bat and inning pitched as if your life depended on it. By now, you've made note of the players who have been rather sluggish out of the gate while others who have delivered big games have caught your eye. Perennial aces Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee were dominant in Week 1, as expected. First round sluggers Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun (before neck spasms sidelined him for a few games) and Troy Tulowitzki hit the crap out of the ball, as expected. Since we anticipated those players to perform at a high level, we’ll simply omit their names from the lists below.
Bryce Harper (OF, WAS) - Going into your league draft, you were either a believer that the 20-year-old phenom was worthy of a first-round pick (he was drafted as early as third overall in NFBC leagues), or else you were totally against drafting him that early, even in the second round. I know many fantasy GMs in the latter camp who are already wishing they took Harper instead of their first- or second-round picks. To those of you who were able to snag Harper in the third round or later, BRAVO. One week into the season and Harper has a .360-5-3-5-0 line-- kid’s going to be a beast hitting out of the 3-hole in the Nationals lineup.
Yu Darvish (SP, TEX) - I’ll spare you from all the clever “Yu” puns that dominated the headlines after Darvish’s start against Houston last Tuesday. In 8.2 innings of work, Darvish struck out 14 Astros and came within one out of a perfect game. Granted, this was against a team that finished with a league worst 107 losses last year and did little to improve their roster for the 2013 season. Still, you simply cannot discount Yu’s performance. After struggling with walks for most of last season, the twenty-six year old appears to be improving in that area, as Tuesday was his first MLB start where he did not issue a free pass to the opposing team. Darvish did issue 4 walks in yesterday’s start against the Angels, but still struck out 6 batters and picked up the win after 5 innings of work. I don’t expect the blister that he’s dealing with to deter him much this season.
Chris Davis (1B/OF, BAL) - Chris “Crush” Davis had a MONSTER week against the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins. He went 10-22 (.455) with 3 doubles, 4 HR and 17(!) RBI. Yes, Davis currently has more RBI than five teams have total runs scored. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Davis has only struck out three times in six games. Last season, the 27-year-old slugger fanned 169 times (against just 37 walks). If he can cut down on the strikeouts and improve his walk total, look out.
Other THREE UP Candidates: Justin Upton (OF, ATL), Michael Morse (OF, SEA), Alexi Ogando (SP, TEX), Matt Harvey (SP, NYM), Jeff Samardzija (SP, CHC), Chase Utley (2B, PHI), Jose Reyes (SS, TOR), Adam Jones (OF, BAL), Tyler Flowers (C, CWS), Dexter Fowler (OF, COL), Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, BOS), Carlos Santana (C, CLE), Jon Lester (P, BOS)
Josh Hamilton (OF, LAA) - Fantasy owners that invested a first or second round pick on Hamilton may need to exercise a bit of patience with the Angels $125M slugger. The 31-year-old’s line to start the season is a paltry .160-3-0-2-0 to go along with a whopping 10 K in 25 AB. Yikes. On a positive note, there’s plenty of talent surrounding him, including fellow slow starter from last season, Albert Pujols. Pujols turned it around after the first month in 2012. Can Hamilton do the same?
B.J. Upton (OF, ATL) - After starting the season 0-14 with 9 K, Bossman Junior showed signs of life over the weekend with a solo home run and a couple of SB. Upton should contribute impressive numbers in both categories this season, but man, that batting average (.150) is already an eyesore.
Cole Hamels (SP, PHI) - Hamels gave up 3 HR to Atlanta Braves hitters en route to a Phillies loss on Opening Day. Things only got worse in yesterday’s start against Kansas City when the fireballer allowed 8 ER in 5.2 IP. Hamels gave up 9 hits and 4 walks in the outing, which inflated his WHIP to 1.97. I don’t expect Cole’s woes to continue throughout the season, but he’s sure off to a rough start. He gets the Marlins next time out (4/13) - a perfect opportunity for him to turn things around.
Other THREE DOWN Candidates: NL Central Closers (RP - CHC, MIL), Detroit Bullpen (RP, DET), David Price (SP, TAM), R.A. Dickey (SP, TOR), Ian Desmond (SS, WAS), Jason Kipnis (2B, CLE), Aaron Hicks (OF, MIN), Pedro Alvarez (3B, PIT), Brian Roberts (2B, BAL), Matt Kemp (OF, LAD)
Be sure to check out RotoBaller’s complete Waiver Wire Watch List for more guys to look at to help you win your league.