StrategyApril 18, 2007

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Panic is for the Weak

By Brendan Horton

The first two weeks of the 2007 fantasy baseball season have come and gone like the wind. Just as quickly, Week 3 is fleeting. The trend of the year thus far seems to be playing the role of Chicken Little; running around alerting the public that ‘the sky is falling!’ First, it was falling on Andruw Jones, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, and Manny Ramirez (then they finally hit home runs, phew, well, except for Manny; the sky is still falling for him)… More recently, it’s been falling on Alex Gordon and Mark Teixeira… And that’s not all.

Welcome to fantasy baseball folks – where championships aren’t won in the first month of the season. However, they can be lost. How, you ask?

Haste, unnecessary and/or rash tinkering, overreacting, and doubting; if the season were ending April 30, there’d probably be a bit more cause for alarm. But guess what? It isn’t, so there’s not.

So, if you’re panicking when we’re barely mid-way through April, what are you going to do when May rolls around and your second round pick is batting .220? Drop him? Provided you’ve drafted wisely, there’s a reason you took this player with one of the first 20 or so picks in your draft, right? Glad we agree. Just to put some things in perspective, here are a few notes on the 2007 baseball season thus far:

• Jimmy Rollins has as many HR as Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols combined. He has more than David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn, and Carlos Lee. In fact, he has more than everyone not named Ian Kinsler or Alex Rodriguez.

• Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Lee lead the MLB in RBI. Ok, so that sounds reasonable. However, Ian Kinsler is third, Torii Hunter is sixth, Ty Wigginton is ninth and Melvin Mora is tenth .

• Kaz Matsui has as many stolen bases as Hanley Ramirez, and more than Carl Crawford, Willy Taveras, Juan Pierre, and Dave Roberts.

• Kenji Johjima is batting .400, or over .100 more than his career average; Orlando Hudson is batting .393, or .115 above his career average.

• Rodrigo Lopez has a lower ERA than Johan Santana.

• Salomon Torres, Al Reyes, and Joe Borowski have more saves than Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Jenks, Billy Wagner, and BJ Ryan.

It goes on, and on, and on. It hasn’t even been three weeks yet. So before you go dropping Brad Lidge, consider that Lidge lost his job no less than two or three times last year, and still saved 32 games and got you 104 strikeouts in only 75.0 innings. Do times look bleak for this guy? Sure. But who else is on your bench, Wes Helms? Patience is a virtue, and in fantasy baseball, it tends to be rewarded. It is highly doubtful that we’ve heard the last of Brad Lidge being a valuable fantasy asset. Why let a league rival reap the benefits later on when simply staying put and not acting with haste puts you in the same position?

Let us look back no further than last season. At the end of April, Mark Teixeira had hit only three long balls; at the end of May, only six. In June, he only managed to send two for a ride! Three months! Eight home runs! In 2005, Teixeira’s lowest monthly home run total was six! Something must be wrong! This guy was at worst a second round pick! Sell, sell, sell while you still can! And some people did. And then Teixeira proceeded to hit seven, nine, and nine HR to close out the season, while the guy traded for him likely didn’t produce at that level.

There is not a single doubt in my mind that this story will repeat itself in 2007, only it will be more widespread. The names and details will vary, but with the way people are reacting before we’ve even reached April 30, it’s all but inevitable. Do yourself a favor; be one of the people reaping the benefits of buying these studs at discounted price, instead of the one starting the ‘Why did I trade…?!’ thread at the Cafe forums.

Like the title says: Panic is for the Weak.

Brendan Horton is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Brendan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bigh0rt.
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