Chances are if you drafted Mark Teixeira, Richie Sexson or Felix Hernandez for your fantasy baseball team this season, you're not doing very well. Many players who were projected to have big numbers this year have struggled. The key to salvaging your season is knowing whether to stick with these guys and hope they turn it around, or cut your losses and take what you can get for them.
Baseball is a six-month grind, and all players go through slumps and hot streaks. In the end, star-caliber players off to slow starts typically recover and reach or exceed their career rates.
The biggest bust so far has been Teixeira, who was a good preseason bet as AL MVP. The Texas slugger was expected to put up triple crown numbers and was a high first-round pick in most drafts. Heading into this weekend's games, he has five home runs and 23 RBIs, putting him on pace for 17 HRs and 79 RBIs – numbers that pale in comparison to his huge 43 HR, 144 RBI-season last year.
Many expect Teixeira to bounce back and hit 35-40 homers. I do not see that happening. He's not a streaky hitter; he has been a model of consistency the past couple of seasons. Even during his monster 2005 season, he never hit more than nine home runs in a month.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that the Rangers offense has transformed itself from “bashers to scratchers.” “It's a different offense,” Teixeira said. “Last year, we had David [Dellucci] leading
Thus, it looks like Big Tex is in for a year, by his standards. He still will command a high price tag in a trade at this point of the season, so unload him now.
Sexson, meanwhile, has been hovering around the Mendoza line all season. The big Seattle first baseman is batting .208 entering this weekend's series with Minnesota. He's never hit for a high average as his career .267 average indications, but he always has had good power numbers. He belted 45 home runs in both 2001 and 2003 with the Brewers and had 39 last year with the Mariners. So far this season? Just six.
This is his second season in Seattle. In his second full season in Cleveland and Milwaukee he hit a rather pedestrian 31 and 29 homers, respectively. That's particularly where he'll end this year. If you can afford to carry his low average, he might be able to help you in home runs and RBIs. Do not shy away from trading him, however, if the right deal comes along.
The two most disappointing pitchers so far have been the Yankees 'Randy Johnson and the Mariners' Felix Hernandez.
Johnson looks to have lost his confidence. Thanks to the Yankees insulting averaging nearly eight runs a game in his starts, he has been able to post six victories. But his 5.89 ERA and 1.45 WHIP are frightening. He only has 49 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings, well below his career average. In his past five starts, Johnson has surrendered seven home runs. He'll continue to get some wins and will have the occasional dominating performance, but do not expect the Randy of old to return. He's pitching more like Old Randy now.
While Johnson's career is about over, Hernandez's is just taking off. His slow start, his stuff is too good for him to continue this way. He's averaging more than a strikeout an inning even though his ERA (5.59) and WHIP (1.56) are out of control. Stick with Hernandez and expect his ERA to come back down below 4.00 and his WHIP down to the 1.30 range. Pitching for a bad Seattle team will hold his win total down, however.
Stick with these guys also: Bobby Abreu – The Phillies outfielder has his average up to .284. The home runs will come soon, and he plays in a great hitter's park; Aramis Ramirez – Like the rest of the Cubs, Ramirez has felt the loss of Derrek Lee. He will raise his .247 average to finish near his .275 career mark. He's on pace for around 31 homers, and when Lee returns in about month the RBI opportunities will return as well; Dontrelle Willis – The 24-year-old Marlins lefty is coming into his prime. He's still a solid pitcher since his high ERA and WHIP so far this season. He will finish close to his career numbers, 3.45 ERA, 1.27 WHIP. Also, there are rumors that he could have traded to a contender at some point, which would only help his value.
Try to deal these guys: Jimmy Rollins – Everyone was high on the Phillies shorstop as he came into the season with a 36-game hitting streak. The streak ended at 38 games, and Rollins has not done much since. He is a career .271 hitter, but look for numbers close to his 2003 season: .262, 8 HRs, 62 RBIs, 20 steals; Jon Garland – He had a breakout season last year, but before that he was no better than average. Garland has allowed 13 home runs and may at some point be in jeopardy of losing his spot in the White Sox rotation to Brandon McCarthy. If you can not trade him, you might want to drop him; Brad Lidge – He's not been the same since Albert Pujols hit that mammoth homer off him in the NLCS last year. Lidge has lost his confidence and is in danger of losing his job as the Astros closer. He still may accumulate a decent amount of saves, but he'll hurt you in ERA and WHIP.
It's no time to panic, but at the same time, do not be afraid to pull the trigger on that deal that could get you back on track.