Nine guys who are playing above what you can realistically expect from them in terms of fantasy value and are worth trying to deal while their values are at a premium. That’s not to say that many, if not most of these guys, won’t have good seasons, but right now their appeal is probably higher than they warrant.
Nate McLouth (OF, Pirates): Projecting McLouth to be a 30+ home run hitter is a real reach. He’s never shown that kind of power and never hit for great average. This could be a breakout season, but the odds are that McLouth will fall on hard times soon.
Pat Burrell (OF, Phillies): The 32-year-old Burrell is on pace for a 50 home run season with a .300+ average. That’s so far out of line with his career numbers (a .260 average to go with home run totals which typically are in the high 20s to low 30s per season) that there is virtually no way he could live up to those expectations. He’ll hit that first cold stretch soon and as usual his numbers will fall off. Besides, without a Burrell slump, what will Phillies fans boo?
Xavier Nady (OF, Pirates): Nady is a legit 20 home run threat and a player likely to be dealt to a contender at some point this season, but it’s his dazzling RBI totals (32 so far) that makes him more attractive than usual. His .353 average doesn’t hurt either. That being said his value will take a huge hit if he’s traded to another team where he’ll likely be one of the weaker bats in the lineup and won’t get as many chances for RBIs. He’s marginally overvalued.
Ryan Church (OF, Mets): He’s 30 years old has just four years of Major League experience and is on pace for a .300-25-100 season. Uh-huh and if you believe that I’ve got a stadium to sell you. On the positive side he’s shown more power from the left side of the plate than he’s done in the past and he’s part of a better lineup than he’s ever been in. Still his career average is just .275 and the most home runs he’s ever hit is 15.
Eric Hinske (1B/OF, Rays): Hinske hasn’t been a 20 home run player since his rookie year back in 2002 but he’s charged though the first six weeks of the season with a .289 average with seven home runs. His OBP is 60 points better than his career numbers, and he’s 31 years old to boot. The glass may well be half full since April traditionally has been one of the weakest months for his power numbers but personally I’d take what he’s done so far with a grain of salt.
Aubrey Huff (1B/3B, Orioles): The Huff who’s suddenly visible in Baltimore looks more like the Huff in his prime than a 32 year old whose skills have been on the decline the last four years. Between increased injury risk (he’s been fragile since 2005) and age, the odds of his being able to sustain this level of production are heavily against him.Cliff Lee (SP, Indians): Well if you believe the numbers, then Lee is the best starting pitcher in the Majors today, but if you believe career numbers than you know that Lee is in for a big fall. Lee’s career best year 2005 included 18 wins, a 3.79 ERA, 1.22 WHIP - which is awfully good, but he hasn’t been a shadow of that since 05. Maybe he’s figured something out but realistically at 29 expecting him to suddenly step it up into the elite echelon of pitchers is more pipe dream than fantasy magic.
Chien-Ming Wang (SP, Yankees): Realistically Wang is a decent number two or three starter who’s capable of winning 20 games with the Yankees offense behind him, but his current numbers (6-0, 3.00, 1.13 with 32 Ks in 45 innings) are way out of line with his career numbers. At some point he’ll stumble and that ERA and WHIP will rise considerably and the number of Ks will fall off.
Ryan Dempster (SP, Cubs): Try to take advantage of Dempster’s hot start and unload him on someone who desperately needs pitching. Expecting a 31-year-old converted closer who hasn’t pitched 200 innings since 2001 to manage to pitch well for a whole season is just pie in the sky idealism. His 4-1, 2.72 ERA, 1.07 WHIP with 29 Ks won’t last. Better his explosion comes when he’s pitching for another team.
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