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High Five: Most Surprising Hot & Cold Starts of April

Baseball is truly unpredictable. With the 2015 regular season underway, baseball fans have been treated to a very exciting opening month. Although the baseball season’s first few weeks are just a small sample size, fans and fantasy teams owners will always over-analyze.

What does Chris Shelton and Emilio Bonifacio have in common? From a stats standpoint, not much. However, fantasy team owners can always recall their hot starts to kick off their respective 2006 and 2009 seasons. Shelton crushed 9 HRs in his first 13 games of 2006 setting an all-time record. Bonifacio circa 2009 started his season going 14 for 24. However, their fifteen days of fame would abruptly end as their seasons unfolded. Shelton hit 7 more homeruns and his batting average dropped to .273 resulting in his minor-league demotion. He wouldn’t play another big league game until 2008. In 2009. Bonifacio would end his season hitting .252 with a .303 on-base percentage.

Therefore, this High Five analysis will serve as a public service announcement to all fantasy baseball team owners. Hopefully, we’ll promote some more conscious decision making. So, let’s hold off on dropping your struggling keepers and take a look at the most surprising starts of this early season:



Clayton Kershaw: A Struggling Start

T he 3x Cy Young Award winner has struggled, thus far. Going into his Friday night start against the Rockies, Kershaw posted a 5.84 ERA against fellow NL West foes, the Padres and Diamondbacks. Kershaw would strikeout 12 and allow one earned run in his first win of 2015. In his 18.1 innings of work, he’s allowed a surprising total of 22 hits.


Fantasy Decision: Although a slow start, “Kid K” will pull through. Guaranteed. Moving on…



Colorado Rockies: The Mile High Hope

Following another San Francisco World Series Championship and an off-season splurge in San Diego, the Colorado Rockies are on top of the NL West Division with a 7-3 record. While the Rockies’ young pitching staff have thrown to an exceptionally well 2.41 ERA, their offensive outburst takes the credit. A .301 team batting average leads the National League, spearheaded by four hot bats:


Nolan Arenado – .316 AVG, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs, 1.065 OPS

Corey Dickerson – .350 AVG, 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, 1.006 OPS

DJ LeMahieu – .474 AVG, 6 RBIs, 1.013 OPS

Troy Tulowitzki – .359 AVG, 6 RBIs, .990 OPS


Fantasy Decision: Buy in on Arenado! Following a breakout season which he batted .287 and slugged 18 HRs, Arenado is expected to have an All-Star campaign. Dickerson is a serviceable option for a third or fourth outfielder spot on a fantasy team despite his hot start. LeMahieu will save more runs in the field than actually bring them in. LeMahieu can serve as a temporary solution at second base, but owners should not get too attached. Tulo is keeper material and arguably the best offensive shortstop in the game, as long as he stays healthy. If you follow his track record of DL time, you may want to consider a trade while he’s still hitting well and staying on the field.


Alex Rodriguez: The Return of A-Rod

A-Rod is officially back! Following Friday night’s win against the Tampa Bay Rays, Alex Rodriguez is now batting .344 with 4 HRs and 11 RBIs. Who would’ve guessed that A-Rod would lead his New York Yankees in homeruns, runs batted in, and batting average this early in the season? Fantasy baseball owners can consider themselves lucky to select Rodriguez in a late round and benefit from this sort of production.


Fantasy Decision: If you are an expert strategist, you would sell Rodriguez now! Yes, A-Rod’s early numbers remind us all of his MVP days, but those days are long gone. His hot start makes him valuable, and any smart fantasy owner would take advantage of trading the 39-year old. One can believe that Rodriguez’ designated hitter role has made him focused on purely hitting. With three years remaining on his current contract, Yankees’ fans can only pray that A-Rod can slash a positive batting line.



Adrian Gonzalez: Gonzo the Great

Adrian Gonzalez has always been a constant threat in the middle of any lineup. In his last ten seasons (or the exclusion of his Texas Rangers’ tenure), Gonzo has amounted an average of 26 HRs per year. The 32-year old is a consistent ball-player but hasn’t posted monster numbers since his Padres’ days (161 HRs and .288 AVG in five seasons), despite winning his second NL Silver Slugger last season. Thus far, A-Gon leads the NL with five homeruns (hitting all five in his first two games) and a stifling .550 batting average. He was awarded the NL Player of the Week for opening week.


Fantasy Decision: Keep Gonzalez’ bat. He is one of baseball’s most underrated and consistent power hitters. A-Gon is almost guaranteed 25+ homeruns and 100+ RBIs, an offensive combo that any fantasy owner will smile about.



MLB Rookies of 2015: Who is on the Rise?

As MLB anticipates the eventual promotion of baseball’s top prospects such as Byron Buxton, Joey Gallo, and Noah Syndergaard, fans are getting a small glimpse of the future in its most undervalued names:


Alex Guerrero (Dodgers, 2B) – The Cuban infielder was touted as one of the top international prospects in baseball. Entering the 2014 season, he was in a fierce competition for the Dodgers’ starting second baseman, but was eventually awarded to Dee Gordon. This season, Guerrero has been given more opportunities to start at third due to a very cold Juan Uribe. Guerrero is slashing a .385 batting average with 2 HRs and 8 RBIs, accumulating a 1.280 OPS.


Chris Heston (Giants, RHP) – With two injuries to their starting rotation (Matt Cain and Jake Peavy), the Giants have relied on the 27-year old Heston to complete their staff. The former 12th round draft pick is 2-1 with an 0.87 ERA. In 20.2 innings pitched, he has struck out 16 batters and walked five.


Devon Travis (Blue Jays, 2B) – Acquired in November for Anthony Gose, the Blue Jays had several positions to fill with young talent. Travis won the second base job out of Spring Training, and has impressed all. He is currently batting .356 with 3 HRs and 12 RBIs, numbers that are unorthodox for most second basemen.


Fantasy Decision: Keep all three players. They are getting enough playing time due to their teammates’ injuries or poor performance. Guerrero and Travis are guaranteed to start everyday as they continue to stay hot. Heston will be interesting once Cain or Peavy return to the rotation. He could be possible trade bait, right now.

For all fantasy team owners, good luck for this 2015 season! Hopefully, this High Five analysis can make some your decisions about adding, dropping, or trading any aforementioned player a little easier

Rich Rivera will turn heads claiming to be a "baseball historian" (jokingly, of course) but the Staten Island native certainly knows his stuff. Since opening up his first pack of 2003 Upper Deck Baseball cards, Rich has been in love with the game. He is an avid fan of the New York Yankees and considers Mariano Rivera (whose unfortunately a non-relative) his all-time favorite athlete. Rich is a graduate of St. John's University, earning his degree in Communication Arts with dreams of becoming an on-air broadcaster for MLB. Currently, Rich serves as the Show Day Coordinator for "CenterStage with Michael Kay" (where he's even made a few brief cameos) at YES Network. He can be heard on the It's Your Radio variety program, "Hit Talkers" every Tuesday night from 8PM to 10PM EST. Rich is also a professional wrestling enthusiast, a theater junkie, and enjoys his weekend mornings as a player-manager for his softball team. Follow Rich on Twitter and Instagram: @RichJRivera

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