Here are four mini-revelations to ponder, as we attempt to survive a treacherous April full of blustery weather, long-term injuries to key players and slow starts from some of fantasy’s more prominent assets:
1. Mike Trout might have trouble scoring 140 runs … even though he’s ahead of last year’s pace
This time last year, Trout was killing time — and opposing pitching (.403 batting, 1.091 OPS) — at the Triple-A level (Salt Lake City), as a means of recovering from an illness that knocked him off his feet for a good portion of spring training.
Fast forward to this season with the Angels, as Trout (one homer, one steal, five RBI, eight runs, .300 batting) has endured a blah start to a campaign full of immense promise and sky-high projections.
But are you really that concerned about a 21-year-old kid who, in 2012, required only 139 games to rack up 30 homers, 49 steals, 129 runs and a .326 batting average?
Look, we’re all familiar with the perils of the proverbial slump, along with Trout’s ever-expanding fame and demands on his time between ball games. But it makes no sense to assume last year’s absurd numbers were a product of the stars being aligned for five special months. Nor should Trout take much heat for having a thicker frame, compared to last season.
The kid’s still eating Subway sandwiches ’round the clock, right? How bad can two foot-longs (tuna/turkey breast) on wheat be for someone in his early 20s?
Quick-food musings aside, Trout has shown flashes of improvement in the last two weeks:
**Seven multiple-hit games since April 4 **Four extra-base hits in the last three outings **His average and OBP marks have jumped 40 points in the last 10 days **Trout has only been caught stealing once since Aug. 22
Bottom line: Trout owners, please don’t fall into any 2-for-2 or 3-for-3 traps that marginalize Trout’s deserved status as a standalone trade piece. When consummating a deal with Owner B … they’ll need to surrender the baseball equivalent of their first-born child to make it happen.
And even that might not be enough.
2. Carlos Gonzalez might be laying the groundwork for his next unconscious run
In a Tuesday doubleheader against the Mets, amid icy-cold playing conditions at Coors Field, Gonzalez crushed the opposition for one homer, one steal, two RBI, five hits and five runs, building off the momentum of a two-run, three-hit outing against the Padres on Saturday.
Gonzalez’s last three games are just a snapshot of the superb, but under-publicized numbers he’s racked up to date (four homers, eight RBI, 17 runs, three steals, .380 batting, 1.207 OPS).
Maybe it has something to do with playing west of the Mississippi River, or being on a schizophrenic club like the Rockies; but of baseball’s top-10 fantasy outfielders, Gonzalez has continually drawn the short straw on the “hype” front.
But that’s OK, for the lack of attention might motivate prospective owners to make a stealth play for Gonzalez in trade talks.
Check out his May averages for 2010-12: Seven homers, 20 RBI, 22 runs, four steals, .303 batting average, .373 on-base percentage and .953 OPS.
Looking for a few 1-for-2 parameters to land CarGo? How about:
Gonzalez for David Wright/Dexter Fowler Gonzalez for Austin Jackson/Madison Bumgarner Gonzalez for Cliff Lee/Carl Crawford Gonzalez for Michael Bourn/Jordan Zimmermann
3. Just think of the damage Matt Harvey will inflict when pitching in warm weather
It’s no surprise that Harvey (3-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 25 Ks) has emerged as the Mets’ ace, given the middling depth of the rotation (excluding Jon Niese) and his fantastic numbers from a brief 2012 audition with the parent club:
**Six outings of seven or more strikeouts **Eight outings of surrendering two runs or less **Nine outings of three or less walks
However, the real shock lies with Harvey (2.21 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 95/32 K-BB in 13 MLB starts) already morphing into the next incarnation of Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay or Matt Cain. Actually, that’s an unfair comparison — for Verlander, Halladay and Cain. The three studs never approached Harvey’s dominance in their first 15 starts.
If anything, Harvey might compare more favorably to a young Dwight Gooden … although no one on the planet expects Harvey — or any other pitcher alive — to replicate the act of 544 strikeouts over two major league seasons. (Gooden, by the way, notched those numbers in his age-19 and 20 campaigns.)
Think about that for a second.
Last month, while compiling a Top 40 Sleepers list for the season ahead, I deemed anything below 12 wins, 3.30 ERA, 1.17 WHIP or 170 strikeouts to be a disappointment for Harvey in Year 1. Thankfully, he could reach two of the marks by Sept. 1.
4. White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd is nothing, if not agonizingly consistent
For a podcast in March, I endorsed Floyd as a potential last-round pick in 12-team leagues (Round 25), lauding his excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio (23/4) during Cactus League action. I also rationalized it would take a (bad) miracle for Floyd to match the hideous spring of ERA of 6.23 … once the games started counting.
Well, here we are, three starts into the season, and there’s little evidence of a resurgence. Oh sure, Floyd is a good bet for six strikeouts and two walks per outing, but it’s impossible to endorse a veteran pitcher with a 6.32 ERA, 1.85 WHIP and opponents’ batting average of .344.
That’s the equivalent of Floyd taking on American League MVP Miguel Cabrera 27 times per outing … over 33 annual starts.
So, where did it all go so wrong for Floyd, one of baseball’s most promising prospects with the Phillies back in 2003?
Truth be told, Floyd has never had the profile of a top-of-the-rotation stud. Even in the minors, his WHIP and K-BB rates were mediocre. And of his last five major league seasons, he’s had just two separate streaks of six or more consecutive outings of two or less runs allowed.
That’s basically a half-season’s work for Clayton Kershaw.