Smart fantasy baseball owners refuse to flinch.
They don't get rattled when Troy Tulowitzki goes without an RBI during his first nine games of the season. When Ichiro Suzuki fails to steal a single base in a week and a half, they shrug it off.
These folks did their homework before drafting. They knew Hunter Pence was good, and aren't put off by a bad week or two in early April any more than they would be by one in July. Slumps happen to everyone.
Some owners do flinch, and that's a great opportunity to steal a good player off to a bad start.
Call the owner who has Pence in your league and throw the phrase ``sophomore slump'' into a few sentences. He probably won't bite, but it couldn't hurt to offer to take the Astros outfielder off his hands for, say, an unproven closer.
Ask Eric Byrnes' owner if he's worried that the Diamondbacks outfielder might revert to his pre-2006 form, and casually mention that you have Nate McLouth of the Pirates, who hit third over the weekend and was on pace for 189 RBIs and 54 steals.
Will this work on any sane owner? Perhaps not, but if you make a reasonable offer to an owner who is truly jittery, you might be able to improve your team with an early trade.
If you liked your team after the draft, this is a good time to remember that. Don't be swayed by early results, and in a few months, you'll be glad you stuck it out with your early slumpers.
HE'LL COME AROUND
Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
Tulo seemed to pop everything up to shallow right in his first week, but then again, what Rockies player didn't? Some might worry that a sophomore slump is in play, that he overachieved with his 24 homers and 99 RBIs as a rookie. A closer look shows that those power numbers don't do him justice; Tulowitzki hit 22 of his homers after June 7. This guy has elite power and will be a .300, 30-plus homer, 100 RBIs guy for years to come. Don't worry about Tulowitzki.
Andruw Jones, OF, Dodgers
henoms.
HE'LL FALL APART
McLouth, OF, Pirates
As an owner who was victimized in a head-to-head league by the Pirates outfielder, I can tell you that McLouth had a nifty first week, driving in seven runs and hitting .429. Yes, he resembles Eric Byrnes, and yes, he has at least some of the same skills, but let's not go overboard. He hit 13 homers and stole 22 bases last year in 329 at-bats, and he could improve and put up good numbers. Just don't give away the farm for him quite yet.
Ryan Dempster, RHP, Cubs
It's hard not to be excited by Dempster's first two starts since 2005. The 30-year-old former closer gave up just one earned run and four hits in 13 innings, striking out 10 batters with four walks. It's hard to find many flaws in either of his first two starts, and who knows? Maybe he's finally put it all together. Perhaps, but this is a guy who has a history of control problems and a 4.99 ERA in 162 career starts coming into this season. Don't get too excited yet. It's just two starts.
Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks
Fall apart may be a bit strong, but Reynolds, an early league leader with five homers and 12 RBIs through Wednesday, has done this before. The 24-year-old started strong in his rookie year last season, hitting .459 with three homers and 11 RBIs through his first 10 games. He struck out in more than a third of his at-bats last year, and was at a similar pace early this season. If you have him, see what you can get for him while his value is sky high.
Notes: The player I am keeping the closest eye on this season is Rockies OF Scott Podsednik. The speedy outfielder has swung the bat very well in sporadic action for Colorado, and is just a Willy Taveras injury or slump away from being a 50 steals guy who can hit close to .300. ... Pick up 2B Jose Lopez of the Mariners. At 24, he has already played two solid full seasons and could be ready to take another step this year. Two years ago, he drove in 79 runs. A .290-20-90 season is within reach. ... Reds SS Jeff Keppinger has owners salivating because of his .382 average and seven RBIs in his first nine games. But within a month, Alex Gonzalez likely will return from the disabled list and Keppinger will be back to a utility role. Could Keppinger keep the job? Possibly, but 300 at-bats at various positions is far more likely.
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