Beast or Bust, Vol. 1
–Muntradamus on WunderChad:
“Beast Dome is a sacred community where I am very specific and choosy about who I allow to write on this site. If I do not think they are capable of helping you win your championships, then I would not allow them on this site. Period. With that being said, WunderChad is a fantasy baseball analyst whom I have known for years, and he knows his stuff. Nothing more I need to add. He will be in the BEAST DOME NATION to answer your questions, and he is a great fantasy Brain to pick. You are in for a treat.”
Greetings and salutations! I’m WunderChad (pronounced VOON-duhr-chad, for the linguistically deficient), and this is the first of many bi-weekly volumes of my article entitled “Beast or Bust.” Here I will profile 3 players who have been greatly over-performing expectations. I will give my opinion on whether they can sustain their current level of play, along with projections for the season based on current data. Enjoy!
* Feel free to ask me questions, or join me in the chat room. You can also follow me on twitter @WunderChad
Jose Altuve – Astros – 2B
Stats as of 4/30: .360 Avg, 1 HR, 15 Runs, 10 RBI, 4 SB
Altuve doesn’t turn 22 until next week, but he’s not hitting like it. Through Sunday, the young second baseman is hitting .373 with 15 runs, 10 RBI, and 4 steals. An elite average is no surprise to anyone who followed him as a prospect, and I have no doubt he can keep his average above the .300 mark for the rest of the year. He’ll never hit for a ton of power (though his home ballpark helps), and his runs scored total will be limited by what is basically a AAA lineup in Houston, but his batting average and decent speed will make him a valuable mixed-league second baseman going forward.
Verdict: Beast (.306 Avg, 10 HR, 81 Runs, 70 RBI, 21 SB)
Mike Aviles – Red Sox – 2B/3B/SS
Stats as of 4/30: .291 Avg, 5 HR, 18 Runs, 17 RBI, 3 SB
Three-position eligibility is not the only thing Aviles has going for him. He’s leading off for a potent Red Sox lineup (at least until Ellsbury’s return in August), and for the first time in his career is getting everyday at-bats. In 2009 and 2011 as a bench player, he only hit a combined .234. However, in 2008 and 2010, the two seasons in which he had regular at-bats (at least 400), he hit a combined .314. This is a player who flourishes if he gets regular at-bats. He also has good pop for a middle infielder, which will be helped by his move to hitter’s haven Fenway Park, especially as a right-handed hitter. It wouldn’t surprise me if he actually outperforms his current numbers.
Verdict: Beast (.296 Avg, 18 HR, 90 Runs, 73 RBI, 15 SB)
Joe Saunders – Diamondbacks – SP
Stats as of 4/30: 2 W, 18 K, 0.90 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
Joe Saunders is leading the majors with a 0.90 ERA through 4 starts. This is a complete mirage. He’s sporting an unsustainable .214 BABIP* and both his strikeout and walk rates are close to his career numbers. He’s a 30-year-old number 4/5 starter with a consistent track record of mediocrity. The time to sell high is either now or, if you want to roll the dice, after his favorable matchup on Wednesday against the Nationals.
Verdict: Bust (10 W, 97 K, 4.31 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
*For the uninitiated, BABIP is short for batting average in balls in play. It is a way to evaluate how lucky a pitcher or hitter is on factors he has little control over. Pitchers have less control over their BABIP, and usually regress to the mean of about .300 over time. Hitters have more control over their BABIP, and usually will regress to their own career norms. The formula for BABIP is as follows:
BABIP = (H – HR) / (AB – K – HR + SF)