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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: May 2-May 8

We're through the first month of the season and thus not quite out of the "hot start" woods just yet.  Here are some players who might be for real and others whose production is as phony as a three-dollar bill.

Winter Is Coming: Wei-Yin Chen.  Many pundits wrote off the Orioles in 2013 given that their success last year was largely attributed to their record-breaking success in one-run games.  No team, it was argued, could possibly be as lucky again.  Well, while the O's haven't kept up their impossible clutchiness in close games (they are 4-5 in one-run games so far this season), Lady Luck is still hanging out with McNulty and the Bunk over in Baltimore.  No team in baseball has a lower team BABIP than the O's, and the rotation's poster boy in this regard is Chen, he of the .226 BABIP.  The Taiwanese southpaw has a sparkling 2.53 ERA over five starts....but he also owns a 3.74 FIP, 5.13 xFIP and a 5.38 SIERA.  He's not striking people out (4.50 K/9) or inducing ground balls (26.3% GBR) so it's just a matter of time before Chen's numbers start reflecting his shaky performance.  Or, the correction will never happen because Buck Showalter is actually a sorcerer. 

We Do Not Sow: Melky Cabrera.  There are a lot of underachievers on the Toronto roster right now but the scary thing for the Jays right now is that the Melk Man isn't really one of them.  Cabrera was hitting .250/.301/.298 going into Tuesday's play and while it's easy to point to his PED suspension as the reason for his lack of power, what we really could be seeing is just a course correction.  Cabrera's BABIP is only slightly below average (.292) and his other numbers generally reflect his career norms.  His stats, in fact, are just a few home runs shy of his stat lines from 2005-2010.  It may be his big two years with the Royals and Giants in 2011-12 that were the real outliers --- Cabrera's BABIP in 2011 was .332 and an enormous .379 in 2012.  You're really selling low on Melky if you're trying to move him right now but let's face it, pre-2011 Melky was not a legit fantasy starter.  You might not want to give Cabrera more than a couple more weeks to see if he can turn it around.

Hear Me Roar: Matt Carpenter.  My love of multi-position players is well-known so naturally, I was all over 1B/2B/3B/OF-eligible Carpenter from day one.  I drafted him in four of my five leagues --- he's a super-sub off the bench in three leagues and in the other he became a starter at second base once he gained eligibility at the position.  The best part about the Carpenter experience is that he can be a legitimate fantasy starter himself, not just a capable fill-in when your regular starters have a day off.  Carpenter is hitting .272/.343/.457 in 104 PA, his BABIP is a very reasonable .306 and his career minor league numbers (.299/.408/.450) suggest that he'll be able to keep producing at the Major League level.  So in short, the Cardinals' farm system is so strong that not only can it generate top prospects on a seemingly annual basis, but now they're able of producing top prospects with the same names as other Cardinals stars who are on the DL.  Way to save on jerseys, St. Louis!  

Growing Strong: Ike Davis.  We still like Ike.  His .180 BABIP is most of the reason for his slow start given that his walk rate (12.6%) and line drive rates (20.4%) are actually both higher than his career averages.  Beyond the peripherals, I'd also say part of the problem could be in the Mets' deployment of Davis, as over a quarter of his PA have come against left-handed pitching this season and Davis' career splits indicate that he is brutal against southpaws.  The Mets obviously are hoping Davis develops into an everyday option for them at first base but your fantasy team doesn't need to operate under this logic.  If you're an Ike owner, keep putting him in your lineup whenever he's facing a righty starter and you'll eventually reap the rewards.



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