Hitters That Start Cold (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
You know how it goes, the first few weeks of the fantasy baseball season you are glued to the box scores every night, watching every at-bat of the guys you have on your roster. The excitement of the new seasons makes the first few weeks the most memorable of the season. It is even more frustrating when you have a player that starts really slow. You start to worry if the player is injured or has lost his abilities. Rationality tells you to wait, it’s a long season ahead, but your emotions drive you to abandon ship.
I can’t help you with this. But what I can do is highlight a group of hitters that have been slow starters in their careers. That may ease your worries if you end up with these players this year and they once again struggle in April. Let’s get into it.
Alex Bregman (3B – HOU)
It has been a great start to the career of the 26-year-old third baseman, but he has not always come out of the gates hitting the ball well. His career slash line sits at a strong .273/.379/.494, but in March and April games that line is just .260/.379/.385. You can see that the batting average and on-base percentage are not far off, but Bregman does seem to take a while to start driving the ball for extra bases. He has hit just six home runs in 349 March and April plate appearances. That is one home run every 59 plate appearances, barely a double-digit homer pace of a full season. Give Bregman a few extra weeks before you worry about his power being gone in 2021.
Matt Olson (1B – OAK)
One of the game’s top home run hitters has not been that in March and April. Olson has slugged just .358 in those months. That’s a far cry from his career .500 slugging percentage. He has only hit three homers in these months in 123 plate appearances, about a 15 homer pace over a full season. I don’t think it’s useful to pontificate like this, but this whole article is pretty much just that, so here we are. Olson was born in Georgia and has played most of his big league career in warm weather climates, so it’s possible that the guy just isn’t quite the same hitter in cooler temperatures.
Byron Buxton (OF – MIN)
We haven’t seen much of Buxton since his arrival to the Majors, as he has struggled mightily to stay on the field. However, when he has been on the field in the season’s first month, he has been just awful. His line of .192/.259/.308 in April has led to many early-season drops. He also has his highest strikeout rate by far in the season’s first month at 33.6%. It is true that his career slash line (.238/.289/.430) does not make him look like much of a hitter overall, but in recent years we have seen him flash some serious upside at the plate. If you draft Buxton late for steals purposes, it might be a good idea to hold on to him even if he sputters out of the gate.
Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)
Devers has been a singles hitter in the early stages of the season, slashing .275/.348/.401 in his 234 plate appearances in March and April. After he gets going, the extra-base hits start rolling in as displayed by his career .279/.332/.498 line (a .498 slugging percentage is very strong). The good news is that Devers has a strong batting average in all months, so even if this “late bloomer” thing is real, he shouldn’t be killing your fantasy team even while you wait for the homers to come.
Justin Turner (3B – LAD)
For his career, Turner has slashed .289/.353/.378 in the first month of the season. He has 97 singles compared to just 31 extra-base hits (3 homers) in his 480 career plate appearances in March and April. That is a pretty wild stat that may just be believable given the sample size. His career slugging percentage is well above .400 in the rest of the months and even reaches .500 in June and August. Unless you think Turner has finally aged out of fantasy relevance, he seems like a great guy to trade for after the calendar flips to May.
Jose Ramirez (3B – CLE)
This is mainly attributed to the insanely bad start to the 2019 season Ramirez had, so take this one with a grain of salt. Ramirez has slashed .281/.354/.494 in his career, but that falls to just .251/.318/.418 when the calendar has not reached May yet. His strikeout rate is still very strong (12.9%) in the early months, but he has had trouble hitting the ball hard. Cleveland’s geography leads to some really cold April games, which is always bad for hitters, so there may be something to the lack of hitting from Ramirez there, but overall I would not take this too seriously moving forward.
C.J. Cron (1B – FA)
Cron is pretty much a one-trick pony at this point, hitting a bunch of homers while doing nothing else the last few years. He has a career .464 slugging percentage, but that number is just .394 in March and April. If he signs on with a team soon, he should be a popular late-round home run guy to pick up at first base, and his managers should exercise a bit more patience with him if he does not come out of the gate hitting the ball over the fence.
Hitters With Comparatively Low March/April Slugging Percentages
Juan Soto (.467), Corey Seager (.422), Mike Zunino (.327), Jonathan Villar (.342), Carlos Santana (.384), Ketel Marte (.384), Chris Taylor (.392), Yuli Gurriel (.411), Anthony Rendon (.452), Anthony Rizzo (.451)
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