Now that we're approaching a month into the season (believe it!), that sense of disappointment over slow-starting players that's been festering in the minds of your opponents is manifesting in the form of urgency.Two or three cold weeks? That can happen to anybody. But a cold month? Well, that tends
Now that we're approaching a month into the season (believe it!), that sense of disappointment over slow-starting players that's been festering in the minds of your opponents is manifesting in the form of urgency.
Two or three cold weeks? That can happen to anybody. But a cold month? Well, that tends to stick out. Except it really shouldn't, at least when it comes to giving up on proven, star-caliber players, especially when there's still five-plus months to go.
If you trade for one of these five now, you're likely to get them at less-than-full price and enjoy the entirety of their best-is-yet-to-come turnarounds.
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
The fantasy baseball season doesn't officially begin until we write up Votto in this buy-low column, so here goes. The 12-year veteran has made a habit of starting slowly in recent campaigns, yet he's managed to flip the switch and post massive production in the end.
Consider Votto's stats through 21 games -- his current tally in 2018 -- during each of the past two years.
2016: .205 BA, 6 R, 2 HR, 11 RBIs
2017: .237 BA, 15 R, 6 HR, 15 RBIs
That puts things into perspective, right? While you may not feel great about targeting a player who is hitting .247 with (ahem) two runs scored, seven driven in and zero homers, it helps to know that this is nothing new. And yet, there's a strong chance the Votto owner in your league is beyond worried.
Meanwhile, the ever-disciplined Votto has as many walks as strikeouts (12 each) and, thanks to Statcast™, you know he owns one of baseball's biggest gaps between his expected weighted on-base average (.406) and his actual weighted on-base average (.272). It's only a matter of time before Votto's luck -- and production -- turns around.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs
On the topic of lefty hitting NL first basemen with a history of being fantasy stars, let's move on to Rizzo, who is hitting only .146 with one home run and five RBIs, no doubt making his owners question why they spent an early-round pick on him last month.
Remember, the 28-year-old just returned from a DL stint for lower back tightness, which likely accounts for Rizzo's subpar performance to date and also explains why his homer and RBI totals can be counted on one hand. An early injury, even if it's relatively minor as in this case, tends to throw everything out of whack in the numbers department.
Don't worry about Rizzo, though. He's been a metronome over the past four seasons, hitting exactly 32 homers three times -- with 31 in the other campaign during that span -- while posting OPS marks between .899 and .928 and recording runs totals between 89 and 99 in every year. He's also collected 101, 109 and 109 RBIs, respectively, over the past three seasons.
Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
Catcher unquestionably is the toughest position to fill in fantasy, simply because of the lack of quality options. That's why when you have any opening to land potentially the biggest backstop bat, you should seize it.
Sanchez, 25, does have three homers, 10 runs and 15 RBIs, so he hasn't been a total drag in the counting-stat departments. He is, however, hitting below .200. There's your ever-so-slight opening.
Sanchez's .204 BABIP is the 10th worst in baseball. That can't continue for someone with his power, so focus on his expected batting average (.261) and slugging percentage (.573) instead of his actual stats (.192, .397). And while Sanchez needed a dozen games to register his first walk, he's drawn three free passes in his past six games, so his approach is coming around.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals
The buy-low case here is fairly straightforward: Rendon has played well enough -- he's slashing .286/.355/.411 -- he just hasn't played enough.
The 28-year-old hit a foul ball off his left big toe on April 13 and hasn't played since. In fact, it took until April 22 for the Nationals to place Rendon on the DL, which works in your favor because it further frustrates his owner, who now has that designation to deal with.
Rendon, you'll recall, started slowly a year ago (zero homers, .566 OPS through April 29) before going bonkers with that six-hit, five-run, three-homer, 10-RBI extravaganza on the final day of April. From that point on, he was a stud. Expect more of the same once he's back and has his feet under him.
Archie Bradley, RP, D-backs
This isn't about Bradley as much as it's about bullpen-mate Brad Boxberger, who holds the closer's role for the D-backs. For now.
Boxberger has yet to blow a save -- he's 6-for-6 in that department -- but he has picked up a pair of losses in his past three outings while surrendering seven hits over two-plus frames. Combine that with the 29-year-old's lengthy injury history -- he failed to top 30 innings in either 2016 or 2017 -- and the opportunity could arise for Bradley to take over ninth inning
While it's understandable that the D-backs like Bradley in an all-around relief ace role, it's hard to ignore that the 25-year-old with an electric fastball-curveball combo would be a dynamite closer. He's already pitching well, so don't expect to get Bradley for cheap, but the payoff could be akin to a top 10, or even top 5, fantasy closer.
Jason Catania is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com.