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By the Numbers: Opening Day musings

April 5, 2016

Opening Day is a time for fun. A time for festivity. A time for ... overreaction.So let's set expectations straight, with most teams sitting at 1-0 or 0-1. No, your team is not going to go 162-0 this year (or 161-1, if your beloved club lost Game 1). Yes, rookie

Opening Day is a time for fun. A time for festivity. A time for ... overreaction.
So let's set expectations straight, with most teams sitting at 1-0 or 0-1. No, your team is not going to go 162-0 this year (or 161-1, if your beloved club lost Game 1). Yes, rookie shortstop Trevor Story is on pace to clock 324 homers this year, but NO. Just no. Don't book tickets to his Hall of Fame induction just yet.
But small sample size aside, we can still glean a bit from two days worth of games. Let's take a look at what we have:
Bryce Harper, 1 plate appearance: The top-ranked player in the 2016 Fantasy Player Preview, Harper needed just one trip to the plate to smack his first homer of the season. Although the outfielder cannot be counted on to go deep on a daily basis, his immediate success reminds us of his excellence. Paul Goldschmidt is great, Mike Trout is terrific and Clayton Kershaw is a wizard on the mound, but Harper could distance himself from the pack with a season for the ages. On top of hitting a first-inning homer, he later added his first stolen base.

Story, 2 home runs: Batting second in his big league debut, Story went deep twice and drove in four runs vs. D-backs ace Zack Greinke. Although he could cede playing time upon the eventual return of Jose Reyes, Story should now be active in virtually every league. The youngster compiled 20 homers and 22 steals in the Minors last season, and he now gets to hit in a Colorado lineup that includes fantasy studs Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado.
David Hernandez, 1 loss: A closer candidate for the Phillies, Hernandez was inserted at the outset of the eighth inning on Opening Day. Trusted to protect a 2-1 lead, the right-hander instead took the loss after he was charged with three earned runs without recording a single out. As a result of those woes, Hernandez is unlikely to work the ninth frame in the coming days. Deep mixed-league owners may wish to grab his teammate Dalier Hinojosa, who could earn several saves in April.
Jason Grilli, 1 blown save: The Braves are expected to let Grilli and Arodys Vizcaino share save chances at the outset, and Grilli got the opportunity to work the ninth inning on Opening Day after Vizcaino tossed a scoreless eighth. The veteran was unable to protect the lead, though, allowing a game-tying run on two hits and a walk. Now 39 years old and coming off a campaign in which he missed much time to injury, Grilli may relinquish his share of the closer's role if he cannot show top form soon.
Marcus Stroman, 8 innings: Stroman tossed eight-plus frames on Opening Day, recording 14 groundouts to just five strikeouts and entering the ninth with a legitimate shot at a complete game on fewer than 100 pitches. The right-hander was lifted after surrendering a homer and a single at the outset of the frame, but the takeaway is that he could pitch like a No. 2 fantasy starter this season -- even without a pile of strikeouts.

Francisco Liriano, 5 walks: Liriano was hard to hit on Opening Day, fanning 10 batters and allowing just three hits across six shutout frames. But given control woes that led to five walks and an elevated pitch count, the southpaw could not add a seventh inning to his stat line. The 32-year-old has great stuff and should maintain a high whiff rate, but he will not log an impressive innings total or achieve No. 2 fantasy-starter status without a lower walk rate.
Alcides Escobar, 1 stolen base: Fantasy owners who struggled to draft steals (or a serviceable shortstop) should give a look to Escobar, who hit leadoff and stole a base on Opening Day. Having averaged 26 swipes per season from 2011-15, the 29-year-old should manage to score 75 runs as the sparkplug atop an effective Kansas City lineup.
Denard Span, Joe Panik, Buster Posey, 3 home runs: In the eighth inning of a 12-3 win over the Brewers, Span, Panik and Posey went back-to-back-to-back at Miller Park. The Giants won't make a habit of scoring 12 runs per game, but their offense appears to be quite formidable. Span -- who drove in five in his Giants debut -- is a premium leadoff man in a lineup with no obvious weaknesses. From him on down, nearly every San Francisco everyday player should be active in standard mixed leagues.

Scooter Gennett, 1 home run: Remember when we said to look at Opening Day stats through a caution lens? Well, here's why. In arguably the most improbable outcome of the young season, the left-handed-hitting Gennett homered off southpaw ace Madison Bumgarner. How shocking is this? Well, Gennett entered play with a career .297 OPS vs. lefties. Last year, all MLB pitchers combined to manage .317 OPS vs. lefties. Yes, pitchers have hit lefties better than Gennett. And must we tell you about Bumgarner, one of the game's supreme arms? But this one-plate-appearance aberration aside, the 25-year-old Gennett should remain on waivers in mixed leagues.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB