We’re now two and a half weeks into the baseball season and we are already seeing a few nice surprises. Here are a few guys you should pay closer attention too and look to add if they’re available in your league.
The second overall pick in the 2005 draft, Gordon thrived in the minor leagues, but has flopped in every opportunity he’s had at the major league level prior to 2011. The 27 year old third baseman turned left fielder is hitting at an impressive .365 clip through the first 14 games of the season with one home run, 11 RBIs and 14 runs scored. He had a very promising rookie year in 2007 where he clubbed 15 HRs, 60 RBIs and stole 14 bases with a .247 average, then followed that up with an equally exciting sophomore campaign of 16 HRs, 59 RBIs, a .260 average and nine steals. But he hasn’t played more than 79 games since then, and has let injuries take away his potential. His statistics are own-able in all formats and prove that he is still the hitter the Royals drafted back in 2005.
Coming off a year in which he hit a career low .248 with just 14 HRs and 58 RBIs between New York and Houston, Berkman has reinvented himself in St. Louis after signing on with them to play right field in the off season. Through the first 14 games of the year, Berkman is hitting .308 with six homers and 13 RBIs. Hitting with Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus, Berkman has a great opportunity to comeback as one of the elite hitters in the league.
In 128 games as a rookie in 2010, Castro hit .300 with three HRs, 41 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Now as a 21 year old Castro is hitting .418 with one home run already and seven RBIs. He doesn’t have the speed to be a 30-40 SB threat, but he should hit for a very high average and have enough power to keep himself in any fantasy lineup. The Cubs don’t have anyone hot on his heels, so his job security provides room to grow. I doubt his average will be anywhere near .400 by the season’s end, but a .310 BA with 8-10 homers and 60 RBIs is not hard to fathom.
Morrison might turn out to be the hitter Nick Johnson was supposed to be. He is an on-base machine with the ability to hit a high average and plenty of power. In 62 games as a rookie in 2010, Morrison hit .283 with two HRs, 18 RBIs and a .390 on-base percentage with 41 walks to just 51 strikeouts. So far in 2011 he has four homers 11 RBIs and is hitting .327 with an OBP of .429. His power has progressed much more quickly than we thought it would, and it is a pleasant surprise with the high average and great on-base skills.
Lowrie is on a tear right now and Marco Scutaro is not going to be able to stop him. In the 10 games he’s played for the Red Sox, Lowrie is hitting .462 with two HRs and nine RBIs, but the surprising numbers are his SLG, OBP and OPS. His SLG is .654, his OBP is .500 and his OPS is a whopping 1.154. If he qualified, all three of those numbers would be good for top five in baseball. He has been slowly stealing playing time for the slumping Marco Scutaro and will end up finding himself in a starting role in Boston sooner rather than later. It is not too early to jump on him and grab him before someone else does.
Stubbs hit 22 HRs and stole 30 bases, but he hit .255 in 2010. In 2011 season he is hitting .286 with three homers and four steals and has been hot recently. With at least two hits in four of his last six games and two homers in that time, Stubbs is really showing that 2010 was not a fluke and that he has a legitimate chance to go 30/30 this year. He is currently higher on ESPN’s player rater than Justin Upton, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez. Get a hold of Stubbs if you can.
Despite not hitting a home run yet, Young is proving himself very useful on a Rangers team that is probably glad they didn’t trade him. Adrian Beltre struggled out of the gate, but Young has been hitting just like he always does. His average sits at a comfortable .359, he has eight RBIs already, his 10 hits are good for tenth in baseball and his eight doubles are good for second best in the majors. Texas’ best hitters are frail, but Young isn’t, so if Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, or Adrian Bletre go down with an injury, expect Young to step into a full-time role once again.
Sandoval is just murdering the baseball right now. He’s hitting .340 with four homers and 10 RBIs which is a big improvement on last year’s line of .268, 13 HRs, and 63 RBIs. He has three homers in his last five games and is starting to look like the same Pablo we watched hit .330 with 25 bombs in 2009.