by Will Overton
Going into our drafts we all have our lists of rookies and young guys that we’re certain are going to break out and help carry our fantasy team. And some of those guys do just that, while other fail to live up to the hype, at least immediately. But without fail there is always a handful of young guys that no one is talking about who get off to hot starts and still go unnoticed or written off as flukes until they prove they can do it consistently. This year is no different.
This week’s Working the Wire is taking a look at some of the young guys out there who have come out of nowhere and caught us all by surprise with hot starts to the season. I’ll give you my own personal insight on whether I think they can sustain their starts and which kind of leagues each might be best suited for picking up in.
Darwin Barney: Barney snuck into the Cubs opening day lineup at second base, picked up a couple of hits and hasn’t looked back since. Barney is not hitting .329 on the season and has only been under .300 for one day of the season. Darwin also has 13 runs and 13 RBI on the season. Looking back at Barney’s minor league career he was a .286 hitter, but hit .299 in AAA last season. There’s no sign of power, and average to less than average speed which limits his value. But if he can get keep getting on base in the number two spot, he’ll score a fair amount of runs and does hold some value as a poor man’s version of Placido Polanco. I think he’s a fringe guy for standard leagues, but is worth a spot in most deeper leagues that use the 2B/SS position.
Brett Wallace: Two years ago this guy was on that list you took to the draft of potential prospects who could have value. Even last season he was on that list. This year however was the first time he walked into the season with a starting job in the major leagues and no one was talking about him. Wallace struggled mightily at the end of the season in Houston and he was written off as a bust by many of fantasy experts. He’s come out this season with his hitting shoes to the tune of an early .367 batting average. He’s on a 7 game hitting streak in which he is an unbelievable 16 – 29 at the plate. We have yet to see Wallace’s power potential materialize, but as long as he hits like this in the middle of the lineup you should own him. He won’t maintain this kind of start, but he is only 24 and still growing as a player. So long as he’s hot he should be owned in deep leagues and considered in standard ones.
Peter Bourjos: There was a little bit of hype behind Bourjos going into the season, but it wasn’t anything too much. I will give props to our prof who thought more highly of him for this season than most. Bourjos is hitting .318 and has a pair of HR’s and SB’s. Bourjos showed a ton of speed in the minors and as Scoscia becomes more comfortable with him he’ll get the opportunity to run more. Bourjos also broke out a bit in the power department last season with 19 HR’s between AAA and the Majors. I don’t see him hitting more than 15 – 20, and that might take a year or two, but there’s something there. Right now the biggest issue is the strikeouts, which he’s already racked up 26 of, as that’s likely the thing keeping from more leadoff at-bats. Of all the guys on this list I think Bourjos has the most upside and value for this season, and possible in the long term. He’s a must own for deep leagues and I think in a 12 team, 5 OF league he should also be plucked from the waiver wire. He’s off to a good start, but there’s more potential that we have yet to see.
Philip Humber: Humber has strung together four nice starts after being plugged into the White Sox rotation, but he really put himself on the map when he no-hit the Yankees for 6 innings before giving up just 1 hit in 7 innings and not allowing a run. In four starts Humber has a 2.72 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP with 16 K’s in 23.1 innings. Humber has spent the better part of the last 5 years in the minor leagues and was once a highly touted prospect who had been given up on after posting 4.00 or higher ERA’s the last four years. Humber has been good so far this season, but there is no indication that we should expect this to last. He’s a good streaming option while he’s hot, but I wouldn’t own him in anything but a deep league or an AL-Only.
What do you think of these four guys? Any of you lucky enough to enjoy the hot starts they have gotten off to? Would you be willing to pick any of these guys up for your team?