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Fantasy Baseball Today

Prospering after poor April performances

By R.J. White | CBSSports.com

Curtis Granderson has prospered after a down April. (USATSI)
Curtis Granderson has prospered after a down April. (USATSI)

Before his injury earlier this week, I had been thinking about how to correctly gauge the value of Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. After several consecutive years of providing a great power/speed combination at a hard-to-fill Fantasy position while also turning in batting averages ranging from decent to great, Phillips was in the midst of his second straight down season. With a .272/.308/.392 slash line, the second baseman's .701 OPS in 2014 is his worst mark in a season turning in a .553 OPS during his rookie year in 2003.

It would be easy to look at those numbers and write Phillips off as finished. But if you isolate a terrible first month of play, Phillips hasn't been all that different from the player we've grown used to seeing, aside from a lack of stolen bases. As April came to a close, he owned a .255/.272/.318 line with one home run and a horrific 25:3 K:BB ratio. He didn't exactly rip the cover off the ball once the calendar turned to May, but he was able to piece together a .281/.325/.429 line with six home runs and 34 RBI from May 1 forward. That slash line is almost exactly the same as his numbers from 2012, when he hit .281/.321/.429 with 18 home runs over a full season. It's also very similar to his stats from 2008 through 2010, when he was a quality starting second baseman in many Fantasy leagues.

Obviously, Phillips' Fantasy value went into the tank the minute he suffered a thumb injury that will keep him on the shelf until at least late August. However, he isn't the only player who has turned around a disappointing first month into a better-than-you-may-think season. Players of this ilk have the potential to be undervalued in leagues, as the performance of players in April largely dictates the player's perceived value throughout the season. If a guy hits .150 in April, and he owns a .200 average by the end of May and a .250 average by the All-Star break, owners may not be giving him enough credit for his performance over a two-and-a-half-month period because of a few bad weeks at the beginning of the season. Here are a few other guys that struggled in April before putting together quality numbers over the next 10-plus weeks.

OF Curtis Granderson, Mets

.230/.341/.416, 44 R, 14 HRs, 42 RBI, 6 SBs in 2014
.136/.252/.216, 8 Rs, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SBs through April 30
.266/.375/.493, 36 Rs, 13 HRs, 35 RBI, 4 SBs since May 1

Granderson looked like one of the biggest busts of the season early on, and his current season line of .230/.341/.416 still doesn't look all that appealing, even when it comes with 14 HRs. But when you isolate his April stats, you can see that Granderson has actually been an asset in Fantasy lineups since the start of May. His numbers from May 1 bear a slight comparison to the full-season numbers of Justin Upton, who has hit .273/.344/.491 with 17 home runs and seven stolen bases. But Granderson surely doesn't carry anywhere near the trade value of Upton.

3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants

.270/.320/.429, 40 Rs, 11 HRs, 40 RBI in 2014
.177/.262/.302, 11 Rs, 2 HRs, 6 RBI through April 30
.309/.345/.483, 29 Rs, 9 HRs, 34 RBI since May 1

Sandoval has turned in a season similar to the two before it thus far, but after breaking out of an April slump, he's come close to approaching his level from his last big season of 2011, when he hit .315/.357/.552 with 23 home runs. Unlike with Granderson, he hasn't been able to keep up his power aside from an excellent May that saw the third baseman collect six home runs in an 11-game span. Sandoval has still managed to deliver a .301 batting average from June 1 forward though, proving that April's down numbers are far behind him.

3B David Wright, Mets

.285/.342/.418, 39 Rs, 8 HRs, 46 RBI, 4 SBs in 2014
.262/.314/.318, 11 Rs, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB through April 30
.296/.355/.463, 28 Rs, 7 HRs, 31 RBI, 3 SBs since May 1

Wright wasn't nearly as bad in April as the players we've already discussed, but he was suffering from a power outage. He's posted a .300 batting average or better in seven of his 10 seasons, and though his .285 overall mark is well short of that level, his .296 batting average from May 1 on shows he hasn't fallen all that far from his normal production. His power hasn't completely returned either, but it has certainly improved since April. He's a guy whose trade value may be too high based on his history as a high Fantasy draft pick, but while he's still a Fantasy disappointment, it could certainly be a lot worse if his April performance had carried through to the rest of the season.

 
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