Anyone can look backward and analyze what has happened in the past, but that's not what wins you a Fantasy championship. Getting ahead of trends is how you win in the long run, and identifying struggling stars who are about to turn things around is one surefire way to do that.
So, let's keep an eye out. Here are five players who have been disappointing or underwhelming in the early going, but are showing signs below the surface of a breakout. If you're looking for a target in trade, one of these five may prove to be a great investment.
Carlos Correa ended up being a bit of disappointment based on his draft position last season, but he got off to a terrific start, sporting an .882 OPS with five homers, 15 RBI and 16 runs scored on May 7. A year later, it's hard not to view him as a disappointment yet again, even given his reduced draft cost, as he sits with a .748 OPS on May 7. The big issue for Correa so far? A lack of power, surprisingly.
Correa's ISO has dipped to .149, thanks in large part to just three homers in his first 29 games. What makes this especially disappointing is Correa's approach at the plate should be leading to more power, not less; he has upped his flyball rate to 39.3 percent, after being below 30 percent in each of his first two seasons. The raw power was there for Correa in 2015 and 2016, as he hit a whopping 19.8 percent of his flyballs over the fence, however that number has dipped to 8.6 percent in the early going.
That will turn around. Correa has a 44.9 percent hard-hit rate, an elite mark, a number that is backed up by his 96.1 mph average exit velocity on flyballs and line drives, per BaseballSavant.com. Correa may not look like an elite hitter right now, but it's just a matter of time until his results catch up.
Because he emerged from relative obscurity late in his career, Justin Turner is going to be someone who is pretty easy to dismiss when things are going right. Someone is going to look at the .429 BABIP and middling power numbers and conclude that Turner is a sell-high candidate; once the BABIP regresses, what value is Turner going to have, right?
If someone in your league is looking to sell on Turner, I'm here to tell you to buy. Turner certainly has some regression coming on balls in play, to be certain, but he's going to come out the other side a better, more productive player. He is still hitting plenty of balls in the air, with his groundball rate actually dropping from 36.1 percent to 31.5 in the early going. However, he has just one homer on the season, despite above average exit velocity overall. Turner is hitting the ball hard, but just hasn't seen the ball go over the fence. The 11 doubles are a better sign of where he is, and those should turn into homers in the long run.
I believe in Turner as a 30-homer hitter, and I'm looking to buy into him as one. You should too.
Stephen Piscotty hasn't been bad this season, but he hasn't been what we hoped to see. Piscotty's batting average has collapsed, and while a huge increase in his walk rate has helped him sustain value in H2H points leagues, he isn't really doing much to contribute in Roto right now, with a .241 average, two homers, 11 RBI and 10 runs to his name. That's just mediocre production across the board, and a disappointing sign for a player who was a four-category contributor last season. Making matters worse, Piscotty was placed on the disabled list last week with a hamstring strain, which could lead some antsy owners to drop him.
That would be a mistake. Per BaseballSavant.com's Expected wOBA, Piscotty has been one of the best hitters in baseball, ranking 22nd out of 211 batters in the stat, which attempts to predict production based on quality of contact, regardless of whether a ball is caught. Piscotty seems to have been the victim of some rotten luck, and a 38.7 percent hard-contact rate seems to back that up. If you can swoop in and steal him while he is on the DL, Piscotty still looks a lot like the kind of player who can rack up the stats you need.
Nicholas Castellanos might be viewed as a bust by many baseball fans, but he is a batted-ball stud right now. He was in the midst of a breakout season in 2016, but ended up playing just 110 games due to an injury, and entered the season overshadowed in a crowded third base field. So far this season, Castellanos leads baseball with a 55.2 percent hard-hit rate, while ranking 13th in average exit velocity. He also has 15 barreled balls -- BaseballSavant.com's term for a batted ball with ideal velocity and launch angle -- matching Manny Machado for fifth-most in baseball.
Castellanos has been hitting the ball hard all over the field, but his middling .771 OPS hardly shows it. However, he ranks right behind Piscotty in expected wOBA, with a .398 mark that compared with what Freddie Freeman or Josh Donaldson managed last season. Castellanos isn't that good, but he's better than you think. His home run to flyball rate of just 10.0 percent simply isn't sustainable with how hard he is hitting the ball, and when the ball starts going over the fence, you're going to wish you were there. Castellanos hasn't lived up to his prospect pedigree, but this late bloomer is on the verge of figuring things out, and he's still available in 22 percent of CBSSports.com leagues. Go get him before it's too late.
Because he's well into his 30's by now, Dustin Pedroia is the kind of player whose every cold stretch will be put under a microscope. Is this punchless version of Pedroia, who has just two homers and a career-low .087 ISO, the new normal? Given his age, we can't rule it out, though it's important to note reports of Pedroia's demise ended up being vastly overstated during his disappointing 2014 campaign.
However, even beyond that, there are positive signs here. For one thing, Pedroia's improved strikeout and swinging miss rates indicate he hasn't lost bat speed in the way his middling power numbers might hint. Also, like everyone else on this list, Pedroia seems to be the victim of just plain bad luck, with a 40.0 percent hard-hit rate that indicates he has been hitting the ball a lot better than his results indicate. We know Pedroia is never going to be a 20-homer threat again, but there's still a lot to like about his profile, as he should be reliable for good run and RBI numbers, an average near .300, and 15-plus homers. If the Pedroia owner in your league is ready to give up on Pedroia, you shouldn't be. See if you can steal him.