One of the most precarious situations for fantasy owners is when he or she has to deal with that player (or players) that they drafted to be the star on their team but started off the season in a funk. But how do you know whether or not the player will come out of his slump?
Here are seven players, one from each fielding position and one from the outfield, who are currently struggling:
After the season Martinez had last year with Boston, in which he hit .302 with 20 homers and had one of his best campaigns as a pro, many expected that he would pick up right where he left off with Detroit. However, he is currently batting a meager .225, which may cause some owners to get nervous. This slump will not last. He is already starting to come out of it. He is a career .299 hitter and has not finished any season with worse than a .281 average. Over his last seven games he is hitting a respectable .261, and that average should continue to rise.
Carlos Lee, 1B, Houston Astros — .225 BA, 1 HR
Like Martinez, Lee (a career .287 hitter) has started of his 2011 campaign by carrying a .225 average into the first half of April. However, unlike Martinez, recovery is not certain in this case. Lee will be 35 next month and is in his 12th pro season (compared to Martinez’s 9th). His stats from last season show that his age might be starting to catch up with him, when he finished with a .246 average and fewer than 100 RBI for the first time since 2004. His home run totals have also been decreasing over the last five seasons. Fantasy owners drafted him hoping that last season was a fluke, but this slow start may indicate otherwise. Don’t count him out just yet, but it might be a good idea to feel out trades to see what value you can get for him.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays — .186 BA, 0 HR
Hill followed up a fantastic 2009 campaign with a horrible 2010 season, during which he struggled to keep his average above .200 as fantasy owners hoped desperately for a return to his 2009 production in which he hit .286 with 36 homers and 108 RBI. He is currently hitting .186, with no homers through the first 10 games — a start all too similar to last year’s. Get rid of him if he doesn’t improve over the next couple weeks.
Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees — .206 BA, .300 OBP, .235 SLG
A future hall-of-famer, Jeter was once an unquestioned fantasy starter. Now it appears as if his 16 years of MLB service are finally taking their toll. He finished last season with his worst batting average since his rookie season, and tallied his lowest home run total since 2003. Through his first nine games this season he is hitting just .206 with no homers. While you should not drop him yet, you should keep him out of your lineup until he shows signs of recovery. At this point in his career, he’s more of a fantasy back up anyway.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers — .205 BA, 3 HR
Beltre was perhaps the most coveted free agent in baseball this offseason, and eventually signed with the Rangers. What he has given them in the early going, however, is not what they expected. While no one expected him to match last season’s production, they also did not expect him to start the season off by hitting .192 up to this point. Don’t panic yet however. His average won’t match last season’s, as he is a career .274 hitter and has only finished with an average above .300 in two seasons. His power, however, has not abandoned him. He has already hit three homers and plays in a very hitter-friendly park. Once his batting average corrects itself, he will be a solid player for the remainder of the season.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox — .194 BA, .256 OBP, .389 SLG
After missing the vast majority of last season to injury, Ellsbury came into this season looking to make up for lost time and to return to the form he had in 2009, when he stole 70 bags and hit .301. Right now he is hitting just .194, but that should correct itself. His slugging percentage is not that far from what it was is 2009, but his on base percentage is way down, which suggests he’s simply suffering from bad luck at the moment and that can’t last forever. Ellsbury is still a good source of steals, so stick with him.
David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays — 4.85 ERA, 9 K, 2 walks
One of the best young pitchers in the league, Price is off to a lukewarm start in 2011. Over two starts, both losses, he has posted a 4.85 ERA and just nine strikeouts. Despite the numbers, there is no cause for concern at this point. He has issued just two walks so far, so his command is not the issue. But while his numbers might improve, wins might be hard to come by when he is backed by an anemic offense. If you can stomach the low win total, Price is still a good play.
Daily Nexus fantasy baseball columnist Joshua Greenberg may have struck out this weekend, but there’s no need to panic.