NL-only fantasy thoughts: Hot Hitters

Stephen Dunn

Ray Guilfoyle offers his NL-only fantasy thoughts and focuses on some hitters who are off to a hot start to the 2013 season.

In today's NL-only fantasy thoughts piece, I will take a look at a few NL hitters who are off to a hot start, and opine whether the hot hitting is sustainable or not.

Justin Upton

After hitting just 17 home runs last season, Upton already has 7 home runs this season, and just missed one on Friday night vs the Nationals. The ball appeared to hit the top of the right center field wall and bounce up. He is hitting .348-.415-.891 with 7 HRs, 4 doubles, 12 runs 11 RBI, and 2 stolen bases thus far.

Upton was one of my offseason targets, which makes my decision to deal him away in one of my keeper leagues look particularly stupid right now.

Dexter Fowler

I wrote about Fowler's breakout in a recent Roto Roundup, and he is showing us more power this year. Last season, he hit 13 HRs (a career high) in 530 plate appearances. This season, he has hit almost half as many (6) in just 54 plate appearances. The home runs will likely regress, as he is hitting less flyballs (SSS) than last year, and owns a 54.5% HR/FB rate. With that said, 2013 is his age 27 season, so he is at the start of his peak years, so we could see a 20 HR season from him.

John Buck

Buck has surprised everyone with his power display thus far, but I just don't see it continuing. Buck is hitting .317-.318-.780 with 6 HRs, 9 runs and 19 RBI in 44 plate appearances. His HR/FB rate isn't as high as Fowler's, but it is more than double his career average, so don't expect him to hit 20+ HRs this season, as 20 is his career high.

Carl Crawford

Crawford has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners thus far and after watching several Dodgers games this season, he appears to be back to form at the plate. His arm will probably not be the same for awhile, but as long as he can get on base, steal some bases and score some runs, he will be plenty valuable this season. He is currently hitting .386-.438-.568 with a HR, 11 runs and 2 stolen bases. He won't hit .386 all year, but he could approach .300 again this season.

Chase Utley

Utley has had his share of injuries the last few seasons, but he appears to be fully healthy this season. I think Utley can be a top 6-8 fantasy second baseman if he can stay healthy all season. He is currently hitting .292-.340-.604 with 3 HRs, 9 runs, 12 RBI and 3 stolen bases in his 53 plate appearances thus far. I can see him putting up 15-20 home runs and 10-15 stolen bases this season.

Five Hitters who are walking more than they strikeout:

Joey Votto

Joey Votto isn't just walking more than he strikes out. He did that last year. This year, his walk rate is an absurd 33.3%, while his OBP is .542. He is the king of OBP leagues, bar none.

Adrian Gonzalez

AGonz is quietly having a nice April, hitting .409-.490-.614 with 3 HRs and 10 RBI thus far. His walk rate sits at 11.8%, while his strikeout rate is just below 10%. He appears to be back to the old AGonz after his low power 2012 season.

Norichika Aoki

Aoki is the one of the few bright spots on the Brewers this season, as he is hitting .333-.396-.479 with a HR, 6 runs, 4 RBI and 3 stolen bases thus far. His walk rate sits at 9.4%, which makes his 5.7% strikeout rate all the more impressive. He's the perfect leadoff hitter, as he knows how to get on base and he rarely strikes out.

Denard Span

Adding Span to an already solid Nationals lineup should help the team go further in the playoffs this season, as not only can he hit for average, but he also knows how to get on base. He is currently hitting .302-.423-.349 with a 17.3% walk rate and 7.7% strikeout rate.

Matt Holliday

Holliday is one of the more consistent hitters in baseball, and this season is no different. Holliday isn't hitting for a high average, yet, but he is walking at a 16.3% clip, while striking out just 12.2% of the time.

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