Five First Week Superstars

Scott Cunningham

It's the first week of the season and small sample size fooferah is running rampant. Here are the five hottest hitters from baseball's Opening Week, but what are the chance that they can sustain this hot hitting for a longer period of time?

Small sample sizes are awesome. They're what lead us to contemplate the star power of Pete Kozma, and lead us to cry apocalypse when David Price has a bad outing. Obviously, the baseball season's Opening Week is rife with small sample size goofiness, and there are a lot of hitters who get off to scorching starts that we probably shouldn't be taking too seriously.

Here are five of the hottest hitters of the season's first week. They're all legitimately good players having a ludicrously good stretch of games. Let's take a look at their chances of sustaining even a fraction of this production over the whole season.

Chris Davis

This time last year, Davis was a forgotten man on a perennially bad team. Fantasy owners couldn't have yawned heavier had they downed a bottle of Nyquil. Not so long ago, he was a top power prospect with the Rangers, but his career had been derailed by some truly hideous strikeout rates (seriously 150 Ks in 419 plate appearances in 2009...ick). In their quest to become the Buffalo Bills of the baseball world, the Rangers decided they had better things to do than wait for Davis to get his whiffs under control, so they shipped him to Baltimore as an afterthought for Koji Uehara.

Davis broke out last year, of course, bashing 33 home runs to help the Orioles to their unexpected playoff berth. Now in the first week of 2013, he's off to a screaming hot start, having hit home runs in each of the season's first four games and amassed 17 RBIs through Sunday. Due to his strikeout-happy history, it's only natural to expect that he'll regress back to the low-average slugger he's always been. Also, if his .335 BABIP from 2012 falls off, it could get real ugly. However, he took great strides in improving his contact rate last season, and if he continues that trend, we could be looking at a legit star, so it's not like this is an out-of-the-blue fluke rampage.

Michael Morse

Those people who predicted that Morse would struggle upon his return to Seattle (i.e. me) look like complete jerkasses right now. Morse had handled his new role as Seattle's primary left fielder with aplomb, bashing five homers in the season's opening week. He hasn't yet had to deal with Safeco's cavernous power alleys, but he did spend four days last week making Oakland's traditionally homer-unfriendly ballpark look positively minuscule. He's not going to slug .800 all year, but he's made a living making skeptics look stupid the last few years, so why start doubting him now?

Justin Upton

It must be an odd-numbered year, because Upton is hitting again. Of the five players on this list, Upton is the one most likely to sustain this hilariously small-sample-size of hot hitting throughout the whole season. He's made himself right at home in Atlanta, and six of his eleven hits so far have been home runs. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes nutso on the league and walks away with the NL MVP this year, and in doing so makes the Diamondbacks look that much more insane for trading him away. If you own him, hold on to him like grim death or ask for a king's ransom in return.

Dexter Fowler

Fowler's career high home run total is thirteen, which he reached last year, but he seems well on the way to shattering that, as he already has four home runs through the season's first week. Fowler has supposed power/speed combo potential, but hasn't shown enough of either one at the major league level to warrant the excitement surrounding him in fantasy circles. Anything is possible in Coors Field, I guess, and hell, he may go on to hit 30 home runs and become one of fantasy's top outfielders. More likely is that he's simply hit on a flukey home run streak and he'll finish in the 12-15 homer range again. If you own him, you should probably be more concerned with why he's decided to stop stealing bases.

Jed Lowrie

I'd be more ecstatic over Lowrie's hot first week in Oakland green and gold, but I'm pretty sure he's going to break his wrist before I finish writing this sentence. Seriously, Lowrie does this every year. He teases us with stretches where he looks like he's living up to his potential as an All-Star shortstop, but he just winds up getting hurt and missing more than half of the season. Lowrie will be one of the best shortstops in fantasy baseball if hell freezes over, pigs fly, and he reaches 500 plate appearances. It's possible, I suppose, but I'm not going to be tricked into holding my breath anymore. If you own him, enjoy his bat while it lasts and employ a very good backup.

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