Last week's Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers was a bit of a hit and miss, as my No. 1 riser, Freddie Freeman, went down with an injury, and my No. 1 faller, CC Sabathia, bounced back with a win (still with decreased velocity and a bit of wildness). I did nail the Gerardo Parra and Jose Fernandez picks, and -- as I expect they will do a lot this year -- Ike Davis and Carlos Gomez are struggling at the plate.
Remember last year when Frazier was losing playing time to an aging Scott Rolen? Well those days are long gone (sorry, Dusty!), and Frazier is taking full advantage of his full-time role, hitting .414/.485/.793 with three home runs and 10 RBI in the early going. With Ryan Ludwick down and out, Frazier finds himself in a pretty opportunistic spot in a loaded Cincinnati lineup, with plenty of RBI chances to come. Last year, in 465 plate appearances, Frazier blasted 19 home runs with 65 RBI, and it's easily conceivable that he adds five home runs and 15 RBI (at the minimum) with 150 more. The beauty of Frazier is his multi-position eligibility at third, first and the outfield, and while he's not going to continue to hit for this good of an average, he could easily do what Ludwick accomplished last year, which was a .275-batting average with 26 home runs and 80 RBI.
If I were a Brewers fan, I think I'd have a lot of fun watching Aoki at the plate.— David (@davidwiers) April 8, 2013
I saw this David Wiers' tweet during Aoki's 3-for-4 day in the Brewers' 7-4 win against the Cubs yesterday, and I'm passing it along because, as a Cubs fan (not a Brewers fan), I, too, have a lot of fun watching Aoki at the plate. (And it's not just because I don't have a lot of exposure to exciting at-bats from current Cubbies outside of Starlin Castro.) Aoki is off to a red-hot start at the plate, hitting .419/.486/.581 with one home run, six runs, four RBI and one steal. In his first taste of the bigs last season, he hit .288/.355/.433 with ten home runs, 80 runs, 50 RBI and 30 steals, providing healthy stats in all five categories that you find in standard rotisserie leagues. But Aoki's value extends to points leagues, as well (and maybe more so), because of his excellent approach at the plate (9.4-percent strikeout rate and 7.3-percent in 2012). So far, in 2013, he's struck out just twice and walked four times. I don't know if he's going to steal 30 bags again, but last year's Aoki might very well be this year's Aoki, too, which makes him a solid No. 2 outfielder.
It's only two starts, but already Harvey is being called the Mets "ace," and it's hard to argue if you've seen the young kid throw. The 24-year old beat Roy Halladay and the Phillies last night, and he's now 2-0 with a 19:4 K:BB ratio in 14 innings. I lost out in the bidding in one league where I really wanted Harvey -- and instead ended up with a $14 John Axford -- and I'm kicking myself hard. I think Harvey will run into a few rough patches here and there, but I can see him putting up similar stats to Jeff Samardzija's 2012, when he racked up 180 strikeouts in 174.2 innings. He could potentially approach 200 strikeouts if he throws enough innings, and if he continues to get run support, the wins will be a nice bonus that no one saw coming.
Upton enjoyed one of his best offensive seasons in Tampa Bay last year, hitting 28 home runs and stealing 31 bags with 79 runs and 78 RBI. But a 26.7-percent strikeout rate and a 7.1-percent walk rate kept him down in points leagues, especially, as the center fielder finished a disappointing 43rd among outfielders in 2012. Upton was on my "Do Not Draft" list even after the Braves signed him to patrol center field in Atlanta, and he's already gotten off to a rough start with his new team, striking out 10 times in his first 25 at-bats. The Braves have already moved him around the lineup to try to get him going, but, so far, it looks like the same B.J. of old. I don't see him matching his combined 59 homers/steals from a year ago, and I think his RBI total could drop off a bit, too, as he gets adjusted to his new team. If he's still the same high strikeout/low walk guy that we've come to expect (and there's no reason to think that's about to change), he's not going to match last year's value, which wasn't even that great to begin with.
I own Ackley in a couple of leagues as a middle infielder -- and in one dynasty league as my primary second baseman (@#!$@#!) -- because I bought into the post-hype prospect sleeper tag for reasons unbeknownst to me. Maybe I thought he owed me after wasting a keeper selection on him last year, or maybe I really thought his prospect pedigree would finally shine through, I don't know. He burned me last year, and he's right back at it again, hitting an impossibly bad .087/.160/.087 with no extra-base hits to start the year (but he does have four runs, yay!). As a hitter, he still has a lonnng way to go, and the lack of power Ackley has shown has really surprised -- and discouraged -- me. I still think he can turn things around, but it might take some time.
Dickey's struggles have been well documented already -- including here at Fake Teams -- after his first two starts have resulted in Toronto losses, but I couldn't pass on mentioning Dickey again because the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner was the points league king in 2012, as the knuckler finished with 613 points, which was more than Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg (EVERYONE!). Through two starts, Dickey is 0-2 with 8.44 ERA (4.56 xFIP; 4.62 SIERA) with a 17-percent strikeout rate and a 11.3-percent walk rate. Those numbers should both improve, but the move from the NL East to the AL East is already proving to be a difficult transition for Dickey. There's nothing to do but be patient with him (and I would try to pry him away from his owner if you're looking for a good buy-low early in the season), as it often takes some time for the knuckle ball to start dancing. I wasn't a big Dickey believer going into the new season, and I think he performs more like a No. 2 than a true ace the rest of the way, which is still valuable, just not as valuable.
Alex Kantecki is a contributor at Fake Teams, Big Leagues Mag, Dobber Baseball and Vigilante Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotodealer.