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Don't Believe The Hype: What Year Is This?

A huge chunk of fantasy owners honestly believe Barry Zito is back because of one start.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
A huge chunk of fantasy owners honestly believe Barry Zito is back because of one start. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The fun part about this column is seeing the players I wasn't heartily-recommending the week prior being dropped by the bucket load just seven days later. Bartolo Colon has already been given up on by over one-fifth of his owners, after people flocked to pick him up en masse following his first start of the season. Then, of course, there are the people who had enough faith in Vernon Wells to rebound to draft him, but have already given up on him after a week. If you don't believe in someone enough to hold onto them for more than a week, why did you draft them in the first place?

Overall, though, trends for dropping players haven't developed much. There haven't been many new injuries, for one, and the Scott Baker news is recent enough that, if it's affecting a large percentage of owners, it hasn't shown up in the numbers yet.

As for the adds, though...

Fernando Rodney, RP (53% owned, +42%): There's nothing like an unexpected reliever picking up a save to make the waiver wire go insane. Rodney leads the league with three saves at the moment, so that insanity is exponential. Closers are the one position where owners will knowingly draft a bad pitcher just to pick up saves.

Rodney has yet to give up a run in his four innings of work, although he hasn't done very much in terms of striking hitters out, with one lonely punch out. There's reason to believe he might be fixed, though, and that he can be closer to the tolerable Rodney of old. As with anything else this early in the year, though, we'll have to see about that. The signs fit, but that doesn't mean they're right. If you're desperate enough for saves to pick up Rodney, you aren't reading this anymore, anyway, as you've already made up your mind about how important it is to have him, so just do what you need to do to get by.

Barry Zito, SP (31% owned, +26%): I wanted to put a list of everyone who has thrown a shutout over the last three years here, but it turns out that the list is 116 pitchers long. Instead, let's look at a few of the luminaries to accomplish the feat:

Rk Player SHO CG Year IP ERA+ OPS+
2 Randy Wells 1 2 2011 135.1 78 113
9 Carl Pavano 1 3 2011 222.0 93 112
12 Charlie Morton 1 2 2011 171.2 100 110
14 Jason Marquis 1 1 2011 132.0 88 117
15 Paul Maholm 1 1 2011 162.1 105 101
16 Kyle Lohse 1 1 2011 188.1 107 93
27 Livan Hernandez 1 1 2011 175.1 87 115
31 Brian Duensing 1 1 2011 161.2 77 128
37 Chris Capuano 1 1 2011 186.0 82 120
38 Brad Bergesen 1 1 2011 101.0 73 130
40 Miguel Batista 1 1 2011 60.0 103 95
43 Chris Volstad 1 2 2010 175.0 91 105
44 Joe Saunders 1 3 2010 203.1 92 118
50 Joel Pineiro 1 3 2010 152.1 104 97
58 Paul Maholm 1 1 2010 185.1 79 125
65 Livan Hernandez 1 2 2010 211.2 110 97
70 Armando Galarraga 1 2 2010 144.1 93 105
75 Bruce Chen 1 1 2010 140.1 101 100
76 Roberto Hernandez 1 4 2010 210.1 105 97
85 Brett Tomko 1 1 2009 57.1 120 88
86 Eric Stults 1 1 2009 50.0 83 117
87 Joe Saunders 1 1 2009 186.0 95 108
92 Charlie Morton 1 1 2009 97.0 92 108
93 Pat Misch 1 1 2009 62.1 92 116
96 Jason Marquis 1 2 2009 216.0 116 86
97 Kyle Lohse 1 1 2009 117.2 86 109
98 Justin Lehr 1 1 2009 65.1 79 131
102 Luke Hochevar 1 2 2009 143.0 68 124
107 Nelson Figueroa 1 1 2009 70.1 100 116
108 Zach Duke 1 3 2009 213.0 103 105
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/13/2012.

Turns out you can be the kind of pitcher who could throw a complete-game shutout without being the kind I want anywhere near my fantasy team. Zito used to be real good, but to get back to one of my original points: unless you're dropping someone who is hurt to get Zito, what's the rush?

Rafael Furcal, SS (65% owned, +25%): Furcal is off to a good start (1059 OPS in 30 plate appearances), and there are maybe 3.5 useful shortstops in the league. The most surprising part about this is that he wasn't already owned in roughly 65 percent of leagues. There's lots of downside with Furcal -- like the fact he's productive probably means he's going to be injured sooner than later, as always -- but he's still a shortstop with a pulse. He's the kind of guy you take the plunge on this early, if only because, I mean, look at shortstop. Self-explanatory.

Adam LaRoche, 1B (56% owned, +25%): On the other hand, if you're picking up LaRoche to fill a void at first base, you've gone wrong somewhere. I hope everyone involved in this is actually a Mike Morse owner who just has him on the disabled list, opening up a spot for his replacement.

LaRoche is... boring. He might be average, as he was in his better years. The most exciting fact about him might be that he's not his brother, Andy. He's off to a great start in 2012, but he's also the owner of a .259/.333/.455 line since 2009. Not bad, but not good, either. Basically, LaRochian. He'll be in a platoon once Morse is back, but that gives you six weeks of LaRoche. It's likely this fact is more curse than blessing, but maybe you'll get lucky.

Lance Lynn, RP/SP (42% owned, +25%): Lynn was very promising in his 34 innings in the majors in 2011, and his first start of 2012 was no different. He struck out eight hitters in 6-2/3 innings, and if he can keep an above-average strikeout rate as a starter, he'll have value in more than just NL-only formats. He has just 40 innings in his major-league career, so it's too early to say just what he'll be. The minor-league numbers were solid, though, so Lynn might be a guy to try out now in deep-league formats in case he turns out productive. He'll only start as long as Chris Carpenter is out, so take advantage while you can.


Ryan Sweeney, OF (9% owned, +6%): Sweeney might not play a ton once Carl Crawford comes back, but he's hitting early on for Boston, and they haven't even played at Fenway yet.


Joe Wieland, SP (5% owned, +2%): Wieland will start for the injured Dustin Moseley, but if he does well, there's a chance he'll stick. Given his minor-league numbers, that chance is good enough that you should grab him in NL-only.