It's easy to panic early on in the year, whether you're talking about your favorite team in real life, or your fantasy club that was swept in the first week of head-to-head play. But you have to remember, we're just a few games into the season. And while one game can be the difference at year's end, you don't realize that until you've gone through the season and actually piled up the wins, losses, and stats.
How soon can you legitimately panic? It depends on the statistic. Russell Carlton did the legwork for this a few years back, and thanks to Steve Slowinski at DRays Bay, that work is available for us to peruse:
- 50 PA: Swing%
- 100 PA: Contact Rate
- 150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitches/PA
- 200 PA: Walk Rate, Ground Ball Rate, GB/FB
- 250 PA: Fly Ball Rate
- 300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/FB
- 500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS, 1B Rate, Popup Rate
- 550 PA: ISO
- 150 BF - K/PA, grounder rate, line drive rate
- 200 BF - flyball rate, GB/FB
- 500 BF - K/BB, pop up rate
- 550 BF - BB/PA
Those aren't all fantasy stats, but a lot of that is what goes into the production of those fantasy categories. Wonder if a hitter has actually cut down the strikes? You need 10 times the plate appearances everyone picked up this weekend before we know it's a thing. Want to know if someone might have picked up legitimate power? You're going to have to wait until 2013 for that one, as it'll take 550 plate appearances for ISO to stabilize.
These are general rates, so you can certainly take chances on players before May or August if they get off to a hot start. But before you get too excited (or depressed) about how your players and team start out the year, remember to check to see how believable it is.