We've reached the end of the first month of the season, and while it can still be a bit of a small sample size, there are still some interesting things in the players at the top of the leaderboard. The questions at this point though are whether this level of performance can be maintained, or is a precipitous drop off coming? Let's take a look at Yahoo's top 10 hitters for a standard 5x5 league. All numbers are through Wednesday's games, and the pace stats provided are purely over a 162 game season without any other adjustments.
Likely to Stay in the Top 10
#1 - Jose Altuve
Actual: .306, 25 R, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 10 SB
162 Game Pace: .306, 144 R, 46 HR, 98 RBI, 58 SB
Ok, let's get this out of the way first. Altuve is not going to keep this pace up. Period. But that doesn't mean that he can't finish the season as the most valuable player in fantasy. He's still going to provide elite production in batting average, runs, and stolen bases based on his history, and while he's not going to hit that many home runs, I can see him getting to 20 if it all breaks right for him. Hitting at the top of the Astros' order should give him the opportunity to score 110-120 runs as well.
#2 - Bryce Harper
Actual: .266, 18 R, 10 HR, 26 RBI, 5 SB
Pace: .266, 108 R, 60 HR, 156 RBI, 30 SB
Harper is running more this year than in previous seasons, and I can see him getting to 20 SB with relative ease before the end of the season. Logic would tell us that he's not going to hit 60 home runs, but based on how hot Harper can get at times, I wouldn't say for certain that it won't happen. This one's an easy one.
#3 - Anthony Rizzo
Actual: .260, 22 R, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB
Pace: .260, 132 R, 54 HR, 162 RBI, 12 SB
Rizzo has managed so far to increase his walk rate to 16%, reduce his strikeout rate to 13%, and has actually been a bit unlucky in terms of BABIP (.225). I don't foresee him getting past 50 HR, but 40 seems like a definite possibility, and given how good the Cubs' offense has been so far, there's no reason to think that the R/RBI totals aren't at least possible. He's running less than he did last year, but really, does that matter that instead of 17 steals he is on pace for 12?
#5 - Josh Donaldson
Actual: .282, 26 R, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 1 SB
Pace: .282, 145 R, 50 HR, 117 RBI, 6 SB
Donaldson is currently on pace to put up even more gaudy numbers than he did last year when he won the MVP (except for RBI, he's on pace to fall 6 short). I don't know if he gets to 50 home runs, but he did hit 41 last year and 41 doubles, and could get to 40 again without too much trouble.
#7 - Mookie Betts
Actual: .252, 21 R, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 6 SB
Pace: .252, 126 R, 24 HR, 102 RBI, 36 SB
The crazy part here is that one of Betts' best categories (batting average) is not helping him here yet, but that seems to be stemming from his .286 BABIP (previously he was in the .310-.330 range) and an increased strikeout rate (18%). I would be inclined to believe that the batting average will go up, with the power ending up around 20 rather than 24 HR.
#9 - Nolan Arenado
Actual: .311, 23 R, 11 HR, 25 RBI, 0 SB
Pace: .311, 138 R, 66 HR, 150 RBI, 0 SB
These sure look like video game numbers, even for a player who gets to play half his games at Coors. His home run pace should come back to earth some given that he's hitting almost 10% more flyballs this year (52% versus 43%) AND hitting more flyballs out (23% versus 18%), but a 50 HR season isn't out of the question. He's also walking a lot more (9%) and striking out at a career low (9%), so I'm inclined to believe the batting average can stay around .300. He's a top 5 player the rest of the way, and I think the top 3B as well.
#10 - Mike Trout
Actual: .317, 18 R, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB
Pace: .317, 104 R, 23 HR, 92 RBI, 23 SB
It's a strange thing to see a line that appears like it would be a slightly down year for a player with those numbers, yet here we are with Trout. I don't think his value has shifted in the slightest from the start of the year, but with the news this morning that Garrett Richards will need Tommy John surgery, I wonder how much Trout really gets pitched to as the season progresses. Even with that I still expect him to finish in the top 5 overall at the end of the year, with probably more home runs and less steals than the pace.
Unlikely to Stay in the Top 10, but Should Stay in the Top 50
#4 - Trevor Story
Actual: .255, 20 R, 10 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB
Pace: .255, 120 R, 60 HR, 126 RBI, 12 SB
Story has been a revelation so far this year, and it's fairly likely that if you're in first place in one of your leagues, he may be a very big reason why. However, with Story, there are some concerns. He's striking out in 35% of his at bats, and while his walk rate is high as well (10%), at some point that seems likely to haunt him. He added another home run on Thursday, and I think he can provide 30+ home runs this year, but with some substantial dropoff in the pace on his other counting stats.
#6 - Eugenio Suarez
Actual: .269, 16 R, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 4 SB
Pace: .269, 92 R, 34 HR, 104 RBI, 23 SB
Well, everyone raise their hands that thought this was coming. Suarez has been the #2 shortstop behind Story so far, and likely has both 3B and SS eligibility in a lot of formats. However, there's nothing in his minor league history to indicate that he can keep providing all these counting stats. He's posting a higher HR/FB rate than he has in the past, but I can still see him reaching 20 home runs at the end of the year.
#8 - Dexter Fowler
Actual: .348, 22 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 5 SB
Pace: .348, 132 R, 18 HR, 90 RBI, 30 SB
The decision to return to Chicago definitely seems to agree with Fowler, who has been excellent at the top of the Cubs' lineup. The batting average is bound to go down based on his career norms, as he has a .426 BABIP right now. Even if he settles in around .270-.280 for the rest of the year, he should still score a ton of runs and provide solid value in the other three counting categories.