Most fantasy baseball experts (present company included) preach patience in April. This is a sound and prudent approach for most situations. However, any experienced owner can tell you that sometimes, early struggles continue well into the season. Each year, there are a handful of well-regarded, established fantasy contributors who simply don’t perform up to expectations for a variety of reasons. Today, we’ll look at a few of 2016’s early disappointment and try to determine who will rebound – and who won’t.
A top prospect who didn’t break out until his age-27 season, Gomez averaged 22 home runs and 37 stolen bases from 2012-14. Last season, however, he battled myriad injuries and never got going, finishing with just 12 homers and 17 steals. Many owners saw him as an excellent buy-low opportunity, but he hasn’t rewarded their faith so far. Gomez has yet to go deep this year and is just 2-for-4 on stolen base attempts. Never an especially patient hitter, Gomez has just two walks against 20 strikeouts through his first 19 games. He’s also making weaker contact and hitting more grounders than ever before. SELL
Abreu established himself immediately after defecting from Cuba, finishing in the top five among first baseman in four of the five standard fantasy categories (all but stolen bases) during his first two years in the majors. The third time hasn’t been the charm to this point, however, as Abreu is currently hitting well below the Mendoza line and has only three home runs through 20 games. There haven’t really been any drastic changes to his profile or approach, which suggests he’s simply suffering from poor luck. Indeed, his .192 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is lower than all but nine qualified hitters so far, and over 150 points below his career .344 mark coming into the year. BUY/HOLD
For most of the past decade, Tulowitzki was the unquestioned No. 1 fantasy option at shortstop when healthy. Therein lay the rub, as he’s played more than 130 games just three times in his career. True to form, Tulowitzki missed 34 games last year. But even when he was healthy, the veteran displayed some troubling trends. His walk and strikeout rates both moved in the wrong direction, and he drove the ball with less authority than usual. Scouts noted that his lower half explosiveness appeared noticeably diminished, and he appeared to struggle catching up to fastballs, a pitch he typically feasted on. Leaving Coors Field after a midseason trade to the Blue Jays may have played a role, but it’s possible that all those injuries are finally taking a toll on the 31-year-old. His lackluster start hasn’t allayed that concern, and if Tulo isn’t raking, the inevitable injury issues make it tough to justify relying on him. SELL