The first few days of the baseball season can be an extremely funny time. Some guys struggle initially and we sort of shrug it off, reminding ourselves that the season is a 162-game marathon. However, when a guy explodes out of the gate, he's all of a sudden the second coming of Babe Ruth.
Those are the times when we need to slap ourselves with a dead fish.
For those of us that have forgotten the past, let me remind you of a guy named Chris Shelton. Shelton, a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, hit 8 home runs in the team's first 13 games of the 2006 season. That rush resulted in Shelton being a quick addition to fantasy teams everywhere. However, Shelton quickly trailed off from there, hitting just 7 more during the remainder of the season, and was sent down to the Minor Leagues for the month of August.
Shelton would play just 50 more games in the Major Leagues and hit just 2 more home runs after the 2006 season. At 32-years-old, he is no longer in professional baseball.
What was significant about the 2006 season for Shelton is that it over-shadowed another player who was having an equally impressive April. While Shelton finished April with 10 home runs, 20 RBI, and a growing notoriety, this other player hit 14 home runs and drove in 38 runs during the month.
That player was Albert Pujols.
The point being, is that we put an awful lot of stock into what those players have accomplished in such a short sample size. And right now, as I am typing this, there are people clambering to find ways of adding Chris Davis and Michael Morse to their respective fantasy line-ups.
Chris Davis, a 27-year-old first baseman, spent three seasons in Texas, unable to crack Texas's everyday line-up and eventually being cast off in a trade with Baltimore. Davis became an intergral part of Baltimore's run to the playoffs in 2012, hitting .270 with a career-high 33 home runs and 85 RBI for the Orioles.
Davis has come out of the gate strongly, swatting 3 home runs and driving in 11 in Baltimore's first three games of the season. That mark includes a ridiculous 2.420 OPS in that one series on the season.
Another player jumping the shark early on is Michael Morse of the Seattle Mariners.
Morse was a big pick-up for the Mariners this winter, coming over in a trade with the Washington Nationals, who no longer had room for him after picking up Denard Span and resigning Adam LaRoche. The 31-year-old Morse is no stranger to Seattle, having started his career there, but it took leaving town in order for him to find his potential and blossoming into a 30+ home run hitter in Washington during the 2011 season.
Morse has streaked to begin the season as well, taking comfort while swinging toward the recently brought-in walls of Safeco Field. His four home runs lead Major League Baseball at this early point of the season, putting him on pace for 162 on the season.
Certainly, Morse is taking advantage of the move to a more hitter friendly park and his hot start is a good sign for Mariners fans looking for offense from a team that has been dreadful at it over the years. Orioles fans are equally happy with Davis continuing where he left off a season ago, lending credence to the hope that 2012 was not a fluke.
Still, expectations need to be tempered. Quick starts are just as bad at projecting value as a slow start, especially given the small sample size. Buying into or selling based on false value is a good way to kill one's hopes of having any sort of successful fantasy baseball season whatsoever.
A marathoner wins through patience and prudent action when the need arises. Championships are won by finding adequate bargains and taking low-cost risks. Monitor, but don't plunge into unrealistic paces by players who could not possibly keep them up.
Still, if you buy into paces, I'd be more than happy to flip either of these blossoming (insert snicker here) sluggers for your slow-starting Robinson Cano, Mike Trout, or any other somewhat useful piece of your line-up.
It will be well worth my time when Morse and Davis are hanging drywall with Chris Shelton a few years from now.