Tale of the Tape: Sosa and Perez Pressing
It's too early in the season to make assumptions, but it's never too early to start asking questions. Right about now, the main question on my mind is: "Doesn't Mother Nature realize it's baseball season!?" Yeah, I know, she clearly doesn't care about our deflated fantasy stats.
Even with less than 10 games in the books, there are many revealing performances to note, so let's get right to it. If you have inquiries about a player that isn't covered, just shoot me an e-mail and I'll try to get to him next week, weather permitting.
Sammy Sosa, OF, TEX - His bat speed is respectable but his timing at the plate is awful right now. He's being caught far out in front of breaking balls and having trouble reaching outside pitches. The power resurgence is looking less likely as opposing pitchers exploit these flaws, knowing that Sosa is pressing and waiting for fastballs to smack out of the park.
Oliver Perez, SP, NYM - The weather was brutal, but that's no excuse for walking seven batters and hitting another. He went from commanding a backdoor slider and spotting his fastball inside for strikes against the Braves, to being a willy-nilly over-thrower, trying to blow everyone away to compensate when things went haywire against the Phillies.
Daniel Cabrera, SP, BAL - Don't read too much into his great start against Detroit, as he was granted a generous strike zone and still wasted too many pitches. With Cabrera, the problem of consistency not only applies to his command, but also to fielding his position and holding runners.
Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA - All hail to the King who has the stuff to dominate even on hitters' counts. Kevin Youkilis drew a four-pitch walk, which was one of the few blemishes in Hernandez' one-hitter against the Red Sox. It's amazing to see how easy he can get out of a jam with a strategically induced ground ball.
Rickie Weeks, 2B, MIL - In spite of offseason surgery, his wrists are doing just fine and his outstanding bat speed is more or less there. He's also flashing some extra strength early this season and making progress with pitch selection.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX - He added significant muscle in the offseason, primarily on his legs, and it's helped make a difference in his ability to pull the ball and drive it deeper. Expect about 25 home runs, and hopefully a better spot in the batting order.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, BOS - From the looks of it, hitters find it easier to rattle him when he's pitching out of the stretch. When he completes the full motion of his delivery, it features a stop-and-start mechanism that messes with the timing of hitters.
Adam Wainwright, SP, STL - He's commanding his excellent 12-to-6 curveball, changing speeds on his fastball between an 85-92 mph range, and working low in the zone. However, he's been behind in the count often in his two starts and will need to develop more consistency with his slider and changeup.
Alberto Callaspo, 2B, ARZ - His ridiculous plate coverage allows him to reach pitches out of strike zone and make solid contact almost effortlessly with each at-bat. He's not garnering much attention because of his lack of pop or speed, but he could rack up eligibility at four different positions by the midseason, which will assure some value in NL-only leagues.
Noah Lowry, SP, SF - While he's exhibiting some command of his curveball and changeup, the location of his fastball is the key to his success. So far, he isn't hitting the corners, missing with the fastball too low or too high in the zone, and it's ranging between 85 to 89 mph.
Henry Owens, RP, FLA - He's having trouble getting ahead in the count and controlling his splitter, but with solid command of his fastball, which reaches 95 mph, and the poise to work out of jams, he'll likely get first crack at the vacant closer spot for the Marlins.
Ryan Shealy, 1B, KC - He's been driving the ball to the deep outfield on his recent outs, so the power should follow soon enough. However, playing time is now a question with Ross Gload getting starts at first base.
Ervin Santana, SP, LAA - His command failed him right from the get-go during his start at Miller Park, which lends even more weight to the start-him-at-home, sit-him-on-the-road reputation he's developing. According to the Los Angeles Times, manager Mike Scioscia will approach Santana with the idea of extending his pregame warm-ups on the road into the top of the first inning, in order to simulate the timing he would have at home; going immediately from the bullpen to the mound.
Akinori Iwamura, 3B, TB - When I mentioned that he was bailing on pitches in last week's piece, I didn't mean it to sound like a knock on his overall value. It's just that many were expecting a power hitter, but Iwamura has surprised as more of a high-average singles hitter so far. In any case, his altered batting approach is working and his defensive range at third base has been nothing short of terrific.
Micah Owings, SP, ARZ - He's a quick worker and pounds the strike zone, mostly with 90 mph fastballs on the corners, while also throwing a tight slider and a decent changeup. He doesn't show much fear by challenging hitters, but since he doesn't have the kind of stuff to make hitters swing and miss, he'll likely run into a lot of trouble on a day when his control isn't precise.
Rick Vanden Hurk, SP, FLA - The Holland Hammer, as I like to call him, Vanden Hurk struck out five Brewers in a row to quiet notice. He features a fastball that can reach 94 mph with downward movement, along with a jaw-dropping curveball over the top at 74 mph. He's also got a good changeup that he mixes in. While he's very inexperienced to be pitching at this level and struggles with his control against lefties, I think he has a bright future; NL-only keeper leaguers should keep their eye on him.
Tom Herrera is a sports video logger and a fantasy sports analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. E-mail him with your questions and comments at Therrera@TalentedMrRoto.com.
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