MLB fantasy roundtable: History says Teixeira due for rebound soon
Mark Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter, with a .423 slugging percentage in April
Jose Bautista's BABIP this year is .172, second-worst in the majors but should rise
Dodgers' Elian Herrera and Orioles' Xavier Avery good sources of cheap speed
Each week of the baseball, a committee of SI.com fantasy experts will meet at pitching mound and offer their insights into the most intriguing questions facing fantasy players.
1. Mark Teixeira has raised the ire of many Yankees fans with his slow start. Should his fantasy owners be concerned?
Will Carroll: If Yankees fans don't know Teixeira is a slow starter, well, are they really Yankees fans? Teixeira will heat up as the weather does, and Yankees fans can go back to pining for the days of Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez between beers.
Eric Mack: Big Tex start slow? Never! Of course, Big Tex is off to a slow start. He tends to be second-half guy. You should have known that drafting him, or trading for him early. If you want to worry about why he hasn't hit .300 since 2008, sure, but he is going to be fine to the tune of 30-100. You likely have bigger problems on your roster than Teixeira right now.
David Sabino: Yankees fans need to calm down. Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter with a career slugging percentage of .423 in April. From May through July it rises to the .530s and from August on he slugs nearly .570. Tex showed signs of breaking his prolonged slump Monday night with a home run and a double against his hometown Orioles. As the weather warms up, so will he. In fact, he's one of the best buy-low candidates out there because a barrage of home runs and RBIs is about to commence.
2. Jose Bautista also has had a slow start to the season but saw a bit of a rebound last week. Will it continue or has he become the new Adam Dunn?
Carroll: I thought Albert Pujols was the new Dunn. And did we ever figure out what changed with Dunn? The hidden adjustments in the game are still hidden. We try to enforce patterns on things that are bursty, inherently small and often utterly random. As soon as someone writes that homers don't come in bursts, Josh Hamilton has a week for the record books. Bautista's ebbs and flows are just watched more closely than others.
Mack: More disconcerting than Bautista's start is the decline he had in the second-half of last season. He went just .254-12-38-32. That is not a complete disaster, but those are not the kind of numbers you want to see out of a player getting picked in Round 1. Bautista was a candidate to go bust and has to some extent, but we still have to figure he is going to get hot and stay hot for awhile. Sluggers do 50 percent of their damage in 25 percent of the season. We need to keep that in mind.
Sabino: While they both have low batting averages and walk a lot, the way Joey Bats and Dunn get there is totally different. Dunn already has struck out a major league-high 53 times this season, Bautista, just 22 times. What's been plaguing the two-time reigning home run champ is purely bad luck. He's making contact but too many of the balls he hits are being caught. A career .275 hitter on balls in play, Bautista's BABIP this year is .172, second-worst in the majors behind Eric Hosmer's .165. The adage says that baseball is a game of averages, and this, too, will average out. Look for a few more bloops to fall, a few more line drives to avoid fielders and he'll get back on track.
3. Speed is never easy to find once the season has started. Any cheap options owners should target?
Carroll: No. There's almost no speed out there that's unexpected. You have to reach for a guy like Darin Mastroianni, who had 10 steals in AAA before the Twins called him up, or hope that Tony Campana sticks with the Cubs. They're reaches to be sure and probably not worth the moves.
Mack: Cameron Maybin might not rate cheap on the fantasy scale in rotisserie leagues, but he is hitting just .217 and is a great buy-low candidate. This is a talent that showed us plenty in the second half last season, so we should be expecting him to do some damage in fantasy as this season wears on. His steals are his best asset. If Peter Bourjos ever starts getting on base, he can swipe second a lot for you, while Campana, Cliff Pennington and Maicer Izturis might be available in mixed leagues.
Sabino: The two latest speed possibilities are Elian Herrera, who was brought up to stop the bleeding in the Dodgers lineup with Juan Uribe and Matt Kemp hitting the disabled list, and Xavier Avery, a speedster with newfound power for the Orioles in the outfield. Herrera has stolen at least 30 bases in each of his last four minor league seasons and can play second, short, third and all three outfield spots. Avery has a chance to stick permanently at the top of an Orioles lineup in need of a catalyst. Both are highly recommended in single-league formats while mixed-leaguers should act according to their needs.
4. Carlos Zambrano is off to one of the best starts of his career. Are you buying in for the rest of the season?
Carroll: I like the team, so, yeah, I'm buying in. Zambrano had an incredible workload in his first few years, one that broke Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, so something of a down phase wasn't unexpected. While we were all paying attention to the trail of broken coolers and tantrums, he got a bit of rest. Ozzie Guillen might be the crazy pitcher whisperer or something, but he does have a track record of taking guys others don't want and getting them to buy in to his plan.
Mack: This really doesn't surprise me. My Tout Wars sleeper actually is just 1-2, so it isn't all good for him, numbers-wise. He has only had one bad season in his career, 2011, so his start these first six weeks are more a function of the Zambrano we have come to know before the Cubs drama and stigma sunk him. Big Z won't sustain a sub-2.00 ERA and a WHIP around 1.000, but he can win 15 games, post a 3.50 ERA, 1.300 WHIP and strike out 175 batters. That is a top 30 fantasy starter.
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