Fantasy baseball points ranks: When should you ignore a player's slow start?

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. turned things around after a slow start. Who else is overcoming a bad first impression? Nick Turchiaro/Icon Sportswire

As the saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Certainly, this adage will get put to the test over the next few weeks as the recent spree of rookie call-ups has thrust several new names into fantasy's collective consciousness.

A quick perusal of the current list of most-added players showcases a bevy of these debuting neophytes: Austin Riley, Keston Hiura and Brendan Rodgers are all in the top five, with Nicky Lopez and Oscar Mercado also in the top-25 mix. This is not in the least bit surprising, as fantasy managers are always happy to empty out their FAAB wallets for "shiny new toys."

Sometimes, a slow start from a player -- say 11 games of a .146/.222/.171 slash -- can cause some nervous Nellies to jump ship, which would have been a huge shame if those who had won their league's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lottery didn't keep him around for the .370/.469/.852 that followed over his next eight games.

Of course, strong first impressions can also turn on a dime in the wrong direction. Just ask those fantasy managers who were crowing over their Carter Kieboom pickup after the shortstop hit a pair of home runs in his first three games. Unfortunately, with just two singles in his next 27 at-bats, he was sent back down to Triple-A.

Now, Kieboom should be back in Washington at some point in the future, but I'm pretty certain the excitement over that return -- rightly or wrongly so -- will be completely tamped down by the memory of his brief first impression.

However, it's not just for rookies where "first impressions" apply. Each season brings with it its own set of April prejudices where a player's reputation, in the form of a depressed stat line, gets locked after just a few weeks to the season. What do I mean? Well, let's take a look at a recent sampling from two players we'll call X and Y.

Player X hit .273 with 5 homers and 15 RBIs in a 25-game stretch that ended on May 17. Player Y hit .276 with 5 homers and 19 RBIs in a 25-game stretch that ended on May 19. In terms of fantasy production, there's practically nothing separating these two players over this period -- and yet, Player X is rostered in just 1.4 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues while Player Y is on rosters in 99.6 percent.

Now, I'm not saying this isn't justified, because for the course of the season, Player X (Chris Davis) has performed far worse than Player Y (J.D. Martinez). However, if not for the albatross of Davis' much-publicized hitless streak that ran from the end of last season through his first dozen games of this campaign, perhaps fantasy managers wouldn't be so quick to dismiss him.

Davis may not deserve to be rostered in every league, and his penchant for strikeouts certainly diminishes his value in the points-league format. Still, it doesn't make sense to dismiss him out of hand just by looking at the .179/.267/.333 for the season. After all, take away both the hitless start and this weekend's series against Cleveland's K-squad and he's at .279/.355/.544. That's going to help some fantasy teams, especially if you play the matchups right.

You need to look a bit deeper when perusing the waiver wire because there may be some players who are actually doing far better than the numbers might indicate -- if only because a bad first impression still lingers. Here are just a few examples to consider for deeper leagues:

  • Overall, he's hitting just .231. However, Gerardo Parra hit .198/.278/.267 through May 1 for the Giants. Then he was traded to Washington, where he has gone .364/.4167/.727 since the deal.

  • Don't let his .250 batting average fool you. Marwin Gonzalez was batting .167/.244/.256 at the end of April. In his past 16 games, he's at .355/.429/.500.

  • Joe Panik started the season just 5-for-26 and currently sits at .252 for the season. That disguises the fact he's been slashing .339/.444/.475 over his past 16 games.

  • It's easy to see why you might dismiss a Kole Calhoun and his .236/.318/.484 for the season. However, for the month of May, he's picked it up big time to the tune of .327/.397/.592.

Top 300 rest-of-season rankings

The following list reflects AJ's rankings for points leagues, going forward. Note that this is different from a ranking of how each player has played thus far in 2019. For a ranking of performance to-date, check out the ESPN Player Rater.