Friday, April 06, 2012

The Tuffy Rhodes Effect

Remember Tuffy Rhodes?

Rhodes's career line is quite forgettable, and he's the kind of player you'd easily forget...if not for the three home runs he hit on Opening Day in 1994.

He only went for $14 in my N.L.-only league at the time, but that didn't stop other leagues for paying prices anywhere from the mid $20s to the low $30s for Rhodes. While Rhodes went on to have a solid April, he only hit eight home runs that year...and 13 in his big league career. If you paid a premium for Rhodes based on one game, you made a big mistake.

Psychologically, we can't help overpaying or discounting players for great or bad performances during the first week of the season. We're all hungry for baseball where the games count and overreactions to a small handful of games sometimes can't be helped.

Nevertheless, what we see in the early games can matter and should be taken into account with our bids. Below are my impressions of a few players and my recommendation of whether or not you should change your price for that player.

Johan Santana. He looked better yesterday than I thought he would. While his velocity was down in the high 80s, the 10 MPH differential between his fastball and change remained...and the Braves were fooled for the most part. He's a health risk so I wouldn't go crazy, but feel free to push your bid up $2-4.

Jose Valverde. He had a poor game yesterday. But he also has a fat contract and the confidence of his manager. If you had Valverde priced like an elite closer based on his consecutive games streak in 2011, shame on you. But if you had him somewhere in the second tier, leave him there. He'll be fine, but it's highly unlikely he puts up the pretty ERA/WHIP he did last year.

Erik Bedard. Like Santana, Bedard looked great. Unlike Santana, Bedard has a long history of getting hurt. Could Bedard defy the odds and start 30+ games this year? If so, it will be the first time in his career since 2006 - and the second time overall - he pulls it off. Don't push your price up.

Ian Desmond. Desmond fits the classic case of where an owner might push up a bid based on one strong game. I wouldn't do it. Desmond's defense doesn't impact us but I know that he gives the Nationals - and Davey Johnson in particular - fits with his erratic play out there. Desmond is somewhat unlikely to get benched, but he will lose some PT now and again. Keep his price tag in the mid to high teens.

Jack Hannahan. This is an easy one. Hannahan is a fringe starter who is keeping the position warm for prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. Yet I suspect that more than a few A.L.-only guys are going to pay $8-10 for Hannahan because he hit a homer yesterday. Hannahan is a $3-4 guy at best even in A.L.-only. He might earn more than that, but you want profit from guys like this, not par.

Oh, and Hannahan homered on Opening Day last year too...and wound up earning $7 in 320 AB.

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