How a baseball player opens the season is less important than how he continues it. Making roster changes too early is often the fantasy owner’s greatest vice — but there are player trends worth watching. Here are six of them:
Kelly Johnson, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks
An 8-for-23 (.348) start with three homers makes it seem as if Johnson has recaptured his mojo after a dire 2009 campaign in which he hit .224. He batted .282 with an average of 14 homers and 10 steals from 2007-08, so talent isn’t a question for the 28-year-old. A friendly hitter’s home park and lower expectations hint at a revival.
Scott Podsednik, OF, Kansas City Royals
Age hasn’t slowed Podsednik, who at 34 already has six steals and a pair of four-hit games that have contributed to a 14-for-31 (.452) start. With no backup threatening his playing time, a second straight .300/30-steal season could be in store. His lack of name recognition and presence on a bad team mean Podsednik could be overlooked by other owners.
Matt Garza, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
This could be the year the 26-year-old Garza turns the corner to become an elite starter. The right-hander’s commanding 14-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 innings, with a 1.13 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a pair of wins in his first two starts, fills his fantasy owners with hope that he can be dominant this year.
Jhonny Peralta, OF, Florida Marlins
Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, who rode a .372 second-half batting average to finish at .321, can hardly buy a hit in 2010. His 5-for-38 (.132) start is atrocious for a leadoff batter, but he could just be a slow starter. He hit .212 through his first 21 games last year. Stay patient with the left-handed hitter, but don’t hang on too long.
Jake Peavy, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Struggles abound for Peavy, whose astronomical 8.44 ERA and 1.88 WHIP show that the 28-year-old is a mess. He’s thrown a first-pitch strike to just 32 of the 55 batters he’s faced (58 percent), which helps explain his lowly 7-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 102⁄3 innings. Remember that he owes much of his career success to former home field PETCO Park in San Diego, where he owns a 2.74 career ERA.
Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cleveland Indians
Peralta’s 4-for-23 (.174) mark does nothing for owners discouraged by last year’s .254 average. But this is par for the course for the 27-year-old, whose .220 career average in April is 20 points worse than his next lowest month (.240 in September/October). His No. 5 spot in a good top half of the Indians batting order leaves him in prime position to collect 80-plus RBIs for the third straight season.
Note: Statistics accurate through Tuesday's games.