Fantasy Baseball 2018: 3 Hot starters to pick up

Don’t let the fear of not wanting to overrate a small sample prevent you from adding these hot starters.

The fantasy baseball season is just a few days old but there are already a few players starting out hot. Though, as Bill said in his recent piece, the season is still in its infancy. These players could come down from their high at some point but, on the positive side, they may not. If you are looking for a quick boost to your team, there are plenty of players available to add.

Hanley Ramirez was ridiculed when he proclaimed that he would steal 30 bases this season, but only two players (Lorenzo Cain and Kevin Pillar) have swiped more bags than the veteran so far.

There is a likelihood that Ramirez will fail to reach double-digit swipes, but the fact that he had the desire, in this early part of the season, to try to take the base (and was still capable of hustling down to second) is encouraging.

Ramirez has two 50-plus stolen base seasons to his name back in his early 20s, but the 34-year-old only stole one base in all of last season.

Although there is an obvious squeeze in Boston with Mitch Moreland and new signing J.D. Martinez vying with Ramirez for playing time, it is noticeable that only Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have had more plate appearances than Ramirez, who has started four out of Boston’s first five games.

Check to see if he is a free agent in your league. Currently, Ramirez is available in 60% of ESPN league, 40% of Yahoo and 30% of CBS leagues.

In deeper leagues, the hottest guy you can pick up is Diamondbacks’ Nick Ahmed. The shortstop has a 1.350 OPS over his first four games with a home run, three doubles, two walks and league-leading seven RBI.

The 28-year-old has never looked powerful, but despite the humidor-reduced offense, Ahmed is currently the Diamondbacks’ best hitter.

He is only owned in 10% of ESPN leagues, but while Ahmed is swinging a hot bat, he will continue to see the majority of playing time at shortstop.

Ahmed only has a .627 OPS in the majors over the last three seasons, so it is too early to predict a breakout, but he is certainly a player you will want to monitor in shallow leagues and pick up in deeper formats.

Mitch Haniger, the Mariners’ right fielder, is one of the most added players over the first few days of the season, thanks to five hits in eight at-bats, of which two went for home runs and another for a double.

The 27-year-old was on pace for a 27-homer, .850 OPS season last year before injury hit. The Mariners have a stacked lineup ahead of Haniger, so he will continue to get plenty of RBI opportunities.

Although his 2.227 OPS is completely unsustainable, he should be a must-own player in all formats, yet is available in 40% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, and 25% of CBS leagues.

You can read more about Haniger in Brad Kelly‘s recent article.

Another player off to a hot start is one of my personal favorites, shortstop Zack Cozart. While he has not taken a walk or stolen a base, he is hitting .333 with five extra-base hits from the top of the Angels’ lineup. He is expected to be the Angels’ everyday third baseman but already has five appearances at second base, so Cozart should add 2B-eligibility by the time Ian Kinsler returns from the DL.

Before we reach May, the 32-year-old should have triple position-eligibility to go with the power that made him a top-five shortstop last season.

Although owned in 90% of leagues and unlikely to be available on waivers, another player off to a hot start is Pirates’ Gregory Polanco. After a disappointing 2017, the outfielder dropped in drafts this year, but the early signs are encouraging. The 26-year-old is hitting .383 with one home run and impressively has walked six times.

If he can improve on last season’s .305 OBP with 6% walk-rate, we might finally get to see the production that Polcano has promised since his days in the minors.