Underperforming in April

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Having played 25-or-more games this season, it's time to look at who is performing above expectations and in this particular fantasy piece, who has yet to contribute enough production based on their draft position.

In other words, the consensus No.2 overall pick, Hanley Ramirez (1 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB, 0.583 OPS), has produced at a similar level to Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta (1 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB, 0.712 OPS).

However, Peralta, with an ADP of 274 is not a disappointment, he's just not much of a fantasy factor, while Ramirez owners are regretting their selection at this time.

Ramirez is not alone at underperforming in the season's first month. We'll go position-by-position and evaluate some of the underachievers and your options.

Catcher

Joe Mauer - Over the past few seasons Mauer has become one of the most overrated fantasy players in baseball. Sure, he hits for a high average, but except for 2009 when he hit 28 HRs, what else does he bring to the table worthy of such a high draft position? He was the 13th player off the board in 2010 and No.28 this season. You can get the same OPS range (over 0.800) and more home runs from Victor Martinez, Buster Posey, John Buck, Jorge Posada, Geovany Soto and Brian McCann for a lesser price.

At this point, with Mauer on the DL, you will have to wait until he returns before you can trade him for a value equal to his draft position. There is no timetable for his return as of this moment.

First Base

Justin Morneau - Despite many offseason red flags, fantasy owners made Morneau (ADP 54) a fifth-round selection because he was having a great 2010 before the July concussion ended his season. Morneau got little work in spring training and is batting just .225 with one homer and nine RBIs and an OPS of 0.625. Most fantasy owners want nothing to do with him, but the Twins first baseman did hit his first home run of the season on Sunday.

If you don't own him, now would be the perfect time to "steal" him from his unhappy owner for a dirt-cheap price. If you own him, resist the temptation to accept the low offer as things can only go in one direction.

Second Base

Chase Utley - Utley isn't "underperforming," - he hasn't played a single game yet this season.

That doesn't mean you should ignore the Phillies second baseman. Reports have him back by the end of the month and if you have room, trading for him while his value is at its lowest point could be rewarding come summer and fall. His owner likely spent a fifth-round pick on him (ADP 49) but you might be able to get him for a hot-hitting free agent pickup or late-round selection as he could need immediate help versus the hope of future contributions from Utley.

Shortstop

Hanley Ramirez - As we said in the opening paragraphs, Ramirez has been one of the biggest disappointments of 2011. However, he does have a lifetime batting average of .310, a lifetime OPS of 0.896 and he doesn't have any serious injuries. Things can only get better. Keep him in your lineup.

Third Base

Pedro Alvarez - Sure, Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman have disappointed fantasy owners because of their injuries and lengthy time on the DL, but more concerning is Alvarez (ADP 85) who has been healthy, but not hitting. Off a solid rookie season in which he hit 16 HR in 347 at-bats, Alvarez was expected to provide power to the Pirates lineup which struggled to score runs. Despite hot starts from Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh is scoring even less than in 2010 (3.54 vs. 3.62) and Alvarez is a primary cause.

I believe Alvarez will turn it around this season, and should be kept on the roster, though not started until he begins to hit the ball again.

Outfield

Josh Hamilton - Hamilton (ADP 20) was off to a solid start (.333 batting average) before his ill-fated dash to the plate against the Detroit Tigers cost him six-to-eight weeks.

If you drafted the injury-prone Hamilton, you obviously also selected an additional outfielder for just this occasion...didn't you? Because you were smart enough to plan ahead, keep Hamilton firmly on your bench and resist any trade offers which might come your way for the 2010 AL MVP.

Carl Crawford - Crawford (ADP 11) looks completely lost out there in the batter's box, batting .168 with an OPS hovering around 0.453. He's had some mediocre seasons before over his first nine years in the majors, but nothing like this, so a turnaround is likely.

Don't be tempted by below-value offers and wait out this slump.

Carlos Gonzalez - Gonzalez (ADP 8) doesn't have the track record that Hamilton and Crawford have, so it's scary to think that you invested such a high choice on a guy with just 1200+ at-bats in the majors. To date he's batting just .232 with one home run, 14 RBIs and an OPS of 0.602.

If you investigate further, you will find that "Car-Go" is most definitely a second-half hitter. He has a pre-All Star break career batting average of .278 with an OPS of 0.796 but those numbers shoot up to .310 and 0.923, respectively, after the "summer classic." When the warm weather arrives, so will Gonzalez.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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