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Statistics can mislead

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's always fun to look at the early season statistics and extrapolate for an entire 162-game schedule.

Nelson Cruz will hit 162 home runs, breaking Barry Bonds' single season home run record in mid-June.

Baltimore's light-hitting second baseman Brian Roberts will knock in 324 runs.

Arizona third baseman Willie Bloomquist will steal 162 bases without getting caught.

And Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Broxton and Joel Hanrahan will all save 121 games.

Of course, none of the above items will happen.

What I'm trying to show you is that when you have a such a small sample size, statistics can look extremely good or bad. Which can lead to dramatically overvaluing or undervaluing your players and your lineup.

In the case of Cruz, if Albert Pujols' owner offered the future Hall-of-Fame first baseman to you in a straight up deal you would immediately make the trade despite the fact that Prince Albert is hitting a measly .125 through the first four games and grounded into a league-leading four double plays.

Statistics can be entirely misleading.

After four games of the 2010 season, Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco had a batting average of .579, an OPS of 1.466, had scored seven runs and knocked in eight. An owner in one of my leagues proclaimed Polanco to be his new favorite player.

Yet over the entire 162-game schedule, Polanco returned to being Polanco which meant a season-long OPS of .726, a .298 batting average and just 44 more RBIs over the final 158 games.

For the majority of those players putting up numbers at the extreme ends of the spectrum, they will quickly return to their "normal" self.

Which means, you the fantasy player, should not get overly excited about Carlos Quentin's first three games (.545 batting average, 1.674 OPS), nor get overly depressed because Troy Tulowitzki is batting .000.

In the case of "Tulo" he's got a history of slow starts. Just be patient.

On the other hand, it doesn't mean that you should completely ignore a hitter or pitcher's fast start.

Fantasy owners who jumped on free agent Kelly Johnson in the first weeks of last season (2010 ADP 324) were rewarded with a nine-homer, 18-RBI, 1.154 OPS April.

Those same owners were probably one step ahead of the rest when Jose Bautista exploded in May with 12 home runs and 25 RBIs en route to a league-leading 54 home runs and 124 RBIs.

The trick is to know when a player's performance, great or horrible, is temporary and when it is a long-term change in his performance level.

Who's Hot (through April 4th)
Player Team AB R H HR RBI SB AVE OPS
Nelson Cruz TEX 14 5 6 4 4 0 0.429 1.786
Carlos Quentin CWS 11 3 6 1 7 0 0.545 1.674
Jose Bautista TOT 11 5 5 2 2 0 0.455 1.600
Ian Kinsler TEX 13 6 4 3 3 1 0.308 1.577
Drew Stubbs CIN 11 4 5 1 3 1 0.455 1.538
Mark Teixeira NYY 14 5 5 3 7 0 0.357 1.500
Who's Not
Ian Desmond WAS 13 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Johnny Damon TB 8 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Marco Scutaro BOS 8 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Alex Rios CWS 12 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.143
Evan Longoria TB 5 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.167
Troy Tulowitzki COL 8 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.200


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

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