Slow Starters

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In yesterday's piece, we took a look at some of the fantasy hitters who usually start off the season in blazing fashion. Today, we will investigate the other side of the coin - those you usually get off to agonizingly slow starts.

A well-known resident on this list is New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Over his eight-year career, Teixeira has an April batting average of just .235 and a slugging percentage of .411. From May until the end of the season, his career numbers show a .293 batting average and a slugging percentage of .556.

Translated, it means if you draft Teixeira with your second-round pick, you are not going to get much out of him in the first 20 games, but after that he'll be a star.

But we all knew that already because it gets mentioned every spring by announcer after announcer "ad nauseam."

Below are some players who don't get as much media attention as "Tex" but historically get off to similar slow starts. If you select them on Draft Day, know that you will have to show patience. If that's not one of your better qualities, perhaps you should use a different strategy.

Fantasy owners who draft Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham (ADP 120) should be prepared for a tough start. A borderline fantasy starter, Beckham has shown over his first two seasons that he doesn't get hot until the weather does. His pre-All-Star statistics show a batting average of .233 and a slugging percentage of .338. After the break, he becomes a solid fantasy option with a batting average of .285, slugging of .487 and an OPS of .851. As a reference, Chone Figgins has a career slugging percentage of .376 and Dustin Pedroia has a career slugging percentage of .460

Translation - Beckham starts out the year hitting like Figgins and finishes like Pedroia.

A "two-headed strategy," using another second baseman for the first three months and then installing Beckham into the lineup when he heats up, could be the perfect plan instead of spending big bucks on Robinson Cano, high-risk Chase Utley or Pedroia.

If you look up "slow starter" in the dictionary, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard's name will likely appear in bold letters. His first half numbers are; .263 batting average, .531 slugging and .875 OPS while second half stats are a much more palatable .295/.616/1.017. Now toss into the mix that he won't have Jayson Werth protecting him in the lineup and most pitchers should be inclined to pitch around the "big guy" until the Phillies No.5 hitter proves his "worth."

I predict a very slow start for Howard (ADP 23).

While I am expecting a big season from Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (ranked fifth in the TSN Outfielder Rankings) he's not quick out of the gate. His best months, whether looking at batting average, slugging percentage or OPS are August, September and October.

Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche is another slow starter. His career numbers for April are .211/.396/.701 but after the mid-summer classic LaRoche almost always finds his batting stroke as indicated by career statistics of .295/.535/.889.

And if you spend a high draft choice or big dollars on Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (ADP 5), prepare to have your patience tested. He is a .263 hitter before the All-Star break and a .314 afterwards with corresponding power increases (pre-All-Star OPS .784, post-All-Star OPS .923).

So remember, for all of the players listed below, patience is required.

Slow Starters - by Career Slugging Statistics
PlayerTeam1st Half Slug2nd Half SlugDifference2011 ADP
Grodon BeckhamCWS0.3380.487-0.149120
Troy TulowitzkiCOL0.4450.541-0.0965
Adam LaRocheWAS0.4490.535-0.086161
Ryan HowardPHI0.5310.616-0.08523
Mike AvilesKC0.3810.460-0.079210
Mark TeixeiraNYY0.5080.569-0.06118
Adrian BeltreTEX0.4350.492-0.05737
Stephen DrewARI0.4200.475-0.055105
Shin-Soo ChooCLE0.4600.512-0.05236
Chris YoungARI0.4180.470-0.05285


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

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