Ranting With a Friend About Slumping Stars

I got a call from a buddy of mine last night.  We are in two leagues together, one of which is the FB365 League.  It was one of those, “I just need someone to talk to” type of calls, but it wasn’t about a personal problem or relationship problem, it was about his slumping fantasy teams and the star players that continue to let him down.

Our two teams currently sit 10 and 11 out of 12 in the FB365 League.  His roster features some struggling stars:

Brian McCann, 250 AVG
Jose Lopez, .238 AVG
Alexei Ramirez, .212 AVG 
Shane Victorino, .228 AVG
Grady Sizemore, .191 AVG
Trevor Hoffman, 13.50 ERA, 3 SV, 4 SO
John Lackey, 5.09 ERA, 1.65 WHIP
My team isn’t having much luck either.  First of all I have Jose Reyes, Lance Berkman and Aaron Hill, all  of which missed time already.  I had to replace Berkman with a combination of Todd Helton and Luke Scott.  Hill was even harder to replace as my only option was a slumping Ian Desmond.  Reyes I knew would miss time.  Brad Hawpe, who was off to a good start, just hit the DL.  My other slumping stars include:
Alex Rodriguez, .274 AVG, 2 HR
Aramis Ramirez, .150 AVG
Curtis Granderson, .231 AVG, 2 HR,
Carlos Quentin, .161 AVG, 3 HR
Josh Beckett, 7.22 ERA, 1.74 WHIP
The big question is: What do you do?  What CAN you do?
Well, you just can’t bench guys like A-Rod or A-Ram.  For starters there is nothing available on the wire worth wile and then there is the fact that I didn’t draft A-Rod and A-Ram to sit on my bench.  You just have to believe that things will turn around soon and that these early season slumps are just being magnified because it’s so early.  Also because it (likely) has adversely affected you team’s position in the standings.
Can things turn around for this group?  Let’s look at these slumps using BABIP for the hitters, FIP, BABIP against and K/BB for pitchers. 
Brian McCann .240 BABIP
His line drives are down, but track record suggests not for long.
Jose Lopez .268 BABIP
Lopez was drafted more for power than AVG and his HR/FB rate is extremely low right now.
Alexei Ramirez .241 BABIP
No walks on the year (NONE!). He started last season slow as well.
Shane Victorino .232 BABIP
Extremely low, but plate discipline needs to improve.
Grady Sizemore .245 BABIP
A low BABIP despite a Line drive % of 20.8% and he’s pressing because of it (swinging at more bad pitches than he usually does).
Alex Rodriguez .305 BABIP
This is more about the power than AVG and an 8% HR/FB rate is extremely low.
Aramis Ramirez .164 BABIP
He’s pressing big time, swinging at too many bad pitches and striking out way more than he usually does.  His track record says things will turn around before long.
Curtis Granderson .265 BABIP
A 20.6% LD% indicates that Granderson may be a bit unlucky early on. 
Carlos Quentin .151 BABIP
Quentin also has an insanely low 8% LD%.  Even Quentin, a low contact hitter, will improve on such a low rate.
Trevor Hoffman 10.95 FIP, .327 BABIP against
Hoffman made me look bad for not endorsing him in the preseason, but turns out I was a year early. He’s a fly ball pitcher that hasn’t held consistent strikeout rates throughout his career. A 70% fly ball rate is sure to regress, but I’d still be worries if I were an owner of this 42-year-old closer.
(Ryan Doumit goes yard for the second straight time off of Hoffman as I write this)
John Lackey 4.56 FIP, .344 BABIP against
His FIP is not far off from his 5.09 ERA and his K/BB numbers are a bit worrisome.  Lackey has been in a slight decline over the past few seasons, so it would not surprise me one bit to see that ERA end up over 4.00.
Josh Beckett 4.86 FIP, .352 BABIP against
That’s a 2.36 runs per nine differential between Beckett’s ERA and FIP.  Still, his strikeouts are down, walks up and he has allowed four home runs already.  It’s early and Beckett had some issues last April too.  As a matter of fact, he posted a 7.22 ERA in April last season.  The BABIP will regress, but the strikeouts will need to improve.
In contrast, the team in first place is currently running out some insanely hot bats:
Ian Stewart, .310 AVG, .333 BABIP, though he has cut down on the K’s and hit line drives left and right.
Placido Polancio, .321 AVG, .319 BABIP
Ryan Theriot, .330 AVG, .392 BABIP
Ty Wigginton, .327 AVG, 6 HR, 35.3% HR/FB%
Franklin Gutierrez, .367 AVG, .422 BABIP
Scott Podsednik, .371 AVG, .419 BABIP
Jayson Werth, .324 AVG, .365 BABIP
Nelson Cruz, .323 AVG, .361 BABIP, 7 HR, 35% HR/FB%
Adrian Beltre, .310 AVG, .349 BABIP
This team is also sporting a pitching staff with the likes of Barry Zito, Brad Penny and Tim Hudson.  All three are legitimately doing great, but their current Cy Young-esque paces are unsustainable.
The bottom line is that April is only one of six months in the baseball season.  It represents only about 17% of the season.  Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  It’s frustrating, trust me, I know, but at some point the star players on your team will run into a hot streak.  We used high draft picks on these players because, for the most part, they have consistent track records.  They are, to a certain point, dependable. 
There are five months to go before all is said and done.  Hang in there.