photo © 2008 Keith Allison | more info (via: Wylio)
It’s early and just like a 5-and-0 record or an 0-and-5 record doesn’t spell championship or certain doom for major league teams, hot or cold starts don’t mean a certain success or failure for individual players either. However, even though the stats are too young to take literally, there are some signs that may point to two players in particular being able to continue their early season success deep into the 2011 season.
B.J. Upton has been a player that annually entices fantasy GM’s to draft, but has more often than not disappointed. To start the 2011 season, Upton has gone 6-for-19 with two doubles and two home runs. With a career .260 AVG and having hit .237 last season and .241 in 2009, Upton owners are probably not expecting much in that department this season. However, changes in Upton’s mechanics could make a big difference this season, possibly raising his AVG to the .265-.275 range when all is said and done.
I’ve linked to this article a lot, but I truly feel like Upton’s mechanics have got the best of him over the past couple of seasons. Upton worked on his mechanics this offseason and it seems the adjustments are paying off.
Upton has widened his stance a bit, cutting down his stride, cutting down his pre-swing movement and keeping better balance throughout his swing. Another thing he is doing better is keeping his front foot from rotating on the heel as he swings, though I have seen him revert to this a few times. The wider stance and simplified mechanics should help his timing and help keep his swing more consistent as the season rolls along.
Of course, he’ll have to maintain his good habits for this type of success to continue.
Mighty Maicer Izturis put himself on the fantasy map during the 2009 season when he hit .300/.359/.363 with eight home runs, 13 stolen bases, 74 runs scored and 65 RBI in only 114 games. Last season, however, he ran into injuries that sapped his production. Healthy to start the 2011 season, Izturis is off to a good start, going 9-for-27 with a double, home run and two stolen bases on three attempts.
Though the Angels infield seems crowded, Izturis has played in every game thus far and his ability to play 2B, 3B and even some SS should allow him to find ample playing-time again this season. Besides, manager Mike Scioscia seems to favor Izturis, who has been with the club since 2005.
Izturis is an excellent contact hitter with surprising pop for someone his size. If he were to reach 450-plus at-bats for the first time in his career we could be looking at a .290-plus AVG, 8-10 home runs and 15-20 stolen bases to go along with a good number of runs score. While that’s not exactly great production, it would be extremely valuable for a team needing to fill a gap at 2B/3B/SS (seven games played at SS in 2010).
Manager Mike Scioscia has said that he will pick his spots to rest Izturis in order to keep him fresh and healthy, so you’ll need to monitor this if you make daily roster changes.
Both Upton and Izturis are showing early signs that could translate into prolonged production in 2011. If Upton can stay mechanically (and mentally) sound, he might finally maximize his raw ability and natural talent. Izturis, while a slight injury risk, is as sound at the plate as anyone. In most standard leagues he’s probably still available as a free agent, meaning you’ll get his production at minimal cost.