Hawpe, Loney, Johnson: Cut Your 1B Losses

The first two or three weeks of the baseball season result in all sorts of funny numbers, especially in standard 5×5 categories. Some guys get off too ridiculously good starts and others slump, but knowing who’s for real and who isn’t is the key this early in the schedule. A pair of fantasy stalwarts and one trendy sleeper pick are off to painfully starts to the season, and now’s the time to cut your losses.

Brad Hawpe | Padres | .119/.174/.143, 0 HR, 2 RBI

To say Hawpe has looked awful would be an understatement. His decline started a year ago, and it’s absurdly obvious when you look at his daily graphs page and see everything is headed in the wrong direction. Hawpe was always a fine mid-to-rate round pickup because of gaudy OBP and RBI totals, but it would take a minor miracle to get him back to that point right now.

Dan Johnson | Rays | .130/.190/.204, 1 HR, 3 RBI

A trendy late-round pickup in deeper leagues, Johnson has reminded everyone why the vast majority of his career has been spent in leagues not defined as major. Yes, a .133 BABIP is brutal (26.1% infield fly rate (!!!)), but he isn’t drawing walks or producing runs despite spending most of the year batting in the middle of the lineup. Third base eligibility is nice, but let him figure it out in the free agent pool and not on your roster.

James Loney | Dodgers | .181/.200/.236, 1 HR, 8 RBI

Loney has been worse than terrible, beating the ball into the ground more than 50% of the time and drawing exactly zero unintentional walks in 72 plate appearances this season. He’s been little more than a decent fantasy option over the last three seasons due to fine batting averages and RBI totals, but first baseman without power need to be on short leashes. Don’t fall in the trap of waiting for a young guy (Loney’s only 26) to turn it around at the expense of your fantasy team, finding a replacement at this position is a piece of cake.

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Some other slow starters that I’m a bit more bullish on: Justin Morneau, Carlos Pena, Adam Lind, and Adam LaRoche. Derrek Lee is sort of in between the two groups. Those guys get longer leash because they could still rebound to provide elite production even at first base this summer. The three guys above though, be pro-active and stop waiting for a rebound that probably won’t ever come.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

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I’ve been burned badly by Johnson so far. In my OBP league he was so valuable late last season even below the Mendoza line because of his walk rate. Just don’t know what happened to the patient approach (he’s been swinging really early in the count this year).

I finally dumped him for Joyce last night. I will miss that 3B eligibility in Yahoo leagues though.