The 2010 season has already kicked off in dramatic fashion with interesting headlines popping up left and right. And while some of the mainstays are doing exactly what you would've expected them to do—Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols to name just two—some other headlines are just as noteworthy to give a quick glance.
Both Vernon Wells (Toronto) and Kelly Johnson (Arizona) are trying to comeback from a train wreck of a 2009 season; a season plagued by both injury and poor play.
And while most will look away from guys who may not have over-the-top performance possibilities, it is the wise manager that will keep a discerning eye on the middle ground guys; players who have a huge helping hand in winning leagues.
Vernon Wells - OF - Toronto: Wells has started the season in dramatic fashion going 3 for 4 with a HR on Opening Day, only to trump that performance the following Wednesday with two more dingers.
What You Need To Know:
Wells is a guy who has a small history of having huge comeback years after disastrous ones, making him a nice fit for an early sleeper candidate.
In 2007 he literally fell off the map producing half the numbers he did in 2006 only to follow that dismal performance up with a stellar 2008 that afforded him, and fantasy owners, a .300 AVG with a .840 OPS.
In 2009 his numbers suffered a bit as well, despite providing 17 SB, so there is a trend here even if you dig all the way back to 1999.
Prognosis: Wells isn't seen as a noteworthy consideration in fantasy since his runs scored, and RBI counts have been low the past couple of years, but that's pretty much par-for-the course for Wells anyway. What he will give you is a ton of extra base hits, a little bit of power, and if things keep going "Wells" for him (sorry couldn't resist), he could be a nice trickle feed of SB and quality AVG and OPS. He is a good candidate to add to your bench, or at the very least, to your watch list.
Kelly Johnson - 2B - Arizona: Johnson moved into the lead-off spot for Arizona with Conor Jackson taking a breather on Wednesday, and his familiarity with the position showed when he went 3 for 3 with 2 homers and a walk.
What You Need To Know:
2009 was a terrible year for Johnson, so bad to the point he had very little fantasy relevance, and that spilled over into this year. But for those of you who don't know, Johnson is better off in the lead-off spot, instead of his normal spot behind the pitcher; a batting spot for Johnson that makes no sense to me whatsoever.
Johnson lifetime has a .341 OBP with 20 HR as a lead-off hitter, but remember that just because he isn't in the lead-off spot doesn't mean you should look away from him.
Prognosis: Sure, he is not an elite player, but now that the season is under way, talking only about elite fantasy players is about as useful as banging you head against the wall. The 2009 season for Johnson was plagued with injuries, so his legitimacy of becoming a sleeper candidate is pretty high; a Diamond(back) in the rough if you will. If this sudden burst of fantasy ambrosia is any inkling of whats to come, you'll be one happy camper should you decide to take a chance on him.
He deserves a hard look, and a watchful eye from you.
For a recap of this week's games and other great player highlights—from a fantasy standpoint of course— check out The Knuckleball.