It's a little over two weeks into the new season and some things are already very clear - the Red Sox are absolutely awful, Josh Hamilton's relapse has had no lasting effects, Matt Kemp is the best player in the world and Jamie Moyer doesn't ever want to grow up and get a real job. How, exactly, did Matt Kemp become the best player in the world? The answer might surprise you.
Matt Kemp became the best overall player in baseball by, as simple - or hard (depending on how your sex life is) - as it may sound, dumping Rihanna. Kemp and the singer/sex object/ lunatic dated for about a year, with the break-up coming in December of 2010 amid reports of cheating and Kemp having trouble dealing with Rihanna's hectic schedule of rolling blunts in public and walking around without any clothes on.
The season before the break-up was the worst of Kemp's career and a major step back in the evolution of a guy that many were expecting to be a true five-tool player. In 2009, Kemp went .297 with 26 home runs, 101 RBI and 34 stolen bases. The stolen bases are the most important, because do remember that we are not looking at Matt Kemp as a regular player. All expectations were that Kemp would become the player the he is today, but in December of 2010 - after he saw all of his numbers drop except for his home runs - Kemp was regressing to a point that the Dodgers were nervous that he would just become another should-have-been.
Now bear with me here. I'm about to get real. What did Kemp do? He remedied the problem. By getting rid of the "Disturbia" that goes along with dating Rihanna, Kemp was able to stop the "Fading" and go "Hard" for the 2011 season in which he hit 36 homers, along with 126 RBI, and don't forget those 40 steals. It's clear that after "Livin a lie" in the "Madhouse" that was dating Rihanna, Kemp was able to "Run This town" that is the MLB and "Talk That talk" and "Rehab" himself into realizing that Rihanna is not, in fact, the "Only Girl in the world." Not an easy task, but neither is promising to be a 50/50 guy.
Go ahead, Matt Kemp. Go on and "Take a Bow," because you are the most complete player in the majors.
Now, outside of Kemp, there are some other players who have been running this town (if you get what I mean), and, unlike Kemp, I don't see them performing under "All of The Lights" the rest of the way out.
Here are some guys who I think you should sell high on:
Derek Jeter - After you say his name like Bob Sheppard did, look at the numbers. The guy is playing out his mind. While he may be coming out of the Matt Kemp school of "Do Ya Thang" by kicking Minka Kelly to the curb, let's be clear about one thing - Minka Kelly is not good enough for Derek Jeter. Say what you want about the guy, but he gets it done. Just look at his track record. Everyone knows what used to do, and the steady numbers that he has put up throughout his 18-year career, but that's just it - it's been an 18-year career. He may come somewhere close to his career average of .313, but he's hitting close to .400 right now. There is someone in your league who is dumb enough to give you a high quality player for a 38-year-old who is overachieving. Remember, this is fantasy sports - names and street cred don't count for shit.
Yoenis Cespedes - Tell me how much fun it is. Tell me how it's amazing to watch the Cuban defector hit bombs with regularity. Now sit there and tell me it doesn't bother you that he strikes out so much it makes Mark Reynolds nervous. When a new player - at any level that there is scouting - starts off, there is a level of adjustment for not only the player and his competition, but for the scouts as well. If Cespedes is striking out this much, this early in the season, then there is a reason to have concern for how the rest of the season will go, as scouts and opposing clubs figure out what he can and cannot hit 500 feet. Proceed with caution. Just like if you were trying to float to America.
Nick Swisher - Oh Pa, you're a homer. You only put players on this list that are Yankees or guys that the Red Sox missed out on.
Swisher has hit over .280 only once in his career, and those absurd home run and RBI totals he has right now? Well he's gone over 30 home runs only once and and he's never had over 100 RBI. He may be killing it right now, but he can't play the Red Sox every game. Go out and trade for a young guy who has the potential to get better, because you know what Swisher's ceiling is. Even with the start he's had, there's plenty of reasons he can underwhelm the rest of the way.
AJ Pierzynski - As I sit on my couch, Fingers to my right, my dog to my left, Pierzynski has over half of his home runs from last season and well over a quarter of his RBI. While those numbers may be impressive, the catcher position is taxing - especially for a 35-year-old with not that much behind him and an inexperienced staff that needs as much attention as he can give. Trade Pierzynski for a closer (there have been enough injuries that a good one is at a premium) and go and pick up a guy like Chris Ianetta (owned in only 11 percent of ESPN leagues) who is putting up good numbers and has the ever-important age factor on his side. When it comes to catching in the bigs, the more time you spend behind the plate, the more chances you have to get hurt (just ask Joe Mauer). And when you're 35, the chances seem to find you.
Carlos Pena - This will be quick. You drafted Carlos Pena for what? Home runs and RBI right? Well, he's hitting .304 and is walking at a clip of almost once every six at-bats. Carlos Pena has not hit over .280 since 2007, and get this - that was the only season he ever hit .280. The walks and home runs will continue to be there, but you knew that when you drafted him. If you can get a guy who can do a little of everything, in exchange for someone you took a flyer on who has a pedigree of toeing the Mendoza line, is it really a question?
Get more great sports analysis over at Extra Pine Tar.