- SS Starlin Castro, CHC leads the majors with 35 hits in 21 games. At his current pace, he projects to collect 270 hits, breaking Ichiro Suzuki's 2004 record of 262. It's doubtful Castro gets anywhere near the record but if you wound up with him on your roster(s) rather than Derek Jeter or Hanley Ramirez, you're not in a position to complain.
- 3B/OF Jose Bautista, TOR is tied for the major league lead with seven home runs, has scored 19 runs and walked 19 times in just 18 games this season. At his current pace, he projects to hit 54 home runs (sound familiar?), score 147 runs and walk 147 times. None of these numbers put him in the stratosphere of "record-breaking" but they should be putting the talk of his 2010 simply being a fluke to rest.
- 1B Prince Fielder, MIL leads the majors with 22 RBI in his first 21 games this season. At his current pace, he'd drive in 170 runs in 162 games played. It's unlikely he'll keep up this pace but he could be back in line with his own 2009, when he drove in 141 runs in 162 games. Either way, his owners have to be pleased with his hot start to 2011.
- OF Sam Fuld, TB has an unlikely 27 hits and 10 stolen bases in 20 games this season. At his current pace, Fuld will accumulate 199 hits and 74 steals. Could 175 hits and 40 stolen bases be that unrealistic for a player that's proving he deserves every opportunity to be in the lineup?
- OF/DH Bobby Abreu, may only be hitting .240 but he's tied for the major league lead with 19 walks for a robust .394 OBP. At his current pace, that walk rate would put him at 140 for the season. He has a career .400 OBP and has walked over 120 times in a season twice, so this pace isn't all that unheard of for the disciplined Abreu.
- OF Matt Kemp, LAD is doing all he can to make fantasy owners forget about his 2010 season by starting off 2011 with this insane 5x5 line: .402/16/5/17/8. At his current pace, he's looking at a season's ending line of .402/127/35/127/56 and a run at the Triple Crown. There's no way he hits anywhere near .400 but he looks like a man on a mission to go 40/40. If you passed on Kemp because you were burned by him in 2010, there's always 2012.
- OF Dexter Fowler, COL is unfortunately tied for the major league lead in strikeouts with 27 but has offset that with 14 walks and a .381 OBP. At his current pace, Fowler would strike out 208 times and walk 108.
- OF Juan Pierre, CHW is known for his stolen base prowess in fantasy baseball but he already has been caught stealing five times to go along with his five stolen bases. At his current pace, Pierre would be looking at 37 SB and 37 CS. Now, it seems highly unlikely that he'll get caught stealing that often but you may start wondering if he's losing a step at age 33. And without his speed, Pierre's not much of a fantasy option.
- SP Jered Weaver, LAA is 5-0 with 39 strikeouts in 36.2 innings over his first five starts. At his current pace, Weaver projects to start 39 games and strike out 301 batters in 278.2 innings pitched. Those just aren't realistic numbers in today's game but if he keeps his current 9.6 K/9 and matches his innings pitched from 2010 (224.1), he'd probably wind up leading the majors in strikeouts again in 2011 with 241.
- CL Mariano Rivera, NYY has appeared in 11 of the Yankees first 18 games and saved seven of their 12 wins. At his current pace, Rivera would appear in 99 games and finish the season with 63 saves. He's only averaging 64.2 appearances over the last five seasons, so he should slow down once the rest of the Yankee pen settles into their roles. I'd bet Rivera's a lock for his usual 35-45 saves again this year.
The goal of this exercise is to point out not getting too crazy over such a small sample of statistics, positively or negatively. Proven stars will more than likely return to levels that proven stars are used to performing at, statistically speaking. Now, that doesn't mean a top player can't have a down year (see Matt Kemp's 2010) but at least give everyone more than 1/8th of the overall schedule to prove their values to your fantasy baseball roster(s).
Which players are you buying are for real and what numbers are you predicting for them that might surprise most? Which players are you afraid are going to have an off or down year and are ready to cut ties with (drop or trade)? Please use the comments section below to get the conversation started.