Fantasy Baseball: You should probably get a Guardian on your team

·5-min read

We've officially passed the two-week mark of the fantasy and MLB seasons. It might feel like more time has gone by than that due to baseball being played every day, but we only just got through the first 15 days.

So that means: Don't overreact to what you have seen thus far.

Adam Cimber likely will not end up top-three in Ws. Pablo Lopez likely will not be the ERA leader at the end of the year. It'll be tough for Yordan Alvarez to be stuck on just five hits.

You see where I'm going with this.

Of course, even though we shouldn't overreact to early season successes and disappointments, we shouldn't ignore them either. Especially not when they're of the eye-opening variety.

And few teams have opened more eyes than the Cleveland Guardians through two weeks. Let's take a look at the AL central-leading squad and see if we can get anything actionable out of them for fantasy.

The Guardians are hitting, led by an MVP candidate and one big surprise

The Guardians lead the league in runs scored with 68 and they're second in total hits with 118. They're second in team batting average (.280 — 21 points higher than the third-place Mets), third in OBP (.346) and second in OPS (.788).

But I bet if I asked you to name half their lineup, you probably would have trouble doing so.

You see, the Guardians have looked at other teams' strategy of loading up on home-run hitting sluggers with low averages and high power totals and have said, "Eh, no thanks."

Instead, the team is replete with high-contact hitters. It is EXTREMELY hard to get these guys out.

We can start with the best player on the team and one of the best, most underrated hitters in baseball, Jose Ramirez. You can look at most MLB leaderboards and find J-Ram's name there; he's hitting .426 with 1.301 OPS in the young season. Unsustainable numbers, but considering he's been a top-six MVP candidate the last four full MLB seasons, don't expect them to be too far off.

Then there's Steven Kwan, one of the truly feel-good stories of the season. Kwan burst onto the scene, a 24-year-old rookie who looked like he was never going to swing and miss (in fact, he saw 115 pitches without a whiff). He's since struck out (who woulda thunk it!) but that hasn't slowed him down.

Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez (11) celebrates with outfielder Steven Kwan (38) are fantasy baseball stars
Few fantasy stars have shined brighter than Steven Kwan and Jose Ramirez in the early going. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

J-Ram and Kwan have grabbed the headlines, but don't forget about the rest of this lineup. Myles Straw and Amed Rosario are terrors on the base paths, who can turn a grounder into an infield single at any moment and put pressure on whoever's on the mound. Oscar Mercado has three home runs and usually hits towards the bottom of the lineup. Franmil Reyes is the prototypical cleanup hitter.

The Guardians have five batters with double-digit hits already, and they just made a Chicago White Sox team (albeit a White Sox team dealing with injuries) with World Series aspirations look feeble. Don't sleep on this offense.

What about their pitching?

Much has been made about Shane Bieber's velocity drop this season, but here we are, with him being the current AL Cy Young favorite while sporting a 2.25 ERA. His running mates in the rest of the rotation — Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac and Triston McKenzie — haven't been as good as he has been, but they've remained valuable in fantasy nonetheless, especially with the run support they've gotten. The pitching staff as a whole is also third in WHIP and fifth in ERA so far.

Cleveland's closer, Emmanuel Clase, hasn't had many chances early on, but he's converted both. Better times are ahead for the flamethrower.

Is there anyone left we can add in fantasy leagues?

It's obviously too late to add Kwan. Ramirez and Bieber can only be had in trades, and only with a king's ransom at that. The same likely goes for Clase.

But there's still value to be mined on this team. Mercado is only 10 percent rostered yet he's been one of the hottest hitters in baseball. He's a streaming option for however long he keeps hitting. Andres Gimenez (six percent rostered) is still just 23 and maintains that potential that made him one of the top pieces in the Francisco Lindor trade. Right now, however, he can help in the stolen base category for deep-leaguers. Trevor Stephan (0 percent rostered) has been operating as Clase's primary setup man, and he's been lights out (0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP) in seven appearances. He should not be available in every league, especially not in leagues that count holds. Go check if Cal Quantrill (54 percent rostered) is still available in your league and you have an open IL spot, too.

Maybe it was the name change. Maybe it was Ramirez getting motivated from that extension, and that motivation has trickled down to everyone else. Who knows how long this story will last. One thing is true — the Guardians are making noise now, and we should be watching.

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