Monday, May 17, 2010

Twi-Night Doubleheader - Week 6

Fantasy Players of the Week
  • AL Hitter: Jose Bautista, 3B, Blue Jays (.444, 8 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI) - Our two hitters of the week combined for zero stolen bases, but they both provided power and substantial run production. Bautista is sitting on a .241 batting average, but his power is so prolific that if he could improve just 20 points, he'd likely bring his ownership up from 35% to around 90%.
  • NL Hitter: Martin Prado, 2B, Braves (.367, 4 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI) - A giant game on Sunday wrapped up a great week for a guy with 1B, 2B, and 3B eligibility. The 2B eligibility should especially help him find a way into your lineup.
  • AL Pitcher: Jake Westbrook, SP, Indians (2-0, 10 Ks, 1.20/1.13) - Ricky Romero had one great start, and initially he was my pick, but I know how tough it is to pick up wins. The nod goes to Westbrook.
  • NL Pitcher: Chad Billingsley, SP, Dodgers (2-0, 13 Ks, 1.42/0.95) - The streaky C-Bills had one good start and one great start, lowering his ERA by a full run. Billingsley's owners are hoping it's a sign of things to come.
Who Can You Trust?

Like any season, there are always undrafted players who start off fast, and players drafted early who start off slow. We'll take a look at a couple of each, and give you a recommendation on whether we think these early anomalies are just that, or if they're indicative of how a player will play.

Hot Starts
  • Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees (.317, 28 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 17 SB) - I think we all sort of suspected that, with regular playing time in New York's lineup, Gardner could be a valuable fantasy commodity. He's proving that to be true, tying for 6th in runs and holding second place in stolen bases. The thing about Gardner's numbers is that they're completely repeatable for him for the rest of the season. Expect him to continue to be productive.
  • Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees (5-0, 39 Ks in 39 IP, 1.38/0.92) - The talent was always there, and Hughes had a solid spring, but nobody saw this coming. He's given up two or fewer runs in all six of his starts, including starts against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Tigers. I don't expect him to keep up his pace (obviously), but with the offense behind him and a very solid bullpen, I'd expect Hughes to finish with very good numbers.
  • Kelly Johnson, 2B, Diamondbacks (.273, 26 R, 11 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB) - When we looked at the Diamondbacks lineup in the preseason, we all expected them to be pretty good. I don't think any of us expected Johnson to be leading the team in homers at this point in the season, though. He's also already got 12 doubles, meaning he's just making great contact right now. Nothing in his career performance suggests he's anything more than a 15-20 HR guy, so even with this torrid start, I wouldn't expect him to get more than 25 dingers this year.
  • Casey McGehee, 3B, Brewers (.311, 20 R, 8 HR, 33 RBI) - McGehee came out of nowhere to be a solid end-of-the-year producer for fantasy owners in 2009, but most people expected him to return to nowhere this season. That hasn't exactly happened. McGehee is second in the NL in RBI. His pedigree doesn't point to this kind of production, but results are results. I'd expect somewhere around 90 R, 25 HR, and 100 RBI, plenty of stats to warrant holding on to him.
  • Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays (.298, 27 R, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 2 SB) - The former Rider keeper has only lived up to his early career billing twice in his eight-year career. He started off red hot, slapping four home runs in his first three games. We all expected him to disappear shortly after that, but he's kept up steady production all season, and while he's in the middle of a 2/24 stretch, those kinds of slumps are part of baseball. Still, it's hard to trust a guy like Wells who's been disappointing more often than not.
  • Ty Wigginton, 2B, Orioles (.320, 20 R, 12 HR, 24 RBI) - All of us have looked at Ty Wigginton at one point or another, which should tell you a couple things. It should tell you that Wigginton has spent plenty of time on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues, and it should tell you that he's a very streaky player. That being said, he's playing every day for the first time in his career, and he's had a couple of 23+ HR seasons with fewer than 450 at-bats, so it's possible that he's actually a 30 HR guy. But I'd try to sell now.
  • Barry Zito, SP, Giants (6-1, 34 Ks in 54.1 IP, 2.15/1.09) - Zito was a guy we all wrote off after two completely unexceptional seasons in San Francisco, but it looks like he's finally settling in. Don't forget, his career ERA in Oakland was 3.55, and his career WHIP was 1.25. It's not completely unreasonable to think that it just took a year and a half for him to benefit from the AL/NL shift...not completely unreasonable. Maybe be a little careful, though.
Slow Starts
  • Chone Figgins, 2B, Mariners (.182, 15 R, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 8 SB) - Figgins is such a wild card from year to year. From 2005 to 2009, here are his batting averages chronologically: .290, .267, .330, .276, .298. He's stolen at least 30 bases in each of his full seasons, so the steals seem to be on track, partly because he's already got 25 walks, so he's still finding himself on base plenty. If his eye stays this good, I wouldn't be surprised to see his average start to climb back up towards our expected .260-.290 range. You hate to start him while he's hitting under .200, but you hate to miss out on his steals, too. You'll have to weigh that choice for yourself, based on your team's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres (.250, 16 R, 7 HR, 18 RBI) - The numbers aren't terrible, but they're not what you were hoping for out of Gonzalez. Still, I don't see any reason for concern. He's always been kind of a streaky hitter, and the power is still there. Look for him to go on one of his trademark mash-attacks soon.
  • Aaron Hill, 2B (.183, 14 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB) and Adam Lind, OF (.218, 18 R, 6 HR, 21 RBI), Blue Jays - The two big Blue Jay surprises for fantasy owners last year have gotten off to a rough start in 2010. They were so good last year that we sort of forgot that between them, they had one fantasy relevant season to their names (Hill's 17 HR, 78 RBI, 87 run 2007). That's not to say that we were wrong for expecting big things from either, but tempering expectations was in order. I wouldn't sell them off for nothing right now, but if you get an offer that you would have considered before the season started, it's probably time to take that offer.
  • Carlos Lee, OF, Astros (.199, 14 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB) - Lee actually just could be getting older. He'll be 34 in a month, and his diminishing speed has hurt his run totals over the past couple years. The hitting prowess has been there, though, so its absence this season is of concern. He's always been a slow starter, though, hitting .259 in April for his career, and hitting at least .290 in May through September. He's shown some improvement, so I say stay the course and hope he rights the ship.
  • Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (.167, 13 R, 3 HR, 17 RBI) - I have no idea what's happening with Aramis. He's only 31, so I don't think it's his age. He was injured last season, but he was supposedly healthy coming into this year. All we can see is the hitter he's become, and it's not pretty. He's already got 33 strikeouts, and he's on pace for 132 strikeouts. He's never struck out more than 100 times in any season. I can't imagine that he's done, but the numbers are heinous. Don't drop him, but for the love of god, don't play him either.
  • Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (.211, 15 R, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 4 SB) - We're starting to see a problem with Sizemore. His batting average dropped three consecutive seasons, and right now he's in line for a fourth, but this one could be fatal. After bopping a career-high 33 homers in 2008, he's still looking for his first in 2010. He's still striking out far too much and not walking nearly enough (35 Ks and just 9 BBs in 128 ABs), and he's slugging a measly .289. Granted, it's early in the season, but everything seems to be heading in the wrong direction for Grady.
  • Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees (.224, 22 R, 7 HR, 29 RBI) - Teixeira, as you'll recall, started off slow last year as well, but ended up competing for the AL MVP crown at the end of the season. There's really no question that he'll turn it around, it's just a matter of when. We may have even already seen it start, as Tex has 2 hits in four of his last five games. No worries.
  • Ben Zobrist, all positions, Rays (.269, 14 R, 0 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB) - The real concern here is a lack of home runs. The one thing we were pretty sure of was that Zobrist's power was legitimate; now we don't know. Chances are, this is just a tough stretch, but we can't be sure of that. He's thankfully running more; his five steals in April were a career-high for any month, and he hasn't been caught stealing yet.
By The Way...

David Aardsma pitched a perfect 9th with two strikeouts on Friday in relief of Doug Fister. So we can probably dismiss any merit we assigned to the concept that Aardsma has it in for Fister. It's also interesting to note that Aardsma's last three appearances were all in relief of Fister. I don't think that means anything, it was just interesting to see.

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