Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

As scrutinized as the first couple of weeks of the fantasy baseball season are. There are still some solid players that are playing above expectations that go unnoticed. Some of them are old hats that have made a strong comeback, while others are just rising to the occasion for the first time. Each fantasy baseball team has different needs and some of these players can fill those needs for their potential owners.

Travis Hafner – UT/DH – Cleveland Indians
Hafner has been zeroed in all season and looks like the old Pronk that we all used to know and love. While he may not keep this up the entire season you cannot ignore his .348/.395/.580 slash line so far. With the way all the Indians are playing right now, Hafner is a must-own must-start player until he proves otherwise. Keep in mind though that he only qualifies at the UT position in most standard fantasy baseball leagues.

Peter Bourjos – OF – Los Angeles Angels
Bourjos is not going to keep up his current batting average (.301), but he possess the rare speed and power combination that every fantasy baseball owner values. He is a threat to steal a base every time he is on and owns a .849 OPS so far this season and has turned it up lately. Hitting in front of guys like Bobby Abreu, Tori Hunter and Vernon Wells in the Angels lineup should net him a lot of runs scored this season as well.

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When talking about the best pitchers in the National League, two of the first names that come up are Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson. Halladay has been the premier pitcher in the major leagues over the past few years and brought the Cy Young Award home for the Phillies last year, but after last season and the start of this season it looks like he finally has a legitimate challenger in Florida’s Josh Johnson. Johnson is off to a fantastic start and is looking more and more like the pitcher to own in fantasy baseballthis season.

Halladay is not going to go down without a fight however. He won the NL Cy Young last year with a 21-10 record, 2.44 ERA, and 1.04 WHIP to go along with 9 complete games. What makes Halladay so special is his ability to pitch deep into games even on days he does not have his best stuff, evidenced by his 31 decisions in 33 starts. His immaculate control is another aspect of Halladay’s game that makes him so devastating. He struck out 219 batters last season while only walking 30. Halladay has struggled a little bit so far this season, but still sports a 2.83 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He has pitched into the 7th inning of every game so far this season including one complete game already, so he is showing no signs of slowing down this season.

Josh Johnson is making his case for top fantasy baseball pitcher though.

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Closer situations are the story in fantasy baseball this week. Some pens are struggling, others are fighting injuries and some are getting healthy. Saves is one of the most unpredictable categories in fantasy baseball because of all the variables that occur. Here are some players that are looking at more save opportunities coming up in the future and should be an asset in your fantasy baseball lineup.

Matt Capps – RP – Minnesota Twins

Joe Nathan has pitched his way right out of the closers jobs in Minnesota. They have decided to use him in less pressure situations until he is back to his old self. While this doesn’t mean that Capps will be the closer for the remainder of the season, he will be for the foreseeable future. Capps has struggled in his last few outings, but was lights out before that and definitely has the stuff to be a top tier fantasy closer if given the opportunity.

Jon Rauch – RP – Toronto Blue Jays

Rauch has taken over the closer role for the Jays with Frank Francisco on the DL. He has posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP to go with 3 saves so far this season. He has pitched so well that there is talk in Toronto that he may keep the job even after Francisco returns if he keeps pitching this well. This is more of a wait and see type situation than Capps, but owners should feel free to grab him and use him if u need saves immediately. (Continue…

While many fantasy baseball owners try to find sleepers in the draft, the more effective way to find them is in the early parts of the season. We have seen a lot of young pitchers make statements in the first couple weeks of our young season. While veterans may provide owners with more consistency, there is no doubting the young pitching talent that has sprouted up across the major leagues already, providing owners with a nice crop of fantasy baseball sleepers.
Zach Britton – SP – Baltimore Orioles
Britton started the season off on a solid note by holding the Rays to only three hits and one run over six innings in his major league debut. The young lefty had a 6:3 strikeout to walk ratio while keeping his pitch count down. While he will have to face a lot of tough offenses in the AL East, he should be added in all formats because of his potential. Expect him to be really up and down depending on the team he is facing, but keep him in your lineup for all good matchups.
Alexi Ogando – P – Texas Rangers
Expected to be the Rangers set-up man, Ogando was only pushed into the rotation by a spring injury to Tommy Hunter. He was very impressive in his first start last week shutting out the Mariners for six innings while allowing only 2 hits. He struck out 4 while walking only two. He is expected to be moved back to the bullpen, but Manager Ron Washington has said that if Ogando continues to pitch like that they may have to reconsider. This uncertainty makes him a very risky, but fascinating fantasy option. (Continue…)

Breakout players are what every fantasy owner hopes to find in each sport. They usually lead to championships because you are getting more value out of the players you select. Think about football season. People who drafted Adrian Peterson got exactly what they wanted and expected from him, but that didn’t guarantee them a championship. Now think about the owners that got Arian Foster and Darren McFadden in the middle rounds, those are the players that led teams to the top of their leagues. These are the MLB players that should be able available as fantasy baseball sleepers in 2011 fantasy baseball.

Rajai Davis – OF – Toronto Blue Jays

Davis might be the best option for fantasy baseball owners looking for cheap steals late in drafts. While Davis has been around for a while, this may be his real breakout season. He stole 50 bases in 61 chances last year for the Oakland A’s, but has never really put up solid numbers in any category outside of that. Davis should be what the Jays were hoping Fred Lewis would be last year. A leadoff man that can create runs for them when they aren’t hitting. In front of the Jays big bats he should be able to total a lot of runs and should post better batting average numbers because he will see better pitches.

Max Scherzer – SP – Detroit Tigers

Scherzer began his breakout last season much like Andrus, but unless you owned him you would likely never know. He had a horrible start that skewed his stats for the season. After 8 starts he was 1-4 with a 7.29 ERA. He was sent to AAA where he changed up his mechanics. Upon returning he went on a season ending tear. Scherzer finished his last 23 starts with a 2.46 ERA. Expect him around 15 wins and to have 200+ strikeouts, and likely the hype that he should have received last season.

Brett Gardner – OF – New York Yankees

The Yankees have shuffled their lineup over the last few games with Brett Gardner taking over the leadoff spot and Derek Jeter moving down a spot. This is a great idea by the Yankees because Jeter has always been more of a natural second hitter. While the big name in this move is Jeter, the bigger fantasy impact will be on Gardner. While he may struggle at first hitting at the top of the lineup, it will benefit him either way. He will gain somewhere between 50 and 100 at-bats. That should put him around 600-700 plate appearances if he is playing close to everyday. Based off Gardner’s stats from last season in which he stole 47 bases and scored 97 runs from the bottom of the lineup, there is no reason that he couldn’t get 120+ runs and 60+ steals with that many extra chances. Keep watch leading up to your draft on Joe Girardi’s final decision because it could vault Gardner’s value into the top 30 outfielders. (Continue…