2011 Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings: Matt Kemp is on Fire

Matt Kemp looks like a different player in 2011.

It isn’t summer just yet, but there are some players out there who are HOT …and some who are NOT.  Check out the list below to see who did (and who didn’t) put up big numbers over the past week. Check out these fantasy baseball rankings and decide which player(s) might be considered a fantasy baseball sleeper this week.

Who’s Hot

Matt Kemp, LAD OF – Fans of Dodgertown have to love the way Matt Kemp starts off a season.  In his career, “The Bison” is a .330 hitter in March/April, and his start to the 2011 campaign has been no different.  Over the past week, Kemp is hitting a ridiculous .538 to go along with one home run, five RBIs, six runs, and seven stolen bases.  After a relatively sub par season last year, Kemp looks determined to show fantasy owners that he has the ability to live up to his awesome potential.

Troy Tulowitzki, COL SS – TULO!  After signing a contract extension the size of the Rocky Mountains in the offseason, Tulo has started off 2011 by ripping the cover off the ball.  In fact, Tulowitzki has been crushing the ball ever since the end of last season when he went on a historic run by hitting 14 home runs in 15 games.  Picking up right where he left off, Tulo delivered the following stat line over the past week: four homers, eight RBIs, six runs, and a .423 BA.  Realistically, fantasy owners shouldn’t expect the Rockies’ shortstop to continue this torrid streak; however, as long as he stays healthy, there is no reason to believe that Tulo won’t put up great numbers the rest of the way.

Lance Berkman, STL OF – After a disappointing year in 2010, “The Big Puma” is putting up big numbers early on in St. Louis.  When slugger Matt Holliday went down with an appendectomy, Berkman stepped up and delivered for the struggling Cards.  His stat line for the past week looks a little something like this: four home runs, ten RBIs, seven runs, and a .320 BA.  If Berkman can take advantage of the protection provided by the St. Louis lineup (Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, and…oh right, Albert Pujols), then there is hope that the 35-year-old outfielder could be in for a nice rebound year.  If he is not already owned, it’s about time to pick up Berkman in all fantasy leagues.

Dan Haren, LAA SP – The Angels’ top two starters have been flat-out phenomenal.  Last week, Jered Weaver was on the “Who’s Hot” list, and this week it’s his running mate, Dan Haren.  Over the past week, the Angels’ “Other Ace” has recorded two wins (one was in relief and the other was a complete game, one-hit shutout), struck out nine, walked two, and booked a 0.00 ERA to go along with a 0.30 WHIP.  Haren looks to be in mid-season form already, and if he and his buddy Weaver can keep pitching like this, the Angels will be a happy bunch—and so will fantasy owners.

Brian Fuentes, OAK RP – In the past he was a solid closer, but after struggling over the past two seasons, both the Angels and Twins gave up on Fuentes.  However, the always-thrifty A’s must have seen something in Fuentes when they signed him to a two-year deal in the offseason.  With All-Star closer Andrew Bailey on the DL to start the season, Fuentes has filled in admirably and been a solid stopper for Oakland.  Since April 9th, Fuentes has been simply outstanding: he has recorded five saves, struck out four, walked one, and registered a 0.00 ERA in 4.2 innings pitched.  It might be a good idea to pick up Fuentes for now, but be aware that Bailey will certainly take back his closer role when he is off the DL.

Who’s Not

Carl Crawford, BOS OF – The Red Sox have been pretty awful as a whole, but nobody is struggling more than Crawford right now.  After signing an extremely lucrative deal in the offseason, the Sox new leftfielder has struggled to find his swing in Beantown.  Over the past week, Crawford has registered a zero in the following categories: home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases.  Additionally, he scored only twice and batted a dreadful .130.  The perennial All-Star has the ability to break out at any moment, but his first two weeks are definitely disheartening to Sox fans and fantasy owners alike.  Keep him active in all lineups because when he comes around, you don’t want to be stuck with him on your bench.

Dan Uggla, ATL 2B – Same deal here as with Carl Crawford above: He signed a big deal in the offseason (after being traded though) and has yet to deliver for his new team.  Uggla has never been a “hit for average” kind of guy, but the Braves didn’t expect their new second baseman to start off this poorly.  The powerful Uggla had a rough week with a .087 BA, and the only time he crossed the plate or drove anybody in was when he hit a solo home run against the Marlins.  Uggla has hit 30 home runs in four consecutive seasons, so keep him active because he will deliver in the power department; however, fantasy owners should not expect him to repeat last year’s .287 BA considering that his career average is a lowly .262.

Joe Mauer, MIN C – Minnesota’s Golden Boy has definitely started off the 2011 season in a bit of a rough patch.  In addition to zero homers, two RBIs, one run, and an un-Mauer-like .250 BA over the past week, the Twins’ catcher was placed on the 15-day DL due to bilateral leg weakness.  Apparently, the injury is quite serious, and considering Mauer’s injury history, both the Twins and fantasy owners might have reason to worry.  Fantasy owners should keep their fingers crossed in hopes that Mauer will come back healthy and come out swingin’.

Aaron Hill, TOR 2B – What’s one thing that Aaron Hill and Toronto have in common?  They’re both REALLY cold.  After a stellar 2009 season in which he hit 36 homers, drove in 103, and batted .286, Hill has been downright atrocious since.  Last year he batted a terrible .205, and this year he is batting .170 through the first two weeks.  Second base is already a thin position fantasy-wise, so for those who own Hill, it has to be frustrating to watch him continue his downward spiral.  However, there is one positive to take out of Hill’s struggles: in 2010, his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was .196, and this year it is .200.  Both of these averages are well below the league average, so it is possible that Hill is experiencing a serious case of bad luck.  Either way, it isn’t too bold to sit Hill for a bit until he starts producing.

Phil Hughes, NYY SP – Starting pitching was a question mark for the Yankees coming into the 2011 season, and Phil Hughes has not been the answer for the Bronx Bombers.  In 2010, Hughes was a bright spot for the Yanks, but in the early goings of 2011, he has been a black mark on the starting rotation.  Over his past two starts, Hughes has pitched only 6.1 innings, given up 14 hits, allowed 11 earned runs, struck out only two, and registered a 15.63 ERA with a 2.53 WHIP.  Fortunately for Hughes, he escaped both contests without recording a loss.  However, if he continues to pitch this poorly, fantasy owners will have to wonder if there are better options out there than Hughes.


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