Well, summer is not officially here yet, but there are a number of guys in the MLB who are simply scorching right now. This week’s edition of “Who’s Hot? Who’s Not?” features a couple of newcomers; however, there are also a few returnees. Hopefully everybody out there is enjoying the fantasy baseball season so far, but if you are not, try trading for (or trading away) one of the players on the list below to improve your chances for a successful year.
Prince Fielder, MIL 1B – Coming into the 2011 season, Prince Fielder knew he had a lot to prove in a contract year. The Brewers’ big first baseman has all the power in the world, but many teams are still scared by his rather rotund figure. Well, I think it’s time to put all weight-issue worries aside because Fielder is absolutely mashing the ball so far this year. Over this past week, Fielder really padded his stats by batting .412 with four home runs, nine RBIs, and five runs scored. Currently, Fielder is at the top of the NL in runs batted in, and he is second behind Matt Kemp in home runs. As a team, the Brew Crew has been hot as of late, thanks in large part to the big bat of “The Prince.” In fact, after their recent surge, Milwaukee is now tied for first place in the NL Central with the Cardinals. Fantasy-wise, look for Fielder to continue destroying the ball and definitely keep in active in all fantasy baseball lineups.
Curtis Granderson, NYY OF – This guy is unbelievable right now. After getting off to a ridiculous start to begin 2011, Granderson really hasn’t slowed down at all. Actually, to be honest, he might have gotten a bit hotter. In his past seven games, Granderson has hit four home runs, driven in 10, scored nine, and stolen one base. Oh yea, he also batted .379. Not too bad if you ask me. The Yankees’ outfielder is now tied with Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays for the league lead in homers with an astonishing 21 big flies. Many analysts have credited Granderson’s surge with a swing-change that has allowed him to get to the ball faster. Whatever the reason is for his success, there is no doubt that Granderson is absolutely on fire this year. With his rare power-speed combo, keep Granderson active at ALL times in fantasy baseball.
Troy Tulowitzki, COL SS – After a hot start to the year, Tulo cooled off for a bit as the season made its way into June. Actually, it wasn’t even just Tulo who cooled off…it was pretty much every member of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies were arguably baseball’s best team throughout the first month or so of the season, but they now find themselves in third place in the NL West. Standings aside, the Rockies have a ton of potential in their lineup, and right now Tulo is capitalizing on his awesome talents. Over the past week, the Rockies’ shortstop hit .433 with two homers, 12 RBIS, seven runs scored, and two swiped bags. Right now, there are not many in the game better at shortstop than Tulowitzki. Whether or not the Rockies are able to turn it around should have no effect on Tulowitzki’s game. He is on pace to have another great season regardless of his team’s record. Keep this stud active in fantasy baseball.
Justin Verlander, DET SP – I think Verlander might be the best pitcher in all of baseball right now. The guy has been absolutely lights out this year. He already threw one no-hitter in 2011, and he has flirted with a no-no on at least two other occasions (one of which was last night). Simply put, you can’t hit Verlander right now. Over the past week, the Tigers’ ace pitched 17 innings, struck out 22, gave up seven hits, walked two, and allowed only one earned run while picking up two wins. Pretty darn solid, right? Thanks in large part to the work of their stud starter (and great teamwork!), the Tigers are now in first place in the AL Central. Look for Verlander to continue dominating opposing hitters and striking out batters at will. Please do not ask if he should be started…just don’t.
Joel Hanrahan, PIT RP – Ladies and gentlemen…the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates! Would you believe me if I told you that for the first time since 1999, the Pirates are over .500 this late into a season? No? Well, believe it, baby! With timely hitting, reliable starting pitching, and a solid closer, the Pirates are playing winning baseball right now. The solid closer I speak of is none other than Joel Hanrahan. “The Ol’ Joel” has been perfect for the Bucs in 2011. Over the past week, Hanrahan picked up three saves while striking out three in four innings. He also didn’t give up a single hit, walk, or run! On the year, Hanrahan is tied for second in the NL with 18 saves. As the season progresses, the Pirates will play their fair share of close games, so expect Hanrahan to continue to get save opportunities. He has proven to be trustworthy so far, so keep the Pirates’ closer active in all fantasy baseball formats.
Torii Hunter, LAA OF –After signing Vernon Wells in the offseason, it looked as if the Angels were gearing up for another title in the AL West. Unfortunately, Wells hasn’t really worked out, and to make matters worse, the Halos’ slugging first baseman, Kendry Morales, is out for the year…again. Needless to say, a lot of pressure has now been placed on the shoulders of veteran outfielder, Torii Hunter. However, Hunter just can’t seem to carry the load at this stage of his career. He hasn’t been having an awful season, but it really hasn’t been good either. Over the past week, things didn’t get any better as Hunter batted a paltry .167 with zero homers, two RBIs, and five runs scored. The acrobatic outfielder is only batting .228 on the year, and if the Angels want to make a run at the AL West crown, they will need to get production from their clubhouse leader. Let’s hope that Hunter is able to turn things around. Right now, Hunter is not a must-start in fantasy baseball, but his past suggests that he is worthy of being started. Keep him active if you want; however, don’t feel bad about benching him either.
Jed Lowrie, BOS SS – A few weeks ago, Lowrie was one of the hottest players in the MLB. Now he is one of the “nottest.” Boston’s shortstop has supposedly been dealing with shoulder pain lately, and if that’s the case, one can see why his numbers at the plate have declined. Over the past week, Lowrie only hit .071 with zero home runs, two runs batted in, and one run scored. In fact, since getting off to a scorching start, Lowrie hasn’t done much of anything since the end of April. Additionally, to make matters worse for Lowrie, Marco Scutaro is now back for the Sox and should see regular playing time. If his shoulder continues to bug him and Scutaro gets more ABs, Lowrie will likely see a decrease in terms of fantasy baseball value. For now, it’s probably a good idea to sit Lowrie, but keep your eye on the situation in Boston to see how things play out.
Justin Morneau, MIN 1B – Alright, I’ll admit it. I write about injured players too much. But hey, they are such easy targets. Especially a guy like Morneau. Personally, I just can’t get over the idea that he is probably still dealing with post-concussion issues from LAST July. And now that he is back on the DL with a new wrist injury (plus the fact that he has been awful this year), I have to include him on the “Not” list. Before going on the DL, Morneau was just one for his last 16 ABs with only RBI. On the year, he is only hitting .225 with four home runs and 21 ribbies. Quite disappointing. To be fair, his partner-in-crime, Joe Mauer, hasn’t been there to protect him in the lineup, but still…it’s just too frustrating to see a former MVP struggle like this. Obviously he should be benched now that he is on the DL, but even when he comes back, it might be a good idea to see if he is capable of rebounding at all before he is started in fantasy baseball.
Trevor Cahill, OAK SP – Uh-oh. That young and talented A’s pitching staff is falling apart right now! Brett Anderson just landed on the DL, and this week’s “Who’s Not?” guest, Trevor Cahill, hasn’t won a start since May 9. Over the past week, the Oakland starter had two particularly bad outings against the White Sox and the Royals. In only seven innings pitched, Cahill surrendered 10 earned runs, allowed 12 hits, walked 10, and struck out only one. For the week, his ERA and WHIP were a pitiful 12.86 and 3.14 respectively. As a team, the A’s are currently in a downward spiral. They’re in last place in the AL West and they recently fired their manager a month before the All-Star break. Not good…not good AT ALL. For both the A’s and fantasy baseball owners, hopefully Cahill will bounce back as the year progresses. He is too good to keep losing starts, and sooner or later he will find his groove again. Don’t call me crazy, but I would keep Cahill active in all fantasy baseball lineups.
Heath Bell, SD RP – I’m not going to get on Heath Bell’s case right here. The guy is consistently reliable for the Padres, but right now he has hit a bit of a rough patch. In two out of his last three outings, Bell unfortunately received the loss. In games against the Rockies and the Nationals, the Padres’ closer gave up five hits, walked two, struck out only one, and surrendered four earned runs. Games like these are very untypical for Bell, so I would not get too worried about a couple of L’s on his record. As a team, the Padres pretty much stink, so when they do have leads, Bell is more than capable of closing out games for San Diego. Not too much else to say here. Keep him active because he is certainly going to be fine as the year moves along.