Well, summer is officially here, folks. The temperature will keep gettin’ hotter, and you know what that means? Yup, players across the league will be catching fire! Over the past week, a number of big leaguers were scorching; however, a few were really ice cold. If you want to see if anyone from your fantasy baseball team made this week’s “Who’s Hot? Who’s Not?” list, keep on reading and check out the list below.
Paul Konerko, CWS 1B – The White Sox still aren’t atop the AL Central, but Paul Konerko has done everything in his power to help his team contend. The 35-year-old first baseman appears to be getting better with age, and this season he is on pace for a career year. He is currently in the top five of the Triple Crown categories, and this past week he really padded his stats.
In seven games, Konerko batted .381 with four big flies, six RBIs, and six runs scored. Even if the White Sox continue to struggle, don’t expect their powerful first baseman to cool down any time soon. With his Triple Crown-like numbers, Konerko is an obvious must-start in fantasy baseball.
Michael Morse, WAS 1B – Where did this guy come from? Actually, who really cares, because no matter his place of origin, Morse can flat-out rake. With the Nationals going 8-2 in their last 10 games, Morse has really been a big part of his team’s recent success. Over the past week, Morse hit .375 with three homers, seven ribbies, and nine runs scored. On the year, the Nats’ first baseman has been a pleasant surprise with a .309 batting average, 13 home runs, and 43 RBIs. Even though Morse isn’t one of the bigger names out there for the Nationals-of-the-future (see Strasburg, Stephen; Harper, Bryce), it’s nice to see him putting up big numbers for our capital’s team. He is probably not still available in most leagues, but if he is, scoop Morse up ASAP because he is certainly worthy of serious playing time in fantasy baseball.
Shane Victorino, PHI OF – “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” has been scorchin’ for the Phightin’ Phils lately. As the Phillies continue to pile up the wins, Victorino continues to put up some nice numbers. In his past seven games, Victorino did a little bit of everything by batting .419 with two homers, seven RBIs, six runs scored, and two stolen bases. Once again, the Phils’ centerfielder is having a great all-around season, and he remains one of the more integral parts of the Philadelphia lineup. Victorino is solid in pretty much every 5×5 category, so continue to start him in all fantasy baseball leagues as he keeps on putting up great stats across the board.
Josh Beckett, BOS SP – Thank god it’s 2011 for all those Beckett owners out there. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out the “Odd Year Beckett” theory online and then you’ll see what I mean. Until then, I’ll just say that Beckett is having another great year. In his last start against the Rays, the Red Sox’s starter was lights out when he went the distance. In nine innings, Beckett struck out six, allowed zero earned runs, zero walks, and one infield single. Nice game, eh? On the year, “Country” Beckett is 6-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Owners shouldn’t expect Beckett to keep up his ridiculous numbers (regression is only natural), but there is no doubt that he is a top 10 starting pitcher right now. Keep Beckett active as he continues to deal like a fantasy baseball ace.
Craig Kimbrel, ATL RP – I love this guy Kimbrel. He brings heat similar to that of Ken DeNunez from The Sandlot. But who cares what I think. I know that the Braves and fantasy baseball owners like him…and that’s all that matters. In five innings of work over the past week, the Braves’ closer recorded two saves and allowed zero hits, zero earned runs, and struck out 10 (he did walk three for all of you WHIP nuts out there!). Kimbrel now has 20 saves on the year (tied for second in the league) and he continues to be a strikeout machine (his 58 Ks is the most of any closer). Definitely keep the young stud closer active in fantasy baseball because he is pretty much automatic right now for Atlanta.
Rajai Davis, TOR OF – When you don’t really do much of anything for your team, you’re not really valuable. I know it sounds obvious, but hey, it’s the truth. Such is the case with Blue Jays’ outfielder Rajai Davis. He doesn’t hit homers, he doesn’t drive in runs, he doesn’t have a good batting average, he doesn’t score a ton of runs, and when he doesn’t contribute in his one area of expertise (stolen bases) then what is he good for? Over the past week, Davis was pretty much dispensable when he hit a lowly .158 with no homers, no RBIs, no stolen bases, and one, measly run scored. As for the entire 2011 season up to this point, Davis really isn’t having a great year. He does have 18 SBs, but he needs to get on base more if he is going to be a useful asset to both the Jays and fantasy owners alike. Stolen bases are hard to come by, so if you desperately need them, it’s OK to keep Davis active; however, aside from his bag-swiping abilities, he isn’t worth much else. Start him if you want.
Colby Rasmus, STL OF – I still like the tremendous potential of Rasmus, but it’s really frustrating to watch his continuous struggles at the plate. I know it’s frustrating for Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa too because he seems content with keeping Rasmus out of the lineup for the time being. Over the past week, Rasmus’ numbers continued to dip as he batted a paltry .182 with zero home runs, one RBI, and two runs scored. On the year Rasmus is only an average player at best, and if La Russa decides to play other guys over him, then Rasmus’ stock will plummet even further. The talent is there, but the numbers aren’t. I can’t advise starting him at this point, but he isn’t so awful that he doesn’t deserve to play at all in fantasy baseball. Keep an eye on the Cardinals’ lineup situation to see if Rasmus will get steady playing time. If he does, then the decision to start him is up to you.
Mike Stanton, FLA OF – Let’s be fair here. The entire Marlins’ squad deserves to be on here at this point because they are downright pathetic. And if we want to talk about overall fantasy production, Hanley Ramirez is the most disappointing Marlin of them all. But for this week, Mike Stanton makes the “Not” list. Rumors swirled that Stanton was recently experiencing vision problems, so let’s hope that’s the case because after looking at his numbers from the past week, it appears as if he couldn’t see the ball at all. Stanton batted only .105 with nothing else to contribute…NOTHING. The young Marlins’ outfielder is having a decent year (aside from batting average), so his recent struggles shouldn’t be anything to get too worried about. However, cross your fingers in hopes that everything is alright with Stanton’s eyes. With his tremendous power, Stanton is one of the few bright spots in Miami these days. Keep him active in fantasy baseball and watch him drop bombs for the Marlins.
Chad Billingsley, LAD SP – Barf. That pretty much describes Billingsley’s numbers over the past week (and on the year for that matter). In an absolutely awful start against the Reds, Billingsley lasted only four innings. In those four innings of work, the Dodgers’ starter only struck out three while surrendering seven earned runs on nine hits and four walks. In case you were wondering, those numbers add up to a 15.75 ERA and 3.25 WHIP respectively. Overall, this season really isn’t shaping up the way Billingsley, or fantasy baseball owners, had hoped. He isn’t the worst option out there, but there are definitely better starting pitchers to be had than Billingsley. Hopefully he can turn it around, but if he continues to have poor outings, it might be time to think about picking up a free agent pitcher to use in Billingsley’s place.
J.J. Putz, ARI RP – Putz has been more than solid for the Diamondbacks in 2011, but he did hit a little rough patch over the past week. In two outings against the Giants, Putz pitched two innings, allowed four hits, surrendered three earned runs, and struck out only one. Additionally, one of those outings resulted in a blown save for the Diamondbacks’ closer. As I mentioned above, Putz is really having a nice season, so don’t worry if he was a bit shaky in his last couple of outings. The Diamondbacks look like legitimate contenders this year, and if they want to stay competitive in the NL West race they will certainly need to rely on Putz at the end of games. Keep him active and hope that he keeps on racking up saves.