Fantasy Baseball: Who’s Hot? Who’s Not? Week 9

New week, new players.  The season is sailing along as we move into June, and each week different players are finding themselves on the “Who’s Hot? Who’s Not?” list.  Check out this week’s list to see if any players from your fantasy baseball team are heating up (or cooling down).

Who’s Hot

Albert Pujols, STL 1B – “The Machine” is back, baby!  Actually, did he ever leave?  Yea, he started off the year slow, but so what?  Every great player is prone to slumps here and there, but when Pujols wasn’t dropping bombs right out of the gate, you would have thought the end of the world was near the way all the doubters and naysayers were putting in their two cents.  Give the guy a break.  He has ten straight seasons of .300/30/100 for cryin’ out loud.  But who cares what I think…enough ranting on my part.  Over the past week, Pujols showed why he is the best player in baseball by unleashing his wrath upon opposing pitchers.

Two consecutive walk-off home runs? That's not all Pujols did last week.

In seven games, Pujols batted .444 with five homers (two of which were walk-offs), 10 RBIs, 11 runs scored, and two stolen bases.  In my humble opinion, I think it’s obvious that Pujols is dealing with the pressures of playing in a contract year; however, I also think he is experiencing a bit of bad luck.  I say this because his BABIP is currently .261, which is the lowest of his career by 31 points.  If I had to guess, I’d bet that number will increase by the end of the year and we’ll be looking at his eleventh straight year of .300/30/100.  Don’t even question whether or not you should keep this monster active in fantasy baseball…it’s insulting.

Matt Kemp, LAD OF – Will somebody please call the fire department?  Matt Kemp is on fire!  “The Bison” really looks zoned in this year, and he appears focused on proving his critics wrong after he experienced a rough season in 2010.  So far in 2011, Kemp has put all his tools on display as he is producing in every major 5×5 category.  Over the past week, the Dodgers’ outfielder padded his stats a bit by mashing the ball all over the field.  In his past seven games, Kemp batted .409 with four home runs, 13 RBIS, six runs scored, and one stolen base.  Despite all the negativity surrounding the Dodgers these days, Kemp has been able to stay locked and loaded.  At the rate he is producing, and with his five-tool talents, Kemp is an obvious must-start in all fantasy baseball lineups.

Michael Bourn, HOU OF – Speed kills.  It’s a fact…I think.  Even if it’s not a fact, Michael Bourn has blazing speed and he has been killing it on the bases.  The Astros’ speedy outfielder is currently first in the MLB with 25 steals, thanks in large part to the grand larceny he committed over this past week.  In seven games against the Cubs and Padres, Bourn swiped seven bags to go along with a .344 batting average, four RBIS, and five runs scored.  Although the Astros’ might be a pathetic bunch, Bourn has been anything but in 2011.  He certainly won’t deliver in the power department (one homer so far), but what he lacks in strength he makes up for with speed.  Bourn also has a solid batting average and currently ranks tenth in the league in runs scored, but the area that really makes him a must-start in fantasy baseball is his ability to swipe bags at will.  Keep this human cheetah active because his steals are way too valuable to be sitting on the bench.

Alexi Ogando, TEX SP – A number of pitchers deserved to make the “Hot” list this week, but I went with Ogando this week because he has been simply amazing so far in 2011.  Where did he even come from?  It’s like he just fell from the sky and started owning it on the mound.  On the year, Ogando is 6-0 with a 2.20 ERA and a league-leading 0.88 WHIP.  The guy is pitching like a stud, and over the past week he didn’t miss a beat.  In his win against the Indians, Ogando went eight strong while striking out six, allowing four hits, walking one, and surrendering only one earned run.  Fellow Ranger C.J. Wilson might be number one on the depth chart for Texas, but Ogando is pitching like the true ace of the staff right now.  Ogando might hit a few bumps in the near future (that’s just the way it works, folks), but he is a definite must-start in fantasy baseball.  Keep him active and hope that his dominance can continue.

Brandon League, SEA RP – Brandon League is the closer for the Mariners?  I just found out who he was like, 10 minutes ago (OK, I knew who he was, but you get my point).  Even though League might not be one of the household names out there right now, he is pitching like a top-end closer and is currently tied for the AL-lead in saves with the greatest of them all, Mariano Rivera.  Over the past week, the Mariners’ closer continued to build up his reputation when he recorded three saves and surrendered zero earned runs and only one hit in three innings of work.  Despite an atrocious lineup, the Mariners’ have played solid baseball so far in 2011, due in large part to their solid pitching.  If he is still available, pick up League ASAP and get him in your lineup right away.  With the lack of runs scored by the M’s,  he will certainly have the opportunity to save games and could end up being one of the better pickups around the league…pun INTENDED.

Who’s Not

Casey McGehee, MIL 3B – This guy came out of nowhere last year, and now this year he…well, he’s kind of back where he started.  McGehee was definitely a nice surprise for a number of lucky fantasy owners last year, but so far in 2011, he has does nothing except disappoint for those who picked him.  Over the past week, things didn’t get any better for the Brewers’ third baseman.  He failed to pick up a hit in six games played and his only contribution was one, measly RBI.  On the year, McGehee is batting a paltry .238 and he has hit only four home runs.  In fact, things have gotten so bad for McGehee lately that the Brewers decided to bench him in favor of Craig Counsell (he still plays?).  If he wants to be of any value to fantasy baseball owners, McGehee will have to start picking up the slack and prove that he is not just a one-year wonder.  For now, it might not be such a bad idea to take a page out of the Brewers’ playbook—bench McGehee if need be.

Shin-Soo Choo, CLE OF – For the past few years now, Choo has been one of baseball’s most underrated players.  Not many people know that he is a .300 hitter and a perennial 20-20 threat.  He quietly produces solid numbers and basically flies under the radar.  However, there is one radar that Choo couldn’t avoid.  In early May, Choo was stopped for swerving his vehicle and ultimately received a DUI.  Choo has admitted that his arrest is weighing heavily on his mind, and as a result his stats have taken a major hit.  Over the past week, Choo continued to struggle as he batted a lowly .160 with zero homers, zero RBIS, zero SBs, and only one run scored.  Even though the Indians are playing great baseball without production from their top hitter, at some point Choo will have to start hitting to help his team stay atop the AL Central.  Choo has proven before that he is a 5×5 stud, so keep him active in all fantasy baseball lineups and pray that he is able to turn things around.

Alex Rios, CWS OF – It seems like a different White Sox player makes the “Not” list every week, and this time it just so happens to be Alex Rios’ turn.  Rios has really been struggling in 2011, and to make matters worse, his stats from this past week didn’t help his cause one bit.  In six games, Rios batted a miserable .118 with zero home runs, one RBI, and one run scored.  On the year, Rios is batting sub-.200 (along with teammate Adam Dunn) and really isn’t producing in any other area either (29 runs scored isn’t too bad in all honesty).  As a result of his lack of production, manager Ozzie Guillen decided to give Rios a few days off for a “mental break.”  If he doesn’t start to hit, fantasy baseball owners might want to think about giving Rios a “mental break” as well.  It’s probably best to bench Rio at this point until he begins to prove that he is worthy of being started in fantasy baseball lineups.

Max Scherzer, DET SP – What happened to Scherzer?  A few weeks ago he was arguably a top 25 starting pitcher in fantasy baseball, and then he decided to get blown up over his next two starts.  Even though he didn’t receive the loss in his last outing against the Twins, Scherzer got hit around quite a bit (by the worst hitting team in the AL!).  In 6.2 IP, Scherzer gave up seven runs while allowing nine hits and one walk.  He did strike out seven batters, but this was his second consecutive start in which he surrendered seven earned runs.  In all fairness, Scherzer has been solid in 2011, but two awful starts in a row will land a player on the “Not” list for sure.  Despite his pair of poor outings, Scherzer has a ton of talent and will likely rebound without a problem.  He is definitely worthy of being started in all fantasy baseball leagues.

Carlos Marmol, CHC RP – This guy is scary on the mound.  He can be scary good, and then he can be scary bad.  He is basically the Jekyll and Hyde of closers.  Unfortunately, he makes the “Not” list this week because of his Hyde-side.  In four innings pitched over this past week, Marmol blew two saves and recorded one loss while allowing nine hits, two walks, and seven earned runs.  On the week, his ERA and WHIP were 15.75 and 2.75 respectively.  Not good.  As a team, the Cubs are really struggling in 2011, so when they do have the lead in close games, Marmol will need to saddle up and shut the door on opposing teams.  Overall, Marmol is one of the more dangerous closers in the league (for reasons both good and bad).  With his ability to strikeout batters like it’s no big deal, Marmol is a solid, but somewhat shaky, option at closer.  He will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat, but with his talent, Marmol is a must-start in all fantasy baseball leagues.

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