Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Matchups (July 3rd)

Martin Prado leads the majors with 114 hits.

In this week’s addition, we highlight guys that are somewhat underappreciated in the fantasy realm despite their massive production. All of these guys are players that could carry your team down the stretch and provide great results all summer long. Having said that, let FBS guide your team to success.

Hitters: Avg/HR/RBI/R

1.Martin Prado, 2B ATL: .337/7/36/56

Despite being 5th in the MLB in AVG., Prado still doesn’t claim the attention in fantasyland that he deserves. He is the MLB leader in hits with 114 on the year and has done nothing but exceed expectations since being handed the 2B job at the beginning of the year. It seems that this guy has at least one hit in every game and just won’t slow down. All he does is hit and is currently on pace to shatter all of his previous career highs. With a .377 OBP and a .485 SLUG, Prado’s .862 OPS is tremendous for a non-power hitter. Roll with him in any and all formats, as he’s especially valuable in those leagues that have hits as a category.

2.David Wright, 3B NYM: .312/14/63/45

One look at Wright’s 2009 line and it’s easy to see why the Mets are happy to have the real Wright back in Flushing this year. In a lost season, the talented 3B had 10 homers and 72 RBI. This year, he’s already surpassed that HR total with 14 and leads the NL with 63 RBI already. Pair those stats with his 13 SB’s, and he’s been quite the draft-day bargain for fantasy owners. He’s on pace to have his best season ever, despite the constant chirping from the critics. He’s cut down on his strikeouts since the year started and has really come into a zone. He has a .546 slugging percentage and has an outside shot at a 30/30 season. Not too shabby.

3.Joey Votto, 1B CIN: .314/19/57/53

Votto has been an absolute machine for fantasy owners this season and is showing no signs of slowing down. He’s reached base safely in a ridiculous 40 straight games. He’s getting on base at a .416 clip and has firmly implanted himself as one of the game’s best 1B. He is primed to surpass his previous career high in homers (25) as well as RBI (97). Votto is also boasting his best OBP of any year since being called up to the majors, so there is a long laundry list of reasons to jump aboard the V-Train. He’s also got five homers and 14 RBI in his last 11 games. He is an elite fantasy option.

4.Carl Crawford, OF TB: .319/7/39/60

One look at Crawford’s stat line and fantasy owners can tell that this guy can run. He is third in the MLB in runs scored, and is just one SB (he has 29) behind MLB-leading Juan Pierre (30). Crawford’s ability to get hits at a rapid rate greatly aids his fantasy appeal as he’s had two 4-hit games over the last seven games. His fantasy value lies in his ability to stay on base and steal bases, so as long as he’s doing that he remains a top fantasy OF in any format. Crawford is on pace to score over 100 runs this season, which would be the first time since 2005 that he’s done that. His career high in SB is 60, and assuming he stays healthy, he has the potential to eclipse that as well.

5.Gaby Sanchez, 1B FLA: .305/9/38/41

Sanchez may be the must-underrated 1B in all of fantasy baseball. While he doesn’t hit a ton of home runs nor drive in a ton of runs, he does do a little bit of everything, which is perfect for fantasy purposes. He hit .375 during the month of June with four homers, six doubles, and 16 RBI. He’s firmly implanted himself as a must-start option in any format as his success at this level is for real.

Pitchers

1.Mat Latos, SD SP: 9-4, 2.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 91 K

Latos is on fire right now as evidenced by his four game winning streak. He’s allowed just five runs over that span (1.35 ERA) and has only given up more than two runs in a start one time since May 1 (12 starts). Frankly, he’s been everything that the Pads could’ve hoped for on his sophomore campaign, and is strikingly similar to Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. At 22, he’s less than a year apart from the phenom as well. Fantasy owners should be well aware of his prowess as he makes the baseball world realize that there may be a young phenom on both coasts these days in the MLB.

2.Felix Hernandez, SP SEA: 6-5, 3.03 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 116 K

Most fantasy owners were looking to trade King Felix in mid-May when they couldn’t stomach his string of bad starts, but this guy is just too good to not have success at the MLB level. Here’s an impressive stat: the king has gone at least 8.2 IP in all four of his last starts, including three straight nine inning performances. He’s also gone at least 8 IP in six of his last seven and is 4-1 over those starts. He’s given up four ER in his last four starts (1.26 ERA) and has 37 K in that time. Look for Hernandez to keep it going in a two-start week against KC and NYY.

3.Clayton Richard, SP SD: 6-4, 2.74 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 81 K

I think it’s safe to say that Richard has adapted to his new surroundings in San Diego. In fact, he’s really come into his own this season since being acquired by the Padres in the Jake Peavy deal. Richard was absolutely phenomenal in June, lowering his ERA from 3.00 when the month began. He’s pitching well both at home and on the road, so he is no longer just a spot starter. Richard had a career high 10 strikeouts in his last start, and with two starts this week against Washington and Colorado, it’s time to see if this kid is the real deal or if he’s simply been riding a wave of luck.

4.Jered Weaver, SP LAA: 8-3, 2.82 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 124 K

Wow. Is there anyone that saw Jered Weaver leading the MLB in strikeouts at the statistical midway point of the season? If so, don’t count me among them. Weaver has surpassed any and all expectations of fantasy owners this season, amassing a very impressive resume thus far. What is most encouraging about Weaver is that he’s pitching his best baseball of the season right now. Over his last three outings, Weaver has given up just two ER over 21 IP and has struck out 28 batters over that same span. Enjoy.

5.Jon Lester, SP BOS: 9-3, 2.86 ERA,, 1.11 WHIP, 111 K

Lester has been an absolute fantasy stud this season. After hitting a few minor bumps in the road at the beginning of the season, owners were scrambling in the hopes of finding the “real” Jon Lester; well, owners certainly didn’t have to look far. He’s been absolutely remarkable this season and has an astounding 111 strikeouts in 107 IP. Perhaps more impressive than that is that he has only given up four ER over his last 22 IP and has 22 K in that span. He’s a two-start pitcher this week against Baltimore & Toronto and has the ability to help your team in multiple categories.

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