Baseball is great isn’t it? One week somebody can be “Hot,” and the next week they can be “Not.” Over the past week, a number of different players have been making headlines throughout the league. Some of these guys have seen their stock rise to unprecedented heights, while others have continued to slip in every category. Check out the list below to see which big leaguers are tearing it up (or struggling mightily) in fantasy baseball.
Fantasy Baseball Who’s Hot
Ben Zobrist – 2B/OF (TB)
After a dismal start to the season, the Rays have turned things around pretty quickly. One of their main problems had been lack of plate production; however, “Zorilla” certainly put an end to that worry after his stats from the past seven days earned him AL Player of the Week honors. From April 23 to April 30, Zobrist absolutely mashed the baseball. Including a doubleheader against the Twins in which he hit two homers, scored five runs, stole a base, and drove in 10, Zobrist finished the week batting .448 with a total of four home runs, nine runs scored, three stolen bases, and a ridiculous 18 RBIs. This type of production is obviously not to be expected on a frequent basis, but look for Zobrist to stay in the groove. With his versatility and hot bat, Zobrist is a must-start in fantasy at this point.
Adam Lind – 1B/DH (TOR)
Lind was in a huge hole to start off the 2011 season, but over the past week it looks like his bat is starting to come around. In the last seven days, the Jays’ first baseman hit a solid .344 with three jacks, seven runs scored, and 10 ribbies. Not to take anything away from Lind, but two of those homers and five of the 10RBIs came in a big game against the Rangers. Lind is capable of producing big numbers, so make sure to keep the Jays’ slugger in your fantasy baseball lineup as an everyday starter.
Alfonso Soriano – OF (CHC)
As a team, the Cubs are really struggling right now. However, their leftfielder, Alfonso Soriano, is not. On the year, Soriano has 11 home runs. Interestingly enough, the rest of the Cubbies have 11 homers as well…combined…as a team. Over this past week, Soriano really boosted his numbers when he smacked five homers, scored six runs, drove in six, and batted .400. Unfortunately, those six RBIs are disappointing to fantasy owners, but it is not Soriano’s fault if his teammates cannot get on base in front of him. Soriano strikes out a ton and he no longer possesses blazing speed, but look for the perennial slugger to keep on smacking big flies. With this type of power in his bat right now, Soriano needs to be starting in all fantasy lineups.
James Shields – SP (TB)
Over his past two starts, “Big Game James” has definitely lived up to his nickname. In two games against the Blue Jays and the Angels, Shields delivered the following stats: 17.0 IP, 10 hits, three walks, one earned run, 19 Ks, and a win (against the Jays). Historically, Shields has fallen victim to high BABIP (.342 in 2010) and inflated ERA (5.18 in 2010); however, those numbers are almost unrepeatable. Shields is a must-start fantasy pitcher right now, so look for him to continue to pitch well for the surging Rays.
Drew Storen – RP (WAS)
The Nats might have a hard time competing again this year, but it won’t be because of the backend of their bullpen. Despite manager Jim Riggleman’s indecisiveness in naming a permanent closer, Storen has gone out there and pitched like the job is already his. Over the past week, the young righty has pitched superbly. In 2.1 IP, Storen recorded two saves, struck out three, and allowed zero earned runs. If Storen keeps pitching like a lights-out closer, Riggleman will have no choice but to designate the young stud as his everyday closer. Pick up Storen and put him in your fantasy lineup…if he is still available.
Fantasy Baseball Who’s Not
Carlos Gonzalez – (OF) COL
After a breakout year in 2010, “CarGo” was at the top of every fantasy baseball draft board due to his production in multiple categories. Unfortunately, after a slow start to the 2011 season, Gonzalez is looking a bit overrated. Over the past week, Gonzalez batted a pitiful .167 with zero big flies, one run scored, two RBIs, and zero stolen bases. If the Rockies are to maintain their early lead in the NL West, Gonzalez will have to pick up the slack and help out his All-Star teammate Troy Tulowitzki. At this point, it is frustrating to watch Gonzalez continue to struggle; however, he possesses too much ability to struggle like this all year long. Be patient with the Rockies’ leftfielder and allow him to reassert himself as a fantasy baseball must-start.
Aramis Ramirez – 3B (CHC)
While his teammate Alfonso Soriano certainly belongs on the “Hot” list, Ramirez definitely belongs down here on the “Not” list. Most of the Cubs have been struggling at the plate lately, but the usually reliable Ramirez has been noticeably disappointing. Throughout the past seven days, the Cubs’ third bagger batted a lowly .208 with zero homers, one run scored, and only three RBIs. The Cubs’ struggles cannot be blamed entirely on Ramirez (e.g. Carlos Pena, Marlon Byrd), but if the team plans on competing in the NL Central, Ramirez will have to start swinging the lumber. Do what you will with Ramirez, but be aware that he is capable of breaking out at any moment.
Juan Pierre – OF (CWS)
Pierre is pretty much good for only a couple of statistics: runs and stolen bases. When he doesn’t produce in these categories, it’s safe to say that his stock is almost worthless. Unfortunately for Pierre and his fantasy owners, this past week his stock has gone belly-up. In seven games, the speedy White Sox outfielder batted a dreadful .148 with zero runs scored, one RBI, and zero stolen bases. He also had zero home runs, but he only has 14 for his entire career, so it’s not entirely fair to call him out for that. If Pierre wants to prove he is of any worth to both the White Sox and fantasy owners alike, he needs to find a way to get on base, swipe some bags, and score some runs. At this point, it might not be such a bad idea to bench Pierre in fantasy until he starts to produce.
Ryan Dempster – SP (CHC)
Sorry, Chicago. This isn’t a Windy City Bash Fest, but the fact of the matter is that both baseball teams are really in the gutter right now. One player who really has not helped make things any better is Cubs’ starting pitcher, Ryan Dempster. His past two starts have both been bad, but his last start is first ballot material for the “That Really Happened?” Hall of Fame. In .1 IP (yes, he only recorded ONE out) against the Diamondbacks on April 28, Dempster gave up four hits, walked four, struck out zero, and allowed seven earned runs. What were his ERA and WHIP you ask? ERA: 189.00, WHIP: 24.00. Things can’t get much worse for Dempster than a start like that, but to be completely honest, 2011 has been a rocky season altogether for the Cubs’ righty. Right now, keep Dempster on your fantasy bench. He will probably come around one of these days, but for now, his overall numbers are tough to stomach.
Craig Kimbrel – RP (ATL)
The young closer for the Braves has not been awful lately, but after a hot start to the 2011 season, he dealt with a couple of rough outings over the past week. In two games against the Cardinals, Kimbrel blew a save one night and recorded a loss the next. In those two outings, the young flamethrower allowed two earned runs, gave up four hits, and struck out only one in 1.1 innings of work. It’s only natural for a young closer to deal with adversity such as this, so don’t expect Kimbrel to worry too much about a couple of bad games. He remains the Braves closer and should remain a stud closer in all fantasy baseball leagues.