Well, we are officially a week deep into the 2011 fantasy baseball season. It might be a bit premature to start giving Add/Drop advice, but it’s never too early to say “Who’s HOT” and “Who’s NOT.” Check out the list below of guys who have started off 2011 on the right (or wrong) foot, and fill some holes in your fantasy baseball lineup.
Mark Teixeira, NYY – Known as a notoriously slow-starter in March/April (career .237 BA), Teixeira shed that moniker and began the 2011 season with a bang. Through the first six games, “Tex” has gone yard four times, driven in 10 runs, scored six runs, and is batting a solid .286. Teixeira’s hot start has to have fantasy owners excited about the upcoming months, and if the big switch-hitting first baseman can stay in a season-long groove, fans in the outfield stands of New Yankee Stadium will be in for a summer treat.
Nelson Cruz, TEX – The whole Rangers lineup is worthy of making the “Who’s HOT” list right now but Nelson Cruz is certainly the hottest of them all. He became just the third player in MLB history to hit four homeruns in the first four games of the season, joining the likes of two legendary long ball hitters—Willie Mays and Mark McGwire. To go alongside his homers, Cruz has knocked in 6 runs, scored 7 runs, and is batting .350. Cruz sure looks primed for a big year in fantasy, and in a deep, lethal Texas lineup, he should have no problem tearing apart opposing pitching.
Carlos Quentin, CWS – After making the All-Star team in 2008, Quentin had so-so years in 2009 and 2010 due to injuries and prolonged slumps. However, Quentin has come out of the gates in 2011 looking hungry to get back to All-Star form. In a revamped White Sox lineup, Quentin has easily been the biggest star. With 2 round-trippers, 10 RBIs, 6 runs, and an astronomical .458 BA, Quentin needs to be starting in all fantasy lineups right now. If he stays this hot, Quentin should be playing in Phoenix come July.
Jered Weaver, LAA – The ace of the Halos staff has come out firing to start the 2011 campaign. With two wins already under his belt, Weaver has recorded 12 strikeouts, given up only 5 hits, and allowed 1 measly, earned run. Through 13 innings pitched, the Cali native has a 0.69 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. Let’s just hope that the Angels can provide the run support that robbed Weaver of too many wins last year. However, regardless of his team’s offensive production, look for Weaver to stay hot and continue to develop into one of the league’s premier starters.
Mariano Rivera, NYY – Is this guy ever NOT hot? Who cares if Mo is 41 years old; he has started 2011 pitching like a young stud. In 4.1 innings pitched, Rivera has given up only 2 hits, notched 4 strikeouts, and recorded 4 saves. Oh yeah, and he hasn’t allowed an earned run or a walk yet. “The Man with One Pitch” is certainly playing the part of the greatest closer ever, and if the Yankees continue to play close games, they have no need to worry about who will close it out in the ninth—and neither should those who are fortunate enough to own Rivera in fantasy baseball.
Kevin Youkilis, BOS – Youk has the burden of making a switch from first base to the hot corner, but this transition shouldn’t affect his work at the plate. Unfortunately, through the Red Sox first 6 games, Youkilis looks lost at the dish. In 19 ABs, Youk is batting a lowly .105 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, and 5 strikeouts. However, fantasy owners shouldn’t worry just yet. Most of the Sox hitters are struggling to find their groove at the plate, and given Youk’s past numbers and the potential throughout the Boston lineup, the Sox new third-bagger should find his swing sooner rather than later.
Vernon Wells, LAA – Wells was supposed to struggle a bit in Anaheim due to his new home park being a bit unfriendly towards right-handed hitters. However, he has yet to play in Anaheim. Through the first two series of 2011, the Angel’s biggest off-season acquisition put up the following numbers: .111 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, and 8 Ks. If the Angels want to get back on top of the AL West, Wells will have to come through for his new ball club. It’s very early in the season and he is playing for a new team, but fantasy owners should certainly keep an eye on Well’s progress.
Mike Pelfrey, NYM – Pelfrey has never been an awfully powerful pitcher, but his two first starts have been powerfully awful. In just 6.1 IP, Pelfrey has given up 12 H, allowed 11 ER, and struck out only 3 batters. He is lucky to have only one loss on his record, but if he plans on winning any ball games for the Mets this year, Pelfrey needs to step it up a bit on the hill. Fantasy-wise, the Mets’ number one starter should bounce back; however, right now he isn’t worth owning unless he is needed in deeper leagues.
Tampa Bay Rays Hitting – Yeah, so they lost Carl Crawford, but did anybody think they’re hitting would be this bad? With Evan Longoria on the shelf and new additions Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon not producing, the Rays are easily the league’s worst hitting team through the first week. Currently, they rank last in runs (8), RBIs (8), BA (.145), and OBP (.217) among other categories. If the Rays want to remain a playoff-caliber team, they desperately need to start swinging the lumber.
Boston Red Sox Starting Pitching – With a potentially deadly batting order, Red Sox starters weren’t supposed to worry about throwing shutouts. However, they weren’t supposed to throw duds either. After one go-round through the rotation, the Sox starters had generated the following stat line: 25.1 IP, 10 HR, 12 K, 32 H, and 24 ER. The starters were especially bad in Texas when they got absolutely demolished by the Rangers’ hitters. Although Boston’s batters haven’t done much to help the cause, the Sox starting pitching will have to greatly improve if this team plans on making a World Series run.