If there’s one thing you can say about Saturday’s games, there was quite the flair for the dramatic. It seems like every game you turned to, there was something big happening. There were three walk-off home runs, two complete-game shutouts, Derek Jeter tied George Brett for 14th on the all-time hits list, and yet another Heath Bell meltdown. We had more great pitching performances and plenty of offense to keep your fantasy teams juiced. So without further ado, let’s get to the highlights…
|Johan Santana, NYM||9.0||4||0||0||0||7||0||0.00||0.44|
Now it just seems like the universe is playing games with me. This is three columns in a row that I now have to single out Mets pitching, but again, credit where credit is due. For the first time since August 12, 2010, Johan Santana hurled a complete-game shutout and doing it on 96 pitches with no walks and just four hits makes it all the more impressive for a pitcher who missed the entire 2011 season with shoulder surgery. Granted, it was against the Padres, a team that has the ability to make a lot of pitchers look like Cy Young, but it was still a performance worthy of the Fantasy Beast of the Day as an outing like this always does big things for a fantasy team.
|Mark Teixeira, 1B NYY||4-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI|
|Jason Kipnis, 2B CLE||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI|
|Dayan Viciedo, OF CHW||3-5, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI|
|Alex Rios, OF CHW||3-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI|
|Kyle Kendrick, SP PHI||W, CG, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 4 K|
OK, so why does Santana get the nod for Fantasy Beast over Kyle Kendrick? I could say less hits allowed and more strikeouts, but it goes a little deeper than that. While Kendrick pitched a dynamic game, the chance of it actually being relevant in a lot of leagues is what made the difference for me. Coming into the game, Kendrick had zero wins, a 5.23 ERA and just 20 strikeouts in just over 32 innings. Sure, he had two solid outings leading up to this, but in truth, he was barely worth streaming for a lot of fantasy players out there. I’m sure he’s owned in numerous NL-only leagues or really deep mixed leagues, but even then, it’s hard to imagine that many people had him in the active lineup. For Santana, his numbers were better across the board and just his name alone puts him into most people’s starting lineups. So while Kendrick did unbelievably well, I just could give him the Beast tag.
So a frustrated Mark Teixeira tells reporters two days ago that he’s tired of just trying to put the ball into play. That he wants to go back to being the hitter he was, and defensive shift be damned, he’s swinging for the fences again. Cue the fantasy owner drool! He hit a home run on Friday night and now follows it up with a two-homer Saturday afternoon and, once again, Teixeira looks fierce at the plate. He’s seeing the ball well and he’s just tearing the cover off of it now. This should be fun to watch in the coming weeks, especially if you’re an owner.
Without much fanfare, Jason Kipnis is putting together a very nice season for himself. And he’s doing great things for fantasy owners who took a chance on the youngster late in their drafts. After a somewhat slow April, Kipnis has really turned things around her in May and is now batting .272 with eight home runs and eight stolen bases. While I never really like to quote “on-pace” numbers, it’s really hard not to get excited about such promise for a 20-20 season.
There have been a number of emails and tweets regarding Dayan Viciedo lately, as it seems like the former Cuban star has really turned a corner lately. He’s got the average up to a much more tolerable .264 and now has three straight multi-hit games with a home run in each and has eight RBI during this mini-stretch. He’s seen a few upticks in his batted ball data, but nothing that seems so outlandish that you’d think this was just a fluke, so if you’re looking for a quick power boost and he’s available, then grab him while you can. He won’t hit like this all season long as every player has his peaks and valleys, but he should do enough to sustain a strong level of play for atleast a little while.
The always enigmatic Alex Rios shines again. He’s hit safely in four straight games with three home runs and eight RBI and is looking like the Alex of old…well, the Alex of 2010 and 2007, that is. It’s hard to get behind a guy who has disappointed so many, so often, but you’ve got to ride this streak while you can.
And a few that didn’t make the leaderboard but are still worth mentioning…..
Though there’s limited fantasy relevance to the list, a big shout-out to Derek Jeter for climbing up the all-time hits list and tying the great George Brett for the number 14 spot. An RBI-single in the third inning gave him #15 all by himself and then his bunt-single in the fifth tied him with Brett. Figure by then end of business on Sunday, we’ll have the tie broken? Probably. Unless you’re a senseless hater who obviously can’t appreciate one of the best players in the game because he has a high-profile and plays for the Yankees, you’ve got to love the season he’s already put together. While he’s never going to be one to hit for big power or steal a ton of bases (come on, this is his 18th season now), he’s already well on his way to surpassing his fantasy value from the last two seasons.
Congratulations to Adam Jones for receiving the largest contract in Orioles history – six years, $85.5M. With his growth over the last few years, coupled with this season’s .309 average, 14 home runs, eight stolen bases and the current 16-game hit streak, he is certainly deserving of it. Now fantasy owners just have to hope that all that cash isn’t going to relax him to the point where he starts to slow down on the field. He talked plenty about playing hard and winning a championship in his press conference, so let’s hope he practices what he’s preaching.
This feud between the Red Sox and the Rays is getting nasty, but what better way to shut the yapping up than a walk-off home run to win the game. Jarrod Saltlamacchia fuels the fire with his first ever walk-off which also happened to be his first ever pinch-hit homer. With a .274 average, eight home runs and 21 RBI, Salty is definitely exceeding expectations right now.
And speaking of walk-offs, what a way for Josh Hamilton to hit his 20th home run of the season. After an 11-game home run drought, Hamilton has now gone deep in his last two and is still just putting up crazy numbers. Interesting to see if he works himself back onto the Barry Bonds pace, but even if he doesn’t, a full season of this is going to be scary.
And finally, don’t look now, but Bryce Harper has a nice, little six-game hit streak working here. He went 2-for-4 with his third home run of the season and now has four multi-hit games during this streak. Any doubts about whether this kid was all flash and no substance can probably be put to bed.
|Kendrys Morales, 1B LAA||0-4, 4 K|
|Josh Willingham, OF MIN||0-4, 4 K|
|Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL||0-4, 3 K|
|Zack Greinke, SP MIL||L, 27.00 ERA, 5.57 WHIP, 3 K|
|Fernando Rodney, RP TB||L, BS, 54.00 ERA, 6.00 WHIP|
No real need to address the names above here as we’re looking at five guys most people would not only love to have on their fantasy team, but would be leaving them in their starting lineups on a regular basis. Sure, Kendrys Morales is struggling to hit for power right now, but if you didn’t think he was going to have some difficulties making it back to full strength after having missed all of last year, then you were fooling yourself. Not easy to come back from an ankle injury of that magnitude, especially from a hitting standpoint. But it’s just a matter of time before things start to click for him again. If you don’t own him and can find a frustrated owner, then try and pry him away as his second half will be the time you’ll really want to have him.
Now as for some ugliness that didn’t make the list…
Heath Bell? Really? How is Ozzie Guillen still standing behind this guy? Has to be ownership and money talking because every time this guy comes out to the mound, people are starting to write the Fish off. If you own Bell and you don’t own Steve Cishek, then you’re playing this game wrong. Gotta keep yourself covered here, because I just can’t see this going on for too much longer.
Dale Thayer’s implosion on the mound on Saturday was certainly leaderboard worthy, but I kept him off because it was a non-save situation. I understand that sometimes a guy needs work, but isn’t that what side-sessions are for? I don’t even like bringing in my closer during a tie game. Again, I understand why managers do it, but seeing how most ninth inning specialists perform in non-save situations, you’d think that someone would put the kibosh on it at some point.
Miguel Montero, C ARI – groin (doubtful
Freddie Freeman, 1B ATL – eyes (questionable)
Brian McCann, C ATL – illness (questionable)
Travis Hafner, DH CLE – knee (doubtful)
Carlos Santana, C CLE – head (7-day DL for concussion)
Dexter Fowler, OF COL – ankle (doubtful)
Jarrod Dyson, OF KC – hamstring (questionable)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B MIL – elbow (questionable)
Cameron Maybin, OF SD – wrist (doubtful)
Josh Hamilton, OF TEX – illness (questionable)
Mike Napoli, C TEX – illness (questionable)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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