The Hit Parade is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Each week, we'll assess Fantasy-relevant hitters based on streaks, matchups, injuries and lineup changes and divide them into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."
These designations are designed to rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole.
Any player dealing with injury will have the injury listed in parentheses after his name. His condition will most definitely influence his category designation for the week.
Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be at or below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.
The information has been updated through Saturday, April 7.
Josh Donaldson, who technically plays third base for the Athletics, is a candidate to move up on this list in the weeks ahead since he's one of the few catcher-eligible players with an opportunity for everyday at-bats. But if he ends up splitting time with Eric Sogard, which has been the case so far, he'll end up getting as many off days as any other catcher, thereby losing the advantage of playing out of position. Plus, he's unproven in the majors, so for now, he remains just an AL-only option.
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Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Wilson Ramos, Nationals
Second week in a row, I know, but with a starting percentage of 53, Ramos is clearly one of the more underappreciated catchers in Fantasy. Despite his slow start to the season, he's in line for a big Fantasy Week 2 (April 9-15). Not only is he on one of only six teams with seven games, but he's facing the portions of the Mets and Reds rotations that, apart from Mat Latos, don't bring much to the table.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Ryan Doumit, Twins
The Twins' decision to make Chris Parmelee their primary first baseman, bumping Justin Morneau to DH, leaves Doumit without a regular lineup spot. He's versatile enough that he's still likely to get semi-regular at-bats against righties, but considering the only four righties the Twins face this week are Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz, you should probably steer clear of him.
No-brainers: Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Miguel Montero, Alex Avila, Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Jesus Montero
Advisable starts: Yadier Molina, Russell Martin, J.P. Arencibia, Geovany Soto, Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki
Shaky starts: Devin Mesoraco, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Doumit, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz, Chris Iannetta, John Buck, A.J. Pierzynski, Nick Hundley, Ramon Hernandez
Strictly AL/NL-only: Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Wilin Rosario, Yorvit Torrealba, Josh Thole, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Hanigan, Jason Castro, Chris Snyder, A.J. Ellis
Don't bother: Salvador Perez (knee), Tyler Flowers
The Angels have good matchups this week against the back end of the Twins rotation and the non-CC Sabathia portion of the Yankees rotation, yet Mark Trumbo still appears in the "strictly AL/NL-only" category. Look, if you're stashing him, fine -- he obviously has plenty of power potential -- but he doesn't have a clear starting job. He's not getting any at-bats at first base with Albert Pujols there, and he's not getting many at DH with Kendrys Morales back. Until we know exactly how the Angels will distribute the at-bats between him and Alberto Callaspo at third base, Trumbo is a player better left for your bench.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Adam Dunn, White Sox
Dunn followed up his six-homer spring with a (throwback) monster blast at Texas in the team's season opener Friday. So far in 2012, the 32-year-old slugger has given every reason to believe his misrable 2011 was a fluke. He still has a ways to go to win back the trust of Fantasy owners, but his schedule should lend him a hand this week. He has typically fared worse against left-handers over his career, hitting .064 against them last year, and he faces only one this week. Among the righties he faces are low-end types like Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Freddie Freeman, Braves
Based on his performance this spring, Freeman could be in line for another step forward this season, but this week doesn't figure to be his best. He hit only .247 with a .707 OPS against left-handers last season, and the Braves have four lefties on tap this week. Should you honestly sit Freeman for Dunn? Well, you wouldn't drop him for Dunn, so if you can only afford to roster one, no. But if you can afford to roster both, sure, make the switch.
|1.||Mat Gamel, 3B, Brewers||14|
|2.||Cody Ross, OF, Red Sox||14|
|3.||Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals||10|
|4.||Chris Parmelee, 1B, Twins||10|
|5.||Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics||8|
|6.||Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox||7|
|7.||Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers||6|
|8.||Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs||6|
|9.||Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Blue Jays||6|
|10.||J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros||6|
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, Eric Hosmer, Lance Berkman, Michael Young, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli
Advisable starts: Michael Cuddyer, Kendrys Morales, Adam Dunn, Lucas Duda
Shaky starts: Justin Morneau, Mark Reynolds (calf), Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion, Ike Davis, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Lee, Justin Smoak, Adam Lind, Carlos Pena, Paul Goldschmidt, Daniel Murphy, Brandon Belt, Todd Helton, Aubrey Huff, Mitch Moreland, James Loney
Strictly AL/NL-only: Mark Trumbo, Chris Parmelee, Chris Davis, Adam LaRoche, Ty Wigginton, Garrett Jones, Casey Kotchman, Juan Rivera, Jesus Guzman
Don't bother: Michael Morse (lat), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Mike Carp (shoulder)
Because the talent at second base thins out pretty quickly in deeper leagues, a lot of the lower-level players are kind of in between categories most weeks. Technically, owners in deeper AL- and NL-only leagues might have no choice but to start some in the "don't bother" category, but if I'm ranking a guy for no other reason than because he gets at-bats, to me he deserves a lower designation than a guy with the ability to stand out in a particular category, such as Omar Infante (batting average) or Alexi Casilla (steals). Guys like Orlando Hudson, Ruben Tejada and Mark Ellis need either a hot streak or extremely favorable matchups to climb off the bottom rung.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Espinosa fared better against lefties than righties last season, so the six righties on tap this week might scare some Fantasy owners away. But for righties like Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee, Bronson Arroyo and even Homer Bailey, the word "scary" doesn't really apply. With seven games ahead, Espinosa is looking like one of the top 12 options at second base this week.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Jason Kipnis, Indians
Three games against the Royals rotation is normally a good thing, but considering the Indians also have three lefties on tap, this week might not be the best time to start Kipnis. As a general rule, young left-handed hitters struggle against left-handed pitchers, and Kipnis was no exception during his brief time in the majors last year, when his OPS was 134 points lower against lefties than righties.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Dan Uggla, Rickie Weeks, Brandon Phillips
Advisable starts: Howard Kendrick, Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks, Ryan Roberts, Danny Espinosa, Aaron Hill
Shaky starts: Neil Walker, Kelly Johnson, Jason Kipnis, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Raburn, Mike Aviles, Gordon Beckham
Strictly AL/NL-only: Omar Infante, Jose Altuve, Sean Rodriguez, Darwin Barney, Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll
Don't bother: Tyler Greene, Orlando Hudson, Ruben Tejada, Chase Utley (knee), Brian Roberts (concussion), Maicer Izturis, Robert Andino, Mark Ellis, Johnny Giavotella, Chris Nelson
OK, David Wright won me over.
I was watching when he hit his home run Saturday. It was an opposite-field blast to right-center that cleared both the new and old fences at Citi Field. Granted, I wouldn't normally read so much into any one homer, but that one spoke volumes. A player doesn't hit a ball that solidly if he's not feeling comfortable, so I get the impression that, unlikely as it may seem after Ryan Zimmerman needed surgery to correct the same problem last year, Wright genuinely feels good playing with a torn abdominal muscle. I'm still not confident it'll last all season, but for now, he's back to "no-brainer" status.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Mat Gamel, Brewers
Gamel had an up-and-down spring that shed little light on what he has to offer in his first year as a full-time starter. But one thing it did reveal: He hits righties (1.042 OPS) far better than lefties (.527 OPS). Among the Brewers seven games this week -- again, one of only six teams with that many -- five are against righties. And with the Cubs and Braves on tap, they won't be facing any true aces.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Mike Aviles, Red Sox
Just about every week, some unfortunate team in the AL East will have to bear the brunt of the rest of the division, and this week, that team is the Red Sox. Mike Aviles is one of the few borderline players on the roster. In the right matchups, he can be competent in mixed leagues, but against pitchers like Ricky Romero, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore, he's more of an AL-only guy.
No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Brett Lawrie, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Aramis Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio
Advisable starts: Martin Prado, Ryan Roberts, David Freese, Mike Moustakas, Mat Gamel, Edwin Encarnacion
Shaky starts: Mark Reynolds (calf), Daniel Murphy, Chase Headley, Mike Aviles, Danny Valencia, Chone Figgins
Strictly AL/NL-only: Placido Polanco, Chris Davis, Ian Stewart, Scott Rolen, Pedro Alvarez, Sean Rodriguez, Eduardo Nunez, Ty Wigginton, Brent Morel, Kyle Seager
Don't bother: Chris Johnson, Jack Hannahan, Juan Uribe, Alberto Callaspo, Wilson Betemit, Juan Francisco, Robert Andino, Daniel Descalso, Jed Lowrie (thumb), Lonnie Chisenhall, Nolan Arenado, Chipper Jones (knee)
Shortstop, like second base, has a bunch of players who provide hollow at-bats. They play every day, sure, but their numbers lack substance. Will some AL/NL-only owners end up starting guys like Tyler Pastornicky, Jason Bartlett and Freddy Galvis? Probably. But I don't see the need to distinguish those players in any way here.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Zack Cozart, Reds
Cozart has yet to establish himself at the major-league level, but he's off to a great start with a double, a triple and a home run already this season. The Reds' seven-game slate against the Cardinals and Nationals gives you the perfect excuse to gamble on the power-speed threat this week, especially since they're currently scheduled to miss both Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
Furcal has gotten off to a hot start with two steals in three games, but keep in mind he had only nine in more than half a season last year. At age 34, he's a constant injury risk and won't run as freely as he used to. His popularity may be on the rise right now, but you can still probably do better in mixed leagues.
No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Jimmy Rollins, Emilio Bonifacio
Advisable starts: Alexei Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Jhonny Peralta, J.J. Hardy, Erick Aybar, Dee Gordon, Yunel Escobar, Zack Cozart
Shaky starts: Marco Scutaro, Ian Desmond, Alcides Escobar, Rafael Furcal
Strictly AL/NL-only: Cliff Pennington, Sean Rodriguez, Eduardo Nunez, Alex Gonzalez, Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll, Willie Bloomquist
Don't bother: Tyler Pastornicky, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jason Bartlett, Tyler Greene, Ruben Tejada, Clint Barmes, Freddy Galvis, Robert Andino, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan (neck), Jed Lowrie (thumb), Stephen Drew (ankle)
Because of back tightness that developed late in spring training, 29-year-old Bryan LaHair, who has spent most of his career in the minor leagues, was out of the lineup for the Cubs' first two games, but he returned on Sunday. His crazy numbers at Triple-A last year have the Cubs willing to give him a shot and Fantasy owners buying into him as a sleeper, but the possibility of him being nothing more than this year's version of Kila Ka'aihue -- a minor-league superstar who just can't cut it at the major-league level -- is high enough that you're better off leaving him for NL-only leagues until he proves himself.
John Mayberry and Juan Pierre both have the upside to factor in mixed leagues -- Mayberry with his power and Pierre with his speed -- but until manager Charlie Manuel clarifies who exactly he'll start when and whether or not both can be in the lineup at the same (it's possible with Ryan Howard out), you wouldn't want to activate that duo outside of NL-only formats.
Sleepers for Fantasy Week 2: Melky Cabrera, Giants and David Murphy, Rangers
Two sleepers on opposite ends of the spectrum here. Most Fantasy owners wouldn't have the luxury of benching Cabrera, but if you're one of the few with the outfield depth to consider it, now isn't the time to get cute with him. The Giants face the Rockies' pitch-to-contact rotation for three games at Coors Field before ending the week with three games against the Pirates' collection of retreads. With those matchups, Cabrera should be feeling pretty royal. As for Murphy, you'd have to be in some early trouble to gamble on him in a mixed league, which is why he's still among the "shaky starts", but against the more hittable portions of the Mariners and Twins rotations, he could be surprisingly productive this week. And with six righties on the schedule, he should be in the lineup virtually every day.
Busts for Fantasy Week 2: Carlos Lee, Astros and Josh Willingham, Twins
At age 35, Lee has become a liability against right-handed pitchers. It's usually not so noticeable because he's so good against lefties, batting .348 with a 1.028 OPS last year, that as long as two or three are on the schedule, he does just fine. But with six righties on tap for the Astros this week, you can probably do better than a .715-OPS guy. Meanwhile, Willingham has tough matchups against the deep Angels and Rangers rotations this week, with all six games coming at pitcher-friendly Target Field. He's such a streaky player that you'll want to wait until he heats up to start him anyway.
No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Holliday, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, Ben Zobrist, Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, Alex Gordon, Michael Bourn, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo
Advisable starts: Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, Nick Markakis, Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Young, Carlos Beltran, Jayson Werth, Adam Jones, Howard Kendrick, Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Corey Hart, Ichiro Suzuki, Martin Prado, Lucas Duda, Yoenis Cespedes
Shaky starts: Drew Stubbs, Jason Heyward, Brett Gardner, Jeff Francoeur, Logan Morrison, Carlos Lee, Delmon Young, Cameron Maybin, Brennan Boesch, Dayan Viciedo, Matt Joyce, Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Jose Tabata, Jason Kubel, Dexter Fowler, Coco Crisp, Yonder Alonso, Lorenzo Cain, Angel Pagan, David Murphy, Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham, Peter Bourjos, Alejandro De Aza, Brandon Belt, Vernon Wells, Mitch Moreland, Aubrey Huff
Strictly AL/NL-only: Vernon Wells, Colby Rasmus, John Mayberry, Ryan Raburn, J.D. Martinez, Jason Bay, Eric Thames, Denard Span, Michael Brantley, Alex Presley, Ben Revere, David DeJesus, Jon Jay, Bryan LaHair, Ty Wigginton, Nolan Reimold, Cody Ross, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd, Juan Rivera, Josh Reddick, Juan Pierre, Michael Saunders
Don't bother: Raul Ibanez, Ryan Ludwick, Bobby Abreu, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Heisey, Seth Smith, Andres Torres (calf), Luke Scott, Rajai Davis, Garrett Jones, Shelley Duncan, Michael Morse (lat), Carl Crawford (wrist), B.J. Upton (back), Carlos Quentin (knee), Mike Carp (shoulder), Allen Craig (knee), Grady Sizemore (back), Bryce Harper, Mike Trout
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