The Fantasy Baseball 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 below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.
The information has been updated through Saturday, Aug. 18.
Jonathan Lucroy has yet to play more than two games in a row since returning from a broken hand July 26, allowing backup Martin Maldonado to start five of the last 12. That's good news for Maldonado, who retains some low-end value in two-catcher leagues, but it's preventing Lucroy from making much of an impact in mixed leagues. He's a so-so option until he gets back to playing four of every five games.
Yasmani Grandal, who had been out since July 30 with a strained oblique, returned to the lineup Friday. The rookie might be a little rusty at first -- he's 0 for 6 so far -- but his production before the injury was impressive enough that you wouldn't be crazy to activate him right away.
Worth a second look: Ryan Doumit, Twins
Over his last 24 games, during which he's batting .308 (28 for 91) with seven home runs and a .941 OPS, Doumit is the fourth highest-scoring catcher in Fantasy. Surprised? Hey, for the season, he's now the ninth highest-scoring catcher in Fantasy. But you'd never know it by his 79 percent start rate. The availability of the DH spot has kept him healthier than he ever was in Pittsburgh and allowed him to start 26 of the team's last 28 games, well more than the average catcher. And this is the result. With four games at Texas this week, Doumit is practically a must-start option.
Approach with caution: Alex Avila, Tigers
In a season marred by knee tendinitis, Avila's .318 (14 for 44) batting average and .866 OPS over his last 13 games suggests he's back on track, which would seem to suggest you want him back in your lineup. But here's the problem: The Tigers face three left-handed pitchers in their six games this week. A left-handed hitter, Avila's struggles against lefties are pretty extreme. He's batting .200 with a .606 OPS against them compared to .268 and .787 against righties. If that's what he has to look forward to for two-thirds of this week, you should probably avoid him.
No-brainers: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Miguel Montero, Matt Wieters, A.J. Pierzynski
Advisable starts: Yadier Molina, Ryan Doumit, Brian McCann, Jesus Montero, Salvador Perez
Shaky starts: Wilin Rosario, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Alex Avila, Jonathan Lucroy, Yasmani Grandal, Russell Martin, A.J. Ellis, Michael McKenry, John Jaso
Strictly AL/NL-only: Chris Iannetta, Geovany Soto, John Buck, Ryan Lavarnway, Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki, Erik Kratz
Don't bother: Jason Castro, Devin Mesoraco, Ramon Hernandez, Josh Thole, Josh Donaldson, Jeff Mathis, Steve Clevenger, Yan Gomes, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Martin Maldonado, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Snyder, Mike Napoli (quadriceps), Carlos Ruiz (foot), J.P Arencibia (hand), Nick Hundley (knee)
Though some might consider him an automatic start anyway, Paul Goldschmidt's splits for this week are so favorable that they're worth mentioning here just for those select few who might still be on the fence about him. Not only are the Diamondbacks at home for seven games, but they're facing four lefties, against whom he's batting .371 with a 1.195 OPS and 10 of his 18 home runs. You should expect elite production from the normally second-tier player.
Worth a second look: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
If Rizzo's righty-lefty splits mean anything to you -- he's batting .339 with a .894 OPS against the former and .179 with a .561 OPS against the latter -- the five righties on tap for him this week should be all the motivation you need to start him, especially since four of them -- Mark Rogers, Marco Estrada, Alex White and Jhoulys Chacin -- are relatively low-end. Granted, it's not a foregone conclusion with him batting only .230 (17 for 74) over his last 18 games, but if you can't trust him to perform in the good matchups, when can you?
Approach with caution: Ike Davis, Mets
The Mets actually have good matchups themselves this week, squaring off against the Rockies' and Astros' pitching staffs for seven games. But unfortunately, all seven of those games are at home, where Davis' struggles know no end. He has actually become a useful option on the road, batting .262 with 17 home runs and an .899 OPS, but he's good for nothing at home, batting .166 with five home runs and a .505 OPS. Good matchups or not, you have to sit him.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Edwin Encarnacion, Billy Butler, Adrian Gonzalez, Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt
Advisable starts: Mark Trumbo, Adam Dunn, Michael Morse, Corey Hart, Joe Mauer, Allen Craig, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Santana, Justin Morneau, Adam LaRoche, Nick Swisher, Paul Konerko, Daniel Murphy, Mark Teixeira (wrist)
Shaky starts: Kevin Youkilis (knee), Ryan Howard, Eric Hosmer, Chris Johnson, Michael Young, Chris Carter, Ike Davis, Kendrys Morales, Carlos Pena, Todd Frazier, Carlos Lee, Dustin Ackley, Garrett Jones, Mark Reynolds, Mitch Moreland
Strictly AL/NL-only: David Ortiz (Achilles), Tyler Colvin, Eric Chavez, Chris Davis, Brandon Belt, Yonder Alonso, Brett Wallace, Jordan Pacheco, Casey Kotchman, Jeff Keppinger, Scott Moore, John Mayberry, David Cooper (back)
Don't bother: Justin Smoak, Bryan LaHair, Brandon Moss, Casey McGehee, Yan Gomes, Ty Wigginton, Tyler Moore, James Loney, Juan Rivera, Matt Carpenter, Michael Cuddyer (oblique), Joey Votto (knee), Mike Napoli (quadriceps), Lance Berkman (knee), Mike Carp (hip), Adam Lind (back), Wilson Betemit (wrist), Lucas Duda, Matt Adams
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Even with Evan Longoria back from the DL, the Rays have managed to find at-bats for Ryan Roberts. He's now playing second base instead of third. Granted, he was eligible at second already, but the consistent playing time makes him almost a viable mixed-leaguer at the position. A hot streak could be enough to put him over the top, so you could do worse than him as a speculative pickup.
You know those favorable splits (home-away, lefty-righty) I mentioned for Paul Goldschmidt in the first base section? The same goes for Aaron Hill at second base. He's also just a little too high-end to be "worth a second look," so I'll mention his splits here. At home, where the Diamondbacks play all seven of their games this week, he's batting .333 with a .950 OPS. Against lefties, who the Diamondbacks face four times this week, he's batting .308 with an .883 OPS. Yikes.
Worth a second look: Omar Infante, Tigers
Perhaps in part because he's gotten occasional opportunities to hit in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, Infante has rediscovered his stroke over his last 17 games, batting .344 (22 for 64). He also has two home runs during that stretch, and considering the Tigers are scheduled to face three left-handers, he might have even more in store this week. Of his 10 home runs this season, six have come against lefties. Even if you don't want to count on him for homers, the fact that the three lefties are Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey and J.A. Happ should have you gravitating toward Infante regardless.
Approach with caution: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Espinosa has been on a roll since the All-Star break, batting .304 with six home runs and three stolen bases to make him the fifth-best middle infielder during that stretch. But you have to think a week against the Braves and Phillies rotations might be enough to bring him back down to earth. He still leads the NL in strikeouts, so he's on a slippery slope already. He's not an automatic sit this week, but if you've been platooning him with someone else at either second base or shortstop, you might want to go with the other guy.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill
Advisable starts: Chase Utley, Jose Altuve, Dan Uggla, Rickie Weeks, Daniel Murphy, Omar Infante
Shaky starts: Neil Walker (finger), Jason Kipnis, Marco Scutaro, Danny Espinosa, Emilio Bonifacio, Kyle Seager, Mike Aviles, Michael Young, Howard Kendrick, Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ryan Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Gordon Beckham, Ruben Tejada, Tyler Greene, Everth Cabrera, Alexi Amarista, Darwin Barney, Jeff Keppinger, Stephen Lombardozzi, Scott Moore, Mark Ellis, Pedro Ciriaco, Johnny Giavotella
Don't bother: DJ LeMahieu, Ryan Theriot, Omar Quintanilla, Alexi Casilla, Daniel Descalso, Elliot Johnson, Sean Rodriguez, Maicer Izturis, Jordany Valdespin, Jamey Carroll, Logan Forsythe, Skip Schumaker, Chris Nelson, Jerry Hairston (hip), Brandon Inge (shoulder)
If you've paid attention to the box scores or sports highlight shows recently, you've probably seen Eric Chavez doing some pretty mean things. Filling in for Alex Rodriguez, who's sidelined by a broken hand, Chavez is batting .513 (20 for 39) with five home runs in his last 13 games. Unfortunatley, because he still sits against left-handed pitchers, his contributions don't amount to much in Head-to-Head leagues. In Rotisserie play, he's a serviceable corner infielder in the Garrett Jones mold, but that's about it.
Will Middlebrooks broke his wrist Aug. 10 and will miss the rest of the season, which of course leaves the Red Sox with a hole at third base. They acquired Danny Valencia from the Twins just a couple days before the injury, and he would seem to be the most logical fill-in. But Pedro Ciriaco has gotten most of the playing time so far. Frankly, you'd rather see Ciriaco play than Valencia. His base-stealing ability is the most usable skill offered by either of them.
Worth a second look: Daniel Murphy, Mets
Unlike his partner on the right side of the infield, Murphy has thrived at home, batting .343 with an .861 OPS there compared to .242 and .632 on the road. If that's not incentive enough to start him in a week the Mets play seven games at home, his matchups against Alex White, Jhoulys Chacin, Jeff Francis, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles, Armando Galarraga and Lucas Harrell make it practically a no-brainer. He's eligible at third base in addition to second, but at either position, you'll want him active.
Approach with caution: Todd Frazier, Reds
After stumbling in his first week replacing the injured Joey Votto (knee), Frazier has gotten his act together over his last 10 games, batting .474 (18 for 38) with four home runs and a 1.368 OPS. So naturally, given his eligibility at third base, some Fantasy owners are going to turn to him as a sleeper this week. Bad timing. Frazier has enough power potential that he's capable of salvaging a bad week with a big swing or two, but he's enough of a free-swinger that it can get really ugly for him really fast. Given his matchups against Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright, I'm betting on closer to the latter this week.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Aramis Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez
Advisable starts: Mark Trumbo, Martin Prado, Evan Longoria, David Freese, Chase Headley, Daniel Murphy
Shaky starts: Kevin Youkilis (knee), Pablo Sandoval, Manny Machado, Omar Infante, Brett Lawrie (oblique), Todd Frazier, Mike Moustakas, Marco Scutaro, Emilio Bonifacio, Kyle Seager, Michael Young, Pedro Alvarez, Chipper Jones, Chris Johnson, Trevor Plouffe, Mike Aviles, Mark Reynolds
Strictly AL/NL-only: Chris Davis, Ryan Roberts, Eric Chavez, Jordan Pacheco, Alberto Callaspo, Jeff Keppinger, Stephen Lombardozzi, Scott Moore, Brett Wallace, Scott Rolen, Luis Cruz, Jose Bautista (wrist)
Don't bother: Mike Olt, Casey McGehee, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Vitters, Daniel Descalso, Maicer Izturis, Ryan Wheeler, Yan Gomes, Ty Wigginton, Sean Rodriguez, Jamey Carroll, Chris Nelson, Matt Carpenter, Jack Hannahan, Logan Forsythe, Juan Uribe, Alex Rodriguez (hand), Willie Bloomquist (back), Jerry Hairston (hip), Brandon Inge (shoulder), Wilson Betemit (wrist), Jed Lowrie (leg), Placido Polanco (back), Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist), Ian Stewart (wrist), Nolan Arenado, Eduardo Nunez
As part of the infield shuffle that happened when Evan Longoria returned from the DL last week, Ben Zobrist wound up at shortstop, making him immediately one of the best players at a position short on good ones. Unfortunately, second base is pretty weak as well, so Zobrist owners might have a hard time moving him to the other middle infield spot. Still, it's not every day a player with legitimate early-round potential gains eligibility at the weakest position in Fantasy.
Ian Desmond, who has been out since July 21 with a strained oblique, returned to the lineup Friday. In a perfect world, you'd give him a week to prove his health, especially since his free-swinging approach puts him at greater risk of prolonged slumps, but considering he was the highest-scoring shortstop in Fantasy at the time of his injury, you pretty much have to start him.
Worth a second look: Manny Machado, Orioles
After homering three times in his first four games, Machado has gone 4 for 17 over his last five, but the bottom line is his power potential for a shortstop is far and away better than anything else you'll find off the waiver wire this time of year. No one's saying he'll homer every day, but in a week at Texas and at home against the Blue Jays' bottom-feeder rotation, he has a shot at delivering two or three more. Whether you buy into the idea that he's ready for the big leagues or not, the opportunity for a big week from a replacement-level shortstop doesn't come along too often.
Approach with caution: Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
After a two-week absence for a sprained thumb, Bonifacio returned from the disabled list Sunday, which you'd think would lead to rejoicing among us Fantasy-playing types. And in some circles, such as categorical ones with their emphasis on speed or deeper ones with their depleted waiver wires, it will. But in standard leagues, particularly of the Head-to-Head variety, you might want to hold off on that rejoicing. Whatever rust Bonifacio is likely to experience in the early going will only be amplified by the four lefties on tap for the Marlins. The switch-hitter hasn't fared well from the right side of the plate this year, batting .213.
No-brainers: Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Hanley Ramirez, Ben Zobrist, Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera
Advisable starts: Ian Desmond, Derek Jeter, Alcides Escobar, Manny Machado
Shaky starts: Danny Espinosa, Josh Rutledge, Emilio Bonifacio, J.J. Hardy, Erick Aybar, Marco Scutaro, Trevor Plouffe, Stephen Drew, Alexei Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Mike Aviles, Jhonny Peralta, Zack Cozart
Strictly AL/NL-only: Yunel Escobar, Ruben Tejada, Tyler Greene, Everth Cabrera, Alexi Amarista, Pedro Ciriaco, Jean Segura, Cliff Pennington, Luis Cruz
Don't bother: Ryan Theriot, Omar Quintanilla, Maicer Izturis, Daniel Descalso, Alexi Casilla, Elliot Johnson, Sean Rodriguez, Paul Janish, Jamey Carroll, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Jed Lowrie (leg), Dee Gordon (thumb), Andrelton Simmons (finger), Willie Bloomquist (back), Jason Bartlett (knee), Eduardo Nunez, Billy Hamilton
|2.||Blue Jays||@DET3, @BAL3|
With Michael Cuddyer landing back on the disabled list Sunday with the same oblique injury that sidelined him earlier this month, Eric Young seemed destined to continue getting everyday at-bats in the Rockies outfield, where he's batting .434 (23 for 53) with three home runs and two steals over his last 12 games. But unfortunately, he's now dealing with an injury his own, having left Sunday's game with an intercostal strain. That type of injury could easily land him on the DL, creating an outfield vacancy that the Rockies might not be equipped to handle. Charlie Blackmon, who the Rockies called up Saturday, is the most likely candidate to step in. He's not nearly the burner Young is, but he'll steal a few bases in his own right. For the time being, though, Tyler Colvin remains the top sleeper among Rockies outfielders.
On the bright side, Andy Dirks is back to playing every day after looking like a platoon player when he first came off the DL a couple weeks ago. His high batting average makes him a legitimate sleeper to close out the season. Also, Juan Pierre is back to starting against right-handers now that Nate Schierholtz is on the DL with a broken toe, so if you need cheap speed, the 35-year-old is still an option.
Worth a second look: Cody Ross, Red Sox and David Murphy, Rangers
In case you haven't noticed, Ross has continued to get everyday at-bats for the Red Sox even with Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury back from injuries and has continued to produce at about the same rate as he has all season, batting .319 (22 for 69) with two home runs over his last 18 games. Yet he's still widely available, owned in only 70 percent of leagues. I'm not saying you should start him every week, but during a week in which he's playing all six of his games at home, where he's batting .305 with a .985 OPS on the year, he might be a halfway decent start. The Murphy pick is digging even deeper -- too deep for standard Head-to-Head leagues, most likely -- but the Rangers outfielder also has been playing more often than most Fantasy owners probably realize, starting 15 straight games. And with a full week at home, where he's batting .358 with a 1.002 OPS, he could make a surprising contribution against low-end hurlers like Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Tommy Hunter, Scott Diamond, Samuel Deduno, Brian Duensing and Cole De Vries.
Approach with caution: Bryce Harper, Nationals and Drew Stubbs, Reds
All the excitement generated by Harper's performance in the first half has hit a wall over the last four weeks. During that time, he's batting .167 (17 for 102) with a .527 OPS in 28 games. You had to think the 19-year-old would have to make some adjustments at some point, and in this first test, he's been slow to make them. That doesn't mean he's a lost cause for the rest of this season, but in a week he's facing Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee over a six-game period, you can expect the struggles to continue. Stubbs' struggles disappeared for about a week-long stretch in late July, when a trip to Houston and Colorado allowed him to hit .375 (12 for 32) with four homers and four steals in the span of seven games, but he's come back down to earth over his last 12, batting .167 (7 for 42). His matchups against Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright this week don't give you much incentive to start him.
No-brainers: Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Matt Holliday, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones, Carlos Beltran, Josh Willingham, Adrian Gonzalez, Michael Bourn, Alex Rios, Nelson Cruz
Advisable starts: Giancarlo Stanton, Mark Trumbo, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Shin-Soo Choo, Austin Jackson, Adam Dunn, Martin Prado, Shane Victorino, Ben Zobrist, Josh Reddick, Jay Bruce, Nick Markakis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Allen Craig, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Morse, Corey Hart, Jason Kubel, Desmond Jennings, Ben Revere, Carl Crawford, Nick Swisher, Ryan Ludwick, B.J. Upton, Cody Ross
Shaky starts: Alejandro De Aza (back), David Murphy, Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier, Carlos Gomez, Matt Joyce, Bryce Harper, Colby Rasmus, Drew Stubbs, Emilio Bonifacio, Dexter Fowler, Jayson Werth, Angel Pagan, Coco Crisp, Alfonso Soriano, Trevor Plouffe, Lorenzo Cain, Todd Frazier, Michael Brantley, Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter, Carlos Quentin, Denard Span (shoulder), Ryan Doumit, Jon Jay, Carlos Lee, Norichika Aoki, Rajai Davis, Andy Dirks, Garrett Jones, Mitch Moreland, Justin Ruggiano
Strictly AL/NL-only: Eric Young (intercostal), Tyler Colvin, Howard Kendrick, Dayan Viciedo, Chris Davis, Yonder Alonso, Chris Young, Brett Jackson, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch, Michael Saunders, Domonic Brown, Travis Snider, Brandon Belt, Alexi Amarista, Cameron Maybin, Jeff Francoeur, Raul Ibanez, David DeJesus, Will Venable, Gerardo Parra, Juan Pierre, Scott Hairston, Stephen Lombardozzi, Justin Maxwell, Jonny Gomes, John Mayberry, Ezequiel Carrera, Gregor Blanco, Andres Torres, Jose Bautista (wrist)
Don't bother: Luke Scott (back), Seth Smith (hamstring), Eric Thames, Casper Wells, Quintin Berry, Bryan LaHair, Brandon Moss, Jason Bay, Anthony Gose, Ty Wigginton, Matt Carpenter, Tyler Moore, Jarrod Dyson, Chris Heisey, Nyjer Morgan, Jordany Valdespin, Skip Schumaker, Juan Rivera, Peter Bourjos, Starling Marte (oblique), Michael Cuddyer (oblique), Lance Berkman (knee), Willie Bloomquist (back), Jordan Schafer (shoulder), Mike Carp (hip), Wilson Betemit (wrist), Daniel Nava (wrist), Franklin Gutierrez (head), Brett Gardner (elbow), Grady Sizemore (back), Lucas Duda, Wil Myers, Oscar Taveras
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