In the Hit Parade, we examine each position one by one and divide all Fantasy-relevant hitters into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."
These designations rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole. Injuries are shown in parentheses.
Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.
All stats are updated through Wednesday, April 24.
CatcherWith Ryan Hanigan sidelined by an oblique injury, Devin Mesoraco gets his long-awaited opportunity to start at catcher for the Reds. Though he hasn't won over manager Dusty Baker with his defense, he's done a good job getting on base in Hanigan's absence and should begin to show some power as long as he continues to see the ball well. He's not worth starting in mixed leagues this week, but he might be worth a speculative add in two-catcher leagues just in case he takes off with this opportunity.
|Player Name||% change|
|1.||Daniel Nava, OF, Red Sox||30|
|2.||Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B, Brewers||30|
|3.||Chris Johnson, 3B, Braves||22|
|4.||Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants||21|
|5.||Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals||20|
|6.||Didi Gregorius, SS, D-Backs||20|
|7.||Lucas Duda, OF, Mets||18|
|8.||Vernon Wells, OF, Yankees||17|
|9.||Travis Hafner, DH, Yankees||13|
|10.||Everth Cabrera, SS, Padres||12|
Worth a second look: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
Ruiz's 25-game suspension for amphetamine use will come to an end this weekend, just in time for Fantasy owners to get him in their lineups. It's a bit of a gamble considering the fluky nature of his 2012 breakthrough, but he's as healthy as he'll ever be and has some good matchups against the Indians and Marlins pitching staffs right out of the gate. If you're one of those owners who's been relying on Tyler Flowers and John Buck flavor-of-the-week types at the position, Ruiz is a worthier investment.
Approach with caution: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
You can add Arencibia to that list of flavor-of-the-week types. With five home runs in his last 10 games, he entered play Thursday leading the AL with eight. But his 32-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio suggests he's the same player as always. Here's betting his matchups against Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma this week bring him back down to earth.
No-brainers: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana (illness), Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters, Mike Napoli
Advisable starts: Wilin Rosario, Jonathan Lucroy, Miguel Montero, Salvador Perez, Carlos Ruiz
Shaky starts: Evan Gattis, A.J. Pierzynski, John Buck, J.P. Arencibia, Ryan Doumit, Russell Martin, John Jaso, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Iannetta, Tyler Flowers, Jesus Montero, Alex Avila, Welington Castillo, A.J. Ellis, Francisco Cervelli
Strictly AL/NL-only: Kurt Suzuki, Jason Castro, Devin Mesoraco, Derek Norris, Rob Brantly), Wilson Ramos (hamstring), Nick Hundley, Erik Kratz
Don't bother: Kelly Shoppach, Martin Maldonado, Michael McKenry, Ryan Lavarnway, David Ross, Yasmani Grandal (suspension), Brian McCann (wrist), Ryan Hanigan (thumb), Mike Zunino, Travis d'Arnaud
First baseJoe Mahoney has apparently emerged as the Marlins' starting first baseman, generating a surprising amount of interest among Fantasy owners. No, he's not the same Mahoney from the Buffalo Wild Wings commercial a few years ago, but I'm thinking he's about as relevant in Fantasy. He had decent home run totals a couple of years in the minors, but given how much older he was than his competition every step up the ladder, his stats are mostly underwhelming. Just because the Marlins are that desperate doesn't mean you should be.
Worth a second look: Eric Hosmer, Royals
After a slow start that was fueled in part by the Royals' disproportionate number of games in NL parks, Hosmer has shown signs of life recently, going 5 for 10 in his last three games. For his career, his OPS is about 200 points higher against righties than lefties, so the six righties on tap this week should help him keep the ball rolling, especially since they include hittable types like Corey Kluber, Roberto Hernandez, Gavin Floyd and Dylan Axelrod.
Approach with caution: Lance Berkman, Rangers
Like most switch-hitters, Berkman has fared better against righties than lefties in his career, and so the Rangers have taken to sitting the 37-year-old against some left-handers just to keep him fresh. He certainly won't sit against all four on tap for the Rangers this week -- a group that includes Jose Quintana, Chris Sale, Felix Doubront and Jon Lester -- but he won't be at his best even when he plays.
|3.||Royals||CLE1, TB3, CHW3|
No-brainers: Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Paul Goldschmidt, Billy Butler, Edwin Encarnacion, Buster Posey, Joe Mauer
Advisable starts: Carlos Santana (illness), Allen Craig, Freddie Freeman, Chris Davis, Anthony Rizzo, Mark Trumbo, Paul Konerko, Ryan Howard, Nick Swisher, Mike Napoli, Matt Carpenter, Eric Hosmer, Todd Frazier, Michael Cuddyer, Mark Reynolds
Shaky starts: Lance Berkman, Kevin Youkilis (back), Ike Davis, Justin Morneau, Michael Young, Adam LaRoche, Adam Dunn, Brandon Moss, Yonder Alonso, Brandon Belt, Kendrys Morales
Strictly AL/NL-only: Carlos Pena, Chris Carter, Mitch Moreland, Chris Johnson, Garrett Jones, Justin Smoak, Adam Lind, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jeff Keppinger, James Loney
Don't bother: Matt Adams (oblique), Gaby Sanchez, Joe Mahoney, Greg Dobbs, Chris Parmelee, Todd Helton (forearm), Jordan Pacheco, John Mayberry, Lyle Overbay, Mark Teixeira (wrist), Corey Hart (knee), Logan Morrison (knee), Mike Olt, Jonathan Singleton
Second baseAfter a stretch when he was seemingly banned from the lineup, Emilio Bonifacio has started two of the last three games at second base for the Blue Jays. He's still a liability in the field, so he'll need to start hitting to retain what little playing time he's getting. Considering he has yet to even attempt a steal this year, I'm inclined not to bother with him in Fantasy.
Worth a second look: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
The Cardinals have had to face some tough pitchers in recent days, and they don't exactly get a break this week against the Reds and Brewers. They're facing nothing but right-handers in their seven games, though, which should at least work to Carpenter's advantage. He has a career .295 batting average and .830 OPS against righties and showed he could handle even the high-end types with his two doubles against Stephen Strasburg Wednesday.
Approach with caution: Neil Walker, Pirates
Walker has been a serviceable second baseman over his last dozen games, batting .348 with a .912 OPS, but in mixed leagues, you'd rather avoid him when the matchups aren't in his favor. Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Ross Detwiler, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are likely to slow him down this week.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips, Martin Prado
Advisable starts: Matt Carpenter, Jose Altuve, Rickie Weeks, Josh Rutledge
Shaky starts: Daniel Murphy, Jason Kipnis, Howie Kendrick, Neil Walker, Dan Uggla, Jedd Gyorko, Danny Espinosa, Marco Scutaro, Mark Ellis
Strictly AL/NL-only: Dustin Ackley, Omar Infante, Darwin Barney, Donovan Solano, Ryan Roberts, Chris Nelson, Kelly Johnson, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jeff Keppinger, Emilio Bonifacio
Don't bother: Chris Getz, Cliff Pennington, Eric Sogard, Brian Dozier, Daniel Descalso, Maicer Izturis, Aaron Hill (wrist), Brian Roberts (hamstring), Gordon Beckham (wrist), Logan Forsythe (foot), Jurickson Profar, Jemile Weeks, Kolten Wong
Third baseIn a week when several high-profile players are expected back in the lineup, Hanley Ramirez and Aramis Ramirez are probably the most notable. Neither player is sure to be back for the start of the week -- Hanley almost certainly won't return before Tuesday -- but as disappointing as options 10-20 at third base have been, you'll want to take your chances with the high-end guys. I'll take four or five games from either Ramirez over seven from Manny Machado.
Worth a second look: Manny Machado, Orioles
Whoops. I guess I'm supposed to be hyping Machado as well. The fact I have to resort to him and his all-or-nothing ways in this spot shows just how disappointing the back end of this position has been. But he is batting .327 (17 for 52) in his last 13 games, and he does have exceptional matchups against ultra-hittable types like Joe Saunders, Brandon Maurer, Aaron Harang, Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson. I guess you can bank on him staying hot for now.
Approach with caution: Pedro Alvarez
With four home runs in his last six games, Alvarez seems to be coming around, so you'd think now would be the time to start him in Fantasy. I'm not necessarily saying you shouldn't, but I have to point out that he has sat against the last three lefties the Pirates have faced. If the pattern holds, he might play only four games this week, and three of them will be against high-end hurlers Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada and Stephen Strasburg.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Martin Prado
Advisable starts: Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Matt Carpenter, Todd Frazier, Aramis Ramirez (knee), Hanley Ramirez (thumb)
Shaky starts: Manny Machado, Kyle Seager, Will Middlebrooks, Kevin Youkilis (back), Pedro Alvarez, Brett Lawrie, David Freese, Mike Moustakas, Michael Young, Josh Donaldson, Trevor Plouffe, Jedd Gyorko
Strictly AL/NL-only: Lonnie Chisenhall, Juan Francisco, Chris Johnson, Placido Polanco, Ryan Roberts, Chris Nelson, Jeff Keppinger, Matt Dominguez, Luis Jimenez, Luis Cruz, Yuniesky Betancourt
Don't bother: Greg Dobbs, Conor Gillaspie, Anthony Rendon, Brandon Laird, Luis Valbuena, Eric Chavez, Jordan Pacheco, Maicer Izturis, Daniel Descalso, Alberto Callaspo (calf), Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring), Alex Rodriguez (hip), Wilson Betemit (knee), Ian Stewart (quadriceps), Wilson Betemit (knee), Nolan Arenado, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Rendon
ShortstopWith six starts in the team's last seven games, Didi Gregorius has emerged as the clear victor in the Aaron Hill debacle. But his two home runs in 25 at-bats are something of an aberration. At age 23, he's still developing and has already made big strides in the minors, but outside of NL-only leagues, he's too much of a gamble in Fantasy.
|2.||Blue Jays||BOS3, SEA3|
Worth a second look: Jean Segura, Brewers
With five stolen bases in his last six games, Segura has emerged as one of the top speedsters in the NL, which would make him an asset at the weak shortstop position even if his high batting average was too good to be true. His pedigree suggests it isn't. With three games against the Pirates to open a seven-game week, Segura should be starting in just about all Fantasy leagues.
Approach with caution: Erick Aybar, Angels
Aybar is another of the many players expected back from the DL this week, but he's not as high-end as most. As a non-power hitter, he needs to pile up hits to move the needle in Fantasy. You can't take the chance of starting a rusty Aybar in mixed leagues.
No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Zobrist, Starlin Castro, Ian Desmond, Jimmy Rollins
Advisable starts: Jed Lowrie, Jean Segura, Elvis Andrus, Josh Rutledge, Alcides Escobar, Hanley Ramirez (thumb)
Shaky starts: Everth Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera (quadriceps), J.J. Hardy, Brandon Crawford, Danny Espinosa, Marco Scutaro, Alexei Ramirez, Andrelton Simmons, Erick Aybar (heel), Zack Cozart, Jhonny Peralta
Strictly AL/NL-only: Yunel Escobar (hamstring), Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius, Eduardo Nunez, Ruben Tejada, Marwin Gonzalez, Luis Cruz, Pete Kozma
Don't bother: Cliff Pennington, Eric Sogard, Brian Dozier, Maicer Izturis, Daniel Descalso, Clint Barmes, Alex Gonzalez, Jose Reyes (leg), Derek Jeter (ankle), Hiroyuki Nakajima (hamstring), Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton
OutfieldOn the heels of Yoenis Cespedes' return Sunday, Michael Bourn is expected to come off the DL Tuesday after missing two weeks with a lacerated hand. Sitting out Monday limits him to only five games for the week. Because he'll potentially be rusty, he's not an automatic start in Fantasy, but for most mixed-league owners, he's probably the best option.
Worth a second look: Lucas Duda, Mets and Domonic Brown, Phillies
A year later than most everyone expected, Duda seems to be emerging as the monster so many within the Mets organization have made him out to be, compiling a 1.099 OPS thanks to an incredible walk rate and some impressive home run pop. Even against a bunch of left-handers over the last few days, he's done a decent job getting on base, so I trust him to do some serious damage in a week he's facing the Marlins staff three times. As for Brown, it's now or never for the popular sleeper with hittable pitchers like Zach McAllister, Scott Kazmir, Alex Sanabia, Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Slowey on tap. He was unable to capitalize on his favorable matchups earlier this season, but with him showing improved plate discipline in recent days, I'm banking on him finally breaking out this week.
Approach with caution: B.J. Upton, Braves and Josh Reddick, Athletics
As his owners are well aware, Upton is in a dreadful 12-for-80 slump to begin the season. It's not a major concern for the long haul, given his history of streakiness, but the matchups suggest it's not ending this week. He can do only so much damage against Dan Haren, who's the weak link in a chain that includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Shaun Marcum, Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey. Reddick, who's off to slow start himself, doesn't have especially bad splits against left-handers in his career, which is rare for a left-handed hitter, but I still wouldn't expect the week he's facing C.J. Wilson, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to be the week he turns it around.
No-brainers: Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton, Jose Bautista,
Advisable starts: Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cespedes (hand), Martin Prado, Allen Craig, Austin Jackson, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Melky Cabrera, Michael Morse, Coco Crisp, Mark Trumbo, Nick Markakis, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Nick Swisher, Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Lucas Duda, Domonic Brown, Josh Willingham, Hunter Pence, Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter
Shaky starts: Carlos Beltran, Michael Bourn (hand), Carlos Gomez, Shane Victorino (back), Norichika Aoki, Ben Revere, Lorenzo Cain, Andre Ethier, Starling Marte, B.J. Upton, Josh Reddick, Angel Pagan, Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner, Chris Young, Alfonso Soriano, Nate McLouth, Evan Gattis, Alejandro De Aza, Brandon Moss, Daniel Nava, Justin Ruggiano, Denard Span, Carlos Quentin, Nate Schierholtz, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Doumit
Strictly AL/NL-only: Michael Saunders (shoulder), Travis Snider, Cody Ross, David Murphy, Colby Rasmus, Nolan Reimold, David DeJesus, Jon Jay, Gerardo Parra, Chris Carter, Juan Pierre, Andy Dirks, Matt Joyce, Michael Brantley, Garrett Jones, Peter Bourjos, Seth Smith, Leonys Martin, Aaron Hicks, Drew Stubbs, Will Venable, Rajai Davis, A.J. Pollock, Emilio Bonifacio, Raul Ibanez, Oswaldo Arcia, Jeff Francoeur, Chris Denorfia, Chris Heisey, Greg Dobbs, Craig Gentry, Jordany Valdespin
Don't bother: Chris Parmelee, Kelly Johnson, Robbie Grossman, Fernando Martinez, Jonny Gomes, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd, John Mayberry, Eric Young, Stephen Lombardozzi, Gregor Blanco, Jason Heyward (appendectomy), Curtis Granderson (forearm), Corey Hart (knee), Adam Eaton (elbow), Jason Kubel (quadriceps), Justin Maxwell (hand), Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring), Dayan Viciedo (oblique), Ryan Ludwick (shoulder), Delmon Young (ankle), Darin Mastroianni (ankle), Cameron Maybin (wrist), Logan Morrison (knee), Wil Myers, Oscar Taveras, Jackie Bradley, Yasiel Puig, Christian Yelich
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