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Hit Parade for Week 3

Senior Fantasy Writer
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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 below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.

The information has been updated through Thursday, April 12.

Catcher

Most Added Hitters (as of 4/14)
Player % change
1. Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros 30
2. Omar Infante, 2B, Marlins 29
3. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals 28
4. Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners 26
5. Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners 24
6. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds 22
7. Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals 21
8. Josh Willingham, OF, Twins 16
9. J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros 16
10. David Murphy, OF, Rangers 14

Devin Mesoraco may be the Reds' catcher of the future, but veteran-loving manager Dusty Baker seems to prefer the uninspiring Ryan Hanigan in the present. That's not necessarily a surprise to Fantasy owners, but Hanigan's four starts in the team's first seven games confirms it and renders Mesoraco just a low-end No. 2 catcher in mixed leagues, despite his upside. Buster Posey has come down with shingles and has had trouble sleeping because of the blistering on his skin. He plans to play through it, though, so you should have no reservations about starting him in Fantasy.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 3: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
With home runs in back-to-back games, Pierzynski clearly has a good thing going at the plate and, at 32 percent ownership, probably isn't getting enough attention in Fantasy. Yes, he has to look over his shoulder for Tyler Flowers this year, but Pierzynski is still the go-to guy against right-handed pitchers. The White Sox have six righties on the schedule this week, and they include less-than-inspiring types like Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan and Kevin Millwood.
Bust for Fantasy Week 3: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
When Arencibia homered in the first game of the season, his Fantasy owners hoped it was a sign he had overcome whatever caused him to hit .199 over the final four months last year. Unfortunately, he has only one hit since then, striking out 11 times in 22 at-bats overall. Arencibia may hit homers, but he's now a career .208 hitter with an abysmal .691 OPS in the majors. That makes him something like the Alex Gonzalez of catchers, which means you can surely do better in one-catcher leagues.

No-brainers: Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Miguel Montero, Alex Avila, Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey
Advisable starts: Jesus Montero, Yadier Molina, Russell Martin, Geovany Soto, Wilson Ramos, A.J. Pierzynski
Shaky starts: J.P Arencibia, Kurt Suzuki, Devin Mesoraco, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Doumit, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz, Chris Iannetta, John Buck, Nick Hundley
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Wilin Rosario, Yorvit Torrealba, Josh Thole, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Hanigan, Jason Castro, Chris Snyder, A.J. Ellis
Don't bother: Tyler Flowers, Salvador Perez (knee), Victor Martinez (knee)

First base

The first full week of the season couldn't have gone any worse for Brandon Belt and Mark Trumbo. The Giants seemingly pulled the plug on Belt after only three games, going with a combination of Aubrey Huff and Brett Pill at first base over the next three. Considering Belt was a last-minute addition to the roster coming out of spring training and still has too much talent to go to the bench, you have to wonder if he'll soon end up back in the minors. Trumbo is in the majors to stay, but his inability to transition to third base (seven errors between spring training and the regular season) has left him without a clear position to play. Part-time at-bats won't be enough to save him in mixed leagues.

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Sleeper for Fantasy Week 3: Kendrys Morales, Angels
After all the excitement of his comeback from ankle surgery, which included a red-hot two-week stretch at the end of spring training, the hype has kind of died down on Morales. The numbers have stagnated, and 22 percent of Fantasy owners now believe they can do better. But if Morales returns to his old form, he'll be a must-start option, and this week could be the start of it. The Angles have seven games against the Athletics and Orioles rotations, which are both more or less an assortment of back-end options from top to bottom. Expect Morales to take advantage.
Bust for Fantasy Week 3: Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Lind came down with a tight back at the end of spring training, which was especially concerning because a similar injury contributed to his .197 batting average in the second half last year. Though his 2012 season has gotten off to an OK start, his lack of homers doesn't inspire much confidence that he's back to form. With three lefties on tap in a six-game week. Lind is a definite candidate to sit in mixed leagues. He's a .181 hitter against lefties over the last two seasons.

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, Eric Hosmer, Michael Young, Carlos Santana
Advisable starts: Lance Berkman (calf), Mike Napoli, Michael Cuddyer, Freddie Freeman, Mark Reynolds, Kendrys Morales, Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn
Shaky starts: Justin Morneau, Lucas Duda, Justin Smoak, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam LaRoche, Ike Davis, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Lee, Adam Lind, Paul Goldschmidt, Daniel Murphy, Chris Parmelee, Mat Gamel, Juan Rivera
Strictly AL/NL-only: Todd Helton, James Loney, Yonder Alonso, Aubrey Huff, Mitch Moreland, Mark Trumbo, Brandon Belt, Chris Davis, Ty Wigginton, Garrett Jones, Casey Kotchman, Jesus Guzman
Don't bother: Daric Barton, Michael Morse (back), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Mike Carp (shoulder)

Second base

Michael Young owners, rejoice! Though he's still primarily a DH, he has already twice spelled Ian Kinsler at second base. If the trend continues, he'll be eligible at the position within a couple weeks. He's a must-start at first and third base already, but considering the drop-off in reliable second basemen after the top 10 or 11 or so, most of his Fantasy owners will end up starting him at second once he gains eligibility.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 3: Ryan Raburn, Tigers
Raburn's slow start combined with his history of streakiness prevents me from ranking him among the "advisable starts," but considering only 11 second basemen are advisable starts or better, at least one person in a 12-team league will have to gamble on a "shaky start." This week, Raburn is the one who stands out. He has three games against the Royals pitching staff and three against left-handed pitchers. His career .839 OPS against lefties could be what sparks him this week.
Bust for Fantasy Week 3: Omar Infante, Marlins
Because of his completely unprecedented and entirely unsustainable home-run rate to begin the season, Infante is one of the hottest claims off the waiver wire right now. Already you're sensing the negativity, right? Well, just look at the track record -- and no, I don't put much stock into an eight-year-old outlier. Infante's ability to make consistent contact makes him a worthy stopgap in mixed leagues, but he's certainly not an advisable start, especially in a week he's facing red-hot hurlers like Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Dan Uggla, Rickie Weeks, Howard Kendrick
Advisable starts: Dustin Ackley, Brandon Phillips (hamstring), Jemile Weeks, Ryan Roberts
Shaky starts: Ryan Raburn, Neil Walker, Danny Espinosa, Kelly Johnson, Jason Kipnis, Aaron Hill, Daniel Murphy, Marco Scutaro, Omar Infante, Jose Altuve
Strictly AL/NL-only: Mike Aviles, Gordon Beckham, Ruben Tejada, Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll
Don't bother: Sean Rodriguez, Alexi Casilla, Robert Andino, Freddy Galvis, Tyler Greene, Orlando Hudson, Chase Utley (knee), Brian Roberts (concussion), Freddy Sanchez (shoulder), Maicer Izturis, Johnny Giavotella, Chris Nelson

Third base

Only two weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery and without the benefit of a minor-league rehab assignment, Chipper Jones returned with a bang Tuesday and has looked as comfortable at the plate as he has at any point over the last four years. At age 39, he'll miss some time here and there, but if you're already hurting at third base, he's more than serviceable when he's healthy. David Wright, meanwhile, isn't going to be healthy anytime soon. He's now dealing with a fractured pinkie as well as a torn abdominal muscle. Of course, we've seen a few players play with minor fractures over the last few years -- most recently Michael Morse (forearm) last year -- and in most cases, their numbers didn't suffer. If the abdominal injury wasn't enough to slow Wright, the pinkie shouldn't scare you away from him in Fantasy, assuming he returns to the lineup over the weekend.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 3: Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
Roberts, who was one of the biggest surprises of 2011, has been fairly quiet to begin 2012, but then again, he hasn't had favorable matchups until this week, when he'll face the Pirates and Braves rotations over seven games. Not a true ace in the bunch (unless you count Tommy Hanson, who has yet to prove himself coming back from last year's shoulder injury). Plus, the Diamondbacks are at home this week, where their offense tends to do most of its damage.
Bust for Fantasy Week 3: Mike Moustakas, Royals
As was the case throughout his minor-league career (not to mention his stint in the majors last year), Moustakas is once again off to a slow start. The Royals have only six games on the schedule this week, and two are against true aces Justin Verlander and Ricky Romero. What incentive do you have to put Moustakas in the lineup?

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Hanley Ramirez, Brett Lawrie, Pablo Sandoval, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio, David Freese
Advisable starts: David Wright (finger), Kevin Youkilis, Martin Prado, Mark Reynolds, Ryan Roberts, Edwin Encarnacion, Chipper Jones, Kyle Seager
Shaky starts: Mike Moustakas, Daniel Murphy, Mat Gamel, Chase Headley, Danny Valencia, Jed Lowrie (thumb)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Mike Aviles, Placido Polanco, Chris Davis, Ian Stewart, Scott Rolen, Pedro Alvarez, Eduardo Nunez, Ty Wigginton, Chris Johnson, Brent Morel, Chone Figgins
Don't bother: Sean Rodriguez, Jack Hannahan, Juan Uribe, Alberto Callaspo, Wilson Betemit, Robert Andino, Casey McGehee, Josh Donaldson, Maicer Izturis, Chris Nelson, Lonnie Chisenhall, Nolan Arenado

Shortstop

Jed Lowrie is back from his early-season thumb injury and poised to get plenty of hype coming off an encouraging spring. But his history with injuries isn't so encouraging. Not only are they frequent for him, but he tends to rush back from them and struggles when he tries to play through them (see 2011, shoulder). Is he healthy now? Theoretically, but you might want to see him put up some numbers before you consider starting him.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 3: Derek Jeter, Yankees
This might be the first time since the proliferation of the Internet that "Jeter" and "sleeper" have appeared in the same sentence, but hey, the future Hall of Famer finally reached a point this draft season when he was just an also-ran among the top 12 shortstops. Now, he's off to a hot start, and some scouts are saying he actually gained a step in the offseason. If you're like me and drafted a second shortstop to platoon with Jeter, the Yankees' favorable matchups against the back of the Twins and Red Sox rotations this week should make the decision easy for you.
Bust for Fantasy Week 3: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
Last week, I was a trendsetter by recommending to sit Furcal. This week, I'm just kicking him while he's down. OK, so he still ranks first among shortstops in Head-to-Head leagues, so he's not actually down, but he has slowed down enough to convince me the hot start was too good to be true. I can think of at least 15 shortstops I'd rather start.

No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Jimmy Rollins, Emilio Bonifacio
Advisable starts: Derek Jeter, Alexei Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta, J.J. Hardy, Erick Aybar, Dee Gordon, Yunel Escobar, Zack Cozart
Shaky starts: Rafael Furcal, Marco Scutaro, Ian Desmond, Alcides Escobar, Jed Lowrie (thumb), Willie Bloomquist
Strictly AL/NL-only: Mike Aviles, Cliff Pennington (foot), Eduardo Nunez, Alex Gonzalez, Ruben Tejada, Jamey Carroll
Don't bother: Tyler Pastornicky, Alexi Casilla, Jason Bartlett, Sean Rodriguez, Tyler Greene, Clint Barmes, Freddy Galvis, Robert Andino, Brandon Crawford, Stephen Drew (ankle)

Outfield

Brett Gardner has already sat in favor of Andruw Jones in two of the three games the Yankees have played against left-handers this season. Looks like manager Joe Girardi is going the platoon route with him again. Clearly, that limits his Head-to-Head value, but he's still an elite base-stealer with favorable enough matchups this week (including five games against righties) that you might want to start him anyway. Matt Joyce, meanwhile, has started every game the Rays have played this season, including two against lefties. Increased playing time was a prerequisite for him improving his Fantasy value this season, but if he continues to hit .217 off lefties like he did last year, the extra at-bats won't make a difference. Stay tuned.

Sleepers for Fantasy Week 3: Alejandro De Aza, White Sox and Josh Willingham, Twins
De Aza is a sleeper this week for almost the exact same reasons A.J. Pierzynski is. He's in what looks like the early stages of a hot streak, having homered in back-to-back games, and he's a left-handed hitter with favorable matchups against a bunch of righties. The names aren't even important. The White Sox are facing the Orioles and the Mariners, and they're missing Felix Hernandez's turn in the rotation. That's all you need to know. As for Josh Willingham, he has a history of streakiness and is clearly all-systems-go right now, having homered in three straight. Take advantage while it lasts because chances are he'll be hitting .220 a month from now.
Busts for Fantasy Week 3: Logan Morrison, Marlins and Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
Morrison has been in and out of the lineup early this season as he works himself back into game shape after missing much of spring training with a knee injury. He's probably pretty close to being back on track, but with matchups against Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Stephen Straburg and Gio Gonzalez this week, he's not worth the gamble. Cespedes might not seem like a gamble with his early-season power surge, but the strikeout rate is discouraging and will likely come back to bite him during a week that opens against the Angels' fearsome foursome. If possible, sit him in standard mixed leagues.

No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Holliday, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, Ben Zobrist, Hunter Pence, Alex Gordon, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz, Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, Chris Young, Carlos Beltran
Advisable starts: Michael Bourn, Shin-Soo Choo, Nick Markakis, Emilio Bonifacio, Lance Berkman (calf), Jayson Werth, Adam Jones, Howard Kendrick, Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Corey Hart, Jason Heyward, Ichiro Suzuki, Austin Jackson, Josh Willingham, Martin Prado, Alejandro De Aza, Carlos Lee, Lucas Duda, Brett Gardner
Shaky starts: Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Drew Stubbs, Jeff Francoeur, Logan Morrison, Yoenis Cespedes, Delmon Young, Cameron Maybin, Brennan Boesch, Dayan Viciedo, Matt Joyce, Torii Hunter, Jose Tabata, Jason Kubel, Dexter Fowler, Coco Crisp, Angel Pagan, David Murphy, Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rios, Peter Bourjos, J.D. Martinez, Ryan Raburn
Strictly AL/NL-only: Yonder Alonso, Colby Rasmus, John Mayberry, Jason Bay, Eric Thames, Denard Span, Michael Brantley, Alex Presley, Ben Revere, David DeJesus, Jon Jay, Bryan LaHair, Ty Wigginton, Cody Ross, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd, Juan Rivera, Josh Reddick (shoulder), Juan Pierre, Vernon Wells, Mitch Moreland, Aubrey Huff, Jordan Schafer, Chone Figgins, Michael Saunders
Don't bother: Nolan Reimold, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Ludwick, Bobby Abreu, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Heisey, Seth Smith, Luke Scott (hamstring), Rajai Davis, Garrett Jones, Shelley Duncan, Lorenzo Cain (groin), Andres Torres (calf), Michael Morse (back), Carl Crawford (wrist), B.J. Upton (back), Carlos Quentin (knee), Mike Carp (shoulder), Allen Craig (knee), Grady Sizemore (back), Brandon Belt, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Travis Snider

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Athletics option Max Muncy to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:25 pm ET) The Athletics optioned Max Muncy to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday. He hit .203 with two home runs, six RBI, eight walks, 11 runs and 24 strikeouts in 34 games with Oakland.

Rays 1B James Loney starting rehab assignment Tuesday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:23 pm ET) Rays first baseman James Loney will begin his rehab assignment Tuesday night with Class A Charlotte, according to the Tampa Bay Tribune

Loney is on the disabled list with a fractured left middle finger. He will be Charlotte's designated hitter during the rehab start. 


Royals SS Alcides Escobar returns from finger injury Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:22 pm ET) Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar returned to the starting lineup Tuesday against the Astros after being a late scratch Monday due to a finger injury he suffered Sunday.

Escobar is batting .382 (21 for 55) with one triple, three doubles, 10 RBI, nine runs, three walks, six strikeouts and one stolen base in his last 13 games. His batting average has increased from .255 to .281 in that span.


Astros DH Evan Gattis returns to lineup Tuesday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:14 pm ET) Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis will return to the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Royals. 

Gattis took Monday off with Jon Singleton filling in for him. This season, Gattis is hitting .235/.266/.440 and has 13 home runs with 47 RBI. 


Cardinals 3B Matt Carpenter takes a seat with Sale on the mound
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:58 pm ET) Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter is getting the day off and is being held out of the starting lineup Tuesday against the White Sox. Carpenter had started five straight games, collecting just three hits in 21 at-bats over that span.

And, with a .222 batting average against left-handers this season, Carpenter will be shielded from one of the finest southpaws in the game, Chris Sale, who is starting on Tuesday.

Mark Reynolds is handling the hot corner while Xavier Scruggs handles first base on Tuesday.


Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong not starting on Tuesday vs. White Sox
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:56 pm ET) Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong is getting just his second day off in the last 19 games, as he is being held out of the lineup on Tuesday. Wong has been hitting at a decent clip recently, batting .275 with two home runs over his last 10 games.

And, despite a strong .284 average against southpaws this season, the lefty-swinging Wong will take a seat against a tough left-hander in Chris Sale.

Pete Kozma is getting the start at second base while batting eighth against the White Sox on Tuesday.


White Sox back in NL park, Adam LaRoche back on bench
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:54 pm ET) White Sox DH Adam LaRoche was not in the starting lineup Tuesday against the Cardinals, as Chicago opened up a two-game series in an NL park. 

He also started the game on the bench for two of three games at Milwaukee in May and a two-game series at Pittsburgh in mid-June.

LaRoche is batting just .189 (10 for 53) with one home run, four doubles, seven RBI, three runs, five walks and 22 strikeouts in his last 15 games.


Pirates' Harrison sits Tuesday as HR drought reaches 37 games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:46 pm ET) Pirates infielder Josh Harrison was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday against the Tigers for the first time since June 10. It was just the ninth time in 76 games this season he did not start.

Harrison is batting .346 (28 for 81) with four doubles, four RBI, six runs, three walks, 12 strikeouts and three stolen bases in his last 19 games.

He still hasn't homered in 37 games, which is the third-longest drought of his career, according to Baseball-Reference.com. His longest home-run drought was 46 games.


Blue Jays' Martin mired in 6-for-37 slump, gets day off Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:39 pm ET) Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin received a day off Tuesday against the Red Sox for the first time in seven games and just the second time in 10 games. 

Martin is hitless in his last three games (0 for 7) and is batting .059 (1 for 17) in his last six games. He is batting average has declined from .285 to .265 in his last 12 games, as he is just 6-for-37 in that stretch.


Cubs C Miguel Montero gets the day off on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:33 pm ET) Cubs catcher Miguel Montero is out of the starting lineup for Tuesday's matchup with the Mets. Montero had started five of the last six games. The one game in that stretch he didn't start, he wound up playing five innings, so he was certainly due for a rest.

The Cubs are also going up against a left-handed pitcher in Jonathon Niese, and Montero is batting just .222 against southpaws this season.

David Ross will handle the catching duties and bat seventh on Tuesday.


 
 
 
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