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, April 21.
|1.||Nolan Reimold, OF, Orioles||51|
|2.||A.J. Pierzynski, C, White Sox||32|
|3.||Luke Scott, OF, Rays||28|
|4.||Chase Headley, 3B, Padres||25|
|5.||Matt Carpenter, 3B, Cardinals||18|
|6.||Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals||17|
|7.||Cody Ross, OF, Red Sox||16|
|8.||J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros||15|
|9.||Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals||13|
|10.||Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox||13|
Kelly Shoppach has been surprisingly productive in the early going and is splitting at-bats with Jarrod Saltalamacchia as a result. Though Shoppach's overall track record isn't particularly impressive, he has at least shown some pop in the past. If the current distribution of at-bats continues, he could be plenty relevant in AL-only leagues. Meanwhile, Josh Donaldson is on the verge of losing his AL-only value. The only reason he mattered in the first place was because of the extra at-bats he figured to get by playing third base instead of catcher, but with the Athletics periodically turning to Eric Sogard at the hot corner, Donaldson no longer has anything to set him apart at the catcher position. He's on the cusp of "don't bother" status.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 4: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
Pierzynski is simply too hot to handle right now, with four home runs and four multi-hit efforts in his last 10 games. Naturally, it won't last -- he's not going to put together a career season at age 35 -- but with the White Sox set to play seven games against the Athletics and Red Sox pitching staffs, you don't have any real justification to stray from him now. True, three of the seven pitchers on tap are lefties, but lately it hasn't made a difference to manager Robin Ventura.
Bust for Fantasy Week 4: Geovany Soto, Cubs
If Soto's .150 (6 for 40) batting average so far doesn't convince you to sit him, perhaps this week's matchups will: Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Roy Halladay. OK, so maybe Wainwright hasn't been all that great in his return from Tommy John surgery, but given his ability, he could turn the corner at any time. And with those other three on tap, Soto is in for an uphill battle regardless.
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, Wilson Ramos, A.J. Pierzynski
Shaky starts: Geovany Soto, J.P Arencibia, Kurt Suzuki, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Doumit, Carlos Ruiz (wrist), Chris Iannetta, John Buck, Nick Hundley
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Devin Mesoraco, Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Wilin Rosario, Yorvit Torrealba, Josh Thole, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Hanigan, Jason Castro, A.J. Ellis, Kelly Shoppach
Don't bother: Tyler Flowers, Chris Snyder, George Kottaras, Jose Molina, John Jaso, Salvador Perez (knee), Victor Martinez (knee)
Bad news, Paul Goldschmidt owners. Apparently, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is taking a page from Dusty Baker's book and going with assured mediocrity over potential stardom. Perhaps it's simply a response to Goldschmidt's slow start, but veteran Lyle Overbay has started four of the team's last seven games against righties, leaving mostly just the lefties for Goldschmidt. It's not a strict lefty-righty platoon, but it's enough to limit the 24-year-old slugger's value in mixed leagues. I have him as an NL-only option for this week.
Between Aubrey Huff, Brandon Belt and Brett Pill, the Giants have resorted to a three-man platoon at first base, with little rhyme or reason behind who starts when. Hard to imagine using any of the three outside of NL-only leagues right now.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 4: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
The bad news is Lance Berkman (calf) is on the DL, which could become a common occurrence in his age-36 season. The good news is Carpenter has done nothing but rake in his short time filling in for the veteran, with nearly half of his hits going for extra bases. The rookie may not come with the hype of a top prospect, but his minor-league track record is similar to that of Allen Craig, which could make him a waiver wire darling whenever he does have an opportunity for regular at-bats.
Bust for Fantasy Week 4: Ike Davis, Mets
With three homers in his last six games, Davis is quickly putting to rest any doubts about his ability to produce while battling valley fever -- the same illness that wrecked Conor Jackson's 2009 season and, ultimately, his career. So this recommendation, as always, is more about the short-term than the long-term, and in the short-term, the four lefties on tap for the Mets this week might be too much for Davis to overcome. He hit only .163 with a .493 OPS against lefties last year.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, Michael Young, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli
Advisable starts: Eric Hosmer, Michael Cuddyer, Freddie Freeman, Justin Morneau, Kendrys Morales, Carlos Pena, Edwin Encarnacion, Matt Carpenter
Shaky starts: Ike Davis, Mark Reynolds, Lucas Duda, Adam Dunn, Justin Smoak, Adam LaRoche, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Lee, Adam Lind, Daniel Murphy, Mat Gamel, Mark Trumbo, Bryan LaHair, Chris Davis
Strictly AL/NL-only: Paul Goldschmidt, Todd Helton, James Loney, Yonder Alonso, Chris Parmelee, Aubrey Huff, Mitch Moreland, Brandon Belt, Ty Wigginton, Casey Kotchman, Juan Rivera
Don't bother: Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Jesus Guzman, Kila Ka'aihue, Daric Barton, Brett Pill, Lance Berkman (calf), Michael Morse (back), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Mike Carp (shoulder)
Brandon Phillips has played in five of the last six games after missing the previous five with a hamstring injury, but just because he's back doesn't mean he's healthy. Rather than putting him on the DL, the Reds have simply asked him to run gingerly, which is of course easier said than done. Even if he's able to avoid injuring the hamstring further, he'll be limited on the base paths and perhaps in the batter's box as well, depending on how the injury impacts his swing. Even with those concerns, Phillips is still an advisable start at a weak position, but he's not quite the slam dunk he'd normally be.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 4: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Six games divided between PETCO Park and Dodger Stadium normally wouldn't be a good week for any hitter, but because of the specific pitching matchups, Espinosa could be in line to do some damage. Three of the six pitchers on tap for the Nationals are lefties. Espinosa hit .283 with an .857 OPS against lefties last season compared to .223 and .707 against righties. That's a big enough difference that you'll want to take advantage pretty much any time the Nationals are facing a significant number of lefties.
Bust for Fantasy Week 4: Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
Roberts is off to a slow start, and the Diamondbacks' matchups this week don't give him much chance of a rebound. They begin with three games against the Phillies rotation and end with three games against the Marlins' top three of Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. Not really a weak link in the bunch, even with Johnson at less than full strength, so you can probably do better in standard mixed leagues.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Dan Uggla, Rickie Weeks
Advisable starts: Howard Kendrick, Brandon Phillips (hamstring), Dustin Ackley, Danny Espinosa
Shaky starts: Jemile Weeks, Neil Walker, Ryan Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Jason Kipnis, Aaron Hill, Daniel Murphy, Omar Infante (groin), Jose Altuve, Mike Aviles
Strictly AL/NL-only: Marco Scutaro, Ryan Raburn, Gordon Beckham, Ruben Tejada, Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, Yuniesky Betancourt, Sean Rodriguez, Chris Nelson
Don't bother: Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Robert Andino, Freddy Galvis, Tyler Greene, Orlando Hudson, Jeff Keppinger, Maicer Izturis, Chase Utley (knee), Brian Roberts (concussion), Freddy Sanchez (shoulder), Johnny Giavotella
Juan Francisco has gotten some extra playing time recently with Chipper Jones still working his way back from knee surgery and has put on a power display during that time, hitting two homers and three doubles. Jones figures to return over the weekend, but at age 39, he's not an everyday player anymore. Francisco will offer sporadic power throughout the season, which means he deserves to be on your radar in Fantasy. Because his at-bats will remain inconsistent, though, he's unlikely to contribute outside of NL-only leagues.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 4: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Encarnacion's hot start would be easy to dismiss as a product sample size if he wasn't just as productive over his final 67 games last year, batting .302 with an .896 OPS. That's quite the hot streak, and you have to figure pitchers like Bruce Chen, Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, Brian Matusz, Blake Beavan, Kevin Millwood and Jason Vargas -- the seven the Blue Jays are facing this week -- won't be the ones who end it.
Bust for Fantasy Week 4: Chase Headley, Padres
Thanks to an especially productive series at Coors Field, Headley is suddenly the No. 1 third baseman in standard Head-to-Head leagues. But that's kind of the problem: He won't be playing at Coors Field every week. This week, he'll be playing three games at home, where he has a career .659 OPS, and three games at San Francisco, where he has a career .729 OPS. And the pitchers on tap -- Jordan Zimmermann, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, among others -- won't make his life any easier. Avoid him in mixed leagues, despite the hot streak.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Brett Lawrie, Pablo Sandoval, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Emilio Bonifacio
Advisable starts: Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder), David Freese, Kevin Youkilis (quadriceps), Aramis Ramirez, Martin Prado, Edwin Encarnacion, Matt Carpenter
Shaky starts: Adrian Beltre (hamstring), Mark Reynolds, Ryan Roberts, Mike Moustakas, Daniel Murphy, Mat Gamel, Chase Headley, Danny Valencia, Jed Lowrie, Mike Aviles, Chipper Jones, Chris Davis
Strictly AL/NL-only: Placido Polanco, Ian Stewart, Scott Rolen, Pedro Alvarez, Eduardo Nunez, Ty Wigginton, Chris Johnson, Brent Morel, Chone Figgins, Kyle Seager, Sean Rodriguez, Chris Nelson
Don't bother: Jack Hannahan, Juan Uribe (wrist), Alberto Callaspo, Juan Francisco, Wilson Betemit, Robert Andino, Casey McGehee, Josh Donaldson, Maicer Izturis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Nolan Arenado
Marco Scutaro is kind of in Fantasy no-man's land right now, which is why his category designation is different here than it is at second base. At age 36, he's no guarantee to keep his job all season, which is why the at-bats he's losing to Jonathan Herrera are so troubling. But at the same time, if the Rockies would simply wait out his struggles, his track record suggests he could be a surprisingly productive Fantasy shortstop -- top-10 material, even. If you're wondering what to do with him, you're not alone. It's a delicate situation that depends so much on your league's exact rules and the alternatives available to you on the waiver wire. Looking at just this week, I wouldn't want to start him in a mixed league. Looking at the rest of the season, I have him just outside the top 15 Fantasy shortstops still.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 4: Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
Escobar has picked it up after a slow start this season, batting .304 (14 for 46) over his last 11 games. That's reason enough to consider him one of the top 12 shortstops in Fantasy this week. His matchups against the worst the Orioles and Mariners rotations have to offer should make your decision that much easier.
Bust for Fantasy Week 4: Erick Aybar, Angels
Aybar was a top-10 shortstop in both Head-to-Head and Rotisserie leagues last season, but that doesn't change the fact he has a .600 OPS so far this season. The shortstop position isn't quite the barren wasteland it used to be -- at least in terms of mid-level talent -- so even if you trust Aybar to come around eventually (and I do), you don't have to stick it out with him during this dry spell.
No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Jimmy Rollins, Emilio Bonifacio, Derek Jeter
Advisable starts: Yunel Escobar, Alexei Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta, J.J. Hardy, Dee Gordon
Shaky starts: Erick Aybar, Zack Cozart, Rafael Furcal, Ian Desmond, Alcides Escobar, Jed Lowrie, Mike Aviles, Marco Scutaro
Strictly AL/NL-only: Cliff Pennington, Eduardo Nunez, Alex Gonzalez, Ruben Tejada, Sean Rodriguez, Willie Bloomquist, Yuniesky Betancourt
Don't bother: Tyler Pastornicky, Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla, Jason Bartlett, Tyler Greene, Clint Barmes, Freddy Galvis, Robert Andino, Brandon Crawford, Stephen Drew (ankle)
With B.J. Upton back from the back injury that sidelined him to begin the season, the Rays suddenly have a crowded outfield. The easy solution would be to move Ben Zobrist back to the infield, and that's surely what they'll do most of the time. But the Rays have always seemed to enjoy shifting Zobrist between the infield and the outfield -- perhaps just to prove that they can -- and the most logical way for them to do that now would be the same way they did it last year: sitting Matt Joyce against lefties. So far this year, Joyce has been an everyday player and has fared well in the role, but his struggles against lefties last year could once again render him a platoon player, thereby ruining his mixed-league appeal. It's hardly an open-and-shut case right now, but it's reason enough not to get too attached to Joyce if he's been a major part of your lineup in the early going.
Sleepers for Fantasy Week 4: Alex Gordon, Royals and Luke Scott, Rays
Gordon's slow start no doubt has his Fantasy owners thinking last year was the aberration in a career full of disappointment, but let's not forget what actually changed for him last year to bring about such impressive numbers: He remade his swing from top to bottom. He was basically a different player, which means everything that came before then is more or less irrelevant at this point. The hitter we saw last year was too good to keep this up, and I'm betting a week against the Indians and Twins rotations is just what he needs to turn this season around. As for Scott, the guy has a history of streakiness and is clearly on a roll right now with three homers in eight games. Once he starts it up, he usually keeps it up for weeks at a time -- shoot, in 2010, he had a fourth-month stretch in which he produced a .985 OPS -- so chances are if you add him off the waiver wire and insert him into your lineup during a week that includes a three-game series at Texas, you won't be disappointed.
Busts for Fantasy Week 4: Justin Upton, Diamondbacks and Carlos Lee, Astros
Upton has missed a handful of games already with a thumb injury, but the Diamondbacks keep saying he'll be able to avoid a DL stint. Even if he's able to return over the weekend, though, I don't trust that he'll be swinging at 100 percent. The Diamondbacks' matchups against six of the best pitchers the Phillies and Marlins have to offer might be just the excuse I need to leave him on my bench. Lee, meanwhile, has cooled off after a hot start and faces several tough righties this week, including Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. Considering his OPS last year was 313 points lower against righties than lefties, this week seems like a good time to sit him.
No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Holliday, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, Ben Zobrist, Hunter Pence, Desmond Jennings, Michael Bourn, Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier, Carlos Beltran, Jason Heyward, Emilio Bonifacio, Adam Jones
Advisable starts: Alex Gordon, Jay Bruce, Corey Hart, Shin-Soo Choo, Nick Markakis, Howard Kendrick, Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Ichiro Suzuki, Martin Prado, Jayson Werth, Austin Jackson, Logan Morrison, J.D. Martinez, Alejandro De Aza, Drew Stubbs, Luke Scott
Shaky starts: Justin Upton (thumb), B.J. Upton, Jeff Francoeur, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Willingham, Carlos Lee, Lucas Duda, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch, Dayan Viciedo, Matt Joyce, Torii Hunter, Jason Kubel, Dexter Fowler, Coco Crisp (illness), Angel Pagan, Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Nolan Reimold (neck), Colby Rasmus, Jordan Schafer, Bryan LaHair, Denard Span, Shelley Duncan
Strictly AL/NL-only: David Murphy, Peter Bourjos, Yonder Alonso, Cameron Maybin, Jose Tabata, Ryan Raburn, John Mayberry, Jason Bay, Eric Thames, Michael Brantley, Alex Presley, David DeJesus, Jon Jay (shoulder), Ty Wigginton, Cody Ross, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd, Juan Rivera, Josh Reddick, Juan Pierre, Mitch Moreland, Aubrey Huff, Chone Figgins, Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Belt, Ryan Sweeney, Willie Bloomquist, Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Don't bother: Bobby Abreu, Nate Schierholtz, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Heisey, Seth Smith, Gerardo Parra, Rajai Davis, Ben Revere, Garrett Jones, Jesus Guzman, Brian Bogusevic, Brett Gardner (elbow), Lance Berkman (calf), Chris Young (shoulder), Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Lorenzo Cain (groin), Andres Torres (calf), Michael Morse (back), Carl Crawford (wrist), Carlos Quentin (knee), Mike Carp (shoulder), Allen Craig (knee), Grady Sizemore (back), Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Travis Snider
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