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 28.
|1.||Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros||28|
|2.||Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox||26|
|3.||Cody Ross, OF, Red Sox||19|
|4.||Luke Scott, OF, Rays||18|
|5.||Nate Schierholtz, OF, Giants||17|
|6.||Bryan LaHair, OF, Cubs||16|
|7.||Travis Hafner, DH, Indians||15|
|8.||Chase Headley, 3B, Padres||14|
|9.||Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Mets||14|
|10.||Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals||13|
The Giants have been a little more open to the idea of playing Buster Posey at first base lately, which has freed up at-bats for Hector Sanchez, a 22-year-old who showed a little bit of pop in the minors before winning the backup job this spring. Posey will remain the team's primary catcher, so no matter how well Sanchez hits, he belongs on waivers in standard mixed leagues. NL-only owners might want to take notice, though. Offensively, he's not your average backup catcher.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 5: Russell Martin, Yankees
Martin isn't off to a great start this year, but knowing how streaky he was last year, hitting 13 of his 18 home runs in April and August and only five the other four months, you wouldn't want to sell him short, particularly in Rotisserie leagues. The Yankees' matchups this week couldn't be any more favorable -- they're facing the Orioles and Royals pitching staffs over a seven-game period -- so now isn't the time to make a switch in Fantasy.
Bust for Fantasy Week 5: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
The reasons for sitting Lucroy this week are three-pronged. First, he's no longer swinging such a hot bat, going 4 for 23 over his last eight games. Second, he's on the road all week, where he hit .240 with a .608 OPS last year compared to .292 and .804 at home. Third, he's facing pitchers like Cory Luebke, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain in a six-game week that includes three games at PETCO Park. If that's not enough to convince you, nothing will.
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, A.J. Pierzynski
Shaky starts: Wilson Ramos, J.P Arencibia, Kurt Suzuki, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Doumit, Carlos Ruiz (knee), Chris Iannetta, John Buck, Nick Hundley, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Geovany Soto (back)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Devin Mesoraco, Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Wilin Rosario, Yorvit Torrealba, Josh Thole, Ryan Hanigan, Jason Castro, A.J. Ellis
Don't bother: Kelly Shoppach, Tyler Flowers, Chris Snyder, George Kottaras, Hector Sanchez, Jose Molina, Salvador Perez (knee), Victor Martinez (knee)
Chris Parmelee has started 13 of the team's 20 games so far -- 11 at first base and two in the outfield -- so he's clearly less than an everyday player. He was a deep sleeper coming into the season given his performance as a September call-up last year, but with less than regular playing time, he's more of an AL-only option. Alex Liddi has been stealing at-bats at both third and first base and producing whenever given the chance. He won't make a big Fantasy impact unless the Mariners start playing him more against righties, but considering his power numbers in the minors, AL-only owners should pay attention.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 5: Kendrys Morales, Angels
Morales is hitting a respectable .267 on the season, but he doesn't have the Fantasy production to match. The problem is the Angels have taken to sitting him against left-handed pitchers, mostly just as another excuse to get Mark Trumbo's bat in the lineup. Because the Angels face six righties this week, though, you have some hope of Morales staying in the lineup, and because, against the Twins and Blue Jays, most of those righties are especially hittable, you have some hope of him doing some damage.
Bust for Fantasy Week 5: Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Lind looked like a candidate to rebound this year after a back issue contributed to him hitting .197 in the second half last year. But then, right at the end of spring training, his back flared up again. Is it the reason he's struggling now? Hard to say. But considering the Blue Jays are facing Yu Darvish, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and C.J. Wilson in a seven-game week, you'll want to sit him regardless.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Michael Young, Carlos Santana, Eric Hosmer, Mike Napoli, Joe Mauer
Advisable starts: Paul Konerko (neck), Michael Cuddyer, Freddie Freeman, Justin Morneau, Kendrys Morales, Carlos Pena, Bryan LaHair, Adam Dunn, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam LaRoche
Shaky starts: Ike Davis, Mark Reynolds, Lucas Duda, Justin Smoak, Matt Carpenter, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Lee (ankle), Adam Lind, Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis
Strictly AL/NL-only: Paul Goldschmidt, Todd Helton, Daniel Murphy, Mat Gamel (shoulder), James Loney, Yonder Alonso, Chris Parmelee (head), Mitch Moreland, Ty Wigginton, Casey Kotchman, Garrett Jones, Luke Hughes
Don't bother: Juan Rivera (hamstring), Brandon Belt, Casey McGehee, Jesus Guzman, Kila Ka'aihue, Daric Barton, Brett Pill, Aubrey Huff (anxiety), Lance Berkman (calf), Michael Morse (back), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Mike Carp (shoulder)
You may notice more turnover here than in past weeks, with slow starters Dustin Ackley and Jemile Weeks dropping to "shaky start" status and fast starters Jose Altuve and Mike Aviles rising to "advisable start" status. Keep in mind, though, these category designations apply to this week alone and not the rest of the season. Just because I'm not particularly excited about Ackley and Weeks now doesn't mean they won't rank among the top 12 at the position come season's end.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 5: Jose Altuve, Astros
In case you haven't noticed, Altuve now ranks second among second basemen in Head-to-Head leagues and third in Rotisserie leagues. Putting together 11 multi-hit efforts in 21 games this season has something to do with that. Yet for some reason, Fantasy owners are skeptical. Altuve's minor-league track record suggests he should be an excellent contact hitter with plenty of doubles and triples power and perhaps even some speed -- basically the Shane Victorino of second basemen -- and that's exactly what he's done so far. He's been hot enough long enough that he deserves to start in all leagues.
Bust for Fantasy Week 5: Jason Kipnis, Indians
Like Altuve, Kipnis has contributed a healthy number of extra-base hits this season (which explains why he ranks so high in Head-to-Head leagues), but he doesn't quite have the batting average to match. His .179 mark against lefties this season (and .227 for his career) probably has something to do with that. It's especially troubling with three lefties on tap for the Indians this week. Even the three righty matchups aren't so hot (Philip Humber, Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish), so you might want to steer clear of Kipnis in mixed leagues.
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No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Dan Uggla
Advisable starts: Rickie Weeks, Howard Kendrick, Brandon Phillips, Jose Altuve, Mike Aviles
Shaky starts: Dustin Ackley, Kelly Johnson, Jason Kipnis, Aaron Hill, Daniel Murphy, Omar Infante, Jemile Weeks, Neil Walker, Danny Espinosa, Darwin Barney, Marco Scutaro
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ryan Roberts, Ryan Raburn, Gordon Beckham, Ruben Tejada, Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll, Robert Andino, Yuniesky Betancourt, Chris Getz, Alexi Casilla, Luke Hughes
Don't bother: Chris Nelson, Sean Rodriguez, Freddy Galvis, Tyler Greene, Orlando Hudson, Jeff Keppinger, Maicer Izturis, Chase Utley (knee), Brian Roberts (concussion), Freddy Sanchez (shoulder), Johnny Giavotella
Ryan Roberts, off to a dreadful start this season, recently sat out four straight games in favor of 36-year-old journeyman Cody Ransom, who actually hit pretty well as a starter. Manager Kirk Gibson says Roberts is still his starter and that the 31-year-old just needed a mental break, but this clearly isn't a positive development for a player who Fantasy owners had reason to doubt in the first place. He's not beyond dropping in mixed leagues. Ransom, meanwhile, has enough pop that he's worth a flier in NL-only leagues if the at-bats continue.
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 5: Mike Aviles, Red Sox
Aviles is simply too hot to handle right now, batting .321 (18 for 56) with four homers over his last 13 games, and it's not like the Red Sox's matchups this week against the Athletics and Orioles are any cause for concern. Whether or not Aviles can be a long-term solution for your Fantasy team remains to be seen -- he has fooled us more than once over the years since his impressive rookie 2008 season -- but right now, you can't go wrong with him whether at third base, second base or shortstop.
Bust for Fantasy Week 5: Chase Headley, Padres
Maybe you couldn't bring yourself to sit Headley last week -- he remained active in 76 percent of leagues -- but this week, he plays a full six games at PETCO Park. He's a .230 there over his career, including .243 last year. He'll be useful in mixed leagues at times this season, but you'll want to sit him pretty much whenever he has a full week at PETCO.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Brett Lawrie, Pablo Sandoval, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Emilio Bonifacio
Advisable starts: Mike Aviles, David Freese, Martin Prado, Aramis Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion
Shaky starts: Kevin Youkilis (back), Mark Reynolds, Mike Moustakas, Daniel Murphy, Chase Headley, Jed Lowrie, Chipper Jones, Matt Carpenter, Chris Davis
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ryan Roberts, Mat Gamel (shoulder), Danny Valencia, Placido Polanco, Ian Stewart, Scott Rolen, Pedro Alvarez, Eduardo Nunez, Ty Wigginton, Chris Johnson, Kyle Seager, Jack Hannahan, Robert Andino, Alex Liddi
Don't bother: Brent Morel, Sean Rodriguez, Chris Nelson, Chone Figgins, Juan Uribe, Alberto Callaspo, Juan Francisco, Wilson Betemit, Casey McGehee, Maicer Izturis, Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder), Lonnie Chisenhall, Nolan Arenado
One player I might be undervaluing here is Alcides Escobar, who has actually outscored "no-brainer" options Emilio Bonifacio, Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera this year. You wouldn't be wrong to start him, of course, but given his past inconsistencies, I'm skeptical enough of his current .297 batting average that I'd prefer to start any of the 12 shortstops in the two categories ahead of him.
|4.||Cubs||@PHI1, @CIN3, LAD3|
Sleeper for Fantasy Week 5: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
OK, he's won me over -- at least for now. A couple of good games at the start of the season wasn't enough to convince me Furcal had turned back the clock at age 34, but after more of the same over the last three weeks, I'd be an idiot to keep underestimating him. I still think he'll get hurt eventually, but looking at the short-term, he's worth starting this week. The Cardinals have six games against the Pirates and Astros, so unless pitchers like A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard and Bud Norris (arguably the best three on tap) scare you, you can pencil in Furcal for another big week.
Bust for Fantasy Week 5: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
Considering he's batting .098 (4 for 41) over his last 12 games and has tough matchups this week against the Braves and Nationals pitching staffs, Rollins isn't beyond sitting in standard mixed leagues. I can think of 11 shortstops I'd rather start than him. Of course, that's less than a full load in a standard 12-team league, so chances are the majority of his owners won't want to get too cute with him. But if you have alternatives, this week is a rare opportunity to use them.
No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Emilio Bonifacio, Derek Jeter
Advisable starts: Jimmy Rollins, Mike Aviles, Rafael Furcal, Dee Gordon
Shaky starts: Alexei Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta, J.J. Hardy, Yunel Escobar, Erick Aybar, Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Alcides Escobar, Jed Lowrie, Marco Scutaro
Strictly AL/NL-only: Cliff Pennington, Eduardo Nunez, Alex Gonzalez, Jamey Carroll, Ruben Tejada, Robert Andino, Yuniesky Betancourt, Alexi Casilla, Cody Ransom
Don't bother: Tyler Pastornicky, Sean Rodriguez, Willie Bloomquist, Jason Bartlett, Tyler Greene, Clint Barmes, Freddy Galvis, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Stephen Drew (ankle)
The arrival of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout is the weekend's biggest storyline. Neither has contributed much in Fantasy so far, but both figure to play every day while they're in the majors. You may not necessarily want to start them right away -- they're likely to endure some growing pains at ages 19 and 20 -- but given the upside, both are must-haves in Fantasy. Since coming over from the Cubs via trade, Marlon Byrd has been a regular in center field for the Red Sox, with Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney flanking him. That's not the most attractive trio for Fantasy purposes, but with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford likely still months from returning, it figures to last a while. Ross at least is worth owning in mixed leagues, given his power surge. The biggest winner in the Byrd trade, however, is Tony Campana, who will now get regular at-bats for the Cubs against righties and has the speed to steal 40-plus bases. If that category is a need for you in Rotisserie play, stop reading and go pick him up. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is becoming a fixture at the top of the Mets lineup, starting 14 straight games, including five against lefties. Considering how well he's hitting and his modest power and speed, the jack-of-all-trades rookie is worth a look even in mixed leagues.
|2.||Blue Jays||TEX3, @LAA4|
|3.||Phillies||CHC1, @ATL3, @WAS3|
Sleepers for Fantasy Week 5: Matt Joyce, Rays and Bryan LaHair, Cubs
The bad news is, at least in the three opportunities they've had so far, the Rays seem to have reverted to their 2011 strategy of sitting Joyce against lefties now that B.J. Upton is back from the DL. The good news is they're facing six righties this week. Joyce stands to lose Fantasy value in the long run, but with pitchers like Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan, Kevin Millwood and Tyson Ross on tap this week, you can take him for one last joy ride. LaHair, also a platoon player, is sitting pretty with the matchups himself. The Cubs face six righties this week, and they're a bunch of hittable types like Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Aaron Harang. LaHair is hotter than Joyce, too, so now that you have the assurance he's actually going to play this week, I'd say he's definite mixed-league material.
Busts for Fantasy Week 5: Cameron Maybin, Padres and Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
Frankly, I don't understand why Maybin is still starting in more than half of all Fantasy leagues. He hasn't hit all year, batting .184 overall, and is a one-trick pony (stolen bases) even when he's going well. He won't be going well this week -- not with six games at home, where he hit only .231 during last year's "breakout" season. Rasmus, meanwhile, has been hitting significantly better of late, but in a week against the top of the Rangers and Angels pitching staffs, I'm staying away.
No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Holliday, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, Desmond Jennings, Michael Bourn, Nelson Cruz, Andre Ethier, Carlos Beltran, Jason Heyward, Adam Jones
Advisable starts: Justin Upton, Ben Zobrist, Emilio Bonifacio, Giancarlo Stanton, Hunter Pence, Alex Gordon, Corey Hart, Jay Bruce, Nick Markakis, Yoenis Cespedes, Howard Kendrick, Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Ichiro Suzuki, Martin Prado, Jayson Werth, J.D. Martinez, Alejandro De Aza, Drew Stubbs, Josh Willingham, Bryan LaHair, Matt Joyce, Alex Rios, Angel Pagan
Shaky starts: Shin-Soo Choo (hamstring), Logan Morrison, Austin Jackson, B.J. Upton, Luke Scott, Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Lee (ankle), Lucas Duda, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch, Torii Hunter, Jason Kubel, Dexter Fowler, Coco Crisp, Vernon Wells, Nolan Reimold, Colby Rasmus, Jordan Schafer, Denard Span, Shelley Duncan, Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Tony Campana, Jon Jay, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Nick Swisher (hamstring)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Dayan Viciedo, Alfonso Soriano, David Murphy, Peter Bourjos, Yonder Alonso, Cameron Maybin, Jose Tabata, Ryan Raburn, Eric Thames, Michael Brantley, Alex Presley, David DeJesus, Ty Wigginton, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd, Josh Reddick, Juan Pierre, Mitch Moreland, Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Ludwick, Ryan Sweeney, Gerardo Parra, Carlos Gomez, Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, Andres Torres (calf)
Don't bother: Juan Rivera (hamstring), Brandon Belt, John Mayberry, Willie Bloomquist, Chone Figgins, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Heisey, Seth Smith, Rajai Davis, Ben Revere, Jesus Guzman, Brian Bogusevic, Ty Wigginton, Aubrey Huff (anxiety), Jason Bay (ribs), Brett Gardner (elbow), Lance Berkman (calf), Chris Young (shoulder), Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Lorenzo Cain (groin), Michael Morse (back), Carl Crawford (wrist), Carlos Quentin (knee), Mike Carp (shoulder), Allen Craig (knee), Grady Sizemore (back), Travis Snider
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