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, May 5.
New year, same old Dusty Baker. The Reds manager continues to show his affinity for light-hitting veterans by starting Ryan Hanigan in seven of the team's last 11 games. The boost in at-bats may subtly improve Hanigan's NL-only appeal, but not nearly to the extent that it damages Devin Mesoraco's mixed-league appeal. Right now, the high-upside rookie is wasting away on the bench, so you if you own him in a non-keeper league, perhaps you should look into other options.
Worth a second look: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
Pierzynski has cooled off a bit since his mid-April power surge, but his home run Tuesday showed he may still have a little hot streak in him. The matchups certainly work in his favor this week. With the doubleheader Monday, the White Sox play seven games, including six against right-handers and all against the bottom-feeder Indians and Royals rotations. Pierzynski won't be a top-12 catcher all season, but right now, he's still Fantasy gold.
Approach with caution: Geovany Soto, Cubs
Still nothing happening for Soto, whose batting average remains in the .150 range. By now, sitting him is probably obvious in mixed leagues, but in case you're one of the few trusting him to turn it around sooner than later, you might need to do a little soul searching, especially with the Cubs facing the Braves and Brewers rotations in their six games this week.
No-brainers: Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Miguel Montero, Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, Alex Avila
Advisable starts: Jesus Montero, A.J. Pierzynski, Carlos Ruiz
Shaky starts: Russell Martin, Wilson Ramos, Geovany Soto, J.P Arencibia, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Doumit, Chris Iannetta, John Buck, Nick Hundley, Kurt Suzuki, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ramon Hernandez, Josh Thole, A.J. Ellis
Strictly AL/NL-only: Devin Mesoraco, Rod Barajas, Wilin Rosario, Yorvit Torrealba, Ryan Hanigan, Jason Castro
Don't bother: Kelly Shoppach, Tyler Flowers, Chris Snyder, George Kottaras, Hector Sanchez, Jose Molina, Miguel Olivo (groin), Salvador Perez (knee), Victor Martinez (knee)
If you're one of the many who waited three years for Mat Gamel to live up to his sleeper potential, well, keep waiting. He's done for the year with a torn ACL. Travis Ishikawa is the most logical in-house candidate to replace him, but his major-league track record is discouraging at best. Corey Hart has been taking grounders at first base, so don't be surprised if he gains eligibility at the position in the near future. Kila Ka'aihue has started six of last eight games at first base for the Athletics, seemingly overtaking the light-hitting Daric Barton for the starting job. If Ka'aihue remains unowned in your AL-only league, why not take a shot on him? He may not live up to his minor-league power numbers, but he's at least getting on base.
Worth a second look: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
OK, first base is deep enough that you're probably not going to start a .207 hitter like Sanchez, which is why I still list him as a "shaky start," but if for some reason you're hurting for help at the position or have a corner infield spot to fill, Sanchez is still viable. He was an All-Star last year, after all. He can hit. Obviously, he's off to a dreadful start, but perhaps this week's schedule is exactly what he needs to get back on track. He has always hit lefties better than righties, producing a .901 OPS against them last year and a .917 OPS against them over his career. With three lefties on tap this week against the ace-less Astros and Mets staffs, he could surprise.
Approach with caution: Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
You like what Cuddyer's been doing in Colorado so far? Too bad it's been only in Colorado. He seems to have fallen into the same trap as every other Rockies hitter since the beginning of time, producing a .904 OPS at Coors Field and a .710 OPS everywhere else. Not only are the Rockies on the road this week, but they're in PETCO Park for three of their six games. Cuddyer is hardly an automatic start in mixed leagues.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, Michael Young, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer
Advisable starts: Eric Hosmer, Mike Napoli, Freddie Freeman, Bryan LaHair, Lucas Duda, Adam Dunn
Shaky starts: Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Pena, Kendrys Morales, Chris Davis, Ike Davis, Mark Reynolds, Adam LaRoche (oblique), Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Lee, Adam Lind, Mark Trumbo, Paul Goldschmidt, Todd Helton
Strictly AL/NL-only: Daniel Murphy, Justin Smoak, Matt Carpenter, James Loney, Yonder Alonso, Chris Parmelee, Mitch Moreland, Ty Wigginton, Casey Kotchman, Juan Rivera, Garrett Jones, Mike Carp, Laynce Nix, Aubrey Huff (anxiety)
Don't bother: Travis Ishikawa, Brandon Belt, Casey McGehee, Jesus Guzman, Kila Ka'aihue, Daric Barton, Brett Pill, Lance Berkman (calf), Justin Morneau (wrist), Michael Morse (back), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Anthony Rizzo
|1.||Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles||45|
|2.||Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates||36|
|3.||Bryan LaHair, 1B, Cubs||29|
|4.||Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox||29|
|5.||Jed Lowrie, SS, Astros||25|
|6.||Mike Trout, OF, Angels||23|
|7.||Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros||21|
|8.||Gerardo Parra, OF, D-Backs||19|
|9.||Ty Wigginton, 1B, Phillies||17|
|10.||Tony Campana, OF, Cubs||18|
Yuniesky Betancourt went on the DL with a right ankle sprain Thursday, opening the door for Chris Getz to play every day. Getz has been hitting well so far and offers enough steals potential to factor in deeper Rotisserie leagues. Because he provides nothing in the way of power, though, he's still more of a desperation option in those formats.
Worth a second look: Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
During Johnson's career-best 2010 season, his OPS was above .900 three months and below .800 the other three. Safe to say he's a streaky player, so when you see him homer in back-to-back games, as he did Tuesday and Wednesday, you have to think more Fantasy production is on the way. His matchups certainly help his cause this week. He gets the Twins rotation for four of his six games. Hard to imagine him slowing down against Jason Marquis, Nick Blackburn, Francisco Liriano and Scott Diamond.
Approach with caution: Brandon Phillips, Reds
Usually when studs slump, you kind of just stick with them in Fantasy, trusting the track record. But in Phillips' case, I don't know that it's just a slump. He came back from a hamstring injury before it had completely healed, by Dusty Baker's own admission, which is sure to affect him on the base paths even if not at the plate. As a non-base stealer going against pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson, he's hardly a slam dunk in Fantasy this week.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Dan Uggla
Advisable starts: Rickie Weeks, Howard Kendrick, Jose Altuve, Mike Aviles, Kelly Johnson, Jason Kipnis
Shaky starts: Brandon Phillips, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Hill, Daniel Murphy, Omar Infante, Jemile Weeks (groin), Neil Walker, Danny Espinosa
Strictly AL/NL-only: Marco Scutaro, Darwin Barney, Ryan Roberts, Ryan Raburn, Gordon Beckham, Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll, Robert Andino, Chris Getz, Alexi Casilla
Don't bother: Brandon Inge, Chris Nelson, Sean Rodriguez, Freddy Galvis, Stephen Lombardozzi, Tyler Greene, Orlando Hudson, Jeff Keppinger, Maicer Izturis, Ruben Tejada (quadriceps), Yuniesky Betancourt (ankle), Chase Utley (knee), Brian Roberts (concussion), Freddy Sanchez (shoulder), Johnny Giavotella
The Will Middlebrooks watch didn't last long. The Red Sox called up their top prospect Wednesday, opting to put Kevin Youkilis and his balky back on the DL. How long Middlebrooks sticks around is anybody's guess, but considering he was raking at Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting nine homers in 93 at-bats, he's worth a flier if you suddenly find yourself with a hole at the hot corner.
And chances are a good many of you do. In addition to Youkilis, Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder), Evan Longoria (hamstring) and Pablo Sandoval (hand) all had to go on the DL this week. Zimmerman will likely return early in the week, but Longoria and Sandoval are still weeks away. Longoria's replacements don't figure to help you much -- not unless a rotation of Elliot Johnson, Will Rhymes and Jeff Keppinger excites you -- but Sandoval's replacement, Conor Gillaspie, at least looks like a viable NL-only option. He doesn't have a ton of home-run power, but he has accumulated a .293 batting average and .364 on-base percentage over his minor-league career.
Worth a second look: Mike Aviles, Red Sox
Judging strictly by his .135 (5 for 37) batting average over his last eight games, Aviles' hot streak is over, but thanks to his three-run homer Monday, he has remained a productive Fantasy option during that stretch. The early-season power surge doesn't seem to be going away, and based on the Red Sox's matchups against the pitiful Royals and Indians rotations this week, a spike in batting average could soon accompany it. Three of the seven pitchers Aviles is facing this week are left-handers, and he has a 1.104 OPS against lefties this season.
Approach with caution: Mark Trumbo, Angels
Trumbo's inconsistent at-bats have finally gotten the best of him. Or maybe his poor plate discipline has. Probably both. Whatever the case, he's batting .237 (9 for 38) with 11 strikeouts over his last 11 games. With his playing time less than assured, he has an uphill battle to climb in Fantasy anyway, so you're better off avoiding him during these cold stretches.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Brett Lawrie, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Edwin Encarnacion, David Freese
Advisable starts: Adrian Beltre (leg), Emilio Bonifacio, Mike Aviles, Martin Prado, Aramis Ramirez, Jed Lowrie
Shaky starts: Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder), Pedro Alvarez, Mark Reynolds, Mike Moustakas, Daniel Murphy, Chase Headley, Chris Davis, Will Middlebrooks, Mark Trumbo, Chipper Jones, Kyle Seager
Strictly AL/NL-only: Matt Carpenter, Ryan Roberts, Danny Valencia, Placido Polanco, Ian Stewart (illness), Scott Rolen, Eduardo Nunez, Ty Wigginton, Chris Johnson, Jack Hannahan, Robert Andino, Alex Liddi, Conor Gillaspie, Wilson Betemit
Don't bother: Brandon Inge, Brent Morel, Sean Rodriguez, Chris Nelson, Chone Figgins, Stephen Lombardozzi, Juan Uribe (wrist), Alberto Callaspo, Juan Francisco, Casey McGehee, Maicer Izturis, Evan Longoria (hamstring), Pablo Sandoval (hand), Kevin Youkilis (back), Lonnie Chisenhall, Nolan Arenado
In Arizona, Cody Ransom continues to split time at third base, having started eight of the last 13 games there. And though Ryan Roberts has picked it up a little lately, Ransom is still providing the most offensively. As far as Fantasy goes, his value is greatest at shortstop, where power hitters are few and far between. He may not look like a hidden gem at age 36, but his minor-league track record suggests his .759 slugging percentage so far is at least halfway legit. If you're hurting at shortstop or need a power boost in an NL-only league, Ransom should fill your need in the short-term.
|1.||White Sox||@CLE4, KC3|
|2.||Red Sox||@KC3, CLE4|
|5.||Blue Jays||@OAK2, @MIN4|
Worth a second look: Jed Lowrie, Astros
Lowrie-mania is back, with me once again leading the charge. I know he let us all down last year, but his combination of power and patience is still rare among shortstops. Surely, his .429 (18 for 42) batting average, four home runs and 1.286 OPS over his last 11 games have gotten your attention. The best part is the main thing that held him back last year -- his performance against right-handers -- is no longer an issue. He's batting .396 with a 1.046 OPS against them this year. And guess what? The Astros face nothing but right-handers this week. Start him. You know you want to.
Approach with caution: Marco Scutaro, Rockies
Scutaro has been productive at times in his first year in Colorado, but he still has just a .658 OPS overall. And like Michael Cuddyer, his numbers are far worse on the road, where he's batting .229 with a .486 OPS. Clearly, during a week when he's on the road for six games, including three at PETCO Park, a non-power, non-speed guy like him should be on your bench.
No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Derek Jeter
Advisable starts: Jimmy Rollins, Emilio Bonifacio, Mike Aviles, Jed Lowrie, Rafael Furcal, Dee Gordon, J.J. Hardy
Shaky starts: Alexei Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta, Yunel Escobar, Erick Aybar, Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Alcides Escobar
Strictly AL/NL-only: Marco Scutaro, Cliff Pennington, Eduardo Nunez, Jamey Carroll, Robert Andino, Alexi Casilla, Cody Ransom, Tyler Pastornicky
Don't bother: Sean Rodriguez, Willie Bloomquist, Jason Bartlett, Tyler Greene, Clint Barmes, Freddy Galvis, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Ruben Tejada (quadriceps), Alex Gonzalez (knee), Stephen Drew (ankle), Yuniesky Betancourt (ankle)
With Mike Trout now in the majors, Peter Bourjos' seems to be losing his place in the Angels' outfield rotation, with Vernon Wells remaining in left field most days and Torii Hunter still going strong in right. Bourjos' slow start had already cut into his ownership percentage, but now that his role is decreasing, he's looking like strictly an AL-only option. Shelley Duncan is right there with him. His combination of power and patience was earning him mixed-league looks when he was playing every day, but now with Johnny Damon on board, Duncan is the lesser half of a lefty-righty split. Don't expect much from either him or Damon. Logan Morrison has been sitting more and more against lefties recently, which is especially discouraging with three lefties on tap for the Marlins this week. His mixed-league appeal is rapidly slipping away.
Worth a second look: Lucas Duda, Mets and Alejandro De Aza, White Sox
Finally, finally Duda can get the sleeper hype he deserves. Instead of facing mostly lefties this week, against whom he has a .441 OPS, the Mets face mostly righties, against whom he has a .994 OPS. Four righties are on tap this week, as a matter of fact, which means the patience and power he has offered in spurts this season should be on full display. If you've stashed him all this time, don't bench him now. The splits are even more dramatic for De Aza, who has a .942 OPS against righties compared to .394 against lefties, so the six righties on tap for the White Sox this week should make him a synch to start in mixed leagues, especially since they're low-end hurlers like Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, Felipe Paulino and Luke Hochevar.
Approach with caution: J.D. Martinez, Astros and Jon Jay, Cardinals
Martinez is still getting plenty of love in Fantasy despite his 6-for-43 (.140) slump, and hey, I like his plate discipline, too. Still, the downward trend only figures to continue this week with the Astros facing nothing but right-handers. Martinez is batting .211 with a .636 OPS against them this year. Jay, meanwhile, faces three lefties this week, and although he's not as bad against them as you'd think a young left-handed hitter would be, the matchups still give the Cardinals an excuse to bench him for the newly activated Allen Craig, especially if Lance Berkman (calf) comes off the DL late in the week and bumps Craig from first base. Even if Jay stays in the lineup, he might not provide much against high-end hurlers like Ian Kennedy, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Tommy Hanson.
No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Matt Holliday, Justin Upton, Giancarlo Stanton, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, Andre Ethier, Carlos Beltran, Jason Heyward, Adam Jones
Advisable starts: Matt Kemp (hamstring), Andrew McCutchen (illness), Nelson Cruz, Ben Zobrist, Emilio Bonifacio, Hunter Pence, Alex Gordon, Corey Hart, Jay Bruce, Nick Swisher, Nick Markakis, Yoenis Cespedes, Howard Kendrick, Shin-Soo Choo, Melky Cabrera, Ichiro Suzuki, Martin Prado, Jayson Werth, Lucas Duda, Alejandro De Aza, Josh Willingham, Bryan LaHair, Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter
Shaky starts: Desmond Jennings (knee), B.J. Upton, Michael Cuddyer, Drew Stubbs, J.D. Martinez, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Logan Morrison, Luke Scott, Matt Joyce, Angel Pagan, Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Lee, Alex Rios, Brennan Boesch, Jason Kubel, Dexter Fowler, Vernon Wells, Jon Jay, Denard Span, Colby Rasmus, Jordan Schafer, Cody Ross, Tony Campana, Cameron Maybin, Gerardo Parra
Strictly AL/NL-only: Dayan Viciedo (elbow), Delmon Young, Allen Craig, Alfonso Soriano, David Murphy, Peter Bourjos, Yonder Alonso, Jose Tabata, Eric Thames, Michael Brantley, Alex Presley, David DeJesus, Ty Wigginton, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd, Juan Rivera, Josh Reddick, Mitch Moreland, Michael Saunders, Shelley Duncan, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Ludwick, Ryan Sweeney, Nate Schierholtz, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, Ty Wigginton), Andres Torres, Laynce Nix, Carlos Quentin (knee), Brett Gardner (elbow), Aubrey Huff (anxiety)
Don't bother: Jarrod Dyson, Ryan Raburn, Brandon Belt, John Mayberry, Juan Pierre, Mike Carp, Willie Bloomquist, Chone Figgins, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Heisey, Seth Smith, Rajai Davis, Ben Revere, Jesus Guzman, Brian Bogusevic, Lance Berkman (calf), Nolan Reimold (neck), Coco Crisp (illness), Carlos Gomez (hamstring), Jason Bay (ribs), Chris Young (shoulder), Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Lorenzo Cain (groin), Michael Morse (back), Carl Crawford (wrist), Grady Sizemore (back), Travis Snider
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