The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner 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.
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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 Tuesday, July 10.
Jesus Montero sat out the last three games of the first half, supposedly because of a concussion. But the Seattle Times has speculated Montero could get sent down to the minors now that the Mariners have to create some at-bats for recent call-up Carlos Peguero. The Mariners are at home this week, where Montero is only a .209 hitter, so you'll want to sit the rookie in mixed leagues regardless. But if you've been relying on him all year, you should have your sights set on more than just a temporary fill-in.
Worth a second look: Carlos Santana, Indians
Yeah, I know. Santana has been a bust so far. But it's not like he's condemned to those first-half numbers forevermore. He still has as much offensive potential as any player at the catcher position, and one good series might be all he needs to jumpstart it. He could be in line for one of those series this week against the Blue Jays' makeshift pitching staff. Santana did manage to score double-digit Head-to-Head points the final week before the break, so starting him here might not even be that much of a gamble.
Approach with caution: Wilin Rosario, Rockies
A home series is normally good news for Rockies hitters, but not so for Rosario, who's batting .206 at Coors Field compared to .295 everywhere else. Perhaps it's just the product of a small sample size for a player who spent part of the year on the bench, but the Phillies' starting three of Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Cole Hamels are good enough to make it hold up this week.
No-brainers: Yadier Molina, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Carlos Ruiz, Matt Wieters, Brian McCann, A.J. Pierzynski
Advisable starts: Carlos Santana, Miguel Montero, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Salvador Perez
Shaky starts: Ryan Doumit, Wilin Rosario, Alex Avila, A.J. Ellis, J.P Arencibia, Jesus Montero (concussion), Yasmani Grandal, Russell Martin
Strictly AL/NL-only: John Buck, Geovany Soto, Michael McKenry, Rod Barajas, Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki, Miguel Olivo, Martin Maldonado, John Jaso, Josh Thole
Don't bother: Ramon Hernandez (hand), Jason Castro, Devin Mesoraco, Jesus Flores, Jhonatan Solano, Steve Clevenger, Ryan Hanigan, Yorvit Torrealba, Kelly Shoppach, Chris Snyder, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy (hand), Chris Iannetta (wrist), Victor Martinez (knee)
Ryan Howard, who spent the first three months recovering from an Achilles injury that happened on the play that eliminated the Phillies from the playoffs last October, returned to the lineup Friday and played two of three games before the break. He'll likely be in and out of the lineup as the Phillies ease him back into action over the next few weeks, making him a frustrating player to own in Fantasy. In Rotisserie leagues, the possible boost in homers makes him worth it, but you'll want to see him heat up before activating him in Head-to--Head.
The Marlins have a new first baseman in Carlos Lee, with Gaby Sanchez once again getting shipped to the minors. The ripple effect is the bigger story for Fantasy purposes, though, with Scott Moore taking Lee's place in Houston by bumping Chris Johnson over from third to first base. Moore has shown enough pop over his minor-league career to deserve a flier in NL-only leagues, but he was overmatched -- a victim of poor plate discipline -- in previous stints with the Cubs and Orioles. With three home runs in 36 at-bats, though, so far, so good in Houston.
Worth a second look: Adam Lind, Blue Jays
First base is a deep enough position that most Fantasy owners won't have to resort to a player like Lind, but if you're one of the few in a bind, the enigmatic slugger could be a fine stopgap off the waiver wire this week. The Blue Jays have been consistent about starting him against righties since re-calling him from the minors, and that's all they face this week in Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe. All three have shown some vulnerability this season, so Lind, with his .318 (7 for 22) batting average and two home runs over his last six games, could take advantage.
Approach with caution: Eric Hosmer, Royals
Hosmer has been trying his best to re-enter the first base discussion lately, batting .315 (17 for 54) over his last 14 games, but one thing he hasn't been able to do either this year or last is hit lefties, batting .228 with a .580 OPS against them for his career. With two on tap for the Royals this week -- a slate that includes the red-hot Jose Quintana as well as All-Stars Jake Peavy and Chris Sale -- you might want to steer clear of Hosmer for now.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Mark Trumbo, Edwin Encarnacion
Advisable starts: Adrian Gonzalez (illness), Billy Butler, Allen Craig, Joe Mauer, Adam Dunn, Buster Posey, Michael Morse, Paul Goldschmidt, Kevin Youkilis, Corey Hart, Michael Cuddyer, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Santana
Shaky starts: Eric Hosmer, Adam LaRoche, Justin Morneau, Ryan Howard, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Chris Davis, Kendrys Morales, Ike Davis, Adam Lind, Daniel Murphy, Logan Morrison, Tyler Colvin, Lucas Duda, Carlos Lee, Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds, Dustin Ackley
Strictly AL/NL-only: Brandon Belt, Bryan LaHair, Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee (groin), Brandon Moss, Chris Johnson, Yonder Alonso, Justin Smoak, Todd Helton, James Loney, John Mayberry, Ty Wigginton, Jordan Pacheco, Wilson Betemit, Tyler Moore, Chris Carter, Juan Rivera, Casey Kotchman
Don't bother: Matt Carpenter, Travis Ishikawa, Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Mike Carp (shoulder), Lance Berkman (knee), Matt Adams
Alexi Amarista started eight of the Padres' last nine games before All-Star break, mostly at second base, which is bad news for Logan Forsythe. Amarista still projects as a utility player in the long run, but given his .368 (14 for 38) batting average and four home runs over his last 10 games, you have to give him the benefit of the doubt in NL-only leagues right now.
Chris Getz, who has missed most of the last two months with a pair of injuries, most recently to his leg, is off the DL and ready to resume his lefty-righty platoon with Yuniesky Betancourt. He'll help some in batting average and stolen bases, but not enough to matter in mixed leagues.
Worth a second look: Chase Utley, Phillies
The Phillies were cautious with Utley and his balky knee when they first activated him from the DL in late June, but considering he started five of the team's final six games before the break, they're obviously more comfortable with the idea of him playing every day now. He's still not hitting all that well, but three games at Coors Field are likely to change that. If nothing else, you know the power stroke is intact: He already has two homers in 34 at-bats.
Approach with caution: Michael Young, Rangers
The struggles of so many of the Mariners' young hitters at Safeco Field this year have opened my eyes to it being a darn tough venue for any hitter, even those in the opposing dugout. Young has hit .266 with a .683 OPS there for his career, which is about what his season numbers look like. Neither is a particularly good omen for the Rangers' three-game series at Seattle this week. Young has become a matchups type in mixed leagues, and these aren't the right matchups.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis, Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill
Advisable starts: Brandon Phillips, Dan Uggla, Jose Altuve, Chase Utley
Shaky starts: Omar Infante, Mike Aviles, Michael Young, Kelly Johnson, Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker, Howard Kendrick, Danny Espinosa, Kyle Seager, Marco Scutaro, Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks, Rickie Weeks, Gordon Beckham, Everth Cabrera
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada, Alexi Amarista, Ryan Roberts, Darwin Barney, Ryan Theriot, Elliot Johnson, Mark Ellis, Sean Rodriguez
Don't bother: Jerry Hairston, Chris Getz, Jamey Carroll, Brandon Inge, Chris Nelson, Robert Andino, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Raburn, Stephen Lombardozzi, Tyler Greene, Alexi Casilla, Logan Forsythe, Jose Lopez, Jeff Keppinger, Maicer Izturis, Skip Schumaker, Dustin Pedroia (thumb), Mark Ellis (leg), Brian Roberts (hip)
Will Middlebrooks missed the final seven games of the first half with a strained hamstring, with minor-league journeyman Mauro Gomez doing a more than respectable job in his absence. But manager Bobby Valentine said Middlebrooks could have potentially returned Sunday, the final day before the All-Star break, so you can trust that the rookie will be in the lineup Friday. Middlebrooks has been in enough of a funk lately that he's not an automatic start in mixed leagues, however.
Neither is Todd Frazier, but he does have nine homers in 180 at-bats this year, giving him a .901 OPS. His six starts in seven games to end the first half were mostly because of an injury to Scott Rolen, but manager Dusty Baker seems to be coming around to the idea of playing the rookie more, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer that "eventually, the job's going to be Frazier's" and that "Scottie's not a spring chicken." Those who've been getting by on table scraps at third base, take note.
Worth a second look: Kevin Youkilis, White Sox
So much for Youkilis being washed up at age 33. Perhaps all he needed was a healthy dose of uninterrupted playing time. Since joining the White Sox, who have given him said playing time, he's batting .347 with three home runs and a .990 OPS in 13 games. The streak actually goes back to his last four games with the Red Sox, giving him a .365 batting average, three homers and a 1.040 OPS in his last 17 games. Facing whatever scrubs the Royals have to throw at him this week, he's more or less a must-start in Fantasy.
Approach with caution: Kyle Seager, Mariners
Seager hasn't been all that useful in Fantasy lately, batting .138 (8 for 58) over his last 16 games. The Mariners' 10-game homestand during that stretch probably had something to do with it. Seager is batting only .157 with a .526 OPS at Safeco Field compared to .313 and .891 everywhere else. If that's not enough incentive to sit him for the team's three games at home this week, perhaps the two left-handers on tap will. Seager is batting .226 with a .628 OPS against lefties.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Martin Prado
Advisable starts: Aramis Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval, David Freese, Mike Moustakas, Trevor Plouffe, Brett Lawrie (back), Hanley Ramirez (finger)
Shaky starts: Jed Lowrie, Will Middlebrooks (hamstring), Mike Aviles, Michael Young, Daniel Murphy, Chase Headley, Kyle Seager, Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez, Chipper Jones, Mark Reynolds
Strictly AL/NL-only: Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Casey McGehee (groin), Chris Johnson, Ryan Roberts, Todd Frazier, Placido Polanco, Wilson Betemit, Jordan Pacheco, Ty Wigginton, Sean Rodriguez, Alberto Callaspo
Don't bother: Jamey Carroll, Elian Herrera, Cody Ransom, Brandon Inge, Matt Carpenter, Chris Nelson, Robert Andino, Jack Hannahan, Jeff Keppinger, Scott Rolen, Logan Forsythe, Jerry Hairston, Juan Uribe, Stephen Lombardozzi, Jose Lopez, Maicer Izturis, Evan Longoria (hamstring), Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist), Ian Stewart (wrist), Brent Morel (back), Nolan Arenado, Danny Valencia, Eduardo Nunez
After missing nearly two months with ligament damage in his left thumb, Emilio Bonifacio is set to return to the lineup this week. The Marlins may ease him back into action, especially since he struggled during his rehab assignment at Class A Jupiter, so you might not want to activate him right away in Fantasy. He was on about an 80-steal base at the time of his injury, though, and still ranks sixth in the majors in steals even with all the time he missed. He'll be a high-end starter at either shortstop, third base or the outfield in Fantasy once he gets his legs under him.
Worth a second look: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
With back-to-back 25-point weeks, Ramirez deserves some attention in Fantasy even if his slugging and on-base percentages leave much to be desired. Hot is hot, and with a .423 (33 for 78) batting average and 1.003 OPS over his last 21 games, he's certainly hot. With Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza on tap for the White Sox this week, he's likely to stay that way for at least three more games.
Approach with caution: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
Furcal is so clearly one of the top 12 shortstops in Fantasy that most owners can't afford to sit him, but if you're one of the few who can, this week seems like a good time to do so. He's batting .203 (41 for 202) with a .525 OPS over his last 50 games. He's also just 2 for 4 in stolen bases during that stretch. As the leadoff hitter for the Cardinals, he's managed to accumulate a fair number of Fantasy points during that stretch, but against the Reds' top three of Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto, his supporting cast is likely to suffer as well.
No-brainers: Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jimmy Rollins, Ian Desmond
Advisable starts: Derek Jeter, Trevor Plouffe, Alexei Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Jed Lowrie, Erick Aybar, Hanley Ramirez (finger)
Shaky starts: Mike Aviles, J.J. Hardy, Alcides Escobar, Zack Cozart, Marco Scutaro, Jhonny Peralta, Yunel Escobar, Everth Cabrera
Strictly AL/NL-only: Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Ruben Tejada, Alexi Amarista, Stephen Drew, Cliff Pennington, Ryan Theriot, Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson, Brian Dozier
Don't bother: Pedro Ciriaco, Jamey Carroll, Willie Bloomquist, Yuniesky Betancourt, Cody Ransom, Tyler Greene, Alexi Casilla, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Cesar Izturis, Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Dee Gordon (thumb), Andrelton Simmons (finger), Jason Bartlett (knee), Eduardo Nunez
At no position is the arrival of the second half more notable than the outfield, which suffered more than its share of high-profile injuries during the season's first three months. The unofficial halfway point is a logical time for teams to bring back their wounded, and Matt Kemp (hamstring), Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Andre Ethier (oblique), Nick Markakis (hand) and Lorenzo Cain (groin) are among those set to continue that tradition this year. Markakis and Cain have already been activated, making them certainties for this week, and the Dodgers have been targeting Friday for Kemp all along. Ellsbury and Ethier are more speculative at this point, but Friday seems to be the target date for both.
Of course, just because they're back doesn't mean you have to activate them in Fantasy. Kemp showed his rust in the home run derby, and Ellsbury has shown his throughout his minor-league rehab assignment. Markakis struggled before his injury, and Cain has yet to establish himself as a reliable Fantasy option. Kemp is probably too high-profile to sit, but if you can help it, you'll want to give the other four a chance to prove themselves before activating them.
They're all worth owning, though, with the possible exception of Cain.
Worth a second look: Shane Victorino, Phillies and Coco Crisp, Athletics
Victorino has been underwhelming all year, but his starting percentage remained as steady as ever until a recent 21-for-98 (.214) skid in which he tallied one extra-base hit. The widespread benching will be short-lived, though. Provided he's satisfied with wherever Charlie Manuel puts him in the lineup, he's in line for a huge series at Colorado against the not-so illustrious trio of Christian Friedrich, Jeremy Guthrie and Drew Pomeranz. Two of those three hurlers are lefties, against whom he's hitting .316 with a .983 OPS this year. Crisp, meanwhile, hasn't gotten much attention for his recent 30-for-87 (.345) performance, but he's the 22nd-highest-scoring outfielder in Head-to-Head leagues during that stretch, thanks in part to the eight steals. With the Athletics kicking off the second half against the shaky Twins rotation, you can expect more of the same for Crisp this week.
Approach with caution: Nelson Cruz, Rangers and Logan Morrison, Marlins
Cruz is another out-of-towner who never feels particularly at home at Safeco Field, hitting .240 with a .763 OPS in 121 career at-bats there. Of course, that's the exact same OPS he put up in the first half this year, all parks included, which only gives you extra incentive to sit him when the matchups are less than favorable. The way this year has gone for Cruz, he's a must-start no more. Morrison has been the hot hand recently, batting .318 (27 for 85) with seven home runs and a 1.043 OPS over his last 26 games, but the Marlins face the starting trio of Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg this week, giving them arguably the worst matchups of any team coming out of the break. Hold off on Morrison in mixed leagues for now.
No-brainers: Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Matt Holliday, Curtis Granderson, Michael Bourn, Carlos Beltran, Adam Jones, Hunter Pence, Justin Upton, Mark Trumbo, Melky Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Austin Jackson, Martin Prado, Alex Rios
Advisable starts: Jay Bruce, Adrian Gonzalez (illness), Shane Victorino, Josh Willingham, Bryce Harper, Josh Reddick, Allen Craig, Alejandro De Aza, Colby Rasmus, Alex Gordon, Adam Dunn, Michael Morse, Corey Hart, Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler, Trevor Plouffe, Coco Crisp, Nick Swisher, Matt Kemp (hamstring)
Shaky starts: Jason Kubel, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz, B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan, Yoenis Cespedes (thumb), Ichiro Suzuki, Carlos Quentin, Drew Stubbs, Chris Young, Alfonso Soriano, Chris Davis, Howard Kendrick, Logan Morrison, Lucas Duda, Norichika Aoki, Nick Markakis (hand), Tyler Colvin, Carlos Lee, Dayan Viciedo, Cody Ross, Michael Brantley, Torii Hunter, Delmon Young, J.D. Martinez, Ben Revere, Rajai Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Andre Ethier (oblique)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Lorenzo Cain (groin), Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Justin Ruggiano, Garrett Jones, Brandon Belt, Quintin Berry, Gregor Blanco, Todd Frazier, Bryan LaHair, Michael Saunders, Denard Span, Seth Smith, Brennan Boesch, Brandon Moss, Yonder Alonso, David Murphy, Alexi Amarista, Cameron Maybin, Jon Jay, Daniel Nava, Luke Scott, Jeff Francoeur, Raul Ibanez, Jordan Schafer, Ryan Doumit, David DeJesus, Will Venable, Gerardo Parra, Wilson Betemit, Ryan Ludwick, John Mayberry, Juan Pierre, Tyler Moore, Bobby Abreu, Ty Wigginton, Leonys Martin, Johnny Damon
Don't bother: Matt Carpenter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Elian Herrera, Jarrod Dyson, Chris Heisey, Ryan Kalish, Alex Presley, Jerry Hairston, Tony Campana, Skip Schumaker, Andres Torres, Ryan Sweeney, Stephen Lombardozzi, Juan Rivera, Peter Bourjos, Carlos Gomez, Willie Bloomquist, Nyjer Morgan, Giancarlo Stanton (knee), Matt Joyce (back), Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Franklin Gutierrez (head), Justin Maxwell (ankle), Jason Bay (concussion), Mike Carp (shoulder), Andy Dirks (Achilles), Lance Berkman (knee), Vernon Wells (thumb), Nolan Reimold (neck), Brett Gardner (elbow), Jayson Werth (wrist), Carl Crawford (elbow), Grady Sizemore (back), Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Brett Jackson, Domonic Brown, Wil Myers
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