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, Aug. 25.
A little more than a week ago, Josh Donaldson was nothing more than a nuisance to Fantasy owners, having hit .153 (15 for 98) over his first two stints in the majors. But since returning for a third Aug. 14, he's batting .386 (17 for 44) with one home run and six doubles. A fluke? You could certainly make the argument, but considering he was batting .335 with 13 home runs in 209 at-bats at Triple-A Sacramento, you could also argue he's finally gotten comfortable in his transition to the majors. Considering he's one of the few catcher-eligible players who plays every day, he might be worth a roll of the dice in deeper leagues, especially with favorable matchups this week against the worst the Indians and Red Sox have to offer.
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Worth a second look: Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
Starting a third consecutive game for the first time since returning from a broken foot, Lucroy homered twice Monday, which was apparently incentive enough to keep him in the lineup for a fourth straight game Tuesday. Now that he's back to being a full-time catcher, he should be back on the radars of mixed-league owners, especially for a week he's facing low-end hurlers like Justin Germano, Travis Wood, Brooks Raley, Jeff Karstens and Erik Bedard. Notice the three lefties in there? Lucroy is batting .414 with a 1.177 OPS against southpaws this season.
Approach with caution: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for Saltalamacchia, who's batting .192 (24 for 125) in 36 games since the beginning of July, he gets a week of three left-handers -- and relatively high-end ones in C.J. Wilson, Brett Anderson and Tommy Milone. Granted, he hasn't been so great against righties either, but only one of his 21 home runs this season have come against lefties. He's also batting just .195 against them. And oh yeah, among the righties he's facing this week are Jered Weaver, Zack Greinke and Brandon McCarthy. Sounds like a good case to sit him, right?
No-brainers: Buster Posey (hamstring), Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Miguel Montero, A.J. Pierzynski
Advisable starts: Matt Wieters, Yadier Molina (ankle), Ryan Doumit, Wilin Rosario, Jonathan Lucroy, Brian McCann
Shaky starts: Jesus Montero, Salvador Perez, John Jaso, Josh Donaldson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Yasmani Grandal, Alex Avila, Russell Martin, A.J. Ellis, Michael McKenry, Mike Napoli (quadriceps)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Chris Iannetta, John Buck, Erik Kratz, Derek Norris, Geovany Soto, Kurt Suzuki
Don't bother: Kelly Shoppach, Martin Maldonado, Ryan Lavarnway, Jason Castro, Devin Mesoraco, Ramon Hernandez, Josh Thole, Jeff Mathis, Welington Castillo, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Snyder, Carlos Ruiz (foot), J.P Arencibia (hand)
Adrian Gonzalez's move from the Red Sox to the Dodgers shouldn't have a tremendous impact on his Fantasy value. True, he's going from what's generally regarded as a hitter's park to what's generally regarded as a pitcher's park, but he had some of his best years at the most pitcher-friendly park of all, PETCO Park. He's been one of the hottest players in baseball since the All-Star break, batting .333 (50 for 150) with 10 home runs and a .973 OPS, and his home run in his Dodgers debut Saturday is a good indication he'll be able to keep it going in Los Angeles.
Calves are tricky cats. Jimmy Rollins said so during an unexpectedly long absence in 2010, and since then, it's proven to be true time and time again. So even though Albert Pujols' calf injury should allow him to return Tuesday, it's hardly an open-and-shut case. Because he won't get a chance to prove his health before lineups lock, he's less than the automatic start he normally is.
Though he doesn't bring much power to the position, David Cooper had been moderately productive during his time filling in at first base for the Blue Jays until his back spasms cropped up Wednesday. With him going on the DL, Adam Lind (back) was able to come off the DL and will take Cooper's place at first base. The swap would be a slight upgrade in Fantasy because of Lind's potential, though neither player is worth all that much in mixed leagues right now.
Worth a second look: Garrett Jones, Pirates
You may not have noticed, but Jones is the eighth highest-scoring first baseman in Fantasy over the last eight weeks, and he's done it while sitting against just about every left-hander during that stretch. Imagine what a little everyday action would do for him. Or just stop and witness it because it's happening this week with six righties on tap for the Pirates. Granted, not all of those righties are pushovers, but as hot as Jones has been, it won't matter. If there was ever a time to start him in standard mixed leagues, this is it.
Approach with caution: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
LaRoche appeared to be in line for his usual second-half surge when he hit .348 (32 for 92) with eight home runs and a 1.035 OPS in his first 24 games after the All-Star break. But since then, he has hit just .155 (11 for 71) with no home runs and a .425 OPS in 18 games. Granted, the Nationals have had a bit of a rough stretch as far as pitching matchups go during that time, but that's not exactly changing this week, with Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse on tap for a six-game slate. Give LaRoche a rest for now and hope that he'll make up for it later.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Teixeira, Billy Butler, Adrian Gonzalez, Buster Posey
Advisable starts: Albert Pujols (calf), Paul Goldschmidt, Adam Dunn, Corey Hart, Joe Mauer, Allen Craig, Paul Konerko, Carlos Santana, Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis, Nick Swisher, Todd Frazier, Garrett Jones, Freddie Freeman, Michael Morse (hand)
Shaky starts: Ryan Howard, Adam LaRoche, Mark Trumbo, Anthony Rizzo, Eric Hosmer, Michael Young, Chris Carter, Ike Davis, Kendrys Morales, Tyler Colvin, Daniel Murphy, Carlos Pena, Carlos Lee, Dustin Ackley, Mark Reynolds, Mike Napoli (quadriceps)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Adam Lind, Chris Johnson, Lucas Duda, Eric Chavez, Mitch Moreland, Chris Davis, Brandon Belt, Yonder Alonso, Brett Wallace, Jordan Pacheco, James Loney, Casey Kotchman, Jeff Keppinger, Scott Moore, John Mayberry, David Ortiz (Achilles)
Don't bother: David Cooper (neck), Justin Smoak, Bryan LaHair, Brandon Moss, Casey McGehee, Ty Wigginton, Tyler Moore, Matt Carpenter, Joey Votto (knee), Michael Cuddyer (oblique), Lance Berkman (knee), Mike Carp (hip), Wilson Betemit (wrist), David Cooper (back), Matt Adams
With a move there late in Wednesday's game, Martin Prado is now eligible at second base in standard leagues, which is probably where he'll be the most help for Fantasy owners going forward. He's an advisable start even at third base and the outfield, but he's a no-brainer here.
Between a season-ending thumb injury for Chris Getz and an unceremonious departure for Yuniesky Betancourt, Johnny Giavotella is finally the everyday second baseman in Kansas City. Of course, he still has yet to do anything with the role, as was the case during brief stints in May and June, as was the case last year. He's had 269 at-bats in the majors so far and hasn't come anywhere close to replicating the .308 batting average or .823 OPS he produced over his minor-league career. Until he shows he's capable of it, you shouldn't bother with him even in AL-only leagues.
Worth a second look: Marco Scutaro, Giants
Most players don't see a boost in production when they leave Colorado, but then Scutaro isn't like most players, is he? As he did throughout his time in Toronto and Boston, he's once again challenging our understanding of what makes a great Fantasy option, scoring the sixth-most points among second baseman since joining the Giants. Sure, he's batting .336 (38 for 113) during that stretch, but do you honestly expect him to slow down with Bud Norris, Dallas Keuchel, Jordan Lyles, Chris Volstad, Justin Germano and Travis Wood on tap? You'll want him active in Fantasy whether it's at second base, third base or shortstop.
Approach with caution: Howard Kendrick, Angels
Beware, dear Fantasy owner, of Kendrick's 12-game hitting streak. Or better yet, beware of his .356 (31 for 87) batting average over his last 22 games. For though it appears great, he's only the 12th-best second baseman in Head-to-Head leagues during that stretch. And that's at his absolute hottest. Who's to say he'll continue that pace with Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Felix Hernandez on tap during a six-game week? With his lack of home-run or on-base ability, he pretty much needs to win a batting title to be an advisable option in mixed leagues. Bewaaaaare.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill, Martin Prado
Advisable starts: Chase Utley, Jose Altuve, Danny Espinosa, Marco Scutaro
Shaky starts : Neil Walker, Dan Uggla, Jason Kipnis, Rickie Weeks, Michael Young, Daniel Murphy, Omar Infante, Mark Ellis, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Everth Cabrera, Howard Kendrick
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ryan Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Gordon Beckham, Mike Aviles, Ruben Tejada, Alexi Amarista, Darwin Barney, Jeff Keppinger, Scott Moore, Pedro Ciriaco, Donovan Solano, Tyler Greene
Don't bother: Joaquin Arias, DJ LeMahieu, Johnny Giavotella, Stephen Lombardozzi, Ryan Theriot, Omar Quintanilla, Alexi Casilla, Daniel Descalso, Elliot Johnson, Maicer Izturis, Jamey Carroll, Logan Forsythe, Skip Schumaker, Brandon Inge (shoulder), Emilio Bonifacio (knee), Jemile Weeks
Just when you thought Jose Bautista's left wrist had fully recovered from that bizarre incident July 16, when what appeared to be a normal (and highly effective) swing sent him doubling over in pain, he was back in pain Saturday night and is now back on the DL. The Blue Jays will evaluate him in the days ahead to determine an exact timetable, but if five weeks of rest wasn't enough to cure him, you have to think they might just give him a whole offseason this time. It's not like they're going anywhere this year. Don't cut Bautista in seasonal leagues just yet, but be prepared to replace him for the long haul.
Worth a second look: Todd Frazier, Reds
Safe to say Frazier's tough matchups against the Phillies and Cardinals weren't enough to slow him down. He's now batting .443 (27 for 61) with five homers in his last 17 games and has presumably earned a spot on all Fantasy rosters to close out the season. He should have an even easier time at Arizona and Houston this week, so you'll want to keep him active if possible.
Approach with caution: Mark Trumbo, Angels
Though it's hard to say whether Trumbo's back spasms from a couple weeks ago are related to his current struggles, it's become increasingly clear that those struggles aren't going away so easily. He's now batting .196 (19 for 97) over his last 24 games, striking out 40 times during that stretch. With his power potential, he could break through with a monster week when you least expect it, which makes benching him an iffy proposition. But third base has become a deep enough position that you shouldn't have to tolerate getting less than 10 points from it time and time again. If you have an adequate backup, you can sit Trumbo for now.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Aramis Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez
Advisable starts: Martin Prado, Evan Longoria, Kevin Youkilis, Chase Headley, Pablo Sandoval, Todd Frazier, Marco Scutaro
Shaky starts: Mark Trumbo, Mike Moustakas, David Freese (wrist), Michael Young, Daniel Murphy, Omar Infante, Luis Cruz, Manny Machado, Kyle Seager, Pedro Alvarez, Chipper Jones, Mark Reynolds
Strictly AL/NL-only: Josh Donaldson, Trevor Plouffe, Mike Aviles, Chris Davis, Ryan Roberts, Chris Johnson, Eric Chavez, Jordan Pacheco, Alberto Callaspo, Jeff Keppinger, Scott Moore, Brett Wallace, Donovan Solano, Scott Rolen
Don't bother: Joaquin Arias, Ryan Wheeler, Mike Olt, Casey McGehee, DJ LeMahieu, Stephen Lombardozzi, Josh Vitters, Daniel Descalso, Maicer Izturis, Ryan Wheeler, Placido Polanco (back), Ty Wigginton, Jamey Carroll, Matt Carpenter, Jack Hannahan, Logan Forsythe, Jose Bautista (wrist), Emilio Bonifacio (knee), Brett Lawrie (oblique), Alex Rodriguez (hand), Willie Bloomquist (back), Brandon Inge (shoulder), Wilson Betemit (wrist), Jed Lowrie (leg), Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist), Nolan Arenado, Eduardo Nunez
Though Stephen Drew's move to Oakland isn't the greatest thing for his Fantasy value, it's even more damaging for Cliff Pennington, who's now without a starting job. Granted, Pennington was hardly a Fantasy mainstay, but he has been a viable steals guy in the past and retained some low-end appeal in AL-only leagues.
Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Jacob Elmore has been getting most of the starts in Drew's absence. He's not exactly a big-name prospect, but if his minor-league track record is any indication, he's a walk machine with good base-stealing potential. And he might be more than just a short-term solution after Willie Bloomquist suffered a setback in his rehabilitation from a back injury over the weekend. Either of these players could be a low-end source for steals in deeper Rotisserie leagues, provided one claims full-time at-bats. If they split the job, forget about it.
Worth a second look: Luis Cruz, Dodgers
Cruz is by no means a high-upside player, but he has done an adequate job filling in with Dee Gordon sidelined by a thumb injury, scoring 32 Fantasy points as recently as Fantasy Week 20 (Aug. 13-19). He has done most of his damage against left-handers, batting .348 with a .953 OPS, which should work to his advantage with four lefties on tap for the Dodgers. He also should be able to make the most of his modest pop during a three-game series at Colorado to open the week. He's still more or less a desperation option in mixed leagues, given his lack of upside, but don't be surprised if he proves to be halfway useful this week.
Approach with caution: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
Furcal hasn't been halfway useful in months, batting .226 with a .576 OPS over his last 83 games -- or half the season, to put it another way. Yet he's started in about the same percentage of leagues (56) that the red-hot Erick Aybar is owned (64). Even if you still hold out some fleeting hope of him turning things around (and why would you?), it won't happen this week, with A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Edwin Jackson, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg on tap.
No-brainers: Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Ben Zobrist, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Derek Jeter
Advisable starts: Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera, Marco Scutaro, Danny Espinosa, Alcides Escobar, Erick Aybar, Ian Desmond (hamstring)
Shaky starts: Josh Rutledge (quadriceps), Luis Cruz, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Alexei Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta, Zack Cozart, Everth Cabrera, Trevor Plouffe, Rafael Furcal
Strictly AL/NL-only: Yunel Escobar, Stephen Drew, Mike Aviles, Ruben Tejada, Alexi Amarista, Pedro Ciriaco, Donovan Solano, Tyler Greene
Don't bother: Jacob Elmore, Joaquin Arias, Ryan Theriot, Jean Segura, Cliff Pennington, Omar Quintanilla, Maicer Izturis, Daniel Descalso, Alexi Casilla, Elliot Johnson, Paul Janish, Jamey Carroll, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Emilio Bonifacio (thumb), Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Jed Lowrie (leg), Willie Bloomquist (back), Dee Gordon (thumb), Andrelton Simmons (finger), Eduardo Nunez, Billy Hamilton, Jurickson Profar
|3.||Blue Jays||@NYY3, TB4|
With Carl Crawford no longer in the mix, Scott Podsednik has once again become relevant in Fantasy, having started seven straight games for the Red Sox. Of course, relevance is entirely relative, so let's narrow it down a little more than that. Is he going to make an impact in points leagues? With his poor plate discipline and lack of extra-base pop, no. And considering Ryan Lavarnway (at DH, not the outfield) and potentially Ryan Kalish figure to encroach on his at-bats, I wouldn't recommend him for most Rotisserie formats either. But if you're looking for stolen bases and stolen bases alone at this finicky stage of the season, he's playing enough to help you make up some ground in the category.
Lucas Duda, who was sent to the minors in late July after a disappointing showing with the big club, is back and ready to man left field on a near-everyday basis for the Mets. Unfortunately, he didn't give much reason to believe he was back on track at Triple-A Buffalo, batting .260 with three homers in 96 at-bats. The Mets might just want to get one last look at him to see how he fits into their plans for 2013. His combination of power and patience still makes him a worthwhile addition in NL-only leagues, but he's unlikely to contribute in mixed leagues at this tage.
Worth a second look: Angel Pagan, Giants and Coco Crisp, Athletics
You're looking at two of the most underowned players in Fantasy right here. At 83 and 55 percent, Pagan and Crisp are both highly available for a week when the matchups suggest they'll be highly productive. Pagan has been the hotter of the two recently, batting .374 (34 for 91) with two homers, four steals and a 1.058 OPS over his last 22 games, and travels to two hitter-friendly environments (Houston and Chicago) to face two bottom-of-the-barrel pitching staffs in a six-game week. Crisp hasn't hit quite as well in August as he did in July, but he does have three homers and eight steals for the month. If you don't think that kind of production amounts to much in points leagues, keep in mind he's been the 21st-best outfielder in those formats since returning from an inner ear infection May 21. With Roberto Hernandez, Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber, Justin Masterson, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront and Daisuke Matsuzaka on tap for the Athletics this week, Crisp will likely continue to live up to that ranking.
Approach with caution: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox and Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks
I understand these two would be tough sits in some leagues, but if you play in one shallow enough that alternatives like Angel Pagan and Coco Crisp are available on the waiver wire, you could justify the move this week. The story is the same for both: bad production, bad splits and bad matchups. Since returning from a DL stint for a dislocated shoulder in mid-July, Ellsbury is batting a respectable .277, but with only one home run and a .696 OPS. For the year, he's batting .233 on the road compared to .303 at home, which is especially bad in a week he's scheduled to visit Los Angeles and Oakland. Those matchups against Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Zack Greinke, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and Tommy Milone don't look particularly enticing either. Kubel's struggles haven't been as lengthy but have been more extreme. He's batting .157 (14 for 89) over his last 24 games. Plus, not only is he on the road for four games this week, where he's batting .240 compared to .294 at home, but he's facing high-end hurlers like Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Capuano.
No-brainers: Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, Carlos Gonzalez, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Willingham, Adrian Gonzalez, Michael Bourn, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce
Advisable starts: Alex Rios, Adam Jones, Jason Heyward, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Austin Jackson, Adam Dunn, Martin Prado, Shane Victorino, Ben Zobrist, Nick Markakis, Allen Craig, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Corey Hart, Desmond Jennings, Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier, Angel Pagan, Coco Crisp, Ryan Ludwick, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher, Josh Reddick, Todd Frazier, Garrett Jones, Justin Upton, Michael Morse (hand)
Shaky starts: Shane Victorino (back), Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Trumbo, Jason Kubel, Ben Revere, David Murphy, Jayson Werth, Matt Joyce, Bryce Harper, Colby Rasmus, Drew Stubbs, Tyler Colvin, Alfonso Soriano, Cody Ross, Lorenzo Cain, Michael Brantley, Ichiro Suzuki, Torii Hunter, Carlos Quentin, Ryan Doumit, Jon Jay, Carlos Lee, Norichika Aoki, Rajai Davis, Andy Dirks, Justin Ruggiano, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Dexter Fowler (ankle)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Trevor Plouffe, Mitch Moreland, Howard Kendrick, Dayan Viciedo (shoulder), Chris Davis, Yonder Alonso, Chris Young, Brett Jackson, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch, Michael Saunders (groin), Domonic Brown (knee), Travis Snider, Brandon Belt, Alexi Amarista, Cameron Maybin, Jeff Francoeur, Raul Ibanez, David DeJesus, Will Venable, Gerardo Parra, Juan Pierre, Scott Hairston, Justin Maxwell (finger), Jonny Gomes, John Mayberry, Eric Thames, Scott Podsednik, Donovan Solano, Ezequiel Carrera, Gregor Blanco, Andres Torres
Don't bother: Seth Smith, Jose Tabata (groin), Luke Scott, Stephen Lombardozzi, Casper Wells, Quintin Berry, Bryan LaHair, Brandon Moss, Jason Bay, Anthony Gose, Ty Wigginton, Matt Carpenter, Tyler Moore, Jarrod Dyson, Nate Schierholtz (toe), Chris Heisey, Nyjer Morgan, Skip Schumaker, Jose Bautista (wrist), Michael Cuddyer (oblique), Alejandro De Aza (oblique), Emilio Bonifacio (knee), Starling Marte (side), Lance Berkman (knee), Eric Young (rib cage), Willie Bloomquist (back), Daniel Nava (wrist), Jordan Schafer (shoulder), Mike Carp (hip), Wilson Betemit (wrist), Franklin Gutierrez (head), Brett Gardner (elbow), Grady Sizemore (back), Lucas Duda, Wil Myers, Oscar Taveras
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