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By the Numbers: Sticks worth sticking with

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When a player drafted to be a mainstay of your Fantasy lineup falters in April, it can be easy to find the patience to stick with him, recognizing that even the best hitters can sometimes be bad for an entire month.

A year ago, if you lost patience with Albert Pujols, Giancarlo Stanton or Jimmy Rollins after poor Aprils, you missed out on some Fantasy goodness the rest of the year. Already this season, Mike Trout, Jason Kipnis and Allen Craig have turned the corner after a disappointing first month.

Plenty of other players are making their owners exceedingly nervous, as their production continues to fall short of expectations. Few owners are benching -- much less dropping -- superstars like Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton, but neither is performing they way we expected them to. Is there anything a Kemp or Hamilton owner can do other than to wait it out, and are there signs that patience will be rewarded?

Then there are some even tougher decisions looming in regard to players like B.J. Upton and Miguel Montero. Neither was typically an early-round pick, but both were expected to be solid contributors in standard mixed leagues. Certainly few owners would have anticipated thinking about cutting either loose by Memorial Day, yet both have been getting dumped at a steady rate over the last few weeks. Should their owners follow the trend and look for replacements, or is it worth hanging on to them or picking them up?

It's time to dig into the numbers for Kemp, Hamilton, Upton, Montero and several other hitters who remain frustrating to own, even as the first days of summer creep closer. For at least some players, it may finally be time to move on, but for others, there are still reasons to be hopeful for a rebound. For each of the hitters featured here, I'll look at their rest-of-season prospects, and I've also listed them in order of their dropability, from least to most expendable. And, yes, there have been some pitchers who have been equally exasperating, but they'll get a column devoted just to them in the weeks ahead.

Note: Stats are for all games played through Monday, May 27.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Angels: Though he still ranks outside the top 25 Fantasy outfielders for the last 28 days, the outlook for Hamilton is much rosier than that for Kemp. He has improved his plate discipline and has been hitting for plenty of power, clubbing six homers and five doubles in May. Hamilton has hit just .244 with nine RBI this month, though he should be able to hit higher than .267 on balls in play going forward. The power has already returned for Hamilton, and it's only a matter of time before the batting average and run production follow.

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers: Kemp has been lacking power all season long, and of late, he has struggled just to make contact. In particular, Kemp has had trouble connecting with pitches outside the strike zone, as according to FanGraphs.com, only Chris Carter and Ryan Howard have whiffed more frequently on those offerings. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times that he thinks Kemp is still being affected by offseason shoulder surgery, but even in April, Kemp was hitting balls deeper and making more frequent contact than he has been lately. There have been no reports of a new injury, and given that Kemp's problems have gotten worse, it would seem that at least part of his issues may be mechanical. If his shoulder is indeed part of the problem, owners may have to resign themselves to not getting full value from Kemp, but if he can start making contact like he did in April, he should still be worth starting for the rest of the season.

Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks: Plate discipline has not been a problem for Montero, and he is actually making contact a little more frequently than he did last season. It's just that Montero has turned nearly half of his hit balls into ground balls, and worse yet, he's batting .109 on grounders. He should have little trouble turning his batting average around, and while his ground ball rate is inflated, it's not too far from his recent norms. Fantasy owners can take comfort in knowing that Montero is striking out and popping out less than he did last year, and he is one of the best bets on this list for a rebound.

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates: Alvarez is actually on pace to exceed last year's 30 home runs and post back-to-back 80-plus RBI seasons. He still strikes out far too much and is not a tremendous hitter on balls in play, but he deserves better than his .195 batting average and two doubles. As Alvarez finds the gaps more often, he'll get more singles and doubles, but he hasn't provided any hints of advancing beyond the level he achieved in 2012. He was the 12th most-productive third baseman in both Head-to-Head and Rotisserie formats a year ago, and even though the position has deepened since then, he will be good enough to keep around in standard mixed leagues.

Victor Martinez, DH, Tigers: Don't look now, but after a miserable first month-and-a-half, Martinez is starting to gain a little momentum. He's still hitting for very little power, but over his last 10 games, he is 12 for 40 (.300) with five RBI. It's not as if Martinez hasn't been hitting the ball deep, and even if he hasn't been hitting for home run distance, he's been unlucky to go 3 for 61 (.049) on flyballs in play. Perhaps with time, we will see more homers from Martinez, but at the very least, he should produce a much higher batting average and doubles total from here on out.

B.J. Upton, OF, Braves: Like Kemp, Upton is having major problems with making contact, but his are mainly with pitches within the strike zone. His difficulties have become even more acute in May, as he has struck out in 44 percent of his at-bats, has two extra-base hits and no stolen bases for the month. Braves hitting coach Greg Walker revealed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Upton has had mechanical issues that have led to him swinging late on pitches. He's not had problems identifying strikes, so if Upton can iron out the timing of his swing, he should be back to his old self. That still means that owners can't count on him for a high batting average or on-base percentage, but he'll be much better than he's been and provide home runs and stolen bases.

Rickie Weeks, 2B, Brewers: When Weeks bounced back from a poor first half last season, he relied on a reduced strikeout rate to improve his Fantasy fortunes. He's actually cut back on his Ks in May, but his results have actually worsened. Weeks has only two extra-base hits this month, and a .213 BABIP has sunk an already-low overall batting average. Even with a higher average, Weeks won't help you much without power, and he won't offer much if he continues to hit flyballs on only 25 percent of his hit balls. Weeks was streaky with home run power last season, so it feels early to give up on him at this point. However, if he doesn't at least get some traction on his flyball rate by a month from now, it will be safe to drop Weeks at that point.

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals: So far in his career, Moustakas has been somewhat reminiscent of Aaron Hill, or at least the 2010-11 version of him. In other words, Moustakas has enticing home run power, but despite a decent strikeout rate, he's a drag on your team's batting average due to frequent popups. He is still hitting for power when he pulls the ball, but Moustakas, who has not shown great power up the middle or to the opposite field, is showing even less this year. Though he should at least be able to break the Mendoza line, Moustakas seems to be stuck in a developmental rut. With Nolan Arenado and David Freese available as free agents in many leagues, it may be time to part ways with Moustakas.

Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves: Simmons wasn't drafted in many leagues until the later rounds and he's missing the cut among the top 15 Fantasy shortstops to date, yet owners in 75 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com are allowing him to hang on to a roster spot. He's hitting with contact and for moderate power, just like he did in the minors, but Simmons has already popped out 20 times on his way to a .239 batting average. Much of Simmons' allure has to do with his speed, but he has only one stolen base and seven infield hits -- three fewer infield hits than last year, even though he already has more at-bats this season. His skipper, Fredi Gonzalez, has never been that aggressive with pursuing steals, and the Braves are tied for the third-fewest steals in the majors. Simmons should be able to raise his batting average somewhat, but he could fall far short of 10 stolen bases. If he's not helping with steals, Simmons is highly replaceable, so if you need a roster spot, he's worth a drop.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals: After knocking out 19 homers in his rookie season, Hosmer has shown precious little power. With a 22 percent flyball rate, he ranks not far behind Michael Young and Norichika Aoki -- not exactly the company you want to keep if you aspire to be a power hitter. Hosmer is still young enough that he can reclaim the power skills he showed as a rookie and also during a brief stint in Double-A, but he's far enough away from realizing that power that he can be dropped in standard mixed leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs .

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Player News
Cubs RF Jorge Soler hits game-tying double on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(2:00 am ET) Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler broke out of his recent mini-slump with a two-hit night in Saturday's win over the Diamondbacks. Soler went 2 for 4 with a big game tying, two-run double in the top of the eighth inning.

Soler's two-bagger knotted the game up at six, and set the stage for the team to post three more in the ninth for the victory. 

This was Soler's fourth two-hit performance in his last seven games. However, he was hitless int he other three games, and he is now 8 for 29 over that stretch.


Diamondbacks getting aggressive on the basepaths
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:58 am ET) The Diamondbacks have been speed demons so far this season. Arizona entered Saturday's game tied for second in the National League with 40 stolen bases, led by A.J. Pollock with 10 and Paul Goldschmidt with eight.

"What we've really tried to do the whole year is if there's an opportunity there, be aggressive with it," Goldschmidt said to MLB.com. "It's just another way we can get a guy into scoring position and make it a little bit easier on offense to score."

Pollock is tied for fourth in the NL with his stolen bases and 12 different players have recorded at least one stolen base.

"If it is a good spot and it's a good opportunity to take one, we'll try to take it," Pollock said. "We've got a pretty dynamic team and overall our team speed is pretty good. You've got a couple guys that kind of fly under the radar with speed and they can sneak one here and there."


Diamondbacks LF David Peralta hits three-run double on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:56 am ET) Diamondbacks left fielder David Peralta belted a bases-clearing double in the bottom of the fifth inning in Saturday's loss to the Cubs. It was Peralta's only hit of the game, and it gave his team a 5-4 advantage.

Saturday was Peralta's second three-RBI performance in his last four games as he continues to have a solid year at the plate in his second year as a big-leaguer. He's now hitting .257 with four home runs and 21 RBI on the year.


Rockies SS Daniel Descalso blasts second home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Rockies shortstop Daniel Descalso went 1 for 4 at the plate in Colorado's 5-3 win over the Giants on Saturday.

Descalso did his damage in the sixth inning when he belted a two-run home run off of Yusmeiro Petit, his second of the season. Descalso is now hitting .200 with 11 RBI in 54 at-bats this season.


Rockies reliever John Axford nails down sixth save of the season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Rockies relief pitcher John Axford worked a nearly perfect ninth inning on Saturday in Colorado's 5-3 win over the Giants, earning his sixth save of the season.

After allowing a leadoff single, Axford managed to get a fly out to center field, who then doubled off the baserunner trying to advanced to third. Axford then forced a groundout to end the game. Axford lowered his ERA to 0.90 in 10 innings of work.


Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit allows four runs in losing effort
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings of work in San Francisco's 5-3 loss to the Rockies on Saturday.

Petit didn't have any issues until the fourth, when he allowed three consecutive batters to reach base safely, including an RBI double by Brandon Barnes. Then, he forced a groundout by Daniel Descalso, but that also brought home a run.

In the sixth, Petit surrendered a two-run homer to Descalso. Petit, now 1-1, moved his ERA to 3.86 in 28 innings of work. 


Rockies pitcher David Hale earns first win of the year in spot start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Rockies pitcher David Hale allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of work on Saturday in Colorado's 5-3 win over the Giants.

Hale, who was called up from Triple-A to make a spot start in a doubleheader for Colorado, ran into some issues in the second when he allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. Then in the fifth, Hale put runners on second and third with two out before allowing an RBI single to Nori Aoki, scoring a run. 

Hale would allow one more run in the seventh before getting the hook. Hale, now 1-0, moved his ERA to 2.70 on the season. 


Diamondbacks' A.J. Pollock continues hot hitting roll
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:52 am ET) Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock went 1 for 4 in Arizona's 9-6 loss on Saturday. It was Pollock's first "bad game" in his last five. Entering Saturday, Pollock was 10 for 16 in the last four, something he can't explain, according to MLB.com.

"Just clicking, I don't know what's going on," Pollock said. "It's just baseball, you feel like you've got something, you're not getting hits, then you do the same thing and you're getting hits. It's just how the game is."

Manager Chip Hale noted his approach change to his recent success.

"He's really turned it up in just the mental part of the game, of picking the pitches that he wants to go after, whether it's the first pitch or a pitch with two strikes," Hale said. "Instead of trying to guess or wait, he's looking for a good pitch to hit out over the plate and using the whole field."

Pollock is now hitting .308 with 16 RBI in 156 at-bats this season.


Diamondbacks C Tuffy Gosewisch blasts first home run of 2015
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:51 am ET) Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch launched his first home run in over a year, as Arizona fell to the Cubs 9-6 on Saturday. Gosewisch's only other home run came on April 22, 2014.

Saturday's solo shot came in the sixth inning off Cubs' starter Jake Arrieta, and gave the D-Backs a 6-4 lead. The 31-year-old Gosewisch has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games and owns a .231 batting average on the season.


Cubs RP Jason Motte picks up relief win on Saturday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:44 am ET) Cubs reliver Jason Motte (2-1) earned a win in relief in Saturday's 9-6 victory over the Diamondbacks. Motte entered the bottom of the eighth inning with one away and managed to retire the two batters he faced. The Cubs put up three runs in their half of the ninth, which allowed Motte to pick up the win. 

The hard-throwing right-hander lowered his season ERA to 4.76 and he has not been scored upon in his last four outings.


 
 
 
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