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Hit Parade for Week 16

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Editor's Note: In standard CBSSports.com leagues, Fantasy Week 16 includes only the Friday, Saturday and Sunday immediately following the All-Star break. All rankings and predictions in this edition of the Hit Parade were made with the shortened scoring period in mind.

Most Added Hitters (as of 7/18)
Player Name % change
1. Marlon Byrd, OF, Mets 14
2. Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs 10
3. Eric Young, OF, Mets 10
4. Justin Smoak, 1B, Mariners 10
5. Darin Ruf, OF, Phillies 10
6. Luke Scott, DH, Rays 10
7. Raul Ibanez, OF, Mariners 8
8. Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals 8
9. Victor Martinez, DH, Tigers 6
10. Michael Brantley, OF, Indians 6

Catcher

Because of its demands on the body, the catcher position is in a perpetual state of turnover. But three of the more recent newcomers appear to be more than just short-term fill-ins. Of Wilson Ramos, Josh Phegley and Nick Hundley, Ramos has by far the most Fantasy appeal and is practically a must-add in leagues that require the use of two catchers, but Phegley has already shown he can provide cheap power. Hundley is pretty much a known quantity by now, and though uninspiring, he's at least serviceable.
Worth a second look: Evan Gattis, Braves
Gattis returned from his oblique injury in time to make one start for the Braves before the All-Star break, so you can at least trust the rookie slugger's health at this point. Can you trust his playing time? Normally, no, but with Justin Upton among the many Braves hitters nursing injuries entering the second half, Gattis figures to get regular at-bats for the time being. In Fantasy Week 16 (July 19-21), it's a foregone conclusion with the DH spot available for the Braves' three-game series at the White Sox.
Approach with caution: Russell Martin, Pirates
Considering the way his last few seasons had gone, Martin had been surprisingly steady in 2013 until his last 19 games, during which he's batting .175 (11 for 63). If it's a regression to the mean, it's likely nearing its end, but even so, he'll have a hard time jumpstarting his swing against Mike Leake, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey this week.

No-brainers: Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, Wilin Rosario, Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters, Brian McCann, Jonathan Lucroy
Advisable starts: A.J. Pierzynski, Evan Gattis, Jason Castro, J.P. Arencibia, Salvador Perez
Shaky starts: Miguel Montero, Ryan Doumit, Russell Martin, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Zunino, Wilson Ramos, John Buck, John Jaso, Carlos Ruiz
Strictly AL/NL-only: Josh Phegley (finger), Nick Hundley, A.J. Ellis, Chris Iannetta, Devin Mesoraco, Dioner Navarro, Alex Avila, Welington Castillo, Derek Norris
Don't bother: Chris Stewart, Erik Kratz, Jose Lobaton, Yan Gomes, Rob Brantly, Geovany Soto, Tyler Flowers, Kurt Suzuki, Hank Conger, Ryan Hanigan (wrist), Francisco Cervelli (hand), Travis d'Arnaud, Jesus Montero

First base

The few players who qualify only at DH now appear alongside the first basemen so that their owners might have some context for how to approach them this week. If you see an asterisk (*) next to a player's name, it means he's DH-only and not a legitimate first baseman.

With a couple games at first base just before the All-Star break, Victor Martinez gained eligibility at the position in standard CBSSports.com leagues. Previously, he was eligible only at DH. Eligibility at first base isn't quite as useful as eligibility at catcher, but it still dramatically improves his utility at a time when you're looking to get him in your lineup. Over his last 16 games, he's batting .406 (26 for 64) with two homers and a 1.051 OPS.
Worth a second look: Justin Smoak, Mariners
Now in his fourth big-league season, Smoak may have already worn out his welcome with some Fantasy owners, but the former top prospect is showing his clearest signs of a breakout yet, batting .333 (26 for 78) with five homers and a 1.018 OPS in 22 games since returning from a DL stint for an oblique injury. And it's not just an isolated hot streak. He hit .282 with three homers and an .861 OPS in his previous 26 games. With the Mariners facing the Astros pitching staff in Houston this week, I'm willing to try him out.
Approach with caution: Adam Dunn, White Sox
With a .263 batting average, 18 homers and a .950 OPS in his last 54 games, Dunn appears to be himself again, but he's still susceptible to left-handed pitching. Maybe in a six-game week, a couple lefties on the schedule wouldn't be enough to render him useless in standard mixed leagues, but in a three-game week, it's kind of a deal-breaker.

No-brainers: Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, Allen Craig, Prince Fielder, Buster Posey, David Ortiz*, Matt Carpenter, Michael Cuddyer, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez
Advisable starts: Anthony Rizzo, Mark Trumbo, Carlos Santana, Freddie Freeman (thumb), Eric Hosmer, Joe Mauer, Kendrys Morales, Justin Smoak, Billy Butler, Mike Napoli, Brandon Belt, Adam LaRoche, Victor Martinez
Shaky starts: Nick Swisher, Adam Lind, Adam Dunn, Daniel Murphy, Mitch Moreland, James Loney, Daniel Nava, Logan Morrison, Justin Morneau, Mark Reynolds, Michael Young, Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier
Strictly AL/NL-only: Lyle Overbay, Brandon Moss, Ike Davis, Chris Carter (ankle), Chris Johnson, Matt Adams, Brett Wallace, Juan Francisco, Darin Ruf, John Mayberry, Todd Helton, Garrett Jones
Don't bother: Travis Hafner*, Josh Satin, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Pena, Matt Tuiasosopo, Mike Carp, Joey Terdoslavich, Yan Gomes, Jeff Keppinger, Jordan Pacheco, Nate Freiman, Ryan Howard (knee), Michael Morse (quadriceps), Paul Konerko (back), Lance Berkman (back), Kyle Blanks (Achilles), Kevin Youkilis (back), Lucas Duda (side), Mike Olt, Jonathan Singleton

Second base

Though Robinson Cano escaped his All-Star game plunking with just a bruised quadriceps -- a milder injury than initially perceived -- he's still less than assured of playing all three of the Yankees' games this week. And in a three-game week, one absence can make a huge difference. Still, he said he probably wouldn't have come out if it was a regular-season game, and any replacement you have likely wouldn't come close to matching his production. Better keep him active.
Worth a second look: Dan Uggla, Braves
Though he's batting just .234 (30 for 128) over his last 36 games, Uggla has been surprisingly productive during that stretch, ranking 10th at his position in Head-to-Head leagues. His homers and walks make all the difference. For the season, he ranks 12th at the position, ahead of both Martin Prado and Marco Scutaro. Don't sleep on him during a week when he's on the road, where his OPS is about 130 points higher than at home, and facing mostly left-handers, against whom he has an .827 OPS.
Approach with caution: Daniel Murphy, Mets
Though Murphy has scored between 14 and 19 Fantasy points each of the last eight weeks, he might have trouble measuring up to other second basemen this week. Not only is he facing two lefties, against whom he's batting .241 with a .537, but they happen to be two of the game's toughest in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Plus, all three of his games are at home, where he's batting just .240.

No-brainers: Jason Kipnis, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Matt Carpenter, Brandon Phillips, Ben Zobrist
Advisable starts: Robinson Cano (quadriceps), Jose Altuve, Chase Utley, Howard Kendrick, Anthony Rendon, Brad Miller, Dan Uggla, Aaron Hill, Nick Franklin
Shaky starts: Martin Prado, Jed Lowrie, Jedd Gyorko, Marco Scutaro, Daniel Murphy, Rickie Weeks, Gordon Beckham (quadriceps), Brian Dozier, Jurickson Profar, Brian Roberts
Strictly AL/NL-only: Darwin Barney, Derek Dietrich, Josh Rutledge, DJ LeMahieu, Kelly Johnson, Mark Ellis (leg), Emilio Bonifacio, Dustin Ackley, Brock Holt, Maicer Izturis, Eric Sogard
Don't bother: Jordy Mercer, Omar Quintanilla, Mike Aviles, Logan Forsythe, Daniel Descalso, Jeff Keppinger, Ryan Flaherty, Chris Getz, Neil Walker (oblique), Omar Infante (shin), Jemile Weeks, Danny Espinosa, Kolten Wong

Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Indians @MIN3
2. Cubs @COL3
3. Mariners @HOU3
4. Rockies CHC3
5. Giants ARI3

Third base

Though Juan Francisco has been on a nice little run recently, the fact the Brewers sat him for four of their final six games before the break shows they still don't trust him against left-handed pitchers. As a platoon player, he won't matter much in mixed leagues whether he hits home runs or not. He's an adequate option this week, though, with three righties on tap for the Brewers.
Worth a second look: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Sandoval needed a few weeks to rediscover his stroke after missing time with a strained foot in June, but he finally seemed to be back on track just before the All-Star break, batting .381 (8 for 21) with four doubles and a homer in his last six games. As long as the break didn't interrupt his momentum, he should be a quality option against Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley and Randall Delgado this week.
Approach with caution: Todd Frazier, Reds
Over the last month, Frazier has just one home run and two multi-hit games. Since April 20, he's batting .223 with a .667 OPS. Plenty of mixed-league owners have stood by him that whole time, but he's reached the point where he has to prove himself all over again. Against Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke this week, I don't foresee a turnaround.

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Carpenter, Kyle Seager, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Zimmerman
Advisable starts: Pedro Alvarez, Manny Machado, Anthony Rendon, Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley
Shaky starts: Martin Prado, Jedd Gyorko, David Freese, Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds, Michael Young, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Trevor Plouffe, Todd Frazier
Strictly AL/NL-only: Chris Johnson, Mike Moustakas, Brett Wallace, Juan Francisco, Matt Dominguez, Alberto Callaspo, Luis Valbuena, Jose Iglesias, Brock Holt, Adeiny Hechavarria, Maicer Izturis
Don't bother: Eric Chavez (hip), Mike Aviles, Daniel Descalso, Jeff Keppinger, Placido Polanco, Jordan Pacheco, Aramis Ramirez (knee), Kevin Youkilis (back), Alex Rodriguez (hip), Wilson Betemit (knee), Will Middlebrooks, Nick Castellanos

Shortstop

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Dodgers @WAS3
2. Mets PHI3
3. Nationals LAD3
4. Royals DET3
5. Reds PIT3
Starlin Castro has made his way back into the no-brainers at shortstop even though his current starting rate is lower than the 90 percent I usually require of a player in that group. But I just can't envision sitting him at the weakest position in Fantasy when he's finally showing signs of breaking out of his season-long slump, batting .303 (23 for 76) with three homers in his last 18 games, and beginning a three-game series at Coors Field. To me, that's the definition of a no-brainer.
Worth a second look: Brad Miller, Mariners
With so few at-bats to his name, Miller's batting average is still susceptible to extreme fluctuation, but the rookie has already won me over with his seven walks and seven extra-base hits. Though he won't be as consistent as Matt Carpenter, he has similar capabilities when at his best, which I suspect he'll be with three games at Houston this week.
Approach with caution: Alcides Escobar
With only two steals in his last 44 games, Escobar is severely short-changing Fantasy owners of the one thing they expected to get from him. And this week, he doesn't figure to hit so well either. Not only are the Royals facing high-end hurlers in Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister, but they play all three of their games at home, where he has hit .211 this season.

No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Jean Segura, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Ben Zobrist, Ian Desmond, Everth Cabrera, Starlin Castro
Advisable starts: J.J. Hardy, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Brad Miller, Jhonny Peralta, Nick Franklin, Jimmy Rollins
Shaky starts: Jed Lowrie, Alexei Ramirez, Alcides Escobar, Marco Scutaro, Andrelton Simmons, Erick Aybar, Brian Dozier, Jurickson Profar, Yunel Escobar (hamstring), Zack Cozart
Strictly AL/NL-only: Brandon Crawford, Didi Gregorius, Derek Jeter (quadriceps), Derek Dietrich, Josh Rutledge, Adeiny Hechavarria, Maicer Izturis, Eric Sogard
Don't bother: Jordy Mercer, Pete Kozma, Eduardo Nunez, Omar Quintanilla, Mike Aviles, Daniel Descalso, Pedro Florimon, Stephen Drew (hamstring), Danny Espinosa, Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton

Outfield

Among the higher-profile outfielders who ended the first half on an injured note, Matt Holliday and Jason Heyward seem like fairly safe bets to play this week. Their teams have more or less ruled out DL stints for their sore hamstrings, and both got several days off leading up to the All-Star break. Justin Upton's situation isn't as clear. He's suffering from a strained calf -- an injury that's notoriously slow to heal. In the absence of a clear timetable, you should probably assume the worst and reserve him in standard 10- or 12-team leagues.
Worth a second look: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs and Michael Brantley, Indians
Even in his prime, Soriano was the type of slugger who did 75 percent of his damage in 25 percent of the season. Considering nine of his 16 home runs this season have come in his last 16 games, he hasn't changed in that regard. If you're not using him during these hot streaks, you're not getting anything out of him. With the Cubs visiting Coors Field in the shortened three-game week, he may have a couple more homers in store. Brantley doesn't offer much in the way of homers, but he's been surprisingly productive in Head-to-Head leagues, scoring 20-plus points in four straight weeks. With a .333 (19 for 57) batting average and three steals over his last 15 games, he's clearly at his best right now and is a good bet to keep it going against the ever-hittable Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Correia and Scott Diamond this week.
Approach with caution: Daniel Nava, Red Sox and Marlon Byrd, Mets
After emerging as a steady contributor over the first 11 weeks or so, Nava has fallen into a rut in the last four, batting .267 with just four extra-base hits -- three doubles and one homer -- in his last 101 at-bats. He's been that way against left-handers all season long, batting .232 with a .627 OPS. Unfortunately, that's who the Red Sox are facing in two of their three games this week. Byrd has been a more recent find for Fantasy owners, batting .299 with nine homers since the start of June -- a span of only 39 games -- but his long track record of mediocrity suggests this run will soon end. Three games at home -- where he's batting just .233 with a .664 OPS on the year -- against the Phillies' high-end trio of Kyle Kendrick, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee could be the start of it.

No-brainers: Mike Trout, Chris Davis, Carlos Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew McCutchen, Allen Craig, Jay Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Jones, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz, Desmond Jennings, Domonic Brown, Michael Cuddyer, Bryce Harper, Hunter Pence, Starling Marte, Carlos Gomez
Advisable starts: Matt Holliday (hamstring), Yasiel Puig (hip), Ben Zobrist, Alex Rios, Ryan Braun, Mark Trumbo, Nick Markakis, Alex Gordon, Austin Jackson, Alfonso Soriano, Josh Hamilton, Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Wil Myers, Jason Heyward (hamstring), Raul Ibanez, Michael Brantley, Alejandro De Aza, Brett Gardner, Jayson Werth, Dexter Fowler, Norichika Aoki
Shaky starts: Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp, Evan Gattis, Justin Upton (calf), Torii Hunter, Carlos Quentin, Colby Rasmus, Leonys Martin, Martin Prado, Ichiro Suzuki, Daniel Nava, Logan Morrison, Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera (knee), Gerardo Parra, Marlon Byrd, Luke Scott, Drew Stubbs, Eric Young, Adam Eaton, Ryan Doumit, Josh Reddick, Denard Span
Strictly AL/NL-only: Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford (back), Dayan Viciedo, Aaron Hicks, Jose Tabata, Nate Schierholtz, Marcell Ozuna, Brandon Moss, Chris Carter (ankle), Darin Ruf, Zoilo Almonte, Jon Jay, Michael Saunders, Lorenzo Cain, Will Venable, David Murphy, Gregor Blanco, Matt Joyce, Kelly Johnson, Justin Ruggiano, Jason Kubel, Seth Smith, J.D. Martinez, John Mayberry, Garrett Jones, Cody Ross, A.J. Pollock, David Lough, Delmon Young, Jarrod Dyson, Chris Denorfia, Andy Dirks, Emilio Bonifacio, Dustin Ackley, Rajai Davis, J.B. Shuck, Justin Maxwell, Nolan Reimold, Vernon Wells, Chris Young
Don't bother: Grant Green, Mike Carp, Juan Pierre, Jonny Gomes, Matt Kemp (shoulder), Michael Morse (quadriceps), Curtis Granderson (hand), Angel Pagan (hamstring), Ben Revere (foot), B.J. Upton (adductor), Lucas Duda (side), Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring), Josh Willingham (knee), David DeJesus (shoulder), Peter Bourjos (wrist), Kyle Blanks (Achilles), Ryan Ludwick (shoulder), Cameron Maybin (knee), Darin Mastroianni (ankle), Oswaldo Arcia, Oscar Taveras, Christian Yelich, George Springer, Jackie Bradley, Avisail Garcia, Anthony Gose

The Hit Parade is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Looking at matchups for the week ahead and considering other factors such as streaks, injuries and lineup changes, we sort all Fantasy-relevant hitters at each position into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."

These designations rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole. Injuries are shown in parentheses.

Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Rangers' Daniels: Ryan Rua 'in a good position' to make roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(8:57 am ET) Ryan Rua received his first stint in the majors late last season and made such a strong impression in such a short period of time that the Rangers are looking to him to potentially be the starting left fielder in 2015, per MLB.com.

"He's in a spot where he if continues progressing at the rate he has, then I would expect that he's in a good position to make our club and get at-bats," general manager Jon Daniels said. "It's not going to be handed to him, but he has a strong chance to earn that spot."

The 24-year-old Rua hit .295 with two home runs, seven doubles and 14 RBI in 28 games with the Rangers in 2014. He had a .285/.365/.489/.854 slash line in 382 minor-league games before his promotion to the majors.

"He's not a guy that was off the radar screen and only produced for a month," Daniels said. "He's always hit from Day 1, and is an extremely hard worker that I think is going to have a good big league career."


Hart: Braves expecting Markakis to be 'full go' in spring training
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(8:29 am ET) Braves outfielder Nick Markakis underwent fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck Wednesday, per MLB.com. The team expects Markakis to resume baseball activities before the start of spring training. 

"We talked to (Dr.) Steve Wray after the surgery and he said it really went well," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "He said [the procedure] really went well, and he thinks that this guy will be ready to go full go in spring training. The only thing is that there will be a little bit of a disruption for his normal routine getting ready for spring training."

Markakis is expected to be cleared for physical activities within the next month, and the hope is he will be fully cleared within six weeks. Markakis agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with the Braves in early December.


Three teams showing interest in Norichika Aoki
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Orioles, Reds and Mariners are among the teams looking at outfielder Norichika Aoki, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The 32-year-old Aoki hit .285/.349/.360 over 491 at-bats last year. With the Royals signing Alex Rios earlier in the week, Aoki will likely have to move on with a different club. 


Report: Athletics release Jorge De Leon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Athletics have released pitcher Jorge De Leon, according to SB Nation.

De Leon was designated for assignment by the club last week, and the team couldn't find a way to deal him. De Leon appeared in eight games last season, posting a 4.91 ERA over 7 1/3 innings. 


Report: Padres' Seth Smith popping up in trade talks
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Padres outfielder Seth Smith has come up in trade talks recently, according to ESPN.

If the Matt Kemp and Wil Myers trades go through, the team would have a surplus in the outfield. On top of those two players, San Diego would also have Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, Cameron Maybin and Smith. The 32-year-old Smith hit .266/.367/.440 over 443 at-bats last year. 


D-Backs, David Hernandez avoid arbitration
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Diamondbacks have reached an agreement with David Hernandez on a contract, according to the azcentral.com.

Hernandez was eligible for arbitration, but settled on a $2 million salary figure for next season. The 29-year-old posted a missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.


Report: Three teams showing interest in Jake Peavy
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Marlins, Braves and Giants are showing interest in pitcher Jake Peavy, according to FoxSports.com.

The 33-year-old Peavy is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.73 ERA over 202 2/3 innings. Peavy had some issues in Boston, posting a 4.72 ERA to start the season, but settled in once he joined the Giants. With San Francisco, Peavy had a 2.17 ERA over 78 2/3 innings. The Marlins interest in Peavy is dependent on whether Dan Haren decides to pitch. If Haren comes back, the team would not have interest in Peavy.


Padres, Rays and Nationals on the verge of three team deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Nationals, Padres and Rays are on the verge of a three-team deal which would send outfielder Wil Myers to San Diego, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

The deal would also send outfielder Steven Souza back to Tampa Bay and prospect Trea Turner to Washington. 

The deal is yet to be finalized, with a few key pieces to also be involved in the deal. 


Royals, Edinson Volquez agree to two year contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Royals and free agent pitcher Edinson Volquez have an agreement on a two-year deal, worth $20 million in the first two years, pending a physical, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

Volquez, who pitched for the Pirates in 2014, went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA and 140 strikeouts. 


Blue Jays sign outfielder Ryan Kalish to minor-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Blue Jays announced Wednesday the signning of outfielder Ryan Kalish to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. 

Kalish appeared in 57 games in 2014 for the Cubs, hitting .248 with four triples and five RBI.


 
 
 
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