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Hit Parade for Week 25

Senior Fantasy Writer
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All stats are updated through Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Catcher

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With Joe Mauer still sidelined by what began as a concussion and has progressed into post-concussion symptoms, Josmil Pinto has taken over as the primary catcher in Minnesota, starting about two of every three games over Chris Herrmann. He's a no-name prospect, but mostly because the scouts didn't think he was athletic enough to stick behind the plate. The guy can hit, beginning his major-league career 13 for 26 after batting .309 with 15 homers and a .400 on-base percentage between Double- and Triple-A this year. Apparently, he slimmed down enough in the offseason to make him at least a viable option behind the plate, so the Twins are giving him a shot. So should you in two-catcher leagues.
Worth a second look: Wilson Ramos, Nationals
Ramos has been mostly productive since returning from the DL July 4, but even more so lately, hitting four homers in his last 12 games. And considering the Nationals have some of the best matchups this week, facing off against whomever the Braves find to start Wednesday's game, followed by the hittable Marlins quartet of Henderson Alvarez, Nate Eovaldi, Jacob Turner and Tom Koehler, Ramos has a good chance to keep it going. In standard leagues, he's the perfect fill-in for Jason Castro, who is still battling a sore knee.
Approach with caution: Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
Montero, who was recently on the DL for a sore back, is off to a slow start in September, batting .219 (7 for 32) in eight games. Though the Diamondbacks are playing in hitter's parks this week, opening with four games at home before traveling to Colorado for three, they have some tough matchups against Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Ricky Nolasco and Jhoulys Chacin. If you have only one catcher spot to fill, you can do better than Montero this week.

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

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.
Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Atheltics LAA3, MIN4
2. Cardinals @COL4, @MIL3
3. Indians @KC3, HOU4
4. Rockies STL4, ARI3
5. Nationals ATL3, MIA4

In spite of reports speculating he's done for the season, Edwin Encarnacion hit off a tee Thursday and is hoping to return to the lineup over the weekend. He's been out since Sept. 7 with a wrist injury. This time of year, even day-to-day injuries have the potential to become season-enders, and because teams no longer use the 15-day DL, you have no way of knowing whether or not a player is really on the verge of returning. If Encarnacion returns over the weekend, starting him in Fantasy Week 25 (Sept. 16-22) is an easy call, but if not, you'll want to play it safe and sit him outside of deeper leagues.
Worth a second look: Matt Adams, Cardinals
On the one hand, Adams is a risky choice this week because of the uncertain timetable for Allen Craig, who would presumably bump Adams from the lineup. On the other hand, Craig's return doesn't appear imminent, especially with reports of him maybe going back in a walking boot. Adams is hit or miss on a day-to-day basis, but with three homers in seven games since taking over for Craig, he can help you make up ground in the power categories, especially with four games at Coors Field to open the week.
Approach with caution: Kendrys Morales, Mariners
Considering he has four homers in his last eight games, now probably seems like the perfect time to start Morales in Fantasy, but considering he had zero homers in his previous 28 games, I'm a bit wary. With favorable matchups, I'd be all about him continuing the hot streak, but the Mariners have anything but, going against Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson in a seven-game week. If I'm making a risky play for power, I'm going the Adams route instead.

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

Second base

Howie Kendrick, out since Aug. 5 with a strained hamstring, is active again for the Angels, but he's available only as a bench option and has yet to appear in a game since his return. He was a Fantasy mainstay in the first half of the season, but now that you have to invest a bench spot in him instead of a DL spot, stashing him probably isn't worth the trouble.
Worth a second look: Jed Lowrie, Athletics
The power has come and gone for Lowrie this season, but since July 26, he's done nothing but mash, hitting 19 of his 43 doubles for a .517 slugging percentage. He's the fourth-best second baseman in Head-to-Head points leagues during that stretch and the third-best shortstop. Needless to say, you want him in your lineup for a week he's facing Garrett Richards, Jason Vargas, Kevin Correia, Andrew Albers, Pedro Hernandez and Liam Hendriks.
Approach with caution: Daniel Murphy, Mets
While the Athletics have the best hitting matchups of any team this week, the Mets have the worst, so even though Murphy has been a steady contributor all season, maybe you look into other options just this once. In a six-game span, he has to face Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Notice three of them are left-handers? Murphy has a .610 OPS against lefties this season. And he hasn't exactly been at his hottest lately, going 3 for 15 in his last five games.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Matt Carpenter, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, Martin Prado, Ben Zobrist
Advisable starts: Chase Utley, Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie, Aaron Hill, Brett Lawrie
Shaky starts: Brad Miller, Neil Walker, Emilio Bonifacio, Omar Infante, Jedd Gyorko, Scooter Gennett, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, Nick Franklin, Dan Uggla, Brian Roberts, Gordon Beckham, Marco Scutaro
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jurickson Profar, Dustin Ackley, DJ LeMahieu, Luis Valbuena, Alberto Callaspo, Josh Rutledge, Darwin Barney, Donovan Solano, Mark Ellis, Howie Kendrick, Grant Green, Ryan Raburn, Kelly Johnson, Kolten Wong, Ronny Cedeno, Eric Sogard
Don't bother: Logan Forsythe, Mike Aviles, Ryan Goins, Willie Bloomquist, Daniel Descalso, Jordy Mercer, Alexi Amarista, Yuniesky Betancourt, Stephen Lombardozzi, Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Keppinger, Jemile Weeks, Derek Dietrich

Third base

When David Wright strained his hamstring Aug. 2, the timetable for his return was six weeks. Right now, he's at five weeks. He ran the bases for the first time Wednesday and is thinking he should still meet that timetable, which would put him returning at some point in Fantasy Week 25 (Sept. 16-22). Starting him for a partial week -- and a speculative one at that -- is far too risky for mixed leagues this time of year, but in NL-only formats, he might just be worth a roll of the dice.
Worth a second look: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Granted, he's been in and out of the lineup some, making his week-to-week production not quite as impressive as it could be, but with six homers and four steals in 117 at-bats, Rodriguez is basically on a 30-homer, 20-steal pace since making his season debut Aug. 5. You can make all kinds of excuses not to put him in your lineup, but productivity isn't one of them.
Approach with caution: Manny Machado, Orioles
It's time to face facts with Machado. He was a cool story earlier this year as a 21-year-old on an incredible doubles pace, but he's just a .252 hitter (with a .666 OPS) since the start of July, making him the 15th-best third baseman in Head-to-Head leagues during that stretch and the 18th-best in Rotisserie. The home runs haven't been there for him all season, so speaking strictly for right now (because long-term is a completely separate discussion), I don't get the infatuation. In a week the Orioles are facing Jake Peavy, John Lackey, David Price and Alex Cobb, you can do better than Machado at third base.

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Matt Carpenter, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Evan Longoria, Josh Donaldson, Martin Prado, Kyle Seager
Advisable starts: Will Middlebrooks, Pablo Sandoval, Alex Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez, Pedro Alvarez, Brett Lawrie
Shaky starts: Manny Machado, Edwin Encarnacion (wrist), Emilio Bonifacio, Jedd Gyorko, Nolan Arenado, Chase Headley, Matt Dominguez, David Wright (hamstring), Chris Johnson, Cody Asche, Trevor Plouffe, Mike Moustakas, Anthony Rendon, Todd Frazier
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jurickson Profar, David Freese, DJ LeMahieu, Juan Francisco, Donnie Murphy, Brett Wallace, Luis Valbuena, Alberto Callaspo, Juan Uribe, Conor Gillaspie, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jose Iglesias, Kelly Johnson, Adeiny Hechavarria
Don't bother: Michael Young, Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit, Eric Chavez, Josh Satin, Matt Davidson, Nick Castellanos, Luis Jimenez (thumb), Daniel Descalso, Yuniesky Betancourt, Alexi Amarista, Jeff Keppinger, Placido Polanco, Wilmer Flores (ankle), Kevin Youkilis (back)

Shortstop

In perhaps the least shocking development of the year, Derek Jeter is out for the rest of 2013 because of recurring setbacks with his surgically repaired ankle. While the doubles-hitting, base-stealing Eduardo Nunez would be a potentially useful fill-in in deeper leagues, the Yankees' acquisition of the defensive-minded Brendan Ryan makes him not so certain to play. Most likely, you're well accustomed to life without Jeter by now, but if not, I have a better fill-in in mind ...
Worth a second look: Jonathan Villar, Astros
After a lackluster first six weeks in the majors, Villar has played out of his mind in September, batting .326 (14 for 43) with six steals in 11 games. His strikeout rate is down to one every three at-bats -- which is still poor, but a vast improvement from earlier. Speed doesn't slump, and Villar clearly isn't afraid to use his. In a week he's facing Mike Leake, Greg Reynolds, Ubaldo Jimenez and Zach McAllister, he should get plenty of opportunities to do so.
Approach with caution: Josh Rutledge, Rockies
Rutledge has been the 13th-best shortstop in Head-to-Head leagues since returning from the minors Sept. 1, and knowing his combination of power and speed, you might just be tempted to use him, particularly in a week the Rockies are playing seven games at home. But the at-bats for him to sustain this production simply aren't available. The Rockies aren't giving up on DJ LeMahieu, starting him three of the last seven games at second base, and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki obviously isn't going anywhere. Maybe for a middle infield spot in a deeper Rotisserie league, Rutledge can factor as a part-timer, but that's about it.

No-brainers: Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Ben Zobrist, Elvis Andrus, Jean Segura
Advisable starts: Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Villar, J.J. Hardy
Shaky starts: Andrelton Simmons, Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Brad Miller, Junior Lake, Jimmy Rollins, Starlin Castro, Alcides Escobar, Stephen Drew, Asdrubal Cabrera, Zack Cozart, Nick Franklin, Yunel Escobar, Marco Scutaro
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jurickson Profar, Brandon Crawford, Josh Rutledge, Chris Owings, Billy Hamilton, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Iglesias, Eduardo Nunez, Ronny Cedeno, Eric Sogard
Don't bother: Logan Forsythe, Mike Aviles, Didi Gregorius, Willie Bloomquist, Daniel Descalso, Jordy Mercer, Xander Bogaerts, Pete Kozma, Omar Quintanilla, Dee Gordon, Pedro Florimon, Derek Dietrich

Outfield

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Mets SF3, @PHI3
2. Orioles @BOS3, @TB3
3. Mariners @DET4, @LAA3
4. Rangers @TB4, @KC3
5. Blue Jays NYY3, @BOS3
On Thursday, Starling Marte began what manager Clint Hurdle called the "last piece" in his recovery from a sprained ligament in his hand. He took swings in a simulated game. Considering he's been active and used as a pinch runner and replacement defender for about a week now, it wouldn't take much for the Pirates to get him back in their lineup. Particularly if you're short on steals in a Rotisserie league, you might just gamble on it happening this week.
Worth a second look: Nick Swisher, Indians and Kole Calhoun, Angels
After battling a shoulder injury for much of this season, Swisher has been more himself since about mid-August. He's batting a modest .256 (23 for 90) over his last 23 games, but with five homers and an .803 OPS. The switch-hitter has been great against lefties all season, batting .284 with an .872 OPS, so the four on tap for the Indians this week -- Danny Duffy, Bruce Chen, Dallas Keuchel and Brett Oberholtzer -- should help him remain on track. He's also facing a couple weak righties in Paul Clemens and David Martinez. Calhoun is up to a .295 batting average and .859 OPS this year and has been so productive recently, batting .415 (17 for 41) with two homers in his last 12 games, that the Angels have begun using him against left-handed pitchers. Only one of those on tap this week, along with a few questionable righties in Dan Straily, Erasmo Ramirez and Brandon Maurer. Calhoun is still a bit too low-end to break the "advisable starts" threshold, but you could do worse off the waiver wire.
Approach with caution: Nick Markakis, Orioles and Adam Eaton, Diamondbacks
Considering he's still started in 73 percent of leagues, Fantasy owners haven't caught on to just how unproductive Markakis has been this season. Since June 1 especially, he's gone silent, slugging a whopping .293. That's in 88 games, folks. His matchups against Jake Peavy, John Lackey, David Price and Alex Cobb in a six-game week should keep him grounded for now, especially since every game is on the road. Markakis is a .256 hitter with a .337 slugging percentage on the road this year (which almost sounds like an improvement). After an encouraging stretch in mid-August, Eaton has fallen into a rut again, batting .152 (5 for 33) in his last 10 games, and as a result, the Diamondbacks have gone back to sitting him against certain lefties. He has three of those on tap this week, as well as tough righties Zack Greinke, Ricky Nolasco and Jhoulys Chacin.

No-brainers: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Yasiel Puig, Jay Bruce, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Trumbo, Michael Cuddyer, Alex Gordon, Alex Rios
Advisable starts: Carlos Beltran, Giancarlo Stanton, Martin Prado, Coco Crisp, Ben Zobrist, Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, Bryce Harper, Josh Hamilton, Wil Myers, Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Marlon Byrd, Will Venable, Eric Young
Shaky starts: Alejandro De Aza, Desmond Jennings, Carl Crawford, Carlos Gomez, Kole Calhoun, Andre Ethier, Michael Brantley, Darin Ruf, Norichika Aoki, Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn, Junior Lake, Christian Yelich, Adam Eaton, Emilio Bonifacio, Gerardo Parra, Chris Carter, Leonys Martin, Rajai Davis, Evan Gattis, Daniel Nava, Nate McLouth, Nick Markakis, Brandon Moss, Starling Marte (hand), Colby Rasmus (oblique), Allen Craig (foot), Josh Reddick, Khris Davis (wrist), Avisail Garcia, Jon Jay, Denard Span, Josh Willingham, Brett Gardner (oblique), Logan Morrison, Justin Ruggiano, Raul Ibanez, Nate Schierholtz, Domonic Brown (Achilles)
Strictly AL/NL-only: L.J. Hoes, Kyle Blanks, Jordan Schafer, Jonny Gomes, Dexter Fowler (knee), Dustin Ackley, Ryan Ludwick, Dayan Viciedo, Jarrod Dyson, Juan Lagares, J.B. Shuck, Abraham Almonte (leg), Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Doumit, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Colabello, Jose Tabata, Matt Joyce, B.J. Upton, Michael Morse, Carlos Gonzalez (finger), Moises Sierra, Chris Denorfia, Chris Young, Lorenzo Cain, David Murphy, Drew Stubbs, Anthony Gose, Corey Dickerson, Lucas Duda, Alex Presley, Mike Carp, Darin Mastroianni, A.J. Pollock, David Lough, Gregor Blanco, Logan Forsythe, Seth Smith, Jackie Bradley, Nick Castellanos, Ryan Raburn, Grant Green, John Mayberry, Kevin Pillar, Michael Choice, Andy Dirks, Franklin Gutierrez, Kelly Johnson, Mike Aviles
Don't bother: Garrett Jones, Jake Marisnick, Michael Saunders, Stephen Lombardozzi, Alexi Amarista, Vernon Wells, Justin Maxwell, Luke Scott, Jacoby Ellsbury (foot), Matt Kemp (hamstring), Robbie Grossman (oblique), Ben Revere (foot), George Springer

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 . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Joe Panik sits out Wednesday due to ankle injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:05 pm ET) Giants second baseman Joe Panik was not in the starting lineup Wednesday at Philadelphia after leaving Tuesday's game due to a sprained ankle. Ehire Adrianza started at second base for San Francisco.

Brock Holt receives rare night off
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:59 pm ET) Red Sox all-purpose standout Brock Holt is out of the lineup Wednesday in Toronto for the first time in two months. He is coming off an 0-for-4 effort that ended a seven-game hitting streak.

Holt has been lights-out this season with a stat line of .321/.366/.450 and 40 runs scored.


Scuffling Juan Francisco not in Wednesday lineup
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:53 pm ET) Third baseman Juan Francisco will be riding the bench when the Blue Jays host Boston on Wednesday night. Munenori Kawasaki is set to start at that spot instead.

Francisco is hitless in four games since July 13, going 0 for 11 during that stretch.


Brian Roberts not playing Wednesday for Yankees
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:47 pm ET) Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts has been given the night off for the Wednesday game against Texas. Brendan Ryan is set to start instead.

Roberts has been consistent and productive of late with two hits in three of his last four games.


Jake Smolinski still absent from lineup Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:43 pm ET) Rangers left fielder Jake Smolinski was expected to return to action Wednesday, but his name has not been penciled into the lineup for the Wednesday game in New York against the Yankees.

Smolinski has been sidelined since Monday after fouling a ball off his foot.


Alex Rios overcomes ankle problem to return to Rangers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:40 pm ET) Rangers left fielder Alex Rios has returned to the lineup for the Wednesday game against the host Yankees after being sidelined since Saturday with an ankle issue.

Rios has been one of the few healthy bright lights for Texas this season with a stat line of .302/.330/.435, though he has a disappointing four home runs in 368 at-bats.


David Ross a no-go Wednesday in Toronto
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:24 pm ET) Red Sox catcher David Ross, who has been dealing with a foot ailment, is out of the Wednesday lineup against at Toronto. Christian Vazquez is set to start instead.

The problem has not limited Ross lately at the plate. He has come alive after a terrible stretch with four hits in his last two games, including a home run.


Gus Schlosser temporarily replaces Anthony Varvaro
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:14 pm ET) Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro was placed on the paternity list Wednesday. Reliever Gus Schlosser was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to take his roster spot.

Michael Bourn working way back from hamstring injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:14 pm ET) Indians center fielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn has tested out his injured hamstring by running Monday and Wednesday, per MLB.com. He expressed satisfaction with his progress after going down on July 5.

"Hitting (Tuesday) went fine," he said. "I'm just going to take it one day at a time and just stick to the program. Hopefully, I can get close to playing again."

That would please fellow Cleveland outfielder Micheal Brantley. "He's a big part of what we do here," he said. "We're battling the best we can until he's healthy, and we look forward to having him back soon."

Replacement Chris Dickerson has been far from shabby. He has 12 hits in 32 at-bats with eight runs, two home runs and six RBI.


Cameron Maybin to serve 25-game suspension
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:10 pm ET) It was announced Wednesday that Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin was suspended 25 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

"I’m disappointed in Cameron’s violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, but am pleased that he’s taking responsibility for his mistake," Padres president Mike Dee said. "The Joint Agreement was put into place to protect both the player and the game, and the Padres fully support it."

Maybin will immediately begin serving the suspension and won't be eligible to return until Aug. 20 at L.A. Dodgers.

"Cameron has accepted full responsibility for his violation and apologized to his teammates and coaches. We are all looking forward to his return," manager Bud Black said.


 
 
 
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