Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Pickups Around The Diamond - Week 3

Catcher

Mike Napoli- The Anaheim catcher has hit 2HR with 5RBI in his last 4 games and has a mini-hot streak going. In fact, thus far this season Napoli leads all catchers with 4HR. While Napoli has good power he doesn't hit for great average, which doesn't really fit that classic Anaheim Angel contact hitting identity. His other major problem is that Jeff Mathis is starting to take some starts for him as he is scorching hot right now. Of the two, Napoli has the better power and is considered the starter, yet Mathis has still managed to start 3 games this week, an awful lot for a back up. Bottom line in this situation is don't be fooled into thinking either are good fantasy option just because they play on a good team. Both are streaky and while Napoli has decent power, his at bats and starts are too inconsistent to trust for a full time fantasy gig.

Ryan Doumit- He was penciled in to back up Ronny Paulino, but apparently his bat didn't get that memo. Doumit has been hitting all season and boasts a BA of .341 to go along with 2HR and 7 runs scored. The negative is that he only has 4RBI and 1BB on the season, to go along with those numbers. Doumit's ability to hit has never been questioned and it has seemed like that for years the Pirates have tried to find a place for him. Keep an eye on Doumit, while he has only played games at catcher this season, he has played some outfield and first base in his career, so if he continues to hit, the Pirates will be forced to keep finding him a position to hit in.

FSE's Take- Don't go crazy over either player yet. Look for Doumit to get more at bats as he can play 1B and the OF in a pinch and is a more important part of the Pirates line up than Napoli is for Anaheim.

First Base

Mike Jacobs - We have seen this before from Jacobs. He shows flashes of brilliance and looks like a star in the making and then he gets hurt and fails to take his numbers to the next level. He has never hit more than 20HR in a season or batted over .265AVG in his career as a full time starter. If you are struggling for offense at 1B or need an extra bat, grab Jacobs. He is very hot right now, and you might as well ride that and benefit from it. I doubt he goes on to have a huge season or maintains the early HR pace that he has established but, he is hot and has been tearing the cover off of the ball. Grab him now, while he is still hot, and either try to trade him for value, or keep a careful eye on hi stats and look for that initial cold streak and dump him for another hot player.

Casey Kotchman- Young player who is entering his second full season as an everyday player this season and is really beginning to blossom as a hitter. Last season Kotchman showed he could hit for AVG, but really lacked in the power department. This season he already has 4HR after having 12HR in all of the 2007 season to go along with a .344AVG. The power numbers are a bit deceiving early on, but expect roughly 20HR to go along with a .310AVG. He is a fine pick up in all fantasy formats because he is more than just a guy on a hot streak.

Conor Jackson- Has been around a while for a young player, but Jackson finally looks primed to put up solid numbers for a 1B this season. Jackson hit .290AVG with 15HR and 79RBI in 2006 and then regressed a bit in 2007 hitting .284 with 15HR and 60RBI. While the numbers don't show a total regression, they don't show a good progression that you like to see from a young player. Another problem was that in both of these seasons Arizona never gave Jackson 500+ at bats and he always seemed to lose playing time in crucial times to aging veterans. Jackson will have a fine season and even if he doesn't hit over 20HR, is surrounded by a young and exciting line up so he will have plenty of RBI opportunities. He isn't an elite 1B option, but he will put up fine numbers this year, as he finally looks to have a strangle hold on the starting spot.

FSE's Take- I would rank these first basemen in the following order: Kotchman, Jackson, Jacobs. The first 2 could be interchangeable but I have a better feeling about Kotchman for the 2008 season than I do Jackson. Jacobs has the most upside as far as power goes, but he is also the biggest injury risk.

Second Base

Not a ton going on here...

Orlando Hudson- Another member of the high octane D-Backs' offense, Hudson has been around a while and has turned into a viable fantasy option over the last couple of seasons. The best way to describe Hudson in cliche form: "He doesn't do anything great, but he does a lot things well enough to stay productive." Basically, he posts decent enough numbers in all parts of the game to make him a decent player. Look at his 2007 numbers, .294AVG, 10HR, 10SB, 69R, 63RBI, .351OBP. Again nothing crazy, and none of the numbers jump out at you, but across the board they are respectable enough to use in deep leagues and is consistent enough to use over the course of a season.

Third Base

Evan Longoria- The Ray's hot 3B prospect was expected to crack the Major League roster out of spring training. Well he didn't and it was big news, but the stay in AAA was short and he has found himself back in the majors in a little under 3 weeks. Longoria will hit, and reminds me of a young Eric Chavez - a guy who can hit for power and AVG and carry an offense when he is going well. I don't think that fantasy owners can expect that quite yet, but 15HR and 65-70RBI are not totally out of the question. Expect to see some ups and downs from Longoria this season, as he is still rookie seeing his first major league time.

Nomar Garciaparra- This old gag. He was activated off the DL early and people saw the name "Nomar Garciaparra" and overreacted. Nomar is no longer a good player. He has lost his power stroke and is not a reliable RBI guy. While he has managed to stay on the field a bit more in the last few seasons, it doesn't really matter because he is no longer a viable fantasy option. Let some other sucker take a flier on Nomar as you would be better off trying a guy like Longoria with better upside and power potential. Nomar is also less of a threat to get consistent at bats because the Dodgers will wind up with a small log jam at 3B once Andy LaRoche comes back.

FSE's Take- Longoria is clearly going to be a better player for this season and seasons going forward. Please do not fall into the "name game," judging players on past accomplishments rather than what they are doing this season.

Shortstop

Erick Aybar- Had a mini hit streak going with 9 hits in 5 days and managed to steal a couple of bags along the way, which is the best you can hope for from Aybar. He is currently going to see the bulk of at bats at SS for the next week or so while Maicer Izturis fills in for the injured Howie Kendrick. I am not a big Ayabar fan as it seems like the only thing he does well is steal bases and he doesn't exactly get on base enough to do that consistently because he doesn't draw a lot of walks. He has stolen 2 bases in this period, and if that's what you need he can be helpful, but I wouldn't go too crazy here. A lot of times guys like this get overrated because of the team they are on and their history of bringing up successful players, when in all actuality he isn't that good.

Outfield

Ryan Ludwick- A career minor leaguer, the 30-year-old is finally getting his shot to play with the Cardinals this season and is making the most of it. The difficulty for him will be staying hot with the bat so he can fend off Skip Schumaker for the majority of playing time in the outfield. While Ludwick is hot right now, I would avoid grabbing him if you are in a league with a maximum adds limit. His inconsistent playing time is a concern, as is the fact that he has never had a full major league season under his belt.

Nate McLouth- Love this guy. He can hit a HR and steal a bag on any given night, already has reached double digits in RBI and runs, and has fought off a small of army of players who were trying to take the CF job from him in spring training. While his batting average should go down, I think McLouth has the ability to maintain his current production because he can draw a walk and get on base. Considering he plays on the Pirates these numbers are all the more awe inspiring.

FSE's Take- Go out and grab him. He will be a solid player, barring injury or the Pirates organization doing something inexplicably stupid. Unfortunately with the Pirates, the latter is a strong possibility.

Jeremy Hermida- Was quickly gaining "That old gag" status as he seemed like a highly touted prospect with power and speed destined to flame out without doing much. But in the second half of last season he showed himself to be a fine player, and a good RBI bat. He came into this season as a highly touted sleeper who had many excited with his strong spring training. He then proceeded to do what cost him his once elite prospect status; he got hurt and missed time. Hermida is back now and swinging a good bat and is quickly back on the most adds bandwagon. I like Hermida and I think he still can be a fine fantasy player. However, the injury factor scares me a bit, and I will go to my grave saying, "You need healthy players to win in fantasy." Avoid Hermida, unless you desperately need the OF help and are in a very deep league.

Do you think we forgot anyone? We are sure there are some players who we left out. Send us your feedback and tell us who we felt we slighted and we'll do out best to get to your response and comments.

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