Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fantasy Baseballers On The Rise - 4/8/08

With week one complete, we are beginning to see some new fantasy options emerging both at the plate and on the mound. Each week, FSE will highlight a few hitters and pitchers that are beginning to make name for themselves in fantasy baseball circles.

Bats

Justin Upton - Much buzz surrounded BJ Upton's younger brother entering the season but the general consensus was that Justin was about a year from being a serious fantasy contributor. Three homers and 1.000+ OPS in the first week will do much to dispel those notions. Upton's combination of power and speed make him a great start in fantasy league; however, the 9 Ks in week 1 remind us that he will have his struggles at times this season. 

Carlos Gomez - The centerpiece of the Santana trade, Gomez landed the starting CF gig late in Spring Training and never looked back. The young Dominican speedster ended week one tied for the major league lead in stolen bases and hit .357 in his first 7 games. Playing in Minnesota is a great fit for Gomez as the Metrodome turf is a super fast track that rewards slap hitters. He will be an excellent source of stolen bases but like all young hitters he will have his ups and downs.

Nate McLouth - Like Gomez, McLouth won the starting centerfield job at the end of Spring Training and given his first week numbers, he won't be heading back to the bench anytime soon. McLouth finished week 1 tied for the Major League lead in hits and showed a great combination of power and speed. He compiled an impressive 5 doubles, 1 homerun, 7 RBIs and 2 stolen bases over the initial 6 games and is now a legitimate 20-20 candidate. McLouth wasn't our Add Of The Week for nothing people!

Kevin Kouzmanoff - The Kouz had a strong second half to finish last season, however that didn't translate into much on draft day as he was available in nearly 40% of CBS leagues entering week one. His owner ship has jumped to 73% and will continue to rise if Kouzmanoff can keep hitting like he did this past week. He has a hit in 7 of his first 8 games including a homer, 4 RBI and 6 runs scored. The third base position is thin in deeper leagues and Kouzmanoff is establishing himself as a solid option at the hot corner with good upside.

Arms

Brian Bannister - The former Met farmhand is making a name for himself in Kansas City. He was dominant in his first start holding a potent Detroit Tigers lineup to 2 singles over 7 innings of work while striking out 4 and walking none. Bannister isn't flashy but he has been effective throughout his short MLB career relying on good control and a knack for getting out of jams. He will be a good source of quality starts and should post solid ERA and WHIP numbers to go along with 13-15 wins.

Joe Saunders - With Lackey and Escobar injured, Saunders has been an early season savior in Anaheim posting back to back 8 inning outings and allowing a total of 1 earned run during that span. Fantasy owners are beginning to take notice as Saunders' ownership has spiked 40% in the past week. The Angels will rely heavily on Saunders this season at the back of the rotation and he should see favorable matchups on a regular basis. While he isn't a big strikeout guy, Saunders has the ability to put up good ERA and WHIP numbers and compile a decent amount of quality starts. 

George Sherrill - The issue many owners had with Sherrill was that he wouldn't get many save opportunities given the putrid state of the Baltimore Orioles. Well the Orioles have inexplicably gotten off to a 6-1 start and Sherrill has 4 saves in which he has allowed no runs or hits. Baltimore should comeback down to Earth soon; however, Sherrill is showing himself to be a formidable 9th inning option with a chance to reach 30 saves. 

Hiroki Kuroda - The latest Japanese sensation had an excellent debut, allowing one earned run over 7 innings of work while striking out 4 and walking none. Kuroda throws in the mid-90's with good control giving him great strikeout potential as the season progresses. He will be playingin a good pitcher's park and could compile 15 wins with a solid ERA and WHIP when all is said and done.

Zack Greinke - Our second young Royals' starter on the list. Fantasy owners and KC fans have been waiting for Greinke to get it together at the Major League level for years now and it appears 2008 could be the year. Greinke had strong outings towards the end of Spring Training and he carried the momentum over to the regular season shutting down the Tigers in his first start. Greinke went 7 innings allowing 6 hits, 1 earned run and 2 walks while striking out 3. Still only 24, Greinke has big strikeout potential and the ability to put up strong pitching numbers across the board. 

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