Hit Parade for Week 18
A lot of trades and injuries have shaped the Fantasy Baseball landscape over the past week, but our Nando Di Fino is here to help set your lineups with the Hit Parade for Week 18.
The Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Each week, we'll assess Fantasy-relevant hitters based on streaks, matchups, injuries and lineup changes and divide them into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."
These designations are designed to rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole.
Any player dealing with injury will have the injury listed in parentheses after his name. His condition will most definitely influence his category designation for the week.
Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.
The information has been updated through Saturday, July 28.
The catcher position took a bit of a hit this week, as J.P. Arencibia had his hand broken by a foul tip on Wednesday. Jeff Mathis will -- barring some kind of a trade -- take over as Toronto's starting catcher, and he makes for an interesting pick-up in deeper leagues. A former top Angels prospect, Mathis landed as high as 22nd on Baseball America's rankings. He had some nice power numbers for a catcher (as many as 21 home runs and 33 doubles in single seasons), before being called up to Anaheim and ... fizzling. His batting average was under .200 as often as it was over the mark. And his power failed to really translate to the majors. But as Arencibia's backup in Toronto, Mathis seemed to unlock at least some of his minor league promise. His .250 average is markedly higher than his career mark, and his .807 OPS is at least .100 points higher than any point in his career. In deeper leagues, where desperation is the name of the game, and catchers like John Jaso and Rod Barajas are off the market, Mathis may turn out to be a viable grab for a team badly in need of a second catcher.
Worth a second look: Jarrod Saltalamacchia , Red Sox
The Red Sox have seven games next week, only one of which is against a
lefty. This sets up Saltalamacchia nicely. The switch hitter has put up
much better numbers against RHPs this year than against their southpaw
vs RHP: 222 AB, .243 average, 19 home runs, .844 OPS
vs LHP: 40 AB, .175 average, one home run, .558 OPS
Once the Sox batters battle through the Scherzer/Verlander combo at the start of their week, they have a tasty group of pitchers waiting for them: Rick Porcello , Samuel Deduno , Brian Duensing , Cole De Vries and Nick Blackburn .
Approach with caution: Ryan Doumit , Twins
The Twins run into four lefties this week, and it's not the greatest group a hitter would like to see: Jose Quintana , Chris Sale , Jon Lester and Felix Doubront . Doumit is hitting .307 against RHPs this year, but only .256 vs lefties. Additionally, his OPS against right-handers (.849) is over .100 points higher than his OPS against lefties (.724). You want more? In his career, Doumit has hit just .250 against the Red Sox and .238 against the White Sox. He has just one home run in 18 games against the two clubs.
Advisable starts: Carlos Santana , Miguel Montero , Salvador Perez , Brian McCann , Jarrod Saltalamacchia , Mike Napoli , Jesus Montero
Shaky starts: Alex Avila , Wilin Rosario , Ryan Doumit , Yasmani Grandal , Russell Martin , A.J. Ellis , A.J. Pierzynski (oblique), Jonathan Lucroy (hand)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jeff Mathis , John Buck , Geovany Soto , Michael McKenry , Rod Barajas , Derek Norris , Kurt Suzuki , Miguel Olivo , Martin Maldonado , John Jaso , Josh Thole , Devin Mesoraco , Ramon Hernandez
Don't bother: J.P. Arencibia (hand), Lou Marson , Jesus Flores , Ryan Hanigan , Yorvit Torrealba , Chris Snyder , Jason Castro (knee), Chris Iannetta (wrist), Victor Martinez (knee)
Here's a fun little bit of trivia to throw out at all the women you meet at bars this weekend: From July 18 to July 25, which first-base eligibile player had the most points in standard Fantasy points leagues? If your ladyfriend is still standing there, somewhat interested, ask her to marry you immediately. And, as part of your vows later that night in Las Vegas, you can reveal to her that it is ... Michael Morse . He's gotten passed by a couple players since then, including Ike Davis with his three-homer game Saturday, but the point is he's finally coming around! Morse is owned in 96 percent of our leagues, and started in 86 percent, meaning there are still some leagues and owners out there who are not fully on-board with the Morse renaissance. If you have a hole in the outfield, now might be the time to pounce on him with a subtle buy-low offer. But only after you've selected your china patterns.
Worth a second look: Chris Carter , Athletics
The A's have a fun little schedule this week, facing four lefties in
their seven games. Get past Monday, when they face a test against
-- who has a not-insurmountable 3.62 ERA in five starts
against Oakland -- and the A's have somewhat smooth sailing with the
remaining three LHPs --
(who they just torched for eight runs in 1 1/3 IP on
, who displayed a ton of power in the minors, will likely
start against the lefties, while getting at least one or two against the
three RHPs the A's are facing.
Awesome, dude. He starts against lefties and sometimes against righties. Why should I care?
Because Carter, in 29 at-bats against lefties, has an .895 OPS. Those are the starts we know he's going to get. But against right-handers, Carter is slugging .889, with five home runs in 27 at-bats. If he can keep hitting in the LHP starts, and concurrently force himself into and carry the momentum over to the RHP starts, he could do a lot of damage against a relatively weak set of opposing pitchers this coming week.
Approach with caution: Ike Davis , Mets
There's usually not much to get excited about with a player hitting .216, but Ike Davis had been in such a rut all season, his recent breakout -- he's batting .317 (13 for 41) with seven home runs over his last 10 games -- has been cause for his owners to celebrate. Unfortunately, Davis and the Mets are about to embark on a west coast swing to two of the more daunting parks in baseball -- San Francisco's AT&T Park, and San Diego's PETCO Park. Additionally, he catches the wrong pitchers at the wrong stadiums: Madison Bumgarner (3.10 overall; 1.89 ERA at home), Tim Lincecum (5.88 overall; 3.90 ERA at home), Matt Cain (2.80 overall; 2.13 ERA at home), Barry Zito (3.89 overall; 3.41 ERA at home), Clayton Richard (4.17 overall; 3.71 ERA at home), Edinson Volquez (3.30 overall; 2.84 ERA at home), and Jason Marquis (5.25 overall, 3.60 ERA at PETCO, since joining the Padres).
Advisable starts: Paul Konerko , Billy Butler , Allen Craig , Joe Mauer , Paul Goldschmidt , Adam Dunn , Michael Morse , Kevin Youkilis , Corey Hart , Freddie Freeman , Anthony Rizzo , Buster Posey , Carlos Santana , Michael Cuddyer
Shaky starts: Adam LaRoche , Lance Berkman , Justin Morneau , Ike Davis , Ryan Howard , Tyler Colvin , Michael Young , Eric Hosmer , Mike Napoli , Chris Davis , Kendrys Morales , Daniel Murphy , Carlos H. Lee , Carlos Pena , Mark Reynolds , Chris Carter , Casey McGehee , David Ortiz (Achilles)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Mike Carp , Dustin Ackley , Garrett Jones , Brandon Belt , Bryan LaHair , Brandon Moss , Yonder Alonso , Todd Helton , Ty Wigginton , Jordan Pacheco , Wilson Betemit , Chris Johnson , Casey Kotchman , Jesus Guzman , Adam Lind (back)
Don't bother: Tyler Moore , James Loney , John Mayberry , Juan Rivera , Matt Carpenter , Logan Morrison (knee), Joey Votto (leg), Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Matt Adams , Justin Smoak , Lucas Duda
Let's play a game: Which Weeks Has More? I'll give you a category, and
see if you can guess if Jemile or Rickie, both struggling mightily this
year, has more of each. Ready?
Hits (Jemile--81 to 73)
Runs (Jemile--46 to 40)
Steals (Jemile--14 to seven)
Doubles (Rickie--20 to 12)
Walks (Rickie--50 to 42)
The brothers rank 19th (Rickie) and 21st (Jemile) in standard points leagues, so they're pretty much even. Jemile is owned in 51 percent of leagues and started in 28 percent, while Rickie is owned in 77 percent and started in 54 percent. I'm not entirely sure if this is a case for more people to own Jemile, or fewer people to own Rickie, but next week's pitching lineup looks like it could give a boost to at least one of the two. And that lucky Weeks would be...
Worth a second look: Jemile Weeks , Athletics
A switch hitter,
much better against left-handed pitchers this season. Observe:
vs RHP: .208 average, .572 OPS, .03 steals per at-bat
vs LHP: .246 average, .683 OPS, .05 steals per at-bat
This wasn't always the case. Last year, Weeks was better against RHPs, hitting .310 against them, while he managed a .287 average against lefties. That is, of course, a mystery to be unraveled in a different column. Right now, our concern is next week, and Weeks has four lefties on the slate. And for those of you looking for steals from Weeks, there is some good news here as well: Toronto's new presumed catcher, Jeff Mathis , is a minor downgrade from J.P. Arencibia , so far as throwing out baserunners (Arencibia had a caught-stealing percentage of 34.5 percent, while Mathis catches them at a 30 percent rate). And while Tampa Bay's Jose Molina is in the top 10 of catching stealers (34.2 percent), he's only a backup to Jose Lobaton , who has thrown out just four of 24 potential stolen base attempts this year (16.7 percent).
Approach with caution: Chase Utley , Phillies
It's not that Utley has been rested here and there since his return from the DL, because he hasn't. It's more that Utley, and the Phillies, have a really unattractive set of pitching matchups next week. Three games against Washington give them Stephen Strasburg , Edwin Jackson , and Ross Detwiler , while the next three against Arizona feature the always-dangerous Ian Kennedy , the could-be difficult Joe Saunders and the whoa-his-ERA-is-only-3.86-? Trevor Cahill . Utley's had only 81 major league at-bats this season, and running into a group of pitchers of this caliber could be a tough task for him as he gets into a rhythm. He's not benchable solely because of the tough schedule, but it might be wise to look into other options you may have around his level.
Advisable starts: Dan Uggla , Neil Walker , Ben Zobrist , Marco Scutaro , Chase Utley
Shaky starts: Omar Infante , Jose Altuve , Mike Aviles , Rickie Weeks , Michael Young , Jemile Weeks , Kyle Seager , Everth Cabrera , Kelly Johnson , Daniel Murphy , Howie Kendrick , Danny Espinosa
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada , Dustin Ackley , Gordon Beckham , Alexi Amarista , Ryan Roberts , Darwin Barney , Pedro Ciriaco , Ryan Theriot , Elliot Johnson , Jeff Keppinger , Sean Rodriguez
Don't bother: Mark Ellis , Donovan Solano , Jordany Valdespin , Jerry Hairston , Chris Getz , Jamey Carroll , Brandon Inge , Yuniesky Betancourt , Ryan Raburn , Steve Lombardozzi , Tyler Greene , Logan Forsythe , Jose Lopez , Maicer Izturis , Skip Schumaker , Chris Nelson (heart), Adam Kennedy (groin), Robert Andino (shoulder)
Before this season began, one of the biggest questions, in my mind, was
which young third baseman would have the better season:
of right now, they look like this:
Moustakas: .262 average, 16 home runs, 50 RBI, 48 runs, three steals, 261 Fantasy points
Lawrie: .290 average, nine home runs, 38 RBI, 59 runs, 13 steals, 274 Fantasy points
Can we declare a winner at this point? Probably not. But I will say that I expected to see some more power from Lawrie (although, in his defense, it's not his fault that he's hit leadoff for the majority of his at-bats), and a better average from Moustakas. This week, Moustakas gets six games, with one lefty (he's hitting much better against RHP this season), while Lawrie has seven games, with three coming agianst lefties (his average is 90 points lower against righties than lefties). It's a race to the end that only us nerds may end up caring about! (My pick: Moustakas)
Worth a second look: David Freese , Cardinals
Freese could be an absolute beast this week. The Cardinals have six games, with four coming against lefties. Three of those lefty starts are in Colorado. We could just leave it at that, but I'll pile on a little more goodness: Freese is hitting .348, with a .966 OPS this season against lefties. In his career, he has a .367 batting average against Colorado. And Freese has been on fire in July so far, with a .433 average and 1.203 OPS. He's owned in 98 percent of leagues, but started in just 89 percent. Those two numbers should probably be 100 and 100 by the time lineups are set on Monday.
Approach with caution: Will Middlebrooks , Red Sox
It's not so much the schedule here for Middlebrooks -- because, as was noted in the Saltalamcchia argument, if you get past Scherzer and Verlander, you have a bit of a cakewalk waiting for you (assuming you are a Red Sox hitter reading this). And I didn't want to be all weak about it and tell readers to approach some lower-level players with caution, because you'd do that anyway. So I'm picking Middlebrooks, who is due for a bit of a regression coming off the big week. He has a 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the month and is still nursing a hamstring injury that could force him to sit now and then.
Advisable starts: Brett Lawrie , David Freese , Kevin Youkilis , Emilio Bonifacio , Hanley Ramirez , Aramis Ramirez (wrist)
Shaky starts: Mike Moustakas (knee), Mike Aviles , Michael Young , Daniel Murphy , Chase Headley , Will Middlebrooks , Pedro Alvarez , Todd Frazier , Kyle Seager , Chris Davis , Chipper Jones , Mark Reynolds , Casey McGehee
Strictly AL/NL-only: Chris Johnson , Ryan Roberts , Wilson Betemit , Jordan Pacheco , Ty Wigginton , Sean Rodriguez , Alberto Callaspo , Jeff Keppinger , Danny Valencia , Ryan Wheeler , Evan Longoria (hamstring)
Don't bother: Willie Bloomquist , Ramiro Pena , Jamey Carroll , Cody Ransom , Brandon Inge , Matt Carpenter , Jack Hannahan , Scott Rolen , Logan Forsythe , Jerry Hairston , Juan Uribe , Steve Lombardozzi , Adam Kennedy (groin), Jose Lopez , Maicer Izturis , Alex Rodriguez (hand), Trevor Plouffe (thumb), Pablo Sandoval (hamstring), Jose Bautista (wrist), Jed Lowrie (leg), Placido Polanco (back), Chris Nelson (heart), Robert Andino (shoulder), Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist), Ian Stewart (wrist), Brent Morel (back), Nolan Arenado , Eduardo Nunez
For as disappointing as Hanley Ramirez has been this season, he has managed to sprinkle around enough skill to make an impact at his old/new position; as of Saturday, Ramirez is the second-best shortstop in Fantasy points, beaten out only by Jose Reyes . While he has just a .252 average, his 15 homers, 15 steals, and 19 doubles have managed to keep him above players like Elvis Andrus , Jimmy Rollins and even the mighty Trevor Plouffe . Of course, asking him to pick on players his own size, he drops to ninth in the third base rankings, behind Aramis Ramirez and Martin Prado . Still, it might be a little unfair to slap the "disappointing" label on Hanley at this point, as H2H players hadn't selected him as a first-round pick, and had lowered expectations to begin with.
Worth a second look: Tyler Greene , Cardinals
We are talking some very deep leagues here. So just proceed knowing that. Greene is stuck in second base limbo with Daniel Descalso , Skip Schumaker , and, figuratively, Allen Craig . He has started once in the last 10 games for St. Louis. He is owned in 4 percent of leagues and started in 2. Up until a couple weeks ago, he was confused for Brewers infielder Taylor Green . Look at his stats, and you see a career .218 average and nine total home runs. And yet ... Greene is a somewhat attractive play here. He has three home runs in 89 at-bats against LHPs this year; the Cardinals happen to be facing four of them this week (three, as mentioned before, in Colorado). And if you dip back into Greene's minor-league stats, you see a player much different than the major-league version we have come to know and love -- a .270 career minor league average (which steadily rose as he progressed in the minors), with an OPS that touched as high as 1.001 (in 2011, with Memphis, in the PCL). He had two seasons of 30 or more steals, and never went below double-digits in that category. Greene may look like a terrible option, screaming for you to stay away from him, but this week coming up could be a chance for owners in very deep leagues to squeeze whatever value exists out of the former first-round pick.
Approach with caution: Marco Scutaro , Giants
Scutaro is no longer a Rockie, which is bad news in and of itself. Granted, his new team visits Colorado for three games this week, but with his role less than solidified with the Giants, you might want to avoid him in mixed leagues for now. He hasn't exactly been ripping the ball lately, batting .215 (17 for 79) over his last 20 games, and it's not like he has the power potential to take advantage of the favorable venue anyway.
Advisable starts: Derek Jeter , Emilio Bonifacio
Shaky starts: J.J. Hardy , Marco Scutaro , Everth Cabrera , Alcides Escobar , Rafael Furcal (back), Jhonny Peralta , Alexei Ramirez (wrist), Mike Aviles , Danny Espinosa , Zack Cozart , Yunel Escobar , Josh Rutledge
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada , Alexi Amarista , Tyler Greene , Stephen Drew , Ryan Theriot , Elliot Johnson , Sean Rodriguez , Brian Dozier , Pedro Ciriaco , Paul Janish
Don't bother: Jamey Carroll , Willie Bloomquist , Yuniesky Betancourt , Cody Ransom , Clint Barmes , Brandon Crawford , Brendan Ryan , Cesar Izturis , Trevor Plouffe (thumb), Erick Aybar (foot), Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Jed Lowrie (leg), Ian Desmond (oblique), Cliff Pennington (elbow), Dee Gordon (thumb), Andrelton Simmons (finger), Jason Bartlett (knee), Robert Andino (shoulder), Eduardo Nunez , Billy Hamilton
Starling Marte has been one of the more buzzed-about players in Fantasy the last few days, after being called up by the Pirates and all but anointed the starting left fielder in an ancient pagan ceremony at PNC Park (not to be confused with an Angel Pagan ceremony at PNC park, which is totally different). Marte has been alternately praised and dismissed with equal ferocity since the move was announced. But very few have fallen in that middle ground between "Huzzah!" and "meh." This may ultimately be the best place for Marte reaction. On one hand, Marte may be getting just a little too much credit as a source of stolen bases. Carlos Gomez and Everth Cabrera are good sources of steals; Marte can get you a few (he has 21 so far this season in Triple-A, through 99 games), but he's not exactly a SB machine. More interesting is this: just for the sake of comparison, look at Andrew McCutchen 's minor league numbers, held against Marte's. Marte has a better average (.304 to .286) a sliiiiightly better home run rate, a better stolen base rate, and a better doubles rate. They had exactly identical OBPs, with Marte getting the edge in OPS (.826 to .785). And while McCutchen was very good when he was called up in 2009 (12 home runs, 22 steals), he had a 40-ish game head start on Marte. So if you're looking for quick, cheap steals, Marte may get you a few, but wipe away the buzz surrounding him, and you'll see that there are better options. The hype may be legit, but it's about a more complete player who can contribute in several categories over the course of a season, rather than a source of one category that you can get in bunches over the next 60 games.
Worth a second look: Ichiro Suzuki , Yankees and Emilio Bonifacio , Marlins
Ichiro's revitalization as a Yankee has been almost over-written at this point. Things were desolate in Seattle--Ichiro was surrounded by young, unproven players and played most of his home games in a cavernous stadium that almost forced him (maybe?) to be a slap hitter. Now that he gets to play about half of his games in Yankee Stadium, and all of his games in one of the most potent offenses in baseball, we could be seeing a boost from Ichiro in the second half. Even with rumors of the Yankees possibly not playing Ichiro against lefties, this would be the week where none of that matters -- of their six games, the Yankees face just one LHP ( Zach Britton ). Plus, the Yankees are at home for all six, meaning Ichiro can now tinker with the short right field porch that produced a huge offensive year out of Johnny Damon late in his career. Bonifacio, meanwhile, will be facing one of the hardest schedules next week, but he has eight games, thanks to a mid-week doubleheader. Let's be honest--you have Bonifacio for steals, so not only does this give him a chance to play an extra game, he also gets to reacquaint himself with Tommy Hanson , who gave up seven steals to the Marlins on Wednesday night.
Approach with caution: Ryan Raburn , Tigers and Josh Hamilton , Rangers
Ryan Raburn makes the list for a simple reason -- the Tigers don't have any lefties on deck for next week, and Raburn is a right-handed batter, who sees his OPS drop to .701 against right-handed pitchers. Also, with Detroit's acquisition of Omar Infante , Raburn will likely see most of his opportunities come in the outfield, an already-over-stuffed position that is expected to get a little more crowded when Andy Dirks returns from the DL. Raburn is not helping matters with his .171 average and one home run on the season. Hamilton, meanwhile, has one very weird quirk hidden in his otherwise solid career stats -- he can't seem to hit against Kansas City. Granted, the Rangers only have three games against the Royals this week (as opposed to four versus the Angels, a team Hamilton is hitting .250 against this year), but it's interesting to point out that, in the middle of a terrible slump -- Hamilton is hitting just .190 with seven home runs since June 1 -- he faces the Kansas City Royals. And in his career, Hamilton has a .229 average and .659 OPS against the Royals. Of all the teams Hamilton has faced in 20 or more at bats, he hits the worst -- in both average and OPS -- against the Royals.
Advisable starts: Mike Trout (knee), Justin Upton (foot), Ben Zobrist , Austin Jackson , Martin Prado , Jason Heyward , Carlos Beltran , Hunter Pence , Jay Bruce , Shane Victorino , Bryce Harper , Allen Craig , Jacoby Ellsbury , Carl Crawford , Alex Gordon , Emilio Bonifacio , Adam Dunn , Lorenzo Cain , Ichiro Suzuki , Jason Kubel , Yoenis Cespedes , Desmond Jennings , Michael Morse , Corey Hart , Andre Ethier , Dexter Fowler
Shaky starts: Colby Rasmus , Starling Marte , Josh Reddick , Drew Stubbs , Alejandro De Aza (wrist), Nick Markakis , Michael Cuddyer , Coco Crisp (hamstring), Nelson Cruz , Melvin Upton , Angel Pagan , Matt Joyce , Nick Swisher (hip), Tyler Colvin , Chris Young , Michael Brantley , Todd Frazier , Carlos Quentin , Chris Davis , Howie Kendrick , Nori Aoki , Alfonso Soriano , Carlos H. Lee , Dayan Viciedo , Cody Ross , Torii Hunter , Denard Span , Ben Revere , Quintin Berry , Brennan Boesch , J.D. Martinez , Juan Pierre , Lance Berkman , Seth Smith
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jayson Werth (wrist), Vernon Wells , Michael Saunders , Ryan Doumit , Garrett Jones , Justin Ruggiano , Casper Wells , Rajai Davis , Delmon Young , Bobby Abreu , Brandon Belt , Gregor Blanco , Bryan LaHair , Mike Carp , Brandon Moss , Yonder Alonso , David Murphy , Alexi Amarista , Cameron Maybin , Jon Jay , Luke Scott , Jeff Francoeur , Raul Ibanez , Jordan Schafer , David DeJesus , Will Venable , Gerardo Parra , Wilson Betemit , Ryan Ludwick , Jason Bay , Alex Presley , Ty Wigginton , Scott Hairston , Jonny Gomes
Don't bother: Anthony Gose , Andres Torres , Justin Maxwell , Travis Snider , Daniel Nava , Matt Carpenter , Jordany Valdespin , Kirk Nieuwenhuis , Johnny Damon , Tyler Moore , Jarrod Dyson , Chris Heisey , John Mayberry , Jerry Hairston , Tony Campana , Skip Schumaker , Leonys Martin , Ryan Sweeney , Steve Lombardozzi , Juan Rivera , Peter Bourjos , Carlos Gomez , Donovan Solano , Willie Bloomquist , Nyjer Morgan , Jose Bautista (wrist), Giancarlo Stanton (knee), Trevor Plouffe (thumb), Logan Morrison (knee), Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Franklin Gutierrez (head), Andy Dirks (Achilles), Nolan Reimold (neck), Brett Gardner (elbow), Grady Sizemore (back), Eric Thames , Lucas Duda , Brett Jackson , Domonic Brown , Wil Myers .
Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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