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, June 23.
The Athletics promoted Derek Norris from Triple-A Sacramento Thursday in a move that was probably long overdue, given Kurt Suzuki's numbers. Norris won't claim the job outright -- at least not yet -- but he will split at-bats with Suzuki, which is all the playing time he needs to factor in two-catcher leagues. Though he has shown good power and patience in the past, his .804 OPS at Sacramento was a little underwhelming. Still, he's potentially the best catcher owned in less than 25 percent of leagues right now.
The former owner of that title, Salvador Perez, was activated from the disabled list Friday and homered in his first game back. He had been out all season with a knee injury. He'll help your team in batting average, if nothing else, so you'll want to look into him as a potential top-15 catcher if you need help at that position.
Worth a second look: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
After an impressive end to May, Saltalamacchia had been mostly useless to Fantasy owners in June before going 7 for 19 with two homers over his last six games. Perhaps he's beginning to heat up again. His matchups this week against pitchers like Henderson Alvarez, Aaron Laffey, Hector Noesi, Erasmo Ramirez and Jason Vargas certainly help his case. Considering how much power potential he brings to the catcher position, he's an ideal stopgap in mixed leagues.
Approach with caution: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
Arencibia offers plenty of power potential himself, but his low points are perhaps even deeper and darker than Saltalamacchia's. He's certainly feeling the chill now, batting .167 (14 for 84) with 34 strikeouts over his last 23 games, and his matchups against Felix Doubront, Jon Lester, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and C.J. Wilson this week don't figure to bring him out of it. In one-catcher leagues, you can do better.
No-brainers: Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Carlos Ruiz, Matt Wieters
Advisable starts: Miguel Montero, Mike Napoli, Brian McCann, Jesus Montero, A.J. Pierzynski, Joe Mauer, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Wilin Rosario
Shaky starts: A.J. Ellis, Alex Avila, J.P Arencibia, Salvador Perez, Ryan Doumit, Geovany Soto, Russell Martin (back)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Rod Barajas, Kurt Suzuki, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Martin Maldonado, Jesus Flores, Josh Thole, Derek Norris, Nick Hundley, Devin Mesoraco
Don't bother: John Jaso, Steve Clevenger, Hank Conger, Ryan Hanigan, Yorvit Torrealba, Kelly Shoppach, Jason Castro, Chris Snyder, George Kottaras, Jose Molina, Ramon Hernandez (hand), Jonathan Lucroy (hand), Chris Iannetta (wrist), Victor Martinez (knee)
David Ortiz is the newest addition to first base in Fantasy. With the help of interleague play, he exceeded the five games necessary to gain eligibility at the position in standard leagues. He was already a no-doubter in Fantasy even when confined to the DH spot. Now, he ranks up there with Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko and company.
With Aubrey Huff on the DL and Brett Pill in the minors, Brandon Belt has started 11 straight games at first base for the Giants and has responded with a .375 (15 for 40) batting average and four home runs. A little playing time can make a world of difference, and now that manager Bruce Bochy has seen the best of what Belt has to offer, he says he'll stick with him for a while. You might want to give the perpetual tease another week or two to prove himself before activating him, but now might be your only shot to get him off the waiver wire.
Worth a second look: Brandon Moss, Athletics
At age 28 and with his fourth big-league organization, Moss is at best a late-bloomer and at worse a Quadruple-A player. Certainly, his recent trip to Coors Field, which resulted in four homers in three games, made him look like the former, but since then, he has two homers in eight games, suggesting it's not a complete fluke. If nothing else, he'll be in another hitter's park for four games this week, visiting the Rangers after playing three games in Seattle, so another two or three homers wouldn't be so surprising. He's a relative shot in the dark, of course, but if you have a corner infield spot to fill, you could do a lot worse.
Approach with caution: Justin Morneau, Twins
As good as Morneau is against righties and on the road, he's beyond bad against lefties (.090 with a .321 OPS) and at home (.202 with a .616 OPS). Lately, he hasn't been getting it done regardless of the circumstances, batting .213 (16 for 75) over his last 19 games, so you can't expect him to get it done under the worst of the worst. The Twins' matchups don't look all that bad, but with seven road games and three lefties on tap, Morneau is an obvious sit wherever possible.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Mark Trumbo, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Dunn
Advisable starts: Adrian Gonzalez, Billy Butler, Allen Craig, Michael Cuddyer, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Eric Hosmer, Corey Hart, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, Mike Napoli, Joe Mauer, Paul Goldschmidt, Michael Young
Shaky starts: Brandon Moss, Freddie Freeman, Chris Davis, Kendrys Morales, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Brandon Belt, Carlos Lee, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds, Daniel Murphy, Yonder Alonso, Ike Davis (illness)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Bryan LaHair, Justin Smoak, Tyler Colvin, Todd Helton, James Loney, Gaby Sanchez, John Mayberry, Ty Wigginton, Jordan Pacheco, Wilson Betemit, Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones, Casey Kotchman, Matt Carpenter
Don't bother: Travis Ishikawa, David Cooper, Juan Rivera, Taylor Green, Chris Parmelee, Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Mike Carp (shoulder), Lance Berkman (knee), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Adam Lind, Anthony Rizzo
|1.||Brandon Moss, OF, Athletics||30|
|2.||Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins||28|
|3.||Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays||18|
|4.||Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants||16|
|5.||Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates||15|
|6.||John Mayberry, OF, Phillies||13|
|7.||Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks||11|
|8.||Ike Davis, 1B, Mets||10|
|9.||Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves||10|
|10.||Marco Scutaro, SS, Rockies||9|
Dustin Pedroia, who has been playing for the last two weeks or so with a torn muscle in his thumb, aggravated the injury on Tuesday and, in the words of manager Bobby Valentine, was "fearful that he was injured." He missed only one game before returning to the lineup, though, so he's determined to play through it. But considering he's batting only .170 (9 for 53) over that two-week period, he's not as automatic as he'd normally be in Fantasy.
Chase Utley, who has been out all season because of a chronic knee issue, is set to return to the lineup Wednesday. He has struggled during his rehab assignment at Class A Clearwater, batting .156 (5 for 32), and showed clear signs of decline last year. You should probably give him a week to prove his health before activating him in mixed leagues.
Worth a second look: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
No, Espinosa will never help much in batting average, and yes, he strikes out an awful lot, but those who wrote him off during his miserable April probably don't realize he's batting .257 (35 for 136) with five home runs and 10 steals over his last 38 games. The power stroke is back, and it should be on full display during a four-game series at Coors Field to begin the week. The four lefties on tap -- against whom Espinosa is hitting .339 with a 1.028 OPS -- are simply a bonus.
Approach with caution: Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
The king of the streaks is back. What separates Johnson from players like Mark Reynolds and Jay Bruce is that his hot streaks are just as frequent as his cold streaks, but that doesn't make the cold streaks any less debilitating. He certainly seems to be on a cold streak now, batting .232 (19 for 82) with only one extra-base hit and 32 strikeouts compared to six walks over his last 21 games. His matchups against the top of the Red Sox and Angels rotations should be all the incentive you need to sit him in mixed leagues.
No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dan Uggla, Jason Kipnis, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips
Advisable starts: Mike Aviles, Danny Espinosa, Aaron Hill, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Young
Shaky starts: Kelly Johnson, Marco Scutaro, Jemile Weeks, Kyle Seager (calf), Dustin Ackley, Rickie Weeks, Omar Infante, Howard Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker, Gordon Beckham, Everth Cabrera, Chase Utley (knee), Jose Altuve (hamstring)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Brian Roberts, Ryan Roberts, Darwin Barney, Brandon Inge, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Theriot, Robert Andino, Jerry Hairston, Elliot Johnson, Elian Herrera, Sean Rodriguez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Chris Nelson, Ruben Tejada
Don't bother: Ryan Raburn, Jeff Keppinger, Stephen Lombardozzi, Taylor Green, Tyler Greene, Alexi Casilla, Logan Forsythe, Alexi Amarista, Jose Lopez, Maicer Izturis, Orlando Hudson, Joaquin Arias, Skip Schumaker, Chris Getz (leg), Mark Ellis (leg), Freddy Sanchez (shoulder)
The Red Sox traded Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox on Sunday, ensuring that both he and understudy Will Middlebrooks will get full-time at-bats going forward. The deal is good news for Fantasy owners all around. Though it's no guarantee Youkilis will regain his All-Star form, he'll have a better chance of doing so without the constant interruptions. Middlebrooks, of course, is now top-12 material.
The return of Scott Rolen from a shoulder injury Monday was thought to be bad news for Todd Frazier, who filled in at third base in Rolen's absence. But with the Reds' increased willingness to use the rookie in the outfield, Frazier has started four of five even with Rolen back in the lineup. Granted, most of those starts came with the DH spot available for interleague play, but it's not like veteran Ryan Ludwick, who had been starting in left field, is any sort of mainstay. Frazier's power display during Rolen's absence may have just earned him a full-time job, which would of course be good news for anyone scrounging the waiver wire for a third baseman.
|5.||Red Sox||TOR3, @SEA4|
Worth a second look: Chase Headley, Padres
Haven't seen Headley here in a while? That's because the Padres haven't had matchups this good in a while. They're at Houston for four games and at Colorado for three this week, which means they'll be facing two of the league's worst pitching staffs in two the of the league's most hitter-friendly environments. Frankly, any week out of PETCO Park is cause for celebration for Headley. His OPS there is about 100 points lower than on the road. If you've been wondering when to get him active again, now is the time.
Approach with caution: Kyle Seager, Mariners
Seager is one of many Mariners who struggle in the cavernous expanse of Safeco Field, batting .180 with a .591 OPS there compared to .311 and .900 everywhere else. And like many young left-handed hitters, he's not so hot against lefties either, batting .239 with a .670 OPS. Naturally, you'll want an alternative for a week in which the Mariners face four lefties in seven home games.
No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo
Advisable starts: Aramis Ramirez, Martin Prado, Brett Lawrie, Alex Rodriguez, David Freese, Mike Aviles, Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Zimmerman, Chase Headley, Will Middlebrooks, Michael Young, Jed Lowrie, Mike Moustakas
Shaky starts: Pablo Sandoval, Kyle Seager (calf), Chris Davis, Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis, Daniel Murphy
Strictly AL/NL-only: Brandon Inge, Chipper Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Johnson, Ryan Roberts, Placido Polanco, Todd Frazier, Wilson Betemit, Jordan Pacheco, Ty Wigginton, Sean Rodriguez, Robert Andino, Jamey Carroll, Elian Herrera, Cody Ransom, Jerry Hairston, Casey McGehee, Chris Nelson, Lonnie Chisenhall, Matt Carpenter
Don't bother: Jack Hannahan, Scott Rolen, Logan Forsythe, Joe Mather, Juan Uribe, Josh Bell, Taylor Green, Stephen Lombardozzi, Orlando Hudson, Alberto Callaspo, Joaquin Arias, Jose Lopez, Maicer Izturis, Evan Longoria (hamstring), Ian Stewart (wrist), Brent Morel (back), Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Nolan Arenado, Danny Valencia, Eduardo Nunez
Stephen Drew, who has been rehabbing from offseason knee surgery at Triple-A Reno, is set to return to the lineup Wednesday, according to manager Kirk Gibson. Gibson plans to ease him in though, playing him every third day until he gets his feet under him. Obviously, Drew has the potential to perform like a top-10 shortstop when he's back playing every day, but he's still a ways from contributing in mixed leagues.
Worth a second look: Trevor Plouffe, Twins
Might as well ride this thing out as long as you can, right? Plouffe has cooled off only slightly from his month-long power surge, going homerless in his last seven games but batting a respectable .280 (7 for 25) during that stretch. As hot as he was, you'll want to stick with him for now just in case he has a little bit more in store. He's been especially good against left-handers, compiling an 1.084 OPS compared to .778 against righties, so those same matchups that work against Justin Morneau actually work in Plouffe's favor. And considering two of the three lefties on tap are members of the Royals makeshift rotation, they're some favorable matchups indeed.
Approach with caution: Zack Cozart, Reds
Cozart has been pretty hot himself lately, batting .316 (25 for 79) with two homers over his last 17 games, but you can't expect a free-swinging rookie to sustain that pace for long. Granted, you could certainly do worse than Cozart in mixed leagues, but given the likelihood that Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong slow him down this week, you could also do much better.
No-brainers: Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins
Advisable starts: Mike Aviles, Rafael Furcal, Trevor Plouffe, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, Ian Desmond
Shaky starts: Zack Cozart, Marco Scutaro, Jhonny Peralta, Erick Aybar, Dee Gordon, Alexei Ramirez, Yunel Escobar, Everth Cabrera, Alcides Escobar
Strictly AL/NL-only: Stephen Drew (ankle), Cliff Pennington, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Theriot, Robert Andino, Cody Ransom, Andrelton Simmons, Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson, Brian Dozier, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ruben Tejada (quadriceps)
Don't bother: Willie Bloomquist, Tyler Greene, Alexi Casilla, Joaquin Arias, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Jason Bartlett (knee), Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Eduardo Nunez
|4.||Blue Jays||@BOS3, LAA4|
Ryan Kalish, who missed most of last season and the start of this season because of shoulder surgery, appears to have locked up a starting job in the Red Sox outfield even with Cody Ross back from a fractured foot, which is especially good news for the Fantasy owners who remember just how promising he was as a rookie in 2010, hitting four homers and stealing 10 bases in 163 at-bats. The power-speed threat is worth adding in AL-only leagues and monitoring in leagues deeper than that.
Not only has preseason sleeper John Mayberry picked it up at the plate lately, but he also has started eight of the Phillies' last nine games. Granted, five were against lefties, but the Phillies' willingness to move him to first base for two of the four against righties, bumping Ty Wigginton to the bench, at least offers some hope that he'll be able to make a contribution in mixed leagues after all. For now, you're better off monitoring him from a distance.
Worth a second look: Desmond Jennings, Rays and Dexter Fowler, Rockies
OK, Jennings has been off the DL for two weeks now, which is more than enough to time for him to shake off the rust. He needs to get back to producing. Perhaps he already would have if not for the pitchers he's had to face since returning from the DL -- the Yankees, Marlins, Mets, Nationals and Phillies pitching staffs are no walk in the park, after all -- but he has no excuses this week with seven games against the Royals and Tigers. You can trust in a high-end player like him to turn it around. Fowler has also been a victim of circumstances lately. Of the Rockies' last 18 games, 12 have been on the road. Not only are they back at home this week, where Fowler is a .324 hitter with a 1.067 OPS, but they're facing six righties, against whom he's hitting .299 with a .982 OPS. Expect a resurgence.
Approach with caution: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners and Bryan LaHair, Cubs
Saying LaHair will do nothing for your Fantasy team this week would be giving him too much credit. He has three hits against left-handers this season and has sat out 11 straight games against them. With the Cubs scheduled to face four in six games this week, he's a lost cause in mixed leagues. The Mariners also face four lefties this week, which, believe it or not, could pose a problem for Ichiro. As is often the case for hitters late in their careers, he has begun to struggle against same-handed pitchers, batting .248 with a .537 OPS. Of course, his numbers are down against righties as well, so perhaps his .246 (28 for 114) batting average over his last 26 games is reason enough to look into other options. Even when he turns it around, it's not like he's going to go off with a four-homer or anything, so you don't risk losing all that much by sitting him.
No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Holliday, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Beltran, Adam Jones, Hunter Pence, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn, Melky Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Zobrist, Justin Upton
Advisable starts: Adrian Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, Austin Jackson, Alex Gordon, Martin Prado, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz, Bryce Harper, Josh Reddick, Allen Craig, Carlos Quentin, Michael Cuddyer, Corey Hart, Jason Heyward, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Angel Pagan, Trevor Plouffe, Michael Morse, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, Dexter Fowler
Shaky starts: Yoenis Cespedes, Colby Rasmus, Ichiro Suzuki, Lucas Duda, Chris Young, Alfonso Soriano, Chris Davis, Brandon Belt, Logan Morrison, Howard Kendrick, Carlos Lee, Jason Kubel, Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss, Dayan Viciedo, Michael Brantley, Gregor Blanco, Torii Hunter, Denard Span, Cameron Maybin, Brennan Boesch, Seth Smith, Yonder Alonso, David Murphy, Drew Stubbs (oblique)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Bryan LaHair, Michael Saunders, Jon Jay, J.D. Martinez, Daniel Nava, Norichika Aoki, Jeff Francoeur, Raul Ibanez, Jordan Schafer, Delmon Young, Ryan Doumit, Cody Ross, Tyler Colvin, Ben Revere, David DeJesus, Alex Presley, Rajai Davis, Will Venable, Jose Tabata, Elian Herrera, Quintin Berry, Jarrod Dyson, Gerardo Parra, Tony Campana, Wilson Betemit, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, John Mayberry, Juan Pierre, Bobby Abreu, Garrett Jones, Jerry Hairston, Ty Wigginton, Johnny Damon, Chris Heisey, Matt Carpenter, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Maxwell (ankle), Luke Scott (back)
Don't bother: Skip Schumaker, Stephen Lombardozzi, Juan Rivera, Peter Bourjos, Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Gomez, Willie Bloomquist, Nyjer Morgan, Matt Joyce (back), Mitch Moreland (hamstring), Ryan Sweeney (foot), Jason Bay (concussion), Mike Carp (shoulder), Andy Dirks (Achilles), Nick Markakis (wrist), Matt Kemp (hamstring), Lance Berkman (knee), Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Vernon Wells (thumb), Nolan Reimold (neck), Brett Gardner (elbow), Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Lorenzo Cain (groin), Jayson Werth (wrist), Carl Crawford (elbow), Grady Sizemore (back), Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Brett Jackson, Domonic Brown, Wil Myers
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