Start and Sit Hitters for Week 1

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Bold predictions: White | Melchior | Cummings

It's that time of year again -- time for me to pretend I know what any and every hitter will do over the course of one week.

Which is, of course, ridiculous. That's one-twenty-sixth of a player's season, and how he divides his production over the course of 26 weeks is mostly random.

So then, it's also time for me to remind you that, more weeks than not, you shouldn't have to resort to this guide. For hitters much more so than pitchers, your lineup should be more or less fixed. Your best players are your best players, and benching one only risks missing out on the best he has to offer.

But occasionally, you get in a bind. One of your go-to guys is injured, or you have two or three options of seemingly equal promise. That's what this guide is for.

Going mostly by matchups, I'll give you five hitters I like for the upcoming week (starts) and five hitters I don't like (sits). For the starts, I'm limiting my choices to those owned in less than 90 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, with the assumption being that those owned in more are automatic starts. That's right: You wouldn't start the starts over just anyone, and in a deep enough league, you wouldn't automatically sit the sits either.

I'll also give you the five best and five worst hitting matchups for the week ahead to help you unearth your own starts and sits.

Here are the five best for this week:

Best Hitting Matchups for Week 1:
1. Athletics: TEX4, SEA3
2. Brewers: COL3, PIT3
3. Red Sox: @PHI3, @NYY3
4. Braves: @MIA3, NYM3
5. Giants: @ARI3, @SD4

It's worth noting that David Ortiz looks like a go at first base for most of that series at Philadelphia, which is great for him but not so much for Mike Napoli.

Now, the five worst:

Worst Hitting Matchups for Week 1:
1. Mets: @WAS3, @ATL3
2. Twins: @DET3, @CHW3
3. Cardinals: @CHC3, @CIN3
4. Reds: PIT3, STL3
5. Mariners: LAA3, @OAK3

Get used to seeing one of the Nationals' opponents at the top of this list.

All right. Enough with the preliminary stuff. On with starts and sits!

All spring stats are updated through Thursday, April 2.

Five hitters to start

Steve Pearce, 1B/OF, Orioles: You probably won't find Pearce on the waiver wire in your league, but if you already own him, chances are you're not starting him. But you should. With a late surge last year, he finished with a higher OPS (.930) than Jose Bautista (.928) and has homered five times in 51 at-bats this spring. Against pitchers like Jake Odorizzi, Nathan Karns, Mark Buehrle, Aaron Sanchez and Drew Hutchison, he should be able to keep it going.
Start instead of: Mark Trumbo, Lucas Duda

Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants: Belt has a history of crushing it in spring training, so you could argue his .369 (24 for 65) batting average and four home runs this exhibition season are just par for the course. But I like that he's gotten back to walking at a high rate (12 times in 21 games) after his plate discipline abandoned him during an injury-plagued 2014. The Giants are one of just four teams playing seven games this week, and the first three are against the Diamondbacks' shaky starting rotation. With nothing by right-handers on tap, you shouldn't have to worry about Belt sitting unexpectedly.
Start instead of: Justin Morneau, Matt Adams

Marcus Semien, 2B/3B, Athletics: Of all the Athletics who could benefit from the team's favorable matchups this week, Semien is the one I can get behind most, in part because of the position he plays. It's a shame he doesn't have shortstop eligibility yet, but coming off a strong spring, his combination of power, plate discipline and speed (well, at least the first two -- he hasn't shown much speed at the major-league level yet) should make for a productive week against pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis, Ross Detwiler, Nick Martinez and J.A. Happ.
Start instead of: Chase Headley, Brandon Phillips

Eric Young, OF, Braves: This is a fun one. The Braves identified Young as their leadoff man early in spring training, where he has hit .319 (23 for 72) with seven stolen bases, and he's facing pitch-to-contact types like Henderson Alvarez, Mat Latos, Tom Koehler, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon this week. With his speed, he's going to get on base, and when he gets there, it'll be up to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Travis d'Arnaud to keep him at first. Both catchers are notorious for not doing that, so I wouldn't be shocked to see a 4-to-5-steal week for Young.
Start instead of: Oswaldo Arcia, Marlon Byrd

Chris Coghlan, OF, Cubs: Coghlan really came on at the end of last season, batting .312 with an .874 OPS over the final three months, and while my gut says it was too good to be true, he's followed it up with a productive spring. Because he's a platoon player, you'll need to pick your spots with him, but the Cubs are facing nothing but right-handers this week, against whom he hit .294 with an .832 OPS last year, with three of those games at Coors Field.
Start instead of: Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter

Five hitters to sit

Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds: Hamilton is too important to your steals total to bench in a categories league, so I'm intending this recommendation more for Head-to-Head points leagues. Hey, in the standard CBSSports.com format, steals are worth two points, so he's going to be valuable in the long run. But coming off a spring in which he's hit .213 (10 for 47) after a rookie season that caused everyone to doubt his hitting ability, I'm not liking his chances against the best the Pirates and Cardinals have to offer. And in that second series, Yadier Molina figures to keep him parked at first base anyway.
Sit instead of: Adam Eaton, Khris Davis

Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets: Murphy looks like a go for the start of the season, but that doesn't change the fact that he's gotten only 17 Grapefruit League at-bats so far. Chances are he'll be rusty while most every pitcher he'll be facing will be at peak form. That's a problem, especially since four of those pitchers are Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Julio Teheran.
Sit instead of: Chase Utley, Rougned Odor

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals: Hosmer will enter the season on a high note after another productive spring (nothing new for him), but he gets four left-handers right out of the gate. That's not as big of a deal for him as it is for some young left-handed hitters, but he was better against righties last year. The only two on tap for him this week are Jeff Samardzija and Jered Weaver, which is bad enough, but he's also stuck in two pitcher's parks, playing three games at home, where he hit .219 last year, and three at Angels Stadium.
Sit instead of: Michael Morse, Billy Butler

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Rangers: After a disastrous season in which he was plagued by injuries and hit .211 from June 1 on, Choo needed to hit better than .171 (7 for 41) to justify a starting spot right out of the gate, especially with the Rangers facing pitchers like Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Kendall Graveman, Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel in a six-game week. I understand that in five-outfielder or AL-only leagues, you may not have a choice, but in three-outfielder mixed leagues, you probably do.
Sit instead of: Brett Gardner, Adam Eaton

Mike Zunino, C, Mariners: The buzz has been building for Zunino over the course of this spring, during which he has hit .353 (18 for 51) with seven -- yes, seven -- home runs. It's a noteworthy performance for a player with his upside, but let's not forget he hit .199 last year. In a one-catcher league, you probably didn't draft him as your starter, so you'll want to stick with Plan A and let him prove himself first, especially with the Angels and Athletics pitching staffs on tap for Week 1.
Sit instead of: Russell Martin, Yasmani Grandal

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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