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A look at what took place this past weekend on the fantasy baseball diamond.
It's the week before the All-Star break and Athlon Sports has everything you need to catch up on what took place on the fantasy diamond during the past seven days. Our fantasy junkies break down last week's top hitters and identify the waiver wire pick ups and spot starters you need to keep an eye on for this week.
Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (July 1-7):
* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues
Weekly Waiver Wire:
Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS (64% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
LaRoche got off to a terrible start (.136-3-8 in April), but since then has been more consistent and reliable. He's hit 10 home runs and driven in 32 in his last 59 games, and with Bryce Harper's and Jayson Werth's (see below) return to the lineup, he should continue to produce. Even with these early struggles, LaRoche has a track record of providing power and run production, while not hurting that much in the batting average category either, as evidenced by last season's .271-33-100 line.
Logan Morrison, 1B/OF, MIA (18%)
Morrison has been known for more than what he does off the field than on it, although injuries have been somewhat to blame. What is worth noting, however, is that the opinionated Marlin has gotten the job done (.314-4-10 in 20 G) since making his season debut in late June. He's just 25, so he figures to get plenty of at-bats moving forward, and his multiple-position eligibility (1B, CI, OF) only makes it easier to find a spot for him. He would make an ideal platoon partner given his success against righties (.370-4-10) early on.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, ATL (43%)
His glove and defense alone will keep him in the lineup, and Simmons is showing signs of becoming more of a presence at the plate too. While his spot in the batting order changes quite a bit, his presence in the lineup doesn't, which makes Simmons valuable in the runs department because of the Braves' other big bats. The 23-year-old is currently a top-10 fantasy producer at his position, ahead of the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Martin Prado and Jimmy Rollins.
Alfonso Soriano, OF, CHC (35%)
It's summer, which means Soriano is starting to heat up. The veteran slugger's bat seems to follow the weather, so now may be a good time to invest. He will never hit for a high average and his value is limited somewhat as long as he stays with the Cubs, but he's one of the streakiest hitters around and when he gets hot, he can pile up some numbers. Don't forget that after the All-Star break last season Soriano produced a .258-17-60 line.
Jayson Werth, OF, WAS (57%)
Werth may finally be healthy as he's hitting .400 with seven RBIs and six runs scored through his first seven games of July. The high-priced outfielder has been replaced by Bryce Harper and others as the marquee names in the Nationals' lineup, but the added firepower also will help him put up better numbers if he continues to swing the bat well. In 24 fewer games compared to last season, Werth has already hit more home runs (8 so far, 5 in 2012) and has just about matched his RBI (28 to 31) and runs scored (36 to 42) totals. The key for Werth moving forward is staying healthy so he can stay in a lineup that's finally starting to produce like most expected entering the season.
Last week's picks:
Erick Aybar, SS, LAA: .350/.800, 4 R, 2 RBI
Rajai Davis, OF, TOR: .192/.661, 6 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC: .360/.970, 6 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Jose Iglesias, 3B/SS, BOS: .300/.741, R, 3 RBI
Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC: .176/.712, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:
* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues
Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):
1. Ryan Dempster (Thurs.) at Seattle (57%)
To be honest, I am a little stunned by Dempster's sub-60-percent ownership rate. His ERA (4.04) may be a little high, but he's allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last eight starts and is maintaining a nice 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (100:49 in 107 IP). The Mariners are 28th in the majors in runs scored and Dempster's offense is No. 1. What's not to like?
2. Jake Westbrook, STL (Thurs.) at Chicago Cubs (24%)
Westbrook rebounded nicely (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, W) against Miami following a disastrous outing (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER) in Oakland. Next up are the Cubs, a team he has already beaten twice this season (12 1/3 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 3 ER). He won't strike out many, but his offense should score more than enough runs to put him a position to earn the victory.
3. Kyle Lohse, MIL (Mon.) vs. Cincinnati (58%)
Following a horrendous May (0-4, 6.51 ERA), Lohse has turned things around. Even though he's just 3-0 in his last seven starts, he has posted a tidy 2.11 ERA and 29:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio during that stretch (42 2/3 IP). Also in Lohse's favor is the fact that the Reds are not near as potent offensively on the road compared to their home numbers.
4. Jeremy Hefner, NYM (Fri.) at Pittsburgh (16%)
Hefner will never be mistaken for Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, but the 27-year-old has been just as effective over the last two months. Hefner has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last seven starts and has posted a 37:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over those 44 innings. For all of their success this season, the Pirates are anything but an offensive juggernaut (24th in MLB in runs scored).
5. John Lackey, BOS (Fri.) at Oakland (62%)
Since the middle of May, Lackey has produced a quality start every time out with the exception of his June 10 performance in Tampa Bay (4 ER in 5 2/3 IP). The veteran is throwing as hard as he ever has, which is a big reason why he has 27 strikeouts in his last three starts (22 IP). He has held the Orioles, Tigers and Angels to exactly two runs in their own parks over the past month, so there's really no reason to not throw him out there against the A's this week.
Keep up to date all season long with Athlon Sports' Fantasy Baseball Closer Grid