Athlon looks back at another weekend of fantasy baseball action.
Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and a Weekend Rundown every Thursday.
After roughly three weeks of a fantasy baseball action, I will take this time this morning to provide my annual piece of early season fantasy roto advice:
It is still very, very early on and a GM can easily get jittery about highly drafted, punchless players. Albert Pujols is still going to hit plenty of dingers and eat plenty of ribeye steaks. Jose Reyes is going to hit better than .230/.671 and still swipe plenty of bags. Giancarlo Stanton is still going to hit plenty of bombs. Robinson Cano is going to go on a tear and raise his average from .242 to something near .300 very soon.
So don't panic.
As we saw this weekend, it is only a matter time for the proven commodities to turn it on. Evan Longoria raised his average from .289 to .339, doubled his RBI total (7 to 14) and tripled his HR numbers in only four games. In his last six games, Mark Teixeira went from .188 with zero long balls and only one RBI to .288 with 11 ribbies and three home runs in six games. Mike Napoli, in his last seven games, went from batting .100 to .286 — and hit six home runs with 11 RBIs.
So don't panic.
Here are your current Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters:
* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues
Kansas City's Alex Gordon defined the term "post-hype" last fall with a career year. Each year there are a number of names who were once untouchable top-tier prospects turned near-bust who actually realize their potential. Through three weeks of action, there are plenty of names to snap off the waiver wire. Baltimore's Nolan Reimold was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft and in three MLB seasons (roughly 77 games per year), has averaged 10 homers and five stolen bases per year with a career .256 average. He has found a new home atop the batting order — he has a career-best .324 BA as a lead-off man — and has delivered a juciy .370/1.166 line thus far. There is no reason for him to be on your waiver wire. If he could just stay healthy...
Houston's Jordan Schafer could provide serious help to a team in need of stolen bases — he has six swipes in eight attempts — and runs scored. San Diego's Chase Headley is the top-rated third-sacker in the game at the moment and could provide production in all five categories. Even Toronto's Colby Rasmus is off to a solid start — his three homers in 15 games matched his total in 35 games with the Jays last fall. Always keep an eye on once highly-touted prospects who have been traded to new teams.
-Adrian Beltre left Game 1 of the Rangers' double-header against Detroit on Saturday with a strained left hamstring. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI later today.
-B.J. Upton returned to the Rays line-up and wen 0-for-3. He should quickly move up the line-up card once he gets back into the swing of things.
-Justin Upton escaped a trip to the DL with his thumb injury, and got back on the field this weekend. He went 1-for-6 with one walk and a double. It should only be a matter of time for J-Up.
-Chris Young is out until at least early May but Gerrado Parra isn't. He smacked a grand salami and went 2-for-4 with a stolen base on Sunday.
-Brandon Phillips is questionable for his Tuesday game against the Giants with a hamstring issue.
-Omar Infante is questionable for his Tuesday start against the Mets with a shoulder issue.
-Ryan Zimmerman is questionable for his Tuesday start against the Padres with a shoulder issue.
Looking for spot-start hitters this week? This may sound crazy but the Twins and White Sox might be the best place to look. Yes, the Sox played two of the best offenses in the league in Texas and the Yankees, but Boston is in complete disarray. Nevermind the second-worst record in the AL (4-10), the Red Sox own the worst team ERA in the majors at 6.68 through 124.0 innings. The team BAA of .297 and the 26 home runs allowed also "pace" the majors. The bullpen has been especially atrocious as Alfredo Aceves' ERA sits at 24.00, Mark Melancon has been optioned to the minors and Justin Thomas (7.71), Vicente Padilla (9.82) and Franklin Morales (6.35) have been wildly ineffective.
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are obvious starts, but so is Denard Span, Josh Willingham and possibly even Danny Valencia. Later in the week, however, is where the real money can be made. The White Sox have provided some sneaky waiver wire adds this year in the form of lead-off man Alejandro De Aza, rejuvinated on-baser Adam Dunn and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Toss in Alex Rios (.333/.907) and the Southsiders could produce some big numbers against against Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett in a four-game home series.
Keep a very big eye on Bard's role on this team. With the bullpen issues, Bard could very easily slip back into the ninth inning and close out games in Boston.
Current Top 25 fantasy pitchers:
* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues
The Disabled List
The veritable who's who in this top 25 is fairly predictable. Verlander, Weaver, Halladay, Strasburg and Cain are pretty good. But the hottest name on the mound these days is the Disabled List. The Phillies' Cliff Lee was placed on the 15-day DL on Saturday after straining his left oblique in the 10th inning of his memorable scoreless duel with Matt Cain. Philadelphia will play it very safe with Lee so expect him to miss 3-4 starts. Arizona might be in worse shape with Daniel Hudson. The young right-hander was dropped onto the 15-day DL on Sunday with right shoulder impingement. Shoulders are much scarier than obliques so monitor this situation very closely. The Yankees' Michael Pineda lasted only 15 pitches in an extended spring training game before being totally shut down. His shoulder pain, which has kept him out since March 30, should be very concerning to fantasy and real GMs alike.
Additionally, Josh Johnson of the Marlins and Tim Lincecum of the Giants are worthy of heavy scrutiny in the DL department. Johnson and The Freak have not gotten off to the starts they want. Johnson has eight strikeouts in 16.2 innings with no wins and a 5.94/2.04 line. Lincecum has a solid K-rate with 16 whiffs in 13.2 innings. However, he has allowed no fewer than five runs in each of this three starts. Both got rained out on Sunday and Lincecum is scheduled to pitch in Game 1 of today's Giants-Mets double-header. Johnson is scheduled to pitch against the Mets in New York on Tuesday. Keep an eye on both of these delicate arms this week.
When a pitcher is on, he can "hit gnats" with his pitches. Conversely, no one can hit the Nats' starting rotation at the moment. Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman have been stellar. Edwin Jackson has also been solid in the early going and will get the coveted Petco Park draw on Wednesday. Lefty post-hyper Ross Detwiler is worth an add this week as well. He has been stellar in three starts and will head to the pitcher-friendly mound in Dodger Stadium. With six games on the west coast, the Nats should provide plenty of pitching value this week.
Waiver Wire Starts This Week
1. Chris Sale, White Sox: At Oakland (Wed.) Stats: 18.0 IP, 2 W, 21 K, 3.50/1.22
2. Ubaldo Jimanez, Indians: Kansas City (Thur.) Stats: 18.0 IP, 2 W, 11 K, 4.00/1.50
3. Ted Lilly, Dodgers: Atlanta (Wed.) Stats: 13.0 IP, 2 W, 9 K, 0.69/1.00
4. Henderson Alvarez, Toronto: Seattle (Sun.) Stats: 19.1 IP, 8 K, 4.66/1.03
5. Edwin Jackson, Washington: San Diego (Thur.) Stats: 19.0 IP, W, 20 K, 4.26/0.84
Keep this link handy as Athlon keeps its Closer Grid up to date all season long.
-by Braden Gall