Here are the top thirty fantasy baseball players overall based on stats and overall performance this season only. Promise, potential, soothsaying and reputation do not play a factor into them because they didn't earn you points yesterday and they won't earn you points today.
Welcome to the Fantasy Factor where Matt and Ricky literally cannot stop thinking about two little words that will change Chicago forever:
And now on to the best and worst of fantasy baseball from Wednesday night's action:
Eric Stults - Los Angeles Dodgers (SP)
9 IP, 4 H, 3 K
vs. White Sox
Yikes. From now on, I almost have to suggest starting any pitcher that has a heartbeat against this White Sox offense the day after they win a game. I've never seen a team that can go so cold so quickly and Stults caught these guys at the right time. Stults kept feeding White Sox pitches they could make contact with and they obliged by popping up nearly every time.
After a great weekend of baseball, it's time to get your mind back into fantasy mode and start sifting through the waiver wire for that extra arm or bat for your lineup.
We're here to help, so here are the guys you might want to take a look at when you're spending your time at work on fantasy baseball instead of work itself.
Joel Piniero - St. Louis Cardinals (SP)
3.86 ERA, 2-3, 34 K, 1.24 WHIP
He didn't pick up the victory against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, but Piniero certainly did enough to give the Cards' a chance. Somehow Tony LaRussa is making all the right moves and Piniero is just the latest example. On a team that has consistently defied the odds at every turn, Piniero could be an extremely solid fifth starter for your rotation and should be available in the majority of your leagues.
Sidney Ponson - New York Yankees (SP)
3.88 ERA, 4-1, 25 K, 1.56 WHIP
Chances are you probably can't even pick Ponson up in your league because he's still in the minors after signing a contract with the Yankees last week. Manager Joe Girardi sounds like he will be making a call to the big right-hander due to the injuries that have seemed to pop up almost daily amongst his pitching staff.
Ponson was pitching well for the Texas Rangers, but was booted after a string of questionable behavior. Everyone knows he's got the stuff to be a quality starter for any team, now it's just a matter of keeping it together. As soon as you hear the news that Ponson is getting the call up to the big-show, snag him immediately. With that powerful Yankees offense providing run support, Ponson could possibly give you a very nice second half of service.
It's not too often that I reccomend picking up players from the Orioles outside of second baseman Brian Roberts. But in the case of Aubrey Huff I'll make an exception. If you're in a very deep league, Huff may already be putting up respectable power numbers for one of your foes. But if he's not, I'd take a long hard look at a guy that has been consistently hitting for power and driving in runs this season.
In April he had five homeruns, May he had four and so far in June he's hit five more. Huff is just going about his business while remaining a very valuable fantasy threat and could do wonders if you're in need of a replacement DH or first baseman.
Eric Hinske - Tampa Bay Rays (RF)
.258 AVG, 12 HR, 39 RBI, .339 OBP, .510 SLG
The 2002 Rookie of the Year has seemingly found a home in Tamp Bay and you fantasy baseball players out there should take notice. Up until his oh-fer performance yesterday against the Houston Astros, Hinske was on a seven game hitting streak in which he drove in eight runs and swiped a pair of bases.
It's imperative to have good outfielders in fantasy baseball and if you got stuck on the short end of the stick in this particular area it's time you start making some moves here. Take a flyer on Hinske and stop waiting for guys like Minnesota Twins outfielder Delmon Young to produce. Talent doesn't do anything for you in fantasy baseball, production does. Time to take notice.
Hong-Chih Kuo - Los Angeles Dodgers (RP)
1.76 ERA, 3-1, 55 K, 1.00 WHIP, 46 IP
It's tough to find good bullpen help these days. Everyone knows who the good ones are and once they're gone it basically becomes a crap shoot.
But now the guy you need to know about is Hong-Chih Kuo.
In the past 28 innings Kuo has pitched, he's given up a miniscule three earned runs while posting a eye-popping 0.96 ERA. If it wasn't for a terrible outing against the Reds back in late April (3.2 IP, 5 ER), Kuo would have a grand total of four earned runs and an ERA of 0.84 for the season.
Better yet, he's owned in 16-percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues and I can almost guarantee he'd be available in yours.
Not to beat a dead horse, but in case you haven't noticed, Giants pitcher Barry Zito has gone from perennial Cy Young award winner to epic bust since signing a ridiculous $126 million contract in 2006.
The point of this is not to suggest a start for Zito, rather, it's to point out that the Tigers have to be licking their chops as they prepare to face him tonight in San Fran. This Tigers offense has finally come around is starting to perform like the sluggers fantasy owners expected them to be and Zito will only help out your cause.
Four of the best pitchers in baseball will be on the mound tonight and for many of you this translates into one of the most important days of the week.
It can either grant you an early cushion or a deep hole to dig out of.
Here's a look at how we think they might fare tonight in their starts:
Johan Santana (NYM) at LA Angels
It'll be interesting to see how the Mets react after Willie Randolph's unceremonious firing last night. Santana needs to come up big here to get this team back on track against a tough Angels squad. At times he's been brilliant, but I have to say I am not impressed with Santana during his stay with New York so far. Being a White Sox fan, I know what this man is capable of and I haven't seen the same pitcher that was so dominant playing in the AL Central.
Santana is 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA lifetime in Anaheim and I expect that trend will continue tonight. Too much going on right now for this team to pull it together in time to pick up a win against the Angels.
Brandon Webb (ARI) vs. Oakland Athletics
There isn't another pitcher out there that I'd want leading my fantasy baseball rotation than Brandon Webb. He leads the league in wins (11), has a minuscule WHIP of 1.00 and is an absolute workhorse. He's thrown two complete games and has lasted at least six innings 12 of his 14 starts this season.
He may fly under the radar in terms of national recognition by the media, but in the fantasy world this guy has got his own shoe, clothing and hair care line. Seriously, I'd feel confident starting this guy against any team you could dream up and he should never, EVER be out of your starting lineup. Especially against a weak A's lineup that he should absolutely manhandle.
Felix Hernandez (SEA) vs. Florida Marlins
The beauty of fantasy baseball is that the actual team a player is on doesn't have to be good in order for you to make a killing on his production. We'll use 'Prince' Felix Hernandez here (and yes, I know it's supposed to be King Felix but on the Mariners he'll never be king of anything) as an example of this.
Owners need to understand that he's not going to win as many games as he should due to the fact his team is garbage. But Hernandez compensates for this by producing above average numbers in other areas. He's in the top 15 in strikeouts (82) and has a very respectable 2.81 ERA in 14 starts this season.
I'll almost guarantee Felix loses this game against the Marlins tonight, but with a stat line that includes seven strikeouts and a couple earned runs, that's a quality start you can't afford to miss out on.
Tim Hudson (ATL) at Texas Rangers
Hudson is one of those guys that you really just don't get excited about. He kind of defines that 'ho-hum' mentality where you know he's a decent pitcher, but he doesn't do anything that makes him stand out. On a Braves team that seems to place a different pitcher on the disabled list on a daily basis, Hudson has remained relatively consistent with a 7-4 record, 2.76 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.
This Rangers offense scares the living daylights out of me right now and I'm uncomfortable starting any 'ho-hum' pitcher against them even though as a team the Rangers are 'ho-hum' themselves (35-36).
You could start him, and you probably have to, but there's a chance he could be heading for the showers a little earlier than usual with a bloated ERA and not much else to show for it. Owner beware.
Carlos Lee- Houston Astros (LF) Vs. Milwaukee Brewers 3-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
If Bud Selig really wanted to make people like him, he’d pass a rule that stated any player born in Panama had to come out to the Van Halen song. That would totally make everyone forget about the 2002 All-Star Game.
Carlos Beltran- New York Mets (CF) Vs. Arizona Diamondbacks 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB
Not only did Beltran’s two-run homer in the bottom of the 13th inning lift the Mets to a much needed victory, it also secured his place as a Wednesday fantasy hero. Willie Randolph lives to get mercilessly criticized another day.
Kosuke Fukudome- Chicago Cubs (RF) Vs. Atlanta Braves 1-for-2, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB
Ok, how funny is that the Cubs never told K-Fuk about that little 100-year World Series drought thing? Could this be the same reason Bernard Berrian signed with the Vikings? Maybe they never told him that Tarvaris Jackson is the quarterback.
Cole Hamels- Philadelphia Phillies (SP) Vs. Florida Marlins ND: 8 IP, 2 ER, 13 K, 1 BB
My all-time favorite athlete website is clearly this one, but Cole Hamels Facts may come in second. And everything on there is totally true. After all, they are facts. Duh.
The chief export of Cole Hamels is K's.
In a related story, the chief export of Shawn Kemp is children.
Ryan Dumpster- Chicago Cubs (SP) Vs. Atlanta Braves Win: 9 IP, 2 ER, 11 K, 0 BB
If Cubs fans would have known that Ryan Dempster would be their best pitcher midway through June, I don’t think they would have been very happy. But here he is, striking out everyone and leading the Cubbies in wins. Obviously, the only downside to his fantastic start is that I can no longer refer to him as ‘Dumpster’, which was probably the most perfect sports nickname of all-time.
Justin Verlander- Detroit Tigers (SP) Vs. Chicago White Sox Win: 9 IP, 1 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
Maybe Ozzie needs to start yelling at people again.
…as for the bums
Mark Teixeira- Atlanta Braves (1B) Vs. Chicago Cubs 0-for-4, 2 K
Don’t mess with Dumpster.
Darrell Rasner- New York Yankees Vs. Oakland Athletics Loss: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 4 K
Ryan Ludwick- St. Louis Cardinals (RF/LF) Vs. Cincinnati Reds 4-for-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R
What’s going on with the Cardinals? I don’t know if it’s more surprising that St. Louis is 12 games over .500 or that they haven’t had anyone arrested for a DUI yet this season. Just when you think you know somebody, right? Well I heard Cedric Benson’s got some time on his hands now. Did you know he used to be a pretty good baseball player!? True story.
Hanley Ramirez- Florida Marlins (SS) Vs. Philadelphia Phillies 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
Hanley Ramirez is awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. Yeah, five awesome’s. He’s that good. Quickly: Was the Josh Beckett for Hanley Ramirez swap possibly the most fair trade in the history of baseball? The Red Sox won a World Series because of the excellence of JB, while the Marlins got the best young shortstop of my lifetime.
Lance Berkman- Houston Astros (1B) Vs. Milwaukee Brewers 3-for-4. 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 3B, 1 R
I realized Berkman was mashing this season at a record rate, but how does the dude they call Fat Elvis already have 10 steals? That’s a career high and we’re not even half way through June.
Dustin McGowan- Toronto Blue Jays (SP) Vs. Seattle Mariners Win: 9 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 2 BB
Seriously, how do you expect me to write jokes about Dustin McGowan? I'm just not that funny. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
CC Sabathia- Cleveland Indians (SP) Vs. Minnesota Twins Win: 9 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
Ah, good ole’ CC Sabathia. It’s easy to make fun of him: he’s fat, you see. Last time Sabathia saw 90210, it was on the scale.
Roy Oswalt- Houston Astros (SP) Vs. Milwaukee Brewers Win: 7 IP, 1 ER, 10 K, 0 BB
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list today. He sprained his right middle finger in a start against the Houston Astros on Saturday and left the game shortly thereafter. They haven't said how many starts Wainwright expects to miss, but regardless this is a big loss in the fantasy realm. Joel Piniero will be coming off the disabled list himself this week, so he may be a short term solution if you find yourself in a tight spot.
Sharing is Caring
It looks like Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez and Brandon Inge will be sharing the catching duties for the Detroit Tigers from now on. According to the Detroit Free Press, Manager Jim Leyland said they will alternate days behind the plate regardless of who the team is playing. Pudge has had his fair of struggles at the plate this season, hitting only one homerun with a modest 21 RBI. Inge has five homers and 22 RBI in 30 less plate appearances than Pudge.
Bottom Line: With the two of them splitting time, it's going to be tough for you to count on them for consistent fantasy production. It may be wise to go find yourself another catcher or make sure you have both Inge and Pudge on your roster to create one funky looking catcher (and a complete waste of a roster spot).
Rocky Mountain High
Matt Holliday makes his triumphant return to the Colorado Rockies lineup tonight after missing the past 15 days on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. And wouldn't you know it, the San Francisco Giants and Pat Misch (0-2, 5.79 ERA) are in town to welcome him back. Scariest part about that statement is I'd rate Holliday's comeback even higher if it were Barry Zito on the bump tonight. Yikes.
Chipping the Pine
The Braves are in Chicago to play the first place Cubs and will be doing so without slugger Chipper Jones. A slight tear in his quadriceps has left him unable to run and therefore, unable to play. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones might be able to play later this week, so for now just play it cool. The guy was absolutely on fire up until this latest setback, and sits with a ridiculous .402 average on the season.
Time to Step Up
After losing DH David Ortiz for the next couple of months, the Boston Red Sox are in desperate need for the Josh Beckett from a year ago. The same holds true for those of you who drafted Beckett to be the ace of your rotation only to see him post an unimpressive 6-4 record with a trip to the DL in April. Tonight is going to be a true test for Beckett, going against an impressive Baltimore Orioles club when his team needs him most. Start him with confidence because Beckett thrives in these situations and seems to be better when the pressure is on.
Didn't get a chance to say this earlier, but congratulations to Ken Griffey Jr. for becoming the sixth person in history to hit 600 home runs in his career. I worshiped Junior throughout my misguided youth and to this day I am convinced if it wasn't for injuries, I'd be writing about him hitting his 700th home run. Without a doubt, Junior has the smoothest swing in baseball and is a sure fire Hall-of-Famer.
Since this is the first day of our new fantasy sports blog, we need to get something out of the way: Jay Bruce. Now that we’ve mentioned him, this is all starting to feel official.
If you aren’t one of the lucky few that owns the Reds’ young slugger on your fantasy baseball team, you may want to take a look at acquiring Vernon Wells, who recently came off the disabled list for the Blue Jays. Wells is probably owned in most leagues, but could be a good trade target if you need help in center field.
Let’s make one thing clear: this isn’t the same Vernon Wells we saw last year. You know, the guy that looked like the position player counterpart of Barry Zito, after flaming out in the first season of a new seven-year, $126 million contract. With all the hate he received last year, you may have thought fantasy owners were talking about David Wells, not Vernon. But this wasn’t an obvious case of too many helpings of cheesecake: Wells seems to become a significantly worse player overnight for no apparent reason.
A stellar 2006 season made Wells arguably fantasy baseball’s premier center fielder. That year, he smacked 32 homers, stole a career-high 17 bases, and drove in 106 runs, all while hitting above .300. That type of production made Wells a second round pick in most drafts.
Then his OPS dropped nearly .200 points the next season, to a Corey Patterson like .706. He may have been fantasy baseball’s biggest bust.
Maybe it was the pressure of playing with such a big contract. Whatever the problem was, it seemed to disappear before Wells got hurt on May 9. On June 7, Wells came off the DL with a bang: in his first two games back, he went 5-for-7 with two runs, two RBI, and a homer.
Wells went hitless last night against the Mariners, but has some favorable series approaching with the Blue Jays drawing the NL Central in interleague play. Besides the Cubbies, no team in that division should scare anyone.