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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fantasy Notes

  • Don't Pay For Steals: A couple of early round options, Ryan Braun and Russell Martin, have both gotten hot at the plate after slow starts, but they are still falling short in the category that provoked many roto owners to take them in the top two or three rounds.  Martin has stolen only four bases, putting him on pace for ten on the year, still great for a catcher, but half as many as he nabbed in 2007.  Braun has stolen only two, after grabbing fifteen in two-thirds of a season last year.  Many owners went into 2008 thinking he would have a legitimate shot at 30/30.  Granted, both of these players are massively valuable, regardless of whether they are stealing bases, but both were selected higher because of their high five-category expectations.
  • The Worst Offense of the Modern Era: Many pundits, including myself, predicted that the San Francisco Giants lineup would be among the worst we could remember.  Let me be clear, they haven't been good (14th in the NL and 27th in MLB in runs scored), but they have had some very pleasant surprises.  First off, Aaron Rowand, who appeared to be grossly overpaid, moving from the cozy confines of Philadelphia to the wide-open spaces of PNC Park, where you need superhuman Barry Bonds-like strength to hit the ball out from gap to gap.  The home-runs have not exactly been easy to come by (he's got 8), but he is tied for 4th in the league (with teammate Ben Molina) in hitting, at .328.  He's driven in 36 runs and has a 924 OPS.  Molina's numbers (.328-6-38) are also very strong for a player expected to be a low-round option.  However, both of these guys were probably selected in your draft, or picked up shortly thereafter.  The Giant who is still available in many leagues is hitting .279 with 37 runs scored.  He's been getting on base at an impressive .363 clip, has decent power (12 2B, 6 3B, 4 HR), and has stolen eleven bases, that's good for eighth in the National League.  Those steals make him extremely valuable in just about any format.  The player: Fred Lewis.  Keeper league owners especially need to start paying attention.  Lewis is in his second season and is 27, moving into his baseball prime.  It seem likely that, if the Giants are wise (big IF), Lewis will stabilize left field and the leadoff spot, allowing them to focus their off-season free agent search on right-fielders and corner infielders.
  • Triple Crown in Texas?: There's been much discussion of the season Josh Hamilton is having, as their should be.  What nobody's mentioning is that while he was first in the AL in average, homers, and RBI, he's second in the AL and on his own team in OPS.  He has had the great benefit of hitting in front of the Toymaker, Milton Bradley, who is batting .328 with a dozen dingers, 38 RBIs, and a league-leading 1050 OPS.  Bradley's talent is beyond dispute and now, with the opportunity to DH at least part of the time, the Rangers can protect his injury-prone body.  Hamilton and Bradley both represent the beauty of recovering from adversity.  Ron Washington has appeared to be a calming presence on both of them.  If the Rangers approach .500, they both could be legitimate MVP contenders.   

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