For most fantasy owners, week two is in the books, and for some, week three just finished. Whatever the case may be, it’s probably the first time many of you will sit down and analyze how your drafted roster has fared so far.
Fantasy baseball is a strategy. Depending on what league you are in and whether or not you believe it’s pure luck, you can approach your team’s struggles in two ways. You can either play the hot hand from week to week, day to day, or play for the hopeful future. For 90 percent of the leagues out there, it’s a play the hot hand and wish for the best routine.
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Given that, let’s move into who’s currently sizzling, or in other words, if you have a weakness and this person can fill it, it’s worth a shot.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, 1B — After going 11-for-23 with five doubles, three homers, and 14 RBIs last week, he is owned in every league in America now. Freeman is building off his spectacular rookie year in which he finished second to teammate Craig Kimbrel in ROY voting. Freeman is off to a hotter start than last year and is one of the key reasons the Braves went 10-2 in the past 12 games.
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, OF — If, for some reason, you didn’t think Hamilton would have another stellar year, guess again. He’s tearing up the AL with a tremendous start: .418 batting average, seven homers, and 17 RBIs on the year.
Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers, C/1B — Napoli has came around recently, hitting homers in five straight games. Napoli is a streaky hitter, and he’s hot right now. He should be in every starting lineup.
Philip Humber, White Sox, SP — For the one percent of people who owned him last week, he single-handly won them their matchup. He pitched five strong innings, striking out seven against the Orioles. He followed that up with a perfect game and nine strikeouts against the Mariners. He’s been picked up to 13 percent so far, so who else is joining the train?
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers, SP — Verlander picked up two wins during the week, pitching 15 innings and registering 17 Ks. Following up his complete game against the Royals, he shut out the hot-hitting Rangers for six innings before departing.
James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays, SP — Shields also picked up two wins this week and posted his third straight eight inning performance. He’s pitching with a 2.76 ERA so far this year.
Clete Thomas, Minnesota Twins, OF — Thomas is one for his last 12 at-bats with 10 strikeouts. Ouch! Ten strikeouts in three games is atrocious. He will be losing his starting job shortly. If he’s on your team, perhaps switch him out with Parra!
Clint Barmes, Pittsburgh Pirates, SS — So, many Pirates fans thought it couldn’t get any worse than Cedeno, right? Barmes was brought in to help ignite this Pirates lineup and help with stability. He’s done nothing close. In his last seven days, he’s 1-for-19 with a .089 season batting average, and he has four errors to boot. He’s owned in 0.3 percent of the leagues, and if you are reading this, being in that 0.3 percent, what the hell are you doing?
Brent Morel, White Sox, 3B — Morel is in a 1-for-17 skid right now. He’s also struck out 11 times in the past seven days, and if he doesn’t turn the ship around, all 0.4 percent of the owners out there will be probably grabbing his backup, Brent Lillibridge.
Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers, SP — Perhaps it’s unfair to put him in this category after only one start. But pitching a total of one inning while giving up eight earned runs is just terrible. Hey, he did strike out one though …
Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins, SP — Liriano lost two starts this week, going only seven innings and giving up 10 runs. He’s given up five runs in every start this year and hasn’t made it past the fifth inning yet. It went so far south that the Twins front office is contemplating sending him down or moving him to the bullpen.
Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians, SP — Hard to imagine anyone but Derek Lowe making this list from the Indians, but truth be told, Masterson has struggled (Lowe is actually close, though). Masterson is still winless on the season and pitched 8.2 innings last week while giving up 12 runs over two starts. He’s 0-2 with a 6.65 ERA on the year.
Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks, OF — With Justin Upton and Chris Young sidelined, Parra will get a chance to possibly upend A.J. Pollock once Young and Upton return. Nonetheless, Parra is worth a shot if you need some help in the outfield position. Last night, he hit a grand slam off Braves’ rookie starter Randal Delgado, but he also swiped a base in his 2-for-4 day. He’s only batting .244 with two home runs, but the he does have four steals on the year as well while playing in limited time. He seems to be getting more comfortable with the more consistent at-bats and went 3-for-8 over the weekend. Parra has pop and will even steal a few bases for you.
Travis Hafner, Cleveland Indians, DH/UT — Hafner’s only downfall is the darn DH tag on the end of his name. He doesn’t have much flexibility in leagues without a DH. His only spot is in your useful utility position. Hafner is red-hot lately, going 8-for-18 in the last seven days. He’s only owned in 2.2 percent of leagues but is hitting .357 with two long balls and eight runs batted in while playing virtually every day. If Hafner can keep playing every day, he’s worth a spot until he cools down.
Juan Francisco, Atlanta Braves, 3B — Francisco started out rough this year. Some picked him up hoping his power would be there, and given Chipper Jones‘ injury situation, they were banking on Francisco potentially getting his first legit shot. Well, Jones came back early and ended the four-game losing streak the Braves had going and also gave a much needed break to Francisco, who had three errors and was pulled in the game before. Since then, perhaps since the pressure has been relieved, Francisco has came into his own. In the last seven days, he’s 6-for-16 with three of the hits coming by long ball and two more by doubles. He’s putting on a power show, even fisting one out in dead center. He’s getting most of the pinch-hit opportunities and around three starts a week. Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez even came out and said they look to get Francisco 300 plus at-bats this year.