We’re barely a month in and already the 2012 MLB season is proving to be one of the most action-packed seasons we’ve seen. From the highs of a perfect game to the lows of a legendary closer having his swan song cut short by a freak knee injury, this season has been loaded with drama and excitement. Consequently, the fantasy baseball season has been a ridiculous, rollercoaster ride and it feels like we haven’t even scratched the surface. You know that there is still so much more to come. And how could you think otherwise? Between the rash of injuries to top-tier talent, the number of relievers moved in and out of closers’ jobs and the fact that the highlight reels are filled with names like Jose Altuve, Jason Kipnis and Bryan LaHair, you just can’t afford to miss a single day. And Tuesday was certainly no exception.
|Josh Hamilton, OF TEX||5-5, 4 R, 2B, 4 HR, 8 RBI|
How do you not lead with this story? With four home runs and eight RBI, Josh Hamilton single-handedly put together a day most fantasy owners would kill to see from their entire lineup. He moves into the league lead for home runs and RBI and has been doing everything he can to help make you forget all the concern and second-guessing you did when word broke that he had fallen off the wagon. Powering up like this is a phenomenal distraction, don’t get me wrong. But don’t be blinded by it
Between the news of his relapse and the fact that he has played only one full season during his career, Hamilton went from being a late first round draft choice two years ago, to being a third round cautionary tale this season. “You can draft him, but be prepared to replace him. He just can’t stay healthy,” is what they said. And while that’s probably a pessimistic way to look at a potential 30-HR, 100 RBI player, it couldn’t be more dead on.
Over the last five years, Hamilton has played just one full season. That means he is good for the full year 20% of the time. The other 80% is filled with anguish, frustration and a disappointing hole in your fantasy roster while you silently curse the baseball gods for saddling you with this albatross. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration mixed with an over-simplification because even at 120 games in, he’s still out-producing a number of outfielders. But even then, there still looms a very real threat to your season as that normally aching shoulder or cranky lower back could pop up at a moment’s notice.
Trade him? Why not? If you’ve already gotten this type of production out of him and still wince every time he goes to make a play in the outfield, then ease your burden and improve your fantasy team at the same time. With the way he is playing right now, you are likely to pull a king’s ransom for his services. Someone in your league is willing to ignore the injury history and open up their vaults to obtain him. You can probably bolster your pitching staff while filling in an offensive hole or two in your lineup. I know you love having him and nights like Tuesday night only make it harder to let go, but you can’t go on ignoring the track record. Shop him around your league and see. There’s no harm in looking to see what you can get. Appraise him, if you will. You never know…someone just might make it worth your while.
|Carlos Beltran, OF STL||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI|
|Raul Ibanez, OF NYY||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI|
|Kelly Johnson, 2B TOR||2-4, R HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB|
|Jake Westbrook, SP STL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 8 K|
|Scott Diamond, SP MIN||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 6 K|
You’ve got to love the production you’re getting out of Carlos Beltran so far, especially considering the fact that you probably didn’t pick him up until the 11th or 12th round in your draft. Also known as a bit of a cautionary tale for injuries, Beltran put together a fantastic resurgent season last year only to see it cut short in the end by yet another knee injury. Well, he’s pulling a Lance Berkman this year -- signing with the Cardinals in the offseason and playing like he’s a 27-year old all over again. But before you start getting all attached to him, just remember what happened to Berkman’s totals in the second half of last year. He may have kept his batting average up, but he went from 24 home runs and 63 RBI in the first half to just 7 and 31 in the second. I don’t even own Beltran and just the thought of that makes me want to trade him.
Kudos all around for the rest of the top performers from Tuesday night, but there are a few other highlights I’d like to talk about that may not have made it to the top of the statistical leaderboard, but carry a serious impact in fantasy leagues.
Allow me to introduce Dale Thayer of the San Diego Padres. When Huston Street left the game late last week and was diagnosed with a strained right shoulder, the assumption was that Andrew Cashner would take over in the ninth inning. But on Sunday, Cashner threw more than his usual number of pitches and the door opened for Thayer on Monday. He didn’t disappoint, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 inning for his first save. Well, Tuesday rolled around and while Cashner’s arm was ready to go, Bud Black deployed him in the eighth inning rather than the ninth which he again turned over to Thayer who wasn’t as perfect this time around, but got the job done anyway. If you’re looking for immediate saves help, then look into Thayer. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot and if Black is going to go with this bullpen configuration until it fails, then Thayer is the guy to own.
Sticking with closers for a second, congratulations to David Robertson who converted the first Yankees save in what could be the beginning of the post-Mariano era. It’s hard to believe that at 42 years old Mariano Rivera is going to be able to effectively come back from a torn ACL and meniscus, so this was a big moment for the kid from Alabama. He certainly made things interesting, but when the dust settled it was Robertson who ended up on top.
Am I the only one who thinks Billy Butler has the best nickname going right now? Country Breakfast! Classic. And so appropriate as well. Ever hear him in an interview? It just screams chicken and waffles and biscuits and gravy. And what’s a better gravy than a game-winning three-run homer? It was his sixth home run for the season and first since April 27. Made me wanna throw some blueberry compote onto some buttermilk pancakes.
|Carlos Pena, 1B TB||0-5, 4 K|
|Cody Ransom, SS, ARI||0-4, 4 K|
|Torii Hunter, OF LAA||0-4, 3 K|
|Drew Stubbs, OF CIN||0-5, 3 K|
|Francisco Cordero, RP TOR||L, BS, 135.00 ERA, 15.00 WHIP|
I’m always a little sensitive about this section as I never just want to throw salt into your wounds. But it’s important to track and see if you have a repeat offender and become in need of a replacement. And with that, we’ll leave the hitters alone for now and concentrate on Francisco Cordero’s horrific night on the mound and how he is very likely to lose his job as the team’s interim closer. If you had Sergio Santos and patched up the hole with Cordero, it’s time to fix that patch job with Jason Frasor. Nothing has been said about Cordero actually losing the gig, but this was another blown save and he hasn’t looked good at all this season. There’s a remote chance that Darren Oliver gets an opportunity, but Frasor has held down this job before and should make for a good pick-up.
Willie Bloomquist, SS, ARI – ankle (questionable)
Josh Beckett, SP BOS – back (questionable)
Will Middlebrooks, 3B BOS – hamstring (questionable)
Drew Pomeranz, SP COL – quad (questionable)
Alex Avila, C DET – knee (doubtful)
Scott Downs, RP LAA – knee (questionable)
Ryan Braun, OF MIL – Achilles (doubtful)
Alexi Casilla, 2B MIN – shoulder (questionable)
Yoenis Cespedes, OF OAK – hand (questionable)
Brandon McCarthy, SP OAK – shoulder (questionable)
Desmond Jennings, OF TB – knee (questionable)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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