by Ryan Butler
Hanley Ramirez (4 R/1 HR/4 RBI/1 SB/.412 BA) seven-for-17: Hanley decided to show up fashionably late for the 2011 season. But really, no harm, no foul, right? As L.L. Cool-J said, “it’s not how you start the date, it’s how you finish the date. Doesn’t matter the color of the cat as long as it catches rats.” Not sure how that last sentence fits in here, but OK. Ramirez was hitting a dreadful .200 on June 20. His OPS sat at .593. Those are numbers I would expect from Adam Everett, but certainly not from the best offensive shortstop in baseball. However, history has shown that you can’t keep a good Han down. He has raised his average to .255 and his OPS to .742. Both are far below his career averages of .308 and .891, but rest assured he’ll be (close to) there by season’s end.
Brett Gardner (5/0/0/3/.625) 10-for-16: Gardner’s season is starting to shape up much like most had anticipated. He’s hitting a very solid .290 with 29 SB in 39 attempts (74%). That’s lower than his career rate of 82%, but he has been successful in each of his last 15 tries. He’s a great source of steals and won’t hurt your batting average. He has an outside chance of scoring 100 runs this year.
Jemile Weeks (3/0/3/3/.562) nine-for-16: To be honest with you all, I didn’t even know Rickie Weeks had a little brother who played baseball until Jemile debuted on June 7th. Shame on me. But so far he seems like a pretty good average hitter with base-stealing ability (10-for-15), and certainly a player to keep an eye on as a second base option in the near future. He doesn’t have near the power of Rickie (16 HR in 1018 minor league PA) but doesn’t seem to have inherited the strikeout gene (a recessive trait passed on from the father), either. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Ryan Dempster (8.0 IP/1 W/9 K/0.00 ERA/0.50 WHIP): 4.39 is an impressive number…if you’re a collegiate linebacker, that is, and you’re working out at the NFL combine and that’s your 40-yard dash time. If you’re a 13-year major league vet and it’s your career ERA, eh, not so much. But that’s Ryan Dempster. Looking year-by-year, he’s had some ERAs that resemble decent (if not great) Olympic figure skating judge scores: “Ooh, South Korea gives Dempster a 7.08! That’s going to hurt his chances of advancing to the medal round, Boitano.” He sports a career record (109-108) that’s just one click away from a whitewash, but coming off consecutive strong seasons, he looked like a decent source of wins and strikeouts. But his apparent delight in sabotaging one’s team ERA on a biweekly basis has made him more of a fantasy leper than anything else. He’s owned in 69% of Y! leagues.
Derek Holland (9.0/1/8/0.00/0.67): This kid impressed me a great deal in last year’s ALCS vs NYY (1-0, 5.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP). Yes, he was a disaster against the Giants in the World Series, but that’s not the point. The point is, I expected a bit more from him this year, but he has backslid in all areas, save for the win-loss column. An 8-4 record isn’t too bad though, if you can live with his 4.32 ERA.*
Neftali Feliz (0-0/3 SV/2 K/0.00 ERA/0.00 WHIP): I wouldn’t exactly call it a sophomore slump, but Feliz has not been near the dominating pitcher that he was in 2010. In 36.1 IP he has walked exactly as many batters (18) as he did in 69.1 IP last season. His HR/9 (0.6, ’10; 1.0, ’11) and BB/9 (2.3, ’10; 4.5, ’11) are up markedly. His K/9 (9.2, ’10; 6.4, ’11) is way down, and his K/BB (3.94, ’10; 1.44, ’11) is downright awful. He still has been effective, going 20-for-24 in save opportunities, but in winning the AL Rookie of the Year last season, he converted 40 of 43. No one but Feliz knows how much the shoulder is still bothering him, but this looks like a situation where it won’t be back to feeling 100% until an offseason’s worth of rest.
Joe Nathan (0-0/1/2/0.00/0.33): If Matt Capps is your closer, you’re in buku trouble. Matt Capps sucks (4.71 ERA, 15-22 SO). So the Twins have now put the heretofore super-reliable Joe Nathan back in charge of ninth-inning duties. With an 89% (253-for-285) career success rate, Nathan has been one of the top closers over the past seven seasons. Y! ownership of Nathan has skyrocketed by 16%, up to 67% in total. On June 25 his ERA was 7.71; on July 17 it was down to 5.11, so he’s getting there. He’s a good guy to pick up, especially if you own Francisco Rodriguez and now find yourself a little short on the save front subsequent to his trade to Milwaukee.
Edward Mujica (2-0/1/0/0.00/0.00): I know he has almost zero relevance as a fantasy player, but I have to give some big ups to my man Edward “Gopher Ball” Mujica. After his week 15 performance, ownership of Mujica in Y! leagues has doubled; to four percent. But stay tuned, as Marlins skipper Trader Jack said recently that if Leo Nunez is traded, Mujica would be first in line to assume the closer’s role in Florida.
*Holland got tattooed for seven ER in 5.1 IP Wednesday vs LAA. His ERA now is at 4.65.