Benjamin Franklin once observed that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. For reasons unknown, Franklin forgot to mention Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera is one of the most consistent sluggers in the game today and Franklin would surely take him #1 overall in his fantasy draft. [Editor’s Note: What would Ben Franklin name his team? The Franklin Hot Stoves? Been-Jammin’ Deborah Read? If you have any better ideas use the comments section].
by Jared Cothren
(Editor’s Note: Stats through July 21)
↑Dustin Pedroia – The Laser show finally seems to be back after a disappointing and injury filled year in 2010. In the last 2 months, Pedroia has drastically cut down on his Ks and brought his average up 48 points to .293. His confidence has returned and with that my confidence has returned in him. Hitting in the heart of the Boston order, in front of RBI machine Adrian Gonzalez, should help his value and I expect him to score well over 100 runs this year.
↑Travis Snider – It appears the trip down to the minors helped him find his power stroke and consistency. Since his Independence Day call up, Snider is hitting .357 with 20 hits (11 for extra bases) and 17 RBIs. Over the last week, the dirty-mustached Snider has hit .346 with 9 hits and 9 RBIs. Get ’em while he’s hot folks, but beware of a cool down.
↑Emilio Bonifacio – I know what you are thinking, “Emilio Bonifacio? Seriously, The one month wonder from 2009?” Yes, he’s back and again proving fantasy relevance. Bonifacio currently has a 20 game hitting streak and has stolen 10 bases in July. He won’t drive in runs, but he will get on base and score them. Ride out the hot streak. My advice is when things get ugly…don’t stick around for the funeral, drop him immediately.
by Jared Cothren
↑Gaby Sanchez – 1B – FLA
Gaby may have a girly name, but he’s been putting up very manly stats (.464 AVG, 2 HR and 10 RBI) over the last 7 days. Hitting .328 on the season, Sanchez is a budding star with unknown potential and he’s coming off a solid year in 2010. 2011 could prove to be a breakout season.
↑Adam Lind – 1B, OF – TOR
It seems like Lind has “bi-polar player disorder” because last year he drove fantasy owners crazy with his low batting average and high strikeout rate, but this year he looks to have returned to his 2009 form that hit 35 home runs and drove in 114 runs. Over the last two weeks, Lind has hit .457 with 6 HR and 15 RBI. He needs to work on his K/BB rate ( 23/7), but it’s already an improvement from last year.
↑Jaime Garcia – SP – STL
Garcia is developing into the ace of the pitching staff for the Cardinals. With Adam Wainwright out for the year and Chris Carpenter entering the later stages of his career, the Cardinals have turned to Garcia for consistency and he hasn’t disappointed. With a 4-0 record and a sub-2 ERA (1.99), Garcia should now be owned in 100% of leagues. Oh yeah…and his 44 K in 45.1 IP is not to shabby either.
by Jared Cothren
↑Sam Fuld – OF – TB
I contemplated adding Sam Fuld to last week’s edition of “3 up, 3 Down”, but I wanted to see if this virtually unknown player could continue his hot start. Fuld is on a tear this season and already has 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts. Add that he is hitting .284 and has only 13 Ks in 102 ABs, he is proving to be an effective contact hitter in the lead-off spot for the Rays.
↑Jed Lowrie – 2B, SS – BOS
Since becoming a starter for the Red Sox, Jed Lowrie is making Terry Francona’s decision to keep Marco Scutaro on the bench very easy. Over the last 2 weeks, Lowrie is hitting .302 with 2 homers and 7 RBI. Now that Boston has crawled out of their beginning of the season funk are back to scoring runs, he’ll continue to have opportunities to score runs as well as knock them in.
↑Josh Johnson – SP – FLA
Josh Johnson has proven all of his skeptics, including myself, wrong so far…very wrong. Johnson has only allowed 4 earned runs in his 6 starts and he has a microscopic 0.88 ERA. His .130 BAA is tops in the league and according to Elias Sports Bureau he is the first pitcher in the last 50 years to have 3 starts of at least 5 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball in April or within the first 5 starts of season.
by Jared Cothren
↑Starlin Castro- The slick fielding shortstop for the Chicago Cubs is off to a fast start this season. 15 games into the season and he’s still batting over the .400 mark (.418) and leading the league in hits (28). The Cubs have a lot of confidence in the young 21-year old and placed him in the leadoff spot in the order and he responded by hitting .536 this last week. He’ll have opportunities to score lots of runs and has potential to hit well over the .300 mark for the year.
↑Lance Berkman- Berkman must have taken a sip from the fountain of youth as he’s swinging the bat as if he were 7 years younger. Berkman is on a tear (.417 with six homers and 12 RBI’s this past week). If he is available in your league, pick him up and enjoy it while it lasts as his deal with the devil could run out soon.
↑Aaron Harang- Harang needed to get out of hitter friendly Cincinnati and there is no refuge better than the pitcher friendly alleys of Petco Park. So far this season, Harang is 3-0, with a 1.50 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, with his best start coming on the road last week against Houston (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER and 8 K). For a pitcher that was always susceptible to the long ball, he has not given up a home run yet this season. He’s still available in most leagues and worth an add in 10+ team leagues.
↓Joe Nathan- One of the first closer casualties of the 2011 season, Nathan has lost his job as the primary closer of the Twins. He’s been awful, blowing back to back save opportunities. He actually approached Ron Gardenhire to have himself removed as closer and out of the backend of the rotation. This means he will not be the 7th or 8th inning guy, unless there is a considerable lead.
↓Carl Crawford- Crawford is off to a bad start in Beantown and the prized off-season free agent has already found himself demoted to the 7th hole in the batting order. Although it’s too early to consider him a bust, his start is very troubling. He has seven hits in 55 at bats with only one extra base hit. Add that he only has one RBI, three runs scored and two stolen bases, he is definitely downgraded in our player rankings.
↓Francisco Liriano- The Minnesota Twins are lucky it didn’t get the “three down hat trick,” as I considered adding Joe Mauer to this list as well. I cut Mauer some slack due to the viral infection, but Liriano has definitely earned his way onto this list. In three starts this season, Liriano is 0-3 with a 9.42 ERA, nine BB, and only 12 K. He has not made it to the 6th inning in any of his starts and his worst outing came last week against Kansas City when he gave up seven earned runs in only five innings. Keep him on the bench until he pulls it together.
ßBuster of the Week: Manny Ramirez- As you heard, Manny Ramirez retired for once again failing to pass the league mandated drug tests for PEDs. He was not off to a blazing start anyways (1-for-17 and batting .059). This closes the book on another storied slugger who, like Bonds and Sosa and Palmeiro, turned to performance enhancers and eventually got caught.
ωWAG of the Week: Minka Kelly (Girlfriend of Derek Jeter)- Jeter is the modern day Mickey Mantle. With the quality of women he’s been linked to, nobody would mind being his Eskimo Brother. Follow these links:
by Jared Cothren
Remember the scene in ‘Back to the Future Part II’ when Marty McFly travels to futuristic 2015 and buys a sports almanac with the idea of going back to 1985 and capitalizing on a fool proof plan of no-risk sports betting? Well, lucky for us there are a few seasons left in that almanac and I was able to take a peek at the player stats from the 2011 season. I noticed that there are some big names that don’t put up the big numbers we have come to expect every year. I want to share all of this insight with you so you don’t have to endure being the season long punchline of your fantasy league while similtaniously blowing your chances at taking home the hottest chick at the bar when the lights come on…otherwise known as the “fantasy baseball championship.” Now, I want to explain that this list is not intended to be a “Do Not Draft List,” as the names in this article will put up some decent numbers but they are not worth the slot where they are being drafted therefore qualifying as a draft bust.