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Sat Jul 7, 2012 1:00am|
By Tim Heaney
Who were the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball leagues this past week? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?
Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
For once, hitting cleanup for the Buccos isn't a stigma. Unfortunately, his 3-for-17, one-RBI line versus left-handers remains a shameful tattoo. He'll continue sitting against them for the most part. Plus, PNC Park still doesn't play kindly to pull hitters - or any hitter, for that matter - and how long can Jones benefit from being overly aggressive and sacrificing his penchant for walks?
It's a hot streak, though, and those count, especially if you can deploy him with a week full of righty opponents on the hill. His power, though not elite, is legit and has conquered his hostile home environment over the last few campaigns. He should safely reach 20 homers again, which goes a long way for mixed depth.
Michael Fiers, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
The righty, who wasn't touted among Milwaukee prospects coming into the season, touches only the low 90s with his heat most of the time, but his over-the-top arm action adds some proverbial bite to his finesse-oriented arsenal.
Such a profile worked for Josh Collmenter last year in big-leaguers' first taste of his trickery, so it very well could here, especially since this 27-year-old doesn't shy away from the black. His 2.07 FIP and 3.10 xFIP don't point to a correction, but many who snared him from their waiver wire might be getting only the downside from here on out. First off, his 9.64 K/9 should come down, considering he doesn't elicit many empty hacks.
He's a prime NL-only sell-high asset but probably will garner too much skepticism in mixers to flip for anything decent. Even if you're stuck with Fiers while he loses some oxygen, he'll play as decent back-end material for dual-universe players. Some arms that rely on deception can last longer than their stuff permits.
Alexi Amarista, 2B, San Diego Padres
That line encompasses his current hit streak. Amarista had some help in his recent homer binge, but the mighty mite looks to be maturing as a stick handler in general. Inhabiting the two-hole of any lineup, even one with San Diego's holes, augments a player's value.
His speed game plays well with PETCO Park's spacious dimensions. He can easily turn Texas Leaguers into doubles. The spark Amarista and shortstop Everth Cabrera have provided since San Diego's middle-infield makeover extend their lineup leashes. As long as you're prepared for him to fizzle out, a la Jose Altuve's correction, Amarista still warrants a shot for the MI-starved, even at this stage of his run.
Tyler Colvin, OF, Colorado Rockies
Michael Cuddyer has spent more time at first base lately so the Rox can incorporate the scorching Colvin in either center or right field. Colvin's streakiness casts some season-long doubt, but he's making a case for this arrangement's permanence thanks to his .326 clip versus southpaws. He hit .057 versus them in a shielded 35-at-bat sample size in 2011. Colvin has sacrificed power against them, but he's squaring more of their pitches, a common cure to such splits ailments.
The 26-year-old has carried this upside for a while and is unleashing it with a regular gig. His performance against left-handers will determine the longevity, and playing him away from Coors Field, despite his balanced splits so far, justifies more skepticism. But overall, it isn't a fluke.
Clayton Richard, SP, San Diego Padres
To be fair, Richard's opponents in that window: Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, at Seattle Mariners, at Oakland Athletics, Seattle, at Houston Astros, at Arizona. Not exactly prime competition, even though he pitched well in some hostile hurler environments.
Some fundamental improvements say the 28-year-old could perform regardless of ambience, though. Richard has pitched above his peripherals in recent years, so this isn't new territory. After all, he won 14 games in 2010. His slider is producing more K's, and his two-seamer/sinker, which he's leaning on more heavily than he did last year, has induced more grounders. His control has been pristine since April (15 walks in 82 frames).
Though his approach offers hope for more consistency, he's optimally used as a home platoon starter. At least he has a solid chance, depending on how SD resets its rotation post-KC, to pitch in as many as three favorable pitcher's parks this month (Chavez Ravine, AT&T Park and Marlins Ballpark).
Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets
His two-homer June 27 marked the first time he cleared a fence since July 16 of his injury-shortened 2011. In 2012, the contact-first bat probably won't match his 12 round-trippers from 2009, especially because he's putting rawhide into the air on only about a quarter of his batted balls. His surge also comes from increased early-count confidence, at least lately. Murphy profiles as more of an opposite-field stick, and his splits reveal he's leaning in that direction once again.
Knee injuries cut into last year and erased his 2010, so many are under the impression there's more thump hiding in his lumber. His diverse positional eligibility aids that wishful thinking.
Southpaws still hinder his output, though, and sitting him against them remains a solid idea. This isn't a season-long mixed commodity, though said roster flexibility amplifies his single-universe worth. If the situation is right, that's worth manipulating in NL-only trade talks.
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
That's the number of games Perez has played since coming off the DL. That's also the number of consecutive contests in which Perez has at least one hit; he has four multi-knock efforts in that time, including a 4-for-5 display Thursday.
His contact-first approach carried him over 158 plate appearances last year, during which he hit .331. He's not one for free passes, but his liner- and grounder-slanted in-play tendencies say he can keep sniffing .300. He doesn't have Matt Wieters pop, but Perez, now 22, showed a significant farm uptick in 2011 (9 HR in 309 PA with Double-A Northwest Arkansas) and has the frame (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) to support continued development there.
He'll slow down a bit, but not enough to prompt regret for adding him. His components remain alluring.
Justin Ruggiano, OF, Miami Marlins
The latest center field filler with Emilio Bonifacio (sprained thumb) on the DL, Ruggiano, a former Tampa Bay Rays system backup, has delivered. He's not as much of a steal threat as Boni is, but the 30-year-old, who produced a stat-sheet-stuffing power-speed combo in his Triple-A Durham years, has some pickup along the base paths.
Though his liner increase calls for optimism, Ruggiano's .442 BABIP is all but certain to come down, and despite his improvements there, he's not a stable contact stick. Plus, Bonifacio's on a rehab assignment that's slated to bring him back to the bigs July 13 if all goes well. Maybe Giancarlo Stanton (knee) will miss more time and keep Ruggiano on the card, but the long-term payoff from the journeyman hardly looks safe.
Phil Hughes, SP, New York Yankees
Some seem late to the party. Homers will continue to be a problem for Hughes (19 in 94 1/3 frames this year), but he's been more assertive with his entire arsenal, as well as in the strike zone, and has posted an upgrade of four-seam velocity.
Since he sometimes can leave pitches flat, he's a hurler that makes you fear his 4.60 FIP. The fact he's learned to pitch deeper into games should complement his elite run support, though, and give him a better shot at earning victories than other pitchers in his tier. Don't chase wins, but don't ignore those in better situations for them.
Travis Wood, SP, Chicago Cubs
Wood has seemingly teetered on consistent fantasy utility. He's not a flamethrower and had allowed too many fly balls while playing in dangerous home digs. This year, he's cut down on the lofts while featuring his slider more often. That and his cutter have carried him so far.
Still, that 83.0 left-on-base percentage is well above his career average and the league mean. He's still allowing a tad too much contact while not professing much dominance. If you're counting on him for long-term help in mixed leagues, you're living on the edge, kind of like how the 25-year-old has looked in the bigs for most of his career.