The Rays and A's enter tonight as the second-place teams in their respective divisions. Surprisingly, neither team has dominating fantasy hitters. The Rays have BJ Upton and Carl Crawford, who have been excellent sources of SBs, but niether has been a noticable source of power. 1B Carlos Pena is hitting the way he did when the Detroit Tigers let him go, and rookie 3B Evan Longoria is working to make "over-hyped rookie 3B" a new phrase in fantasy baseball.
The Oakland A's have even less than that on offense for fantasy players. Jack Cust leads the team with 5 HRs but a .246 AVG. Emil Brown has 33 RBIs and a .256 AVG. Mark Ellis has 5 SB, a .242 AVG and is currently dinged-up. The brightest fantasy spot on offense for the A's is SS Bobby Crosby who has managed to hit .270 with 3 HRs, 22 RBIs, and 2 SBs. After two seasons plagued with injuries and sub-.230 AVGs, Crosby has been a boon for his lucky fantasy owner.
Both teams are where they are in the standings thanks to excellent starting and bullpen pitching. While no one is surprised by the efforts of James Shields or Joe Blanton, who thought Edwin Jackson would have a 3.49 ERA after 54.2 innings for the Rays? Or Greg Smith and Dana Eveland would pitch so well that one forgets they were not the headline pieces in the Danny Haren deal?
The question for both teams is whether their pitching will remain this good over the remaining 75% of the 2008 season, and, if it doesn't, will the bats improve enough to make-up the difference.