Apr 14, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) walks off the field after the first inning against the \Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
It's hard to leave Matt Kemp out of this week's Six The Hard Way but you don't need me to tell you he's the most valuable player in fantasy baseball right now, do you? Instead lets focus on one player who could challenge him for that title by year's end along with two players who are off to hot streaks and are currently being undervalued. I promise to leave Tim Lincecum out this week though as of right now he's the easily the most disappointing player in baseball. I know owners are frustrated with Lincecum's play but you're encourage to keep him, there's only one place to go from here, I hope.
Hanley Ramirez- Ramirez may have gotten off to a slow start but he has turned it on as of late. He has four home runs to go along with 12 RBI. The most impressive part of his season to date has been his ability to get on base, he's walked 7 times in the 13 games he's played. This is an added bonus for anyone playing in OBP leagues such as myself. The aggressiveness of Emilio Bonifacio on the base paths should continue to present him with run producing opportunities. Ramirez appears to have no problem powering up at home as three of his four home runs have came at Miami's new park. With 13 games in he should have dual eligibility in most leagues, those who have a 15 game in season requirement will see him third base eligible by the end of the weekend. It goes without saying he's a must start in all formats.
Nolan Reimold- Reimold is one of the more surprising stories thus far. He's sporting a .341 AVG along with 4 home runs, 8 RBI, and 7 runs scored in his 10 games. He's currently unowned in 35% of CBS Sports leagues so owners looking for a replacement for Arizona outfielder Chris Young or those still searching for Jacoby Ellsbury fill in may have a chance at rostering him while he's hot. Baltimore is middle of the pack in terms of AVG and OBP but is 3rd in SLG thanks to hot starts from the likes of Reimold, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters. Continue to ride him to the wheels fall off, though given his history that could come at any moment.
A.J. Pierzynski- Raise your hand if you had Pierzynski as the top fantasy catcher through week 3. That's what I thought. The most hated catcher in baseball has a line of .400/.421/.829 through his first 10. Pierzynski is a quality play in both Roto and Head-To-Head formats. He's unowned in more leagues than Reimold at this point, with 40% availability. The thing I like most about Pierzynski right now is he's an all pluses head-to-head contributor. With only three strike outs thus far, he's not registering any negatives for your fantasy team. Even when he slows down his ability to limit strike outs will prove more valuable than some of the catchers with more power and a greater propensity for whiffing.
Yu Darvish- The transition has not been as smooth as we had hoped. After last night's contest, Darvish has totaled 13 walks in 17 2/3 innings. The inability to command pitches and throw quality strikes has owners concerned about his acclimation to the MLB. The walks would be bearable if the K's were as expected but with only 14 to date there isn't many positives to go on. The decision to start him or sit him is truly dependent upon other options and format. In H2H play I'd continue to send him out there, as he should be a good source of wins thanks to the Rangers offense and strong bullpen. If you're in a Roto league I'd bench him until he shows some sort of consistency. The 3.57 ERA is manageable but his 1.81 WHIP will be sure to inflate your team total.
Adam Wainwright- The recovery from Tommy John surgery is different for every player. There is no way to predict how one will respond until he faces competition. Needless to say, things have not gone as planned for Wainwright. He ranks 99th in ERA, 85th in AVG, and 80th in WHIP. The early reports are that his velocity is down, about 2 mph from his career norm on his sinker. His ADP saw him being drafted amongst the likes of Brandon Beachy, Gio Gonzalez, and Matt Garza, a mistake owners are certainly regretting at this point. Feel secure about benching him until he shows some return to normalcy, he simply can't be trusted as of now.
Giancarlo Stanton- I considered writing about Albert Pujols here, but I feel his lack of power is less worrisome. Pujols appears to be pressing at the plate rather than dealing with a physical ailment. Stanton's zero home runs though may be the product of a knee injury that quite possibly could last all season. There is said to be no ligament damage in his knee but the pain has been described as severe, days will be scheduled off because of the pain and lack of mobility. I haven't seen enough of Stanton to detail any difference in his swing or approach but from what I read things don't look good. The issue from my understanding is that this injury is best healed with rest and rehab, those options are currently unavailable, though shutting him down early may be in his and the team's best interest. For now owners should look elsewhere until they see signs of life. Players such as Alejandro De Aza could be short term solutions. Keep an eye on the injury reports and if you own Stanton count on him having off days on a regular basis. Those who operate in daily leagues will want to pay close attention to the posted lineups.