July 26, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
Pirates starter A.J. Burnett is making GM Neil Huntington look like a genius for trading for him this past offseason. Burnett held the hot Reds to 2 runs on 3 hits, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts to win his 14th game of the season yesterday. Burnett is now 14-3 with a 3.19 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a 109-40 strikeout to walk ratio in 132.2 innings pitched this season. In his last 4 starts, where he has pitched 32.2 innings, he has given up just 5 runs on 16 hits, 7 walks and 23 strikeouts. Burnett is creeping his way into the National League Cy Young award race.
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker has been hot at the plate recently, and that continued on Sunday as he went 3-5 with a HR, 2 runs and 2 RBI. Walker raised his triple slash line to .292-.359-.449 with 12 HRs, 55 runs and 58 RBI this season. His 58 RBI are good for second amongst fantasy second baseman this season, while his .288 batting average ranks 6th amongst all fantasy second baseman.
Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson is having the best year of his career, and I have to say I am a bit surprised he has kept this up all season. He apparently changed his swing in the offseason, and he has produced at an all star level all season. He went 4-6 with a double and 2 triples, scored 3 runs and drove in one run, raising his slash line to .322-.409-.519 with 11 HRs, 7 triples, 19 doubles, 68 runs, 49 RBI and 10 stolen bases this season. If he stole a few more bases, his value would be a bit higher to fantasy owners. He will have plenty of value in OBP leagues next season, as his lowest monthly OBP is .376 in April.
Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford had his best game since returning from the DL on Sunday, as he went 3-5 with 2 runs, an RBI and a stolen base. Crawford has a hit in 13 of his 18 games played, and is now hitting .279-.319-.471 with 3 HRs, 14 runs, 10 RBI and 3 stolen bases. He is a risk to hit the DL for the rest of the season, once he, or the team, decides to have the Tommy John surgery that he needs. Once that happens, you know the Red Sox are waiving the white flag.
More Roundup after the jump:
Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell has finally received his chance to play everyday and he is producing. Maxwell went 2-4 with a double and an RBI on Sunday, and is now hitting .253-.327-505 with 12 HRs, 31 runs, 36 RBI and 3 stolen bases in under 200 at bats thus far. He also went 4-4 with 2 HRs and 3 RBI on Saturday night. If you prorate those stats over a full season, you get a 30-100 season from him, but I am not here to say he will do it, just that he is of decent production if given the opportunity.
I was not high on Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman coming into the season, as I felt he wouldn't put up a big power season. He went 2-4 with a run scored yesterday, and while his BA and OBP provide value to fantasy owners, his power does not. Freeman is hitting .282-.351-.466 with 13 HRs, 61 runs, and 65 RBI. He is on pace for just 20 HRs, but his 92 run and 98 RBI pace is solid.
Chase Utley returned to the Phillies lineup a lot later than many expected, but he has been pretty productive in his first 100 at bats since returning from the DL. He went 2-4 with a HR on Sunday raising his slash line to .264-.368-.509 with 7 HRs, 15 runs, 16 RBI and 3 stolen bases in 106 at bats. A little too late for the Phillies playoff chances, but he will certainly help some fantasy teams this season.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is having the best season of his career this season. He went 2-5 with 2 RBI yesterday and is now hitting .296-.368-.401 with 2 HRs, 61 runs, 46 RBI, 18 stolen bases and a solid 62-45 strikeout to walk ratio thus far. Andrus did injure his shoulder on a slide (yeah, not sure how one does that), and took himself out of the game in the 9th inning. After the game, he said he was fine, and is considered day to day at this point. #FreeProfar will probably have to wait at least a month.
The Cubs finally made the roster moves many Cubs fans have been waiting for since early June. They called up outfield prospect Brett Jackson and third base prospect Josh Vitters. Jackson started Sunday's game vs the Dodgers and went 2-4 with a run scored in his first big league game, while Josh Vitters pinch hit, going 0-1 while seeing just two pitches. I just want to remind readers that Jackson is capable of hitting for power and stealing some bases, he batted second in front of Anthony Rizzo yesterday, but he is very prone to striking out as well.
I wrote here a few days ago about Anthony Rizzo's performance being what we can expect going forward, and more and more I believe that to be true. He went 2-4 with a game tying home run, and 3 RBI yesterday, and is now hitting .310-.348-.550 with 9 HRs, 16 runs and 23 RBI in 129 big league at bats. I traded Rizzo in the UBA NL only keeper league last season, in an attempt to win the league. I did win the league, and now the owner who was on the other side of this deal is setting himself up for a run in 2013. Rizzo should be a big part of his team.