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Roto Roundup: Billy Hamilton, Brandon Crawford, Rubby de la Rosa and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Monday's MLB action, including Billy Hamilton, Brandon Crawford, Rubby de la Rosa and others.

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Billy Hamilton no longer leading off

On Sunday, Reds manager Bryan Price finally did what many sabremetric-friendly baseball fans have been saying for a while now. He moved center fielder Billy Hamilton down to the 8th spot in the Reds lineup. Hamilton responded by going 1-3 with 2 RBI in the Reds 9-8 loss. Price said he moved Hamilton down in the lineup to provide guys who get on base more at the top of the lineup, so shortstop Zack Cozart, who is off to a great start to the 2015 season, batted leadoff on Sunday, with Joey Votto batting second.

The move down in the lineup is not good for Hamilton's short term fantasy value, but if it improves his plate discipline, he will be better off for it in the longer term. Moving a hitter to the eighth spot allows the hitter to learn to work the count, and see more pitches, as he isn't going to see the opposing pitcher's best stuff with the pitcher in the on deck circle. Former Dodgers manager Joe Torre did the same with a younger Matt Kemp when he was swinging for the fences every at bat, and current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly batted Joc Pederson in the eighth spot in April before moving him to the leadoff spot.

Hamilton has struggled at the plate this season, hitting just .214-.263-.336 with 3 home runs, 22 runs scored, 8 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts. Hamilton has reached first base a total of 32 times this season )22 singles and 10 walks) and has attempted 19 stolen bases, so he is running quite a bit once he does reach first base. Can you imagine how many steals he would have right now if his on base percentage was 60 points higher?

I see Price eventually moving Hamilton back to the leadoff spot once Hamilton can learn to take more pitches, hit the ball on the ground more and attempt more bunts. He needs to utilize his speed more by hitting the ball on the ground more.

For more on Hamilton and the Reds, make sure you check out Red Reporter, SB Nation's Reds fan site.

Brandon Crawford: Is he Tulo-lite?

I was asked to appear on the In This League podcast with Scott Bogman and Welsh and one of the players we discussed was Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you on hm.

Last season Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford had a bit of a breakout season, hitting .246-.324-.389 with 10 home runs, 54 runs scored and 69 RBI, all career highs. Well, based on how he is hitting this season, those won''t be career highs for too long. On Sunday, Crawford went 2-4 with a walk, 3 runs scored and an RBI in the Giants 908 win over the Reds. That performance capped a big weekend, as he went 7-13 with a home run, 5 runs scored and 8 RBI in the three game series in Great American Ballpark.

He is now hitting .285-.380-.512 with 6 home runs, 20 runs scored, 25 RBI and 2 stolen bases, and is on pace for 26 home runs, 85 runs scored, 107 RBI and 9 stolen bases this season. I doubt he can keep that pace up, but he is showing growth at the plate that most of us did not expect. He is hitting for more power this season, mainly due to a huge 20% HR/FB% and is hitting more line drives than in the past. The HR/FB% is likely to drop from here on out, but a 15-20 home run, 80 RBI season is not out of the question for Crawford. That's basically what Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki puts up when he is healthy, but Crawford won't hit .290-.300 any time soon.

I was surprised to see that he is owned in just 37% of ESPN leagues right now. He is too good to be available on your league waiver wire, so grab him if you have an underperforming shorstop or middle infielder and ride him while he is hot

For more on Crawford and the Giants, make sure you check out McCovey Chronicles, SB Nation's Giants fan site.

Roto Roundup

The Diamondbacks traded their best starting pitcher Wade Miley to the Red Sox for Rubby de la Rosa and Allen Webster this offseason, and I have to admit that I questioned why they would want two starting pitchers who have failed in the big leagues. I might be right on Webster, but Rubby is proving me wrong at this point in the season. Last night, he limited the Marlins to just 2 runs on 6 hits, no walks and 5 strikeouts in the Diamondbacks 3-2 win in 13 innings. Rubby didn't earn the decision, but he is earning some love from fantasy owners with the way he has pitched over the last few weeks. He is now 4-2 with a 4.09 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and an excellent 47-12 strikeout to walk rate in 53 innings this season. He has given up three runs or less in five of his eight starts this season and is owned in just 24% of leagues right now and that should increase if he can keep pitching like this and avoid the blowup start going forward.

Jose Bautista broke out of his few week slump in a big way yesterday afternoon, going 3-4 with a home run, 3 runs scored and 3 RBI in the Blue Jays 10-6 win over the Angels. On the season, he is now hitting .235-.375-.504 with 7 home runs, 27 runs scored, 23 RBI and an elite 30-26 strikeout to walk rate in 141 plate appearances. He is on pace for 28 home runs and 93 RBI, but I think he could exceed both of those projections if he can stay healthy all season.

In what was the best pitcher's duel of the night saw Indians ace Corey Kluber face off against White Sox ace Chris Sale. Neither factored in the decision, but both pitched as expected. Kluber, coming off his 18 strikeout performance vs the Cardinals last week in a near no-hitter, was almost as un-hittable last night, giving up just one run on 5 hits, a walk and 12 strikeouts. Any chance of dealing for Kluber is now gone, unless you want to give up market value for him, as he appears to be back on track. His 1-5 record is disappointing, but he has pitched better than his record indicates, as his ERA now sits at 3.79, with a 1.12 WHIP and an elite 76-12 strikeout to walk rate in 61.2 innings.

Sale has been disappointing in the early parts of the 2015 season, but he has pitched better in his last two starts, including last night's no decision vs the Indians. Sale gave up just one run on 4 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 8 innings, and is now 3-1 with a 4.36 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and a 44-13 strikeout to walk rate in 43.1 innings. Aside from his two disaster starts, Sale has given up two runs or less in five of his seven starts thus far, so he should be the Sale you expected going forward.

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