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Roto Roundup: Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Paul Goldschmidt and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Friday's MLB action, including Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Paul Goldschmidt and others.

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Ryan Braun: Quietly having a big year

Coming into the season, many felt that Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was too injury prone to draft and his ADP ranking was too high due to the injury risk. Well, those who did draft him are reaping the rewards to date, as Braun is having a solid season at the plate. Last night, he went 3-3 with a home run, 2 doubles and 4 RBI in the Brewers 11-0 win over the Braves. He has now homered in three of his last four games, and has five home runs over his last eight games. TH ebig night at the plate raised his slash line to ,273-.346-.538 with 11 home runs, 26 runs scored, 33 RBI and 4 stolen bases in 4 attempts.

Braun currently ranks in the top four in home runs and RBI, and ranks ninth in OPS in the National League. He is on pace to hit 41 home runs, drive in 124 and steal 15 bases. I doubt he can reach 41 home runs, but it isn't impossible. Strange stat is the fact that he has hit just 2 of his 11 home runs at home this season, so that should change as Miller Park is one of the better home run parks in baseball.

For more on Braun and the Brewers, check out Brew Crew Ball, SB Nation's Brewers fan site.

Roto Roundup

Another hitter fantasy owners were shying away from on draft day due to him coming off a serious injury is Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder. Fielder was coming off serious neck surgery, a very uncommon injury and surgery, so no one really had a clue what to expect from him. Reports indicated he was working out 4-5 hours a day in the offseason in an effort to lose weight and be more flexible, and so far, the results are very encouraging for those who drafted him. Last night, Fielder went 2-5 with two home runs and 4 RBI in the Rangers 10-9 win over the Yankees, raising his slash line to .341-.397-.521 with 7 home runs, 17 runs scored and 27 RBI in 178 plate appearances. The power is lower than expected to this point, but he is on pace to hit 27 home runs and drive in over 100 runs. That's pretty good for a hitter that was not given much love on draft day. Gone are the 40 home run seasons, but there is still a productive hitter here.

Speaking of productive hitting first baseman, look no further than the best of the bunch this side of Miguel Cabrera. After getting a day off on Thursday, Goldy had a big night at the plate and on the bases last night, going 3-5 with a game-tying home run, 3 RBI and 2 stolen bases in the Diamondbacks come from behind 5-4 win over the Cubs. The big night raised his slash line to .331-.429-.623 with 11 home runs, 31 runs scored, 35 RBI and 8 stolen bases. He is on pace to put up a 43 home run, 122 runs scored, 138 RBI and 32 stolen base season in 2015. He and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper are the current leaders for National League MVP at this point, and either could push Mike Trout to the #2 or 3 spot in 2015 drafts with the way they are hitting this season. Goldschmidt currently ranks in the top 4 in the following hitting categories in the NL:

Batting Average

Home Runs

RBI

Walks

Runs Scored

Slugging percentage

OPS

Could he put up a 40 home run, 30 stolen base season in 2015?

In a pitching duel that many were talking about yesterday, Pirates ace Gerrit Cole faced off against Mets rookie starter Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard was coming off two solid starts, so the hype was thick. But it was Cole who stole the show on Friday night, as he simply dominated the Mets, giving up just an unearned run on 6 hits, a walk and striking out 10 in the Pirates 4-1 win last night. The win moved his record to 6-2 with 2.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and an excellent 63-14 strikeout to walk rate in 57 innings of work. He is showing improvement across the board, as he is striking out almost ten batters (9.95 k/9) and walking just two batters (2.21 BB/9) and keeping the ball on the ground at a 54% rate, up from 49% in 2014. He is turning into a legitimate ace before our eyes. Enjoy it. Baseball needs young stars like Cole, Goldschmidt, Harper and others to shine.

I am trying to trade for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in my AL only keeper league and I need help in the pitching categories. I doubt I can pry him from his owner, but I will continue trying. His performance last night may push me to offer a cheap Xander Bogaerts in the deal. Last night, Felix dominated the Blue Jays lineup in the Rogers Centre, limiting them to just one run on 4 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Mariners 4-3 win. Closer Fernando Rodney made things interesting in the ninth as he always does, but Felix came away with the win, pushing his record to 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and a 63-14 strikeout to walk rate in 61.2 innings. Through two months of the season, Hernandez looks like he will nail down another American League Cy Young award in November.

Is there a hotter hitter in baseball than Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis? Well, the previously mentioned Bryce Harper might have something to say about that, but Kipnis has been on fire this month and it continued last night, as he went 3-4 with a walk, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI in the Indians 7-3 win over the struggling Reds. Kipnis is now hitting .337-.406-.503 with 4 home runs, 30 runs scored, 19 RBI, 5 stolen bases and an excellent 22-16 strikeout to walk rate in 185 plate appearances. He is on pace for a 16 home run, 20 stolen base season in 2015, but I think he will run more when the weather turns warmer in the summer months. The Indians will need a productive Kipnis to get into the NL Central race with the Royals and Tigers.

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