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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Hafner, Big Papi and more notes

If Travis Hafner is on your fantasy team, you know the routine.

Play two, sit one. Play two, sit one.

Even when Hafner has back-to-back one-homer, three-RBI games, as was the case Monday and Tuesday, Pronk rests on Day 3 as he tries to regain full strength in his shoulder following offseason surgery.

None of this would be an issue if Hafner hadn't turned back the clock to 2006 this month -- only if the 2006 Pronk played two of every three days. In June, Hafner is 9-for-29 (.310) with three homers, eight RBI, five walks, one strikeout and a 1.101 OPS.

In 92 at-bats this season, Hafner, who missed all of May because of the shoulder, is hitting .283 with seven homers and 16 RBI. Multiply those totals by six (approximately a full season), and the former fantasy stud would have 42 homers, 96 RBI, 42 doubles and a .970 OPS.

The latter stat line certainly is start-worthy.

The play-two, sit-one is not.

All of which results in a simple solution for fantasy owners who need Hafner's bat in their lineups. The answer has two requirements: You must keep track of Hafner's game log, and you need to be a third-grade math wiz.

The Indians don't play seven games in a week until Aug. 24-30 -- Week 21 of the fantasy season. Thus, when the Tribe plays six games, Hafner won't play more than four -- meaning you can't start him, 1.101 OPS or not.

Now for the good-news portion of this analysis: Your favorite burly, high-priced, prodding designated hitter said Wednesday he wants to be able to play three consecutive games "pretty soon."

"Pretty soon," you can start him. Until then, he's a part-time member of the Tribe and a full-time fantasy reserve.

Speaking of struggling, one-dimensional players ...

June has been very good to another fielding-challenged former slugger, David Ortiz.

Big Papi, who entered the month batting .185 with one homer and 18 RBI, is 13-for-38 (.342) with eight runs scored, four homers, 10 RBI, a .457 on-base percentage and a 1.167 OPS in June (prior to Thursday night's game against Florida).

Now that you're thinking of putting him back in your lineup, there's the pesky matter of interleague play. Ortiz and the Red Sox play six games next week -- three at Washington and three at Atlanta.

That likely will result in Ortiz playing one game at first base and being available as a pinch hitter in the other two. That results in Big Papi remaining on your bench.

If he continues to show signs of improvement, I would start him -- in Week 13 (June 29-July 5).

Save your excitement

J.P. Howell recorded his third save of the season Sunday, tying him with Randy Choate for second on the Rays behind the injured Troy Percival (six). Since June 4, Howell has two saves and two blown saves, despite not being charged with a run in that span.

His season statistics (2-2, 1.95 ERA, 40 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings) certainly merit roster consideration in deep category leagues. The problem: The Rays have had seven players record a save thus far, and they seem to be taking a committee approach with Howell and Choate (3-for-3 in save chances, with 11 strikeouts in nine innings since being promoted from the minors).

Of the two, Howell is the better fantasy option -- which is like saying Nicky is the better Hilton sister.


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