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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, April 21, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Start or sit -- Hanley Ramirez

There is no shortage of struggling stars this season.

Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, David Wright ... how long do you have?

The biggest in my mind: Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

He was the No. 2 overall choice in many fantasy leagues, and entering Thursday, he had rewarded owners by hitting .235 with no home runs, six RBI and a .674 OPS.

If you're among the many worried about Ramirez's slow start, a word of advice: Don't. At least not yet.

Ramirez wasn't great in April last season, either -- a .279 average with two homers, seven RBI and two steals in 86 at-bats. He finished the year batting .300 with 92 runs, 21 homers, 76 RBI and 32 steals.

In his last six games prior to Thursday, Ramirez was batting .333 (6-for-18) with four RBI.

If there is a reason to be concerned, it's Ramirez's drop in the power categories.

He averaged 31 homers in 2007 and '08. In 2009, his homer total dropped to 24, but he drove in a career-high 106 runs.

Last season, his homers were down again (21, his lowest total since his rookie season of 2006), and he drove in fewer than 80 runs for the second time in three years.

You should be confident Ramirez will hit for average, score more than 90 runs and steal 30 to 35 bases. That makes him a must-start in fantasy, especially at shortstop.

Will he wind up being worth the No. 2 pick in the draft? If he finishes with 15 homers and 75 RBI, no.

That will affect Ramirez's draft-day value in 2012. Until then, start him and hope the power drop is because of a bad three weeks, not a sign of things to come.

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