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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 30, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Updated batter rankings

We're back with another round of the always-popular, often-debated fantasy baseball position player rankings.

To be all-inclusive, David Ortiz, Travis Hafner and the other players who aren't eligible at any position except utility are ranked on their own. It was also a way for us to have Hideki Matsui and Jim Thome crack a top five.

For our late May batter rankings, click here.

As we wrote in that post, players on the disabled list at the time of the rankings are not considered. Players are ranked at each position at which they are eligible, according to's criteria (hence the frequent Michael Young mentions, along with Jose Bautista leading the way at both third base and the outfield).

Before you read the lists, say a quick farewell to Grady Sizemore, who didn't make the top 36 in the outfield after being ranked No. 23 last month.

1. Brian McCann, Braves
2. Victor Martinez, Tigers
3. Alex Avila, Tigers
4. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
5. Carlos Santana, Indians
6. Joe Mauer, Twins
7. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
8. Russell Martin, Yankees
9. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
10. Matt Wieters, Orioles
11. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
12. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
Disabled list: Buster Posey, Giants; Mike Napoli, Rangers

1. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2. Prince Fielder, Brewers
3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
4. Joey Votto, Reds
5. Mark Teixeira, Yankees
6. Paul Konerko, White Sox
7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals
8. Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
9. Michael Young, Rangers
10. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
11. Ryan Howard, Phillies
12. Adam Lind, Blue Jays
DL: Albert Pujols, Cardinals; Justin Morneau, Twins; Ike Davis, Mets; Kendry Morales, Angels


1. Robinson Cano, Yankees
2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
4. Brandon Phillips, Reds
5. Michael Young, Rangers
6. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
7. Ben Zobrist, Rays
8. Danny Espinosa, Nationals
9. Howard Kendrick, Angels
10. Michael Cuddyer, Twins
11. Chase Utley, Phillies
12. Neil Walker, Pirates
DL: Martin Prado, Mets; Brian Roberts, Orioles; Freddy Sanchez, Giants

1. Jose Reyes, Mets
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
3. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
4. Starlin Castro, Cubs
5. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
6. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
7. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
8. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
9. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
10. J.J. Hardy, Orioles
11. Erick Aybar, Angels
12. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
DL: Derek Jeter, Yankees; Jed Lowrie, Red Sox

1. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
2. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
3. Michael Young, Rangers
4. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
6. Evan Longoria, Rays
7. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
8. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
9. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
10. Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
11. Placido Polanco, Phillies
12. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
DL: Martin Prado, Braves; David Wright, Mets; Pedro Alvarez, Pirates

These are the players who aren't eligible anywhere else, and there barely are five worth mentioning:
1. David Ortiz, Red Sox
2. Travis Hafner, Indians
3. Vladimir Guerrero, Orioles
4. Hideki Matsui, Athletics
5. Jim Thome, Twins

1. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers
3. Ryan Braun, Brewers
4. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
5. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
6. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
7. Matt Holliday, Cardinals
8. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
9. Shane Victorino, Phillies
10. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
11. Lance Berkman, Cardinals
12. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
13. Hunter Pence, Astros
14. Michael Bourn, Astros
15. Adam Jones, Orioles
16. Chris Young, Diamondbacks
17. Michael Morse, Nationals
18. Carlos Beltran, Mets
19. Ben Zobrist, Rays
20. Jay Bruce, Reds
21. Melky Cabrera, Royals
22. Andre Ethier, Dodgers
23. Brennan Boesch, Tigers
24. Alex Gordon, Royals
25. Coco Crisp, Athletics
26. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
27. Carlos Quentin, White Sox
28. Nelson Cruz, Rangers
29. Drew Stubbs, Reds
30. Johnny Damon, Rays
31. Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
32. Michael Cuddyer, Twins
33. Jason Heyward, Braves
34. Mike Stanton, Marlins
35. B.J. Upton, Rays
36. Jeff Francoeur, Royals
DL: Martin Prado, Braves; Carl Crawford, Red Sox; Jason Kubel, Twins; Shin-Soo Choo, Indians; Delmon Young, Twins; Jose Tabata, Pirates

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Should you be starting Chisenhall?

Lonnie Chisenhall is available in more than 97 percent of the leagues.

In leagues in which the majority of the members live in or are from Northeast Ohio, I'd be willing to gamble "The Chiz Kid" has been scooped up on the waiver wire in about three-quarters of the formats.

If you're an Indians fan, you probably expect big things from the Tribe's first-round pick in the 2008 draft. If you're an Indians fan who plays fantasy baseball, your loyalty to the Tribe might be clouding your judgment of the roster of your fake team.

At Triple-A Columbus this season, Chisenhall batted .265 with seven home runs, 44 RBI, 44 runs and a .779 OPS in 253 at-bats. Were it not for a stretch in which he had two home runs and 14 RBI in his last five games, his numbers would barely be mediocre.

At Class AA Akron in 2010, he batted .278 with 81 runs, 17 home runs, 84 RBI and an .801 OPS in 460 at-bats.

Will Chisenhall be an All-Star in the future? Tribe fans can only hope. What we do know is his minor-league numbers, if you didn't know to whom they were attached, wouldn't make you look twice if you saw them on

In 1,470 at-bats overall, Chisenhall batted .271 with 235 runs, 51 homers, 265 RBI and a .795 OPS. That is a 600 at-bat average of 21 homers, 108 RBI and 96 runs.

Productive? Yes. Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer productive? No, especially when you consider most top prospects have inflated minor-league stats.

In his four minor-league seasons, Chisenhall has batted above .278 once in a season -- that year, at short-season Class A Mahoning Valley.

Again, he might end up being great. (The Indians are banking on it.)

But it's much too soon to consider Chisenhall a starter in deeper mixed leagues, even after a 2-for-4 debut Monday night.

He will play every day, but if he's not going to hit for average and/or a lot of power, you should be able to do much better at third base.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Is Carlos Carrasco an every-week starter?

Remember when we were led to believe Jason Knapp was the key to the Cliff Lee trade with Philadelphia in 2009?

Regardless of your feelings about the deal, the facts as we know them thus far are ...

-- Knapp is out for the season following shoulder surgery, his second shoulder operation since the trade.

-- Catcher Lou Marson, also a part of the deal, is batting .235 with no home runs and seven RBI for the Tribe.

-- Infielder Jason Donald, the third of four players the Indians received for Lee and Ben Francisco (currently batting .222 with six homers and 26 RBI for the Phillies), is playing for Triple-A Columbus.

That leaves Carlos Carrasco as possibly the only hope from that trade for the Indians, and fortunately for them, he's pitching like an ace. He's no Cliff Lee, but he's pretty darn good.

How good, you ask? Must-start good? (Fantasy baseball is, after all, why you're here. Or is it just the witty banter?)

Let's break it down.

-- Overall, Carrasco is 7-3 with a 3.87 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 79 innings this season.

-- Since May 17, he is 6-1 in his last seven starts. In that 45-inning span, he has a 2.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10 walks and 29 Ks.

-- He's allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last seven contests.

-- In his last three games, he's 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 17 Ks in 22 2/3 innings. He has given up one run in that stretch.

Carrasco doesn't have the strikeout average (5.6 per nine innings) you would like from a top-flight fantasy starter, but he is making up for it in almost every other area.

His minor-league track record suggests he will improve in that area (he had a norm of 8.0 Ks per nine innings down on the farm), and he wins. In 31 starts for Class AAA Columbus in 2009 and '10, Carrasco was a combined 16-7 with 169 Ks in 192 2/3 innings.

I wouldn't consider him a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a deeper mixed league, but the numbers are impossible to ignore.

Start him. Lou Marson, he is not.

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Fantasy baseball: Albert Pujols replacement options

Let's get this out of the way now: You don't replace The Machine.

Albert Pujols, until Sunday, seemed invincible.

The Cardinals first baseman's season averages from 2001 to '10, his first 10 years in the majors, were as follows: .331, 41 home runs, 123 RBI, 119 runs and eight steals. He played at least 154 games in eight of the 10 years, and appeared in 143 and 148 contests in the other two (2006 and '08, respectively).

Sunday, as you know by now, Pujols fractured his left wrist. The Cardinals said he will miss about six weeks, which takes him out of your lineup through at least Week 17.

He started slowly by his standards, but had begun to heat up this month, batting .317 with eight homers, 14 RBI and a 1.197 OPS in 63 at-bats.

Now what?

If you own Pujols, here are some possible waiver-wire acquisitions, along with a couple of players you could target in a trade. All of the waiver-wire candidates are available in more than half of the leagues on

All statistics are through Tuesday, unless noted.

Waiver-wire possibilities

1. Ty Wigginton, Rockies (owned in 38.0 percent of the ESPN leagues): We like his versatility (he's eligible at first base, third base and the outfield in most leagues), and his power (Wigginton hit 22 homers or more three times in four years from 2007 to '10). This season, he is batting .261 with seven homers, 24 RBI and four steals in 184 at-bats. Since May 24, he has been much more productive, batting .296 with five homers and 13 RBI in 98 at-bats.

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves (40.9 percent): He was ranked as the game's 17th-best prospect by Baseball America heading into the season, and he's shown pretty good power as a rookie (seven homers and 27 RBI in 253 at-bats). He's hitting .269 and strikes out too often (69, once per 3.7 at-bats). The average should improve, though. In Triple-A in 2010, Freeman batted .319 with 18 homers, 87 RBI, six steals and an .898 OPS in 461 at-bats.

3. Mark Trumbo, Angels (48.7): He has the best power numbers of the group (12 homers, 30 RBI) and he's stolen six bases, but Trumbo is hitting .254 with a .761 OPS as a rookie. In June, he is batting .250 and has two homers and two RBI in 56 at-bats. He eventually should hit for average, however. In Triple-A in 2010, he batted .301 with 36 homers, 122 RBI, 103 runs and a .945 OPS.

4. Brett Wallace, Astros (18.1): He's hitting .296 with an .810 OPS, though you likely need more power from your first baseman. Wallace has four homers and 21 RBI, and he's 0-for-17 in his last three games. In April, he batted .388, and he has followed by hitting .250 in May and .232 in June. Like Freeman, Trumbo and the player at No. 6 on this list, Wallace should be a future stud. He batted .304 with 46 homers and 180 RBI in 1,119 at-bats in the minor leagues.

5. Casey Kotchman, Rays (3.0): He's hitting .339 with an .858 OPS, but, like Wallace, his power numbers leave something to be desired (three homers and 18 RBI in 183 at-bats). Kotchman has been consistent, hitting .341 in April, .373 in May and .297 in June, a trend that includes his lack of power (one homer each month). If you are going to acquire him, you need him to hit for average to make up for the low home-run and RBI totals. If that's the case, consider that Kotchman is a .265 career hitter.

6. Anthony Rizzo, Padres (22.7): He's off to a slow start since getting called up by the Padres, batting .167 with a homer, two RBI and 13 Ks in 36 at-bats. The 21-year-old was a key piece to the Adrian Gonzalez deal with Boston, and he was tearing up Triple-A before his promotion (.365, 16 homers, 63 RBI and a 1.159 OPS in 200 at-bats in 2011). He's likely a year away.

7. Derrek Lee, Orioles (29.6): This former stud is hitting .243 with four homers, 18 RBI and a .649 OPS. Lee hasn't homered since May 8, and at age 35, he's about as far away from Pujols as I am from Dirk Nowitzki in a late-afternoon pickup game. But if you've made it this far down the list, you are getting desperate and might be willing to take a chance on a player who was very good as recently as 2009.

8. James Loney, Dodgers (25.0): He batted .293 in May, and he entered Tuesday's late game against the Tigers hitting .322 in June. The bad news: He has virtually no power (three homers and 13 RBI in 151 at-bats in those two hot-hitting months). Loney batted .331 in 2007 and he's a .284 career hitter, but he hit .267 in 2010 and is hitting .266 this season. If you're scoring at home, this is where the Pujols options get to beyond-desperate levels.

Position play

Pirates outfielder Garrett Jones (27.4 percent) has played only two games at first base this season, but he's eligible there in most leagues. If he is available on the waiver wire, consider him in the middle of the above list -- at No. 5, ahead of Kotchman. He is batting .250 with seven homers, 26 RBI and three steals in 180 at-bats. In June, however, he's batting .333 with nine RBI in 45 at-bats, and he tallied a combined 42 homers and 17 steals in 906 at-bats in 2009 and '10.

Trade targets

1. Michael Morse, Nationals: Since May 23, he's been among the best in fantasy -- batting .346 with 11 homers, 24 runs and 32 RBI in 107 at-bats. Overall, Morse is hitting .308 with 13 homers, 43 RBI and a .913 OPS. The reason I think you could get him in a trade is he's 29 and he isn't a proven commodity. He's never had more than 266 at-bats. That and the fact he wasn't drafted in many leagues, which means the owner who has him (unless he also has Pujols) might not need him at first base. Morse is also eligible in the outfield, so you could play him there when Pujols returns.

2. Michael Cuddyer, Twins: He batted .300 in May and he entered Tuesday's late game against the Giants hitting .333 in June. Cuddyer has 10 homers and 28 RBI overall, and he is eligible to play second base and the outfield.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fantasy baseball rookie watch: Anthony Rizzo and Dee Gordon

As we wrote Monday, Eric Hosmer -- and now Mike Moustakas -- have made us rethink our hesitancy to play rookies in fantasy baseball.

(Imagine that: The Royals raising the bar.)

With that in mind, two more highly touted first-year players made their major-league debuts last week -- Padres first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon.

How will they fare? Should they start? Let's break it down Jay Bilas style (we're talking big upside).

-- Rizzo: As of Wednesday night, he was available in half of the leagues on, which sounds about right for a 21-year-old who, prior to 2011, had never played above Double-A.

Rizzo, one of the key pieces in the Adrian Gonzalez trade with Boston, was tearing up Triple-A this season. In 200 at-bats, he hit .365 with 16 homers, 63 RBI, a .715 slugging percentage and 1.159 OPS.

The negative: He batted .263 in Class AA in 2010, and he's off to a 4-for-21 start with the Padres (.190). Rizzo has struck out nine times, but he's also shown good discipline (seven walks and a .414 on-base percentage).

If you are desperate for power, especially in an NL-only league, he should provide a decent amount. If you can afford to wait a year (and if you're in a 10- or 12-team mixed league, you should), Rizzo will be much more productive once he's had more than one season combined in Triple-A and the big leagues.

-- Gordon: With Rafael Furcal on the disabled list (surprise, surprise) with an oblique injury, Gordon has become an everyday starter for the Dodgers. Furcal isn't expected back until July, and with his track record, we should expect Gordon to play the majority of the last three-plus months.

Gordon was ranked as the 26th-best prospect by Baseball America prior to 2011 (Rizzo was No. 75), and he has the minor-league numbers to prove it. In 1,544 at-bats, he batted .299 with 261 runs scored and 166 steals. He was batting .315 in Triple-A this year before he received the call to L.A.

In his first nine games with the Dodgers, Gordon -- who is available in almost 88 percent of the leagues on -- has had five multi-hit performances and is batting .333 with six runs and three steals.

He isn't going to help you in the power department (he had seven homers and 119 RBI in the minors), but he can hit for average and he can fly.

Thanks in part to Hosmer and Moustakas, I wouldn't rule out starting Gordon in deeper mixed leagues. If you need steals, play him immediately.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Analyzing Mike Moustakas' fantasy value

In fantasy baseball, I tend to avoid playing rookies as if I'm LeBron James standing on the perimeter, pretending not to be noticed by a teammate during the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

Mike Moustakas, like teammate Eric Hosmer before him, is making me question that philosophy.

The Royals' rookie third season entered 2011 ranked as the No. 9 prospect by Baseball America. He got off to a slow start in Triple-A this year, batting .229 in April, but rebounded to hit .287 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 223 at-bats.

That prompted a call to Kansas City, and he's 3-for-10 with three runs scored and a homer in his first three contests.

By now, he's been scooped up in almost every league. But if you're in a mixed league, you might be torn on whether or not to start him.

If so, consider the following:

-- Of all the eligible third basemen in leagues, only seven players have hit nine or more home runs.

-- One is the Braves' Martin Prado, who is an outfielder. One is the Tigers' Jhonny Peralta, who is a starting shortstop. One is Jose Bautista, who is a Blue Jays outfielder and the early leader for 2011 fantasy MVP.

-- Another player included among the seven: the Orioles' Mark Reynolds, who is batting .203 with 65 strikeouts in 207 at-bats.

It's safe to stay, then, that third base isn't as strong as it's been in years' past.

If you need a power boost, start Moustakas. If you have a quality third baseman and don't have a very good bat in your utility spot, start Moustakas.

In a combined 484 at-bats in Double-A and Triple-A last season, he hit .332 with 36 homers (which tied for the lead in all of the minors) and 124 RBI.

In 1,736 career at-bats down on the farm (roughly three full seasons), he batted .282 with 84 homers, 335 RBI, 281 runs and an .840 OPS.

In a combined 486 at-bats in Class AAA since 2010, he struck out 69 times in 486 at-bats -- a very un-Reynolds-like average of one K per seven at-bats.

Moustakas should hit in the .280 range with power.

At third base this season, that should be enough.

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