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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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Start Jose Lopez while you can

If you're an Indians fan, you probably like the idea of Jose Lopez remaining in the starting lineup at third base.

Lopez provides some much-needed pop from the right side for the Tribe's lefty-leaning lineup. In 50 at-bats, he is batting .280 with two home runs, nine RBI and an .833 OPS.

If you play fantasy, you likely are hoping the Indians continue to play Lopez, who is a better option in our fake world than Jack Hannahan, who hasn't played since May 13 because of a back injury.

Hannahan, to his credit, is hitting .287 with three homers, 18 RBI and an .801 OPS in 101 at-bats. But you can't rely on him to help you much at the hot corner in fantasy, considering he's a .236 career hitter who has never had more than nine homers and 47 RBI in a season.

Lopez, however, does have a positive track record.

Yes, he was brutal last season with the Rockies and Marlins (a combined .216 average in 231 at-bats), and he wasn't much better in 2010 (.239 average, 10 homers and 58 RBI in 593 at-bats with the Mariners). In 2008 and '09, though, he averaged 21 homers and 93 RBI with Seattle. In 2008, he batted a career-best .297. The following season, he had career bests of 25 homers and 96 RBI.

If you compete in a daily AL-only league, I would continue to play Lopez until it's announced Hannahan is set to return. In weekly leagues, you can't make the move unless you know Hannahan will be out (say a trip to the disabled list).

In his last five games through Tuesday, Lopez has six RBI. He is riding an eight-game hitting streak in which he is batting .357.

It would seem to make sense for him to stay in the lineup. That likely won't be in left field, since Lopez has played the infield throughout his nine-year career.

The majority of Lopez's at-bats will have to come at third base, with some starts mixed in at first, second and DH.

Maybe the Tribe will figure out a way to play him five days a week. If they do, you should, too.

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May 23, 2012 at 6:34 AM 

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