In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
One of the best aspects of fantasy baseball is the unpredictability. Already seen this season, we've seen events that not even the most clairvoyant of analysts could have possibly predicted. Who thought Charlie Blackmon would be one of the five best players in fantasy, or that Mark Buehrle, Francisco Rodriguez and Yangervis Solarte would be undroppable beasts? Who saw Mark Teixeira and Justin Morneau clawing out of the grave, or Chris Colabello leading the majors in RBI for much of April, or Mike Trout leading the American League in strikeouts?
But here's my favorite surprise of the year: Victor Martinez. Sure, Martinez has been an outstanding player in the past, but his power had dropped off in a big way since joining the Tigers, a fact that was partially due to him missing the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL. But he's regained his power stroke this year; V-Mart hit a home run yesterday and now has 10 of them to go with 25 RBI, a .331 batting average and just nine strikeouts. He's even stolen two bases for good measure. And again, this is a player who had only 14 homers last season.
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Martinez, with his everyday DH status, would unquestionably be the best catcher in all of fantasy baseball... if he had catcher eligibility. Unfortunately, he's only started two games at catcher this year, meaning that in most fantasy leagues, he still needs to get in three more starts behind the plate to earn eligibility. Because he's an everyday player and is hitting so well, he's still plenty valuable as a utility hitter. However, his peak value will be attained when he can actually be used as a catcher, and at the moment, he doesn't appear at all close to getting that eligibility. Since April 16, the only field action he's gotten has been at first base.
If Martinez can squeeze in three more starts at catcher from now until the end of the summer, he'll go from an above-average but slightly-dispensable utility player to the most elite player in an extremely weak position. If you need a catcher and don't mind taking a bit of a gamble, there'd be a massive payout if he can again get a "C" next to his name.
For your consideration
• Rickie Weeks went 1-for-4 with a home run yesterday and is now hitting .351 with two homers so far in limited playing time. Yes, that Rickie Weeks, the one we'd all written off. Weeks was a top-five fantasy second baseman not too long ago, but he's absolutely imploded over the last few years. In 2012, he totaled 85 runs, 21 home runs, 63 RBI and 16 steals, but hit only .230. And last year, he hit only .209 with an awful 10 home runs and 24 RBI in 104 games. Weeks was so miserable that the Brewers even put him in a platoon with Scooter Gennett. But he's been playing quite well lately, and although Gennett hasn't been awful, he just doesn't have the same upside as Weeks. Given the uncertainty in his playing time, Weeks isn't in an option in leagues yet, but if he can wrestle the starting second base job back from Gennett, he could be an asset once again.
• George Springer went 1-for-3 yesterday versus the White Sox. The Astros' prospect hasn't been setting the world on fire since he got called up, but he's slowly finding his groove and has been productive, collecting RBI in four of his last five games. Springer may not be doing much in the speed department, and with 46 strikeouts in 29 games, he's leaving the batter's box quite a lot without even putting the ball in play. Still, his upside is truly massive; remember that this is a guy who between double- and triple-A last season produced 37 home runs and 45 steals. And despite the pitfalls in his game, he still warrants being rostered in all leagues.
• Billy Butler had a great game on Sunday, going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Normally, it wouldn't be news for Butler to have a great game, but he's been mired in a season-long slump, hitting only .240 with just one home run and 16 RBI despite being an everyday player. Butler, much like Alfonso Soriano, profiles as a player who tends to get off to slow starts, only to go on blistering runs in the summer, and because of that, he still has some value in mixed leagues. However, that speculative upside is the only positive to owning him right now, as he's deficient in every single category among first basemen. He's a player you'll be glad to own when he inevitably goes on a random rampage, but outside of such a microburst, you can completely justifying not owning him at this point.
• LaTroy Hawkins blew a save on Sunday -- the first of the season for the Rockies' 41-year-old closer. Hawkins has been more stable than a lot of people expected him to be (myself included), but we're finally starting to see some tearing at his seams, as he's given up four runs in his last five outings and has seen his ERA balloon to 4.11. At the moment, he's in no danger of losing his job, but given his advanced age and less-than-astounding track record, Hawkins' owners might want to pick up Rex Brothers as a handicap -- at least until Hawkins rights the ship.
• Following his recent relapses, Jim Johnson was used in the sixth inning yesterday and couldn't even get through it, after allowing three walks. Johnson's numbers are beyond horrible this year: a 7.00 ERA and a 2.06 WHIP; yes, Johnson is literally putting two men on base for every three outs he records. It's hard to say who's closing games for the A's these days between Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson, but we can be absolutely certain that Johnson isn't in the discussion -- at this point, it's nearly impossible to justify rostering him in fantasy leagues.
• Kole Calhoun could be activated from the disabled list as soon as tomorrow. The 26-year-old outfielder was off to a solid start, collecting 12 runs, three homers and six RBI in his first 60 at-bats, before a bum ankle forced him to the sideline. Calhoun is likely to return to the leadoff spot in the Angels lineup, where he'll be hitting ahead of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and eventually Josh Hamilton. He has a chance to be a stalwart run producer and is worthy of being picked up in any mixed leagues where he was dropped.