Fantasy baseball news: Can Nelson Cruz sustain his hitting streak?
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.
The great thing about fantasy baseball is that it's utterly unpredictable. With fantasy football and (to a much greater extent) fantasy basketball, you get the sense that there's a class system, where only the elite of the elite have a chance to put up Manning- or Kobe-esque numbers. With fantasy baseball, total nobodies emerge as fantasy godsends all the time, and while Nelson Cruz isn't a complete unknown, no one could have possibly imagined he'd be doing so well this year.
Cruz hit a home run yesterday, giving him an eight-game hitting streak with five homers and nine RBI in that span, and an overall stat line of 17 home runs, 46 RBI and a .300 average. He leads all major leaguers in homers, is second (to Giancarlo Stanton) in the majors in RBI and has more homers than teammates Adam Jones and Chris Davis combined. And the amazing part is that Cruz was practically an afterthought on fantasy draft day. After all, Cruz was a 33-year-old aging slugger who had been suspended for 50 games the previous year for being linked to PEDs. He had signed late with the Orioles and many expected Cruz to struggle, at least at the beginning of the year.
But somehow, Cruz hasn't just been good: he's been MVP good. The oddity with Cruz is that he's displayed superstar potential in doses at the beginning of previous seasons, but has been unable to sustain that momentum through entire years. In 2010, he had six homers and a dozen RBI just eight games into the year, but it took him 47 more games to hit another six. And in 2011, he hit home runs in each of his first four games, doing something that only Mark McGwire and Willie Mays had done before. But again, Cruz failed to capitalize on his brilliant start. And so for all his talent and his clear ability to be awesome, Cruz came into this year with only one 30-home run season and only one year where he got to 90 RBI. Even if he regresses a tad in the second half, he's on pace to blow those career high's out of the water.
In other words, if you managed to steal Cruz on draft day and the rest of your team was filled out the way you wanted... your team is probably in pretty good shape right now.
For your consideration
• Khris Davis went 1-for-4 and hit a home run for a second straight night. The Brewers outfielder doesn't hit enough homers to be worth using in standard leagues... for now. But there's some serious potential there, and with four homers over his last eight games, Davis is on the precipice of being a player all fantasy owners should target. If he hits some more in the next few days, it might be time to make the add if he's still out there.
• Andre Ethier, who belted a home run on Tuesday, has been the subject of a trade rumor stating the 32-year-old might be heading to the Red Sox. However, with Carl Crawford going down to an ankle injury last night, it seems unlikely that Ethier will be heading anywhere, as not only is he the only outfielder qualified to handle centerfield right now, Crawford and Matt Kemp are hurt so regularly, and the Dodgers are so rich, that it makes sense for them to bite the bullet and keep Ethier around, even if they won't always need him. Fantasy-wise, Ethier is a hot-and-cold hitter who can be a decent RBI man in the Dodgers' potent lineup. However, his rapidly-degrading power numbers won't make him a very enticing add, whether he's getting everyday at-bats or not.
• Everth Cabrera went 2-for-5 on Tuesday, following a busy Monday evening where he tallied a home run, a stolen base and four RBI. Cabrera has been mostly terrible this season, but he can be a serious asset, and that's starting to show lately. He has the potential to steal 40 bases at a very slim position, where it's not a bad idea at all to sacrifice homers for steals, considering the typical shortstop (not named Troy Tulowitzki) is unlikely to go for more than 20 home runs anyway. Cabrera isn't consistent enough to be trustworthy just yet, but because of his upside, he's worth hanging on to even if you're looking for someone to fill the shortstop position.
• Collin McHugh was tremendous versus the Royals, limiting them to no runs and five hits over seven innings. After a few shaky starts, McHugh has settled in splendidly as a starter, and with a 50:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 45.1 innings, and a 2.80 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, McHugh has solidified himself as trustworthy major league pitcher. He's recorded seven strikeouts in five of his first seven outings and needs to be owned in all leagues, even with the power-hitting Orioles next on the docket.
• Ronald Belisario recorded a clean save versus the Indians. For what it's worth, Belisario is three-for-three in save opportunities since taking over for the injured Matt Lindstrom, but that's not worth much, since Belisario had given up six earned runs in his previous three innings. Given the sheer improbability of him holding onto the job for long, only owners who are truly desperate for saves should take a crack at Belisario right now.
You can find David Pincus on Twitter @misterpincus (yes, he recently changed it).