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.
Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, is hitting the baseball with all the ferocity of an actual panda bear. He hit a home run last night, and has now gotten a hit and an RBI in nine straight games, hitting five homers over that span. Panda bears are never in hibernation, but Sandoval certainly was during the first part of the year; his average is at .247 now, but three weeks ago, he was hitting just .167. Incredibly, he has more homers and RBI in his last nine games than he did in his first 44.
Sandoval has completely salvaged what could have been a wasted year. Now, he's looking a stud who could be among fantasy baseball's top third basemen by the end of the year (though, it's hard to see anyone doing better than Edwin Encarnacion).
Sandoval has been an excellent hitter for years -- albeit with a Vladimir Guerrero-type affinity for swinging at everything -- but he's yet to follow through on his potential and put together a full season where he produces at this level. This might be the year that that changes. Despite the weak start, he has a chance to at last best the 25 homers and 90 RBI he produced in 2009. If he can stay healthy, this slimmer-than-ever Sandoval, who's also in a contract year, could be a fantasy beast from here on out.
Hopefully, you weren't among the thousands of fantasy owners who dropped him prior to this outbursts. Patience pays.
For your consideration
• Almost every year, a young hitter comes along and immediately asserts himself as one of the best players in the game. In 2012, it was Mike Trout. In 2013, it was Yasiel Puig. And in 2014, it's George Springer. The Astros phenom hit yet another home run (this one being a game-winner), which gives him seven homers and 15 RBI in his last seven games. Like Trout and Puig before him, Springer hasn't been sidetracked by a high propensity of striking out, and he's only going to get better. From this point on, you can look at Springer as an elite slugger, and if you're holding onto a disappointing hitter with a lot of name recognition, like Adrian Beltre for instance, sending out an offer for Springer might be the way to go, because he's looking like someone who could win you your fantasy league.
• Reinstated as the team's official closer since coming off the DL, Jason Grilli allowed a hit but got through the ninth unscathed to earn his sixth save of the year. Grilli has been outstanding since joining the Pirates in 2011, and even though he's 37 years old and has been injured twice in the last 10 months, he's not likely to cede the closer job to Mark Melancon based on performance. Melancon can be safely dropped, but keep an eye on Grilli.
• In his fourth game back since a wrist injury, Josh Willingham went 2-for-3 and belted his first home run of the season. Willingham is a very underrated player in fantasy circles, so much so that he isn't even owned in a tenth of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. He came out of nowhere to post 29 homers and 98 RBI in 2011, and was spectacular in 2012, hitting 35 homers and 110 RBI. But the wheels fell off last year, with Willingham managing a paltry 14 homers and 48 RBI in 111 games. The 35-year-old slugger has had a lot of ups and downs in his career, but he makes for an excellent pickup if you need help in the power categories right now -- especially if you're in a deeper league.
• Josh Collmenter was sensational against the Joey Votto-less Reds, allowing no runs and three hits over nine innings, while striking out five. The craziest part was that he faced the minimum 27 batters after inducing three double-plays. Collmenter had a promising start to his career in 2011, with a 3.38 ERA in 24 starts, but he's bounced around from being a starter to a middle reliever since then, and while his career numbers are surprisingly solid, he hasn't had much of a fantasy role until now. Collmenter doesn't strike out many people, but his control is excellent, with only 14 walks allowed this year; now sporting a 3.34 ERA through 62 innings, Collmenter has emerged as a viable stream candidate. (Though you may want to forget about him next week, when he pitches in Colorado.)