May 13, 2009

For those who play in head-to-head leagues, the action is intense and your daily decisions are of the upmost importance. Most of my fantasy baseball experience is in head-to-head leagues, and I often get asked what strategy I utilize the most. While I typically prefer hitting to pitching, my best advice has less to do with your players, and more to do with your daily submissions.

How many times have you lost a certain stat by the slimmest of margins? What if I told you that there is a simple, efficient way to turn those losses into wins. Teams submit their lineups about an hour before game time and most sites update immediately thereafter. Check the starting lineups and make sure all of your regulars are starting. In the event that one of your players isn't starting, make sure you insert one of your bench players that is in his lineup. If you catch this five times a week, it will result in about 20 extra at-bats. Even a conservative prediction of a .250 average on those at-bats will give you five more hits than you would have if you set your lineup in the morning and never bothered to check.

I'm sure you have a life, but if you find yourself in front of a computer in the early evening, take a quick look and ensure that all your players are in the lineup. It will make a difference.

All statistics through May 10.

Guzman behaving like a good Christian boy

While the nation's capital focuses on the temper tantrums from Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge, Adam Dunn's first season in D.C., and the impressive hitting streak of Ryan Zimmerman, Christian Guzman has successfully flown under the radar while producing mixed-league appropriate stats. Only 31 percent owned, Guzman is to shortstop what Placido Polanco is to second base. The 31-year-old Guzman spent last week batting .406 with 13 H, 6 R, 1 HR and 5 RBI. Hitting leadoff for the Nats, the unheralded Santo Domingan will top .300 and approach 200 hits. Looking to improve your average? Guzman is your guy. Plus it doesn't hurt that he plays a thin position.

Werth the price

In a lineup full of sluggers, Jayson Werth didn't want to miss out on the action this past week, belting four dingers and knocking in 10 runs. While Shane Victorino or Chase Utley might be the most complete fantasy Phillie, Werth isn't a shabby second. A starting gig finally his own, Werth is actively contributing in all five major roto categories. He has six homers, 21 RBI and three base swipes. The power and speed aren't a surprise. Where he's really adding extra value is the 25 runs and .290 average. Ranked 37th in standard mixed leagues, Werth finds himself just outside the Top 10 outfielders. And just for the record, he's ranked significantly higher than Victorino (65th).

Ted Lilly: The Forgotten Cub

Similar to Guzman, Lilly takes a backseat to the rest of his Cubs counterparts. While the media focuses on the theatrics of Carlos Zambrano and the ever-present injury risk that is Rich Harden, Theodore "The Bulldog" Lilly continues to do his thing. Susceptible to the long ball, Lilly has combated that frustration by lowering his BB/9 from 2.81 a year ago to 2.15 this season. While a .226 BABIP is fortunate, a 1.01 WHIP suggests that the unavoidable correction likely won't affect his ERA that much. Toss in 15 Ks in his last 14 innings and Lilly is proving far more value than a typical No. 4 starter.

Starting to act more like an Angel

No one expected Brian Fuentes to approach the 62-save season that Francisco Rodriguez put up last year, but owners were undoubtedly disappointed after Fuentes finished his May 1 appearance with two earned runs, a blown save and a loss. His ERA had risen to 7.88 and his future role was beginning to be questioned. Since then, the Angels closer has pitched four scoreless innings, racking up four saves in the process. His K/9 remains at a healthy 12.66 clip and his .443 BABIP suggests the dude is going through a serious unlucky patch. To expect K-Rod like things in the future is optimistic, but to think he can't end the year as a Top 10 closer isn't out of the question.

Top closer heads to the DL

A sore right shoulder sent Royals star Joakim Soria to the 15-day DL. Although there's no immediate suggestion as to how long he will be out, the Royals don't seem too overly concerned with the injury. If you're playing catch-up in the saves category, interim closer Juan Cruz is a worthy pickup. He's a bit wild at times, but he has 10 Ks in 13.1 innings and a dominant 2.02 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He's no Soria, but that doesn't mean he can't help in the meantime.

Anibal Sanchez injury gives golden opportunity to exciting rookie

After sending Sanchez to the 15-day DL for a sprained right shoulder, the Marlins called up rookie Chris Coghlan. Coghlan, a versatile infielder/outfield, is expected to receive ample playing time across the diamond for the Marlins. Although most of his time will be in left field, Coghlan is a second baseman by trade and can play almost any position if asked. With a flyer in NL-only leagues, expect Coghlan to contribute 15 stolen bases and score some runs while being given every opportunity to hold down the No. 2 spot in the Florida lineup.

Jose Molina injury creates huge hole in Yankees battery

As if Jorge Posada's injury wasn't enough, the Bronx bombers lost backup catcher Jose Molina to a strained left quad. With no other options, the Yankees called up Kevin Cash and Francisco Cervelli. Cervellia has started the past four games, accumulating three hits and scoring three runs. He seems to be a better option than Cash, and hitting anywhere in the Yanks lineup will give you opportunities to produce. In AL-only and two-catcher leagues, don't be afraid to nab Cervellia if the situation calls for it.

Michael Cuddyer stepping up

In a crowded outfield, Cuddyer seems to have established himself as the everyday right fielder. He further confirmed that notion by hitting .391 with a homer and nine RBI this past week. The most pleasant surprise with Cuddyer, however, are his three steals on the season. With a career high of six, it's unlikely that this speed burst will continue, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it while it lasts. Jason Kubel and Denard Span are also winning regular time, so Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young have found themselves battling for PT.

Braves 2B job a game of musical chairs

A sleeper by many, myself included, Kelly Johnson is being taught an important lesson by skipper Bobby Cox: produce or take a seat. Beginning the year as the Braves leadoff hitter, Johnson's .230 BA and .316 OBP weren't cutting it for Cox. After sitting four games this week, Johnson is clearly the bottom half of a platoon with Omar Infante. Infante is batting a solid .338, while scoring 10 runs. Neither Infante nor Johnson have much value in weekly formats, considering each starts three or four games a week, so keep your eye out on how the playing time is distributed. While Johnson clearly has more value, Infante has the support of Cox, which goes a long way.

Kevin Gregg not left for dead

Even when Gregg was handed the Cubs closer's role, many felt Carlos Marmol was still the more valuable pitcher. Many claimed it was only a matter of time before Marmol was toeing the rubber during the ninth. After a brutal start to the season (6.23 ERA as late as April 29), Gregg has gone 4.2 scoreless innings and racked up six saves on the year. Marmol, on the other hand, can't throw strikes and is providing a lackluster 1.50 WHIP. For the meantime, Gregg seems to have the closer's role all to himself.

Give the O-Dog his due

The likelihood of injury is constantly there, but there's no denying that Orlando Hudson puts the bat on the ball when he's healthy. A career .284 hitter, Hudson is enjoying an explosive start to his stay in La-La land. Hitting .336, Hudson has scored a ridiculous 26 runs while blasting three homers and knocking in 17 runs. His 11 doubles show he's crushing the ball throughout the park. With more walks (20) than Ks (15), Hudson doesn't swing at garbage and routinely waits for his pitch and drives it. Second base is thin, so see if you can grab Hudson to help out your middle infield. Speaking of Hudson, caught Bride Wars on the plane yesterday (more on that in a second). Just a terrible movie. Kate Hudson, however, is hot.

Take Jon Lester off a frustrated owner's hands

Coming off a 16-6 season in 2008, Lester was one of the hottest options come draft day. Through seven starts, the 25-year-old lefty has compiled a wretched 6.31 ERA, including a line of 4.1 IP, 8 ER and 10 H in his last start. While surely disappointing, there is hope for those who still believe in a turnaround from Lester. His K/9 has exponentially increased to 10.67 while his BB/9 number is consistent with recent years. A .394 BABIP is the main culprit in his inflated ERA.

Visit Oahu

After my first full day on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, I'm completely in awe of the place. The ocean is the bluest of the blues and the grass is the greenest of greens. The locals are friendly and the food is fantastic. I may be severely sunburned, but I would recommend this paradise to anybody. More on my experience next week.

Follow Brad on Twitter:

You May Like