Year of the Pitcher II, meet June. June, meet sluggers. Sluggers, meet baseballs. Runs, meet scoreboard.
Fantasy early rounders, meet expectations.
It has been another productive start for pitchers in fantasy this year, but we are starting to see things turn as the calendar flips to June and the balls are getting flipped out of the park. All those disappointing early round picks -- it was Albert Pujols a week ago -- should be starting to make their market correction.
Hanley Ramirez (back) is returning from the DL early this week, along with the likes of Ryan Zimmerman (abdominal), Matt Holliday (quad) and Joe Mauer (legs). That should help those owners who have held on to those disappointments early to reap the benefits later.
We will also get the return of Pablo Sandoval (wrist) and Alfonso Soriano (quad). Soreness is a lot less significant when the chill isn't going through the muscles and bones.
Last week, we outlined three leads in our fantasy section: 1. The payback of Pujols; 2. The rise of June call-ups; and 3. Buy low, sell high.
It was a fitting trio of topics, because those themes continued through the week. Prince Fielder and Troy Tulowitzki slugged like beasts. Mike Moustakas, Anthony Rizzo and Dee Gordon made instant impacts up from Triple-A. And now, the injured early rounders are making their June returns.
Those who sold the Marlins' Ramirez, the Nats' Zimmerman and the Twins' Mauer are going to be sorry. This trio hasn't been a model of health, but they are coming back this week as the mercury and run production is up.
Hitting is cyclical, and those career-steady stars are going to be levying some huge payback. They are so promising for fantasy owners, you likely want to start them sight unseen going into Fantasy Week 11 (June 13-19).
The slugging boys of summer are on their way back, pitchers be warned.
No one was hotter than Fielder in Fantasy Week 10 (June 6-12). He hit six homers and drove in 13 runs, going 10-for-20 (.500). It is the second consecutive week for a hitter amid a first half dominated by pitchers. Expect the runs to continue to pile up with the rising mercury. Keep on dealing pitching for hitting, particularly in Rotisserie, as we always suggest.
1. 1B Anthony Rizzo, SD
Rizzo and Moustakas had great first weekends after call-ups, while Gordon has looked right away as a must-add in Rotisserie. These future stars can obviously impact fantasy right away. Boesch is a streaky slugger that is hitting .391 with four homers in June, making him a solid stopgap in mixed leagues at the deep outfield position. Niese has streaked since a slow April (1-4, 4.71), going 4-1 with a 2.56 in his past seven starts. He is a nice two-start sleeper this week.
1. RP Aaron Crow, KC
Anderson is making that dreaded visit to Dr. James Andrews, while Napoli is going on the DL, too, with an oblique strain. Fantasy owners are crossing their fingers for a July return at this point. Aviles' struggles allowed for the Moustakas call-up and fantasy owners will gladly accept that tradeoff. Aviles' Royals 'mate, Crow, lost his closer's role without even getting a save chance. Joakim Soria just turned it around in middle relief. Crow remains a strong option in leagues that use true middle men, though.
1. 3B Pablo Sandoval, SF
Kung Fu Panda makes his return and adds to a list of third-base options this week with Moustakas, the return of Zimmerman and the re-emergence of Mark Reynolds. Reynolds could streak significantly enough to be a must-start in all leagues again. He is notoriously -- in this case, famously -- streaky. He has five homers and 11 RBI in 10 June games. Jakubauskas is getting starts for the cooling off of Zach Britton's innings, but fantasy owners are wasting their time looking at the journeyman spot starter on that non-contender. The Mariners' Olivo is popping some homers right now and is a nice pick-up if you lost Napoli to the DL. Joyce and Pence have missed some time, but they should be fine to ride this week.