July 19, 2010
Fantasy Clicks
Walkoff Wins Just Look Better Outdoors
Michael Cuddyer (L-R), Nick Punto, J.J. Hardy, Jim Thome: AP

In the interest of making Fantasy Clicks bigger and better than ever, we'll spotlight each Sunday's most fantasy-friendly game, NFL Revelations-style. And for a third consecutive week ... the South Siders are getting some love -- albeit on the business end of a painful 9th-inning implosion (at least for Bobby Jenks owners):

Minnesota 7, Chicago White Sox 6
What I Liked: The White Sox' cadre of 2-5 hitters -- Omar Vizquel, Alex Rios, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin -- each notched two hits against the Twins' sturdy pitching duo of Nick Blackburn/Brian Duensing, while pleasing weekly league owners everywhere. Not bad for a blah day, eh?

What I Liked, Part II: On the Minnesota front, the club got marvelous production at the 7-8-9 slots from Delmon Young (1 HR, 1 run, 2 hits, 3 RBIs), J.J. Hardy (2 hits) and relatively new third baseman Danny Valencia (2 hits). At the risk of denigrating Nick Punto's value to the Twins -- as a defensive stopper, excellent bunter and excitable fantasy football commissioner -- Valencia seems to be the stronger everyday choice at the hot corner. A quick look at Valencia's track record suggests he'd be the ideal No. 9 hitter in Minnesota's lineup: He'll bat .285 in his sleep, and make contact approximately 75 percent of the time.

What I Liked, Part III: Matt Thornton (50/12 K-BB ratio, 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5 saves) may have been the subject of some good-natured Revelations ribbing after Tuesday's All-Star Game in Anaheim, but there's no mistaking his value to the Chicago bullpen. The same holds true for setup man and Trenton, Mich. native J.J. Putz (42/6 K-BB, 1.51 ERA, 0.79 WHIP), who would've cracked the below list of baseball's best non-closing relievers ... if it went up to 11.

What I Loved: America loves a good comeback story, even if it involves a 23-year-old kid who already had the world at his feet. Of course, I'm talking about Gordon Beckham (4 hits, 2 RBIs on Sunday), who is quickly morphing from eminently replaceable asset to multi-positional dynamo in fantasyland. Since July 4, Beckham has amassed two homers, five RBIs and six runs, while hitting at a .367 clip. Boom!

What I Loved: Speaking of comebacks, it'd be great to see Jason Kubel (3 hits, 1 run, 1 RBI), Michael Cuddyer (3 hits, 2 RBIs, game-winning run on Rios' error) and Alexei Ramirez (2 hits, 3 runs) re-establish themselves as blue-chip assets in AL-only leagues. Luckily for fantasy owners (and those who aspire to trade for 'em), all three are known for their strong second-half finishes.

What I Loathed: Retrosheet seemingly has every baseball stat since the beginning of time, or after Abner Doubleday started obsessing over a silly game played on a diamond-shaped field. But I sincerely doubt they'd know if Juan Pierre has ever left six runners stranded in a nine-inning game (excluding Sunday, of course). For fantasy sake, at least Pierre found the time to collect one RBI on the day.

What Makes Me Skeptical: Sorry to say, but I'm not buying Freddy Garcia's season-long viability in fantasyland. Yes, he only surrendered three runs on Sunday and was seemingly in position for a victory; and yes, he had a scintillating 2.77 ERA/1.15 WHIP from June 19-July 17 (not counting Sunday's game) ... but I just don't think he has the repertoire to be a solid No. 4 starter in deeper leagues. My unsolicited advice: Trade him to any port in the pennant storm.

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These potentially gold pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 16 (July 19-25):
Wandy Rodriguez, Astros
Kevin Slowey, Twins
Jair Jurrjens, Braves
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Phil Hughes, Yankees
Mike Pelfrey, Mets
Carlos Silva, Cubs
Mike Leake, Reds
Madison Bumgarner, Giants
Wade Davis, Rays
Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Scott Baker, Twins
R.A. Dickey, Mets
Ben Sheets, Athletics
Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks
Scott Kazmir, Angels
Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers
Daniel Hudson, White Sox
Jamie Moyer, Phillies
Dave Bush, Brewers
Doug Fister, Mariners
Wade LeBlanc, Padres
Scott Feldman, Rangers
Jeff Francis, Rockies
Kyle Kendrick, Phillies
Barry Enright, Diamondbacks
Brad Lincoln, Pirates
Chris Tillman, Orioles
Jake Arrieta, Orioles
Jeff Karstens, Pirates
Armando Galarraga, Tigers

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare well against average-to-subpar pitching in Week 16 (July 19-25):
Brandon Phillips, Reds (vs. Washington, @ Houston)
Joey Votto, Reds
Scott Rolen, Reds
Jay Bruce, Reds
Drew Stubbs, Reds
Jonny Gomes, Reds
Orlando Cabrera, Reds

Evan Longoria, Rays (@ Baltimore, @ Cleveland)
Carlos Pena, Rays
B.J. Upton, Rays
Carl Crawford, Rays
Ben Zobrist, Rays
Sean Rodriguez, Rays
Jason Bartlett, Rays

Ryan Braun, Brewers (@ Pittsburgh, vs. Washington)
Prince Fielder, Brewers
Casey McGehee, Brewers
Corey Hart, Brewers
Carlos Gomez, Brewers
Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Alcides Escobar, Brewers

Joe Mauer, Twins (vs. Cleveland, @ Baltimore)
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Delmon Young, Twins
Denard Span, Twins
Jason Kubel, Twins
Orlando Hudson, Twins
J.J. Hardy, Twins
Jim Thome, Twins

Trouble Ahead

On the flip side ... here's a list of hitters who are likely headed for slow starts in Week 16 (July 19-25), due to poor pitching matchups. I'm not saying "Don't start 'em" ... just be wary of these guys, who'll face at least two high-quality hurlers this week:

Matt LaPorta, Indians (@ Minnesota, vs. Tampa Bay)
Carlos Santana, Indians
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
Austin Kearns, Indians
Trevor Crowe, Indians
Jayson Nix, Indians
Jhonny Peralta, Indians

Martin Prado, Braves (vs. San Diego, @ Florida)
Chipper Jones, Braves
Jason Heyward, Braves
Omar Infante, Braves
Alex Gonzalez, Braves
Troy Glaus, Braves
Brian McCann, Braves

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. Boston)
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Chone Figgins, Mariners
Justin Smoak, Mariners
Casey Kotchman, Mariners
Jose Lopez, Mariners
Milton Bradley, Mariners

Nick Markakis, Orioles (vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Minnesota)
Adam Jones, Orioles
Corey Patterson, Orioles
Ty Wigginton, Orioles
Miguel Tejada, Orioles
Felix Pie, Orioles
Julio Lugo, Orioles

Depth Of Knowledge

There is no greater resource than the official (and up-to-date) depth charts for each MLB club. In no particular order ...

National League
East: Marlins | Braves | Mets | Phillies | Nationals
Central: Reds | Pirates | Cubs | Brewers | Cardinals | Astros
West: Dodgers | Diamondbacks | Padres | Rockies | Giants

American League
East: Red Sox | Orioles | Rays | Yankees | Blue Jays
Central: White Sox | Tigers | Indians | Royals | Twins
West: Rangers | Angels | Athletics | Mariners

Dare To Compare

In a nod to the classic Pepsi Challenge of 1980s lore, here's a blind taste test for fantasygoers (based on Accuscore projections): Which of the five high-profile outfielders would you most prefer from this point forward (July 19-Oct. 1)? And can you guess which projections represent that of real-world megastars like Ryan Braun and Jason Bay?

Player A
Projected stats: .287 batting average, .323 OBP, 32.5 runs, 7.6 HRs, 42.9 RBIs, 2.5 steals
Player B
Projected stats: .346 batting average, .401 OBP, 33.8 runs, 12 HRs, 48.1 RBIs, 1.9 steals
Player C
Projected stats: .285 batting average, .367 OBP, 39 runs, 11.2 HRs, 46.3 RBIs, 7.1 steals
Player D
Projected stats: .305 batting average, .365 OBP, 46 runs, 11.8 HRs, 44.4 RBIs, 9 steals
Player E
Projected stats: .261 batting average, .363 OBP, 41 runs, 9.2 HRs, 40.9 RBIs, 6.9 steals

A -- Delmon Young, Twins
B -- Brennan Boesch, Tigers
C -- Torii Hunter, Angels
D -- Ryan Braun, Brewers
E -- Jason Bay, Mets

Just So You Know ...

... Accuscore has Tigers rookie Brennan Boesch (12 HRs, 50 RBIs, 35 runs, 2 steals, .335 batting average in 2010) pegged for the most RBIs among outfielders -- at 48.1 -- from this point forward.

Total Bases Recall
Joey Votto: AP

For the loyal Clicks readers of fantasy football, you've heard me prattle on a thousand times about the importance of Targets -- the number of times a receiver is thrown to -- and how it's a fail-safe method for evaluating receivers. Well, I am equally passionate about Total Bases in fantasy baseball. By my way of thinking, TB is the perfect convergence of coveting power hitters and on-base machines who make a living from doubles. It's also a stellar indicator of future success. Here are the top 30 leaders in total bases (through July 18):

1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- 223
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 205
3. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 200
4. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 191
5. Martin Prado, Braves -- 190
6. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 190
7. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 189
8. Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers -- 185
9. Corey Hart, Brewers -- 185
10. Joey Votto, Reds -- 185
11. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 183
12. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox -- 181
13. Brandon Phillips, Reds -- 180
14. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 179
15. Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- 179
16. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 179
17. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 179
18. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays -- 178
19. Michael Young, Rangers -- 177
20. Ryan Braun, Brewers -- 176
21. Carl Crawford, Rays -- 176
22. Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- 176
23. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies -- 175
24. David Wright, Mets -- 175
25. Nick Swisher, Yankees -- 174
26. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 173
27. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- 171
28. Prince Fielder, Brewers -- 171
29. Aubrey Huff, Giants -- 171
30. Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- 168

Sweet Relief

Here are the 10 best non-full-time-closing relievers in fantasyland right now:
1. Tyler Clippard, Nationals (59 Ks in 53.2 innings, 3.19 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8 wins)
2. Mike Adams, Padres (46 Ks in 41.1 IP, 2.18 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and MLB leader in 'holds')
3. Joaquin Benoit, Rays (stellar K/BB ratio -- 42:6 -- with 0.92 ERA and 0.58 WHIP ... wow!)
4. Evan Meek, Pirates (pound-for-pound, baseball's best reliever you've never heard of)
5. Daniel Bard, Red Sox (if Boston ever wanted to trade Paps, Bard would fill his shoes)
6. Sean Marshall, Cubs (the throw-in to the Rich Harden trade of '08 has been amazing)
7. Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers (as dominant -- and quietly brilliant -- as they come in baseball)
8. Luke Gregerson, Padres (the de-facto closer IF Heath Bell would've been traded)
9. Darren Oliver, Rangers (45 Ks/41 IP, 1.85 ERA, 0.82 WHIP -- big asset for first-place Texas)
10. Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (54 Ks in 38.2 innings, 3.96 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 16 holds ... and could challenge Evan Meek to be Pittsburgh's closer after Octavio Dotel gets traded before July 31)

Analyze This

To the delight of many, there is never a slowdown period with trades in the SI.com & Friends league. Whether it's BIG ones involving Matt Holliday and Mariano Rivera, or lesser ones involving Edwin Nunez and Corey Hart, there's always something going down between the graveyard-shift hours of 2-6 a.m. ... which, in turn, gives us an excuse to let the mathematical geniuses at Accuscore be the knee-jerk judge and jury:

Team A gets ... Hanley Ramirez, Brian Fuentes
Ramirez (Accuscore estimates -- July 19-Oct. 1)
.312 batting average, .389 OBP, 42.9 runs, 10.5 HRs, 44 RBIs, 13.4 steals
0.7 wins, 13.8 saves, 3.99 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 19.8 strikeouts

Team B gets ... David Price, Mark Reynolds
Reynolds (Accuscore estimates -- July 19-Oct. 1)
.211 batting average, .318 OBP, 39.6 runs, 15.2 HRs, 39.4 RBIs, 6.8 steals
8.3 wins, 3.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 79.4 strikeouts

Verdict: Team B certainly got two potential studs for the stretch run in Price and Reynolds. But then again, Ramirez should never be part of a 2-for-2 swap in a 15-team league -- where closers are treated like firstborn children -- with Fuentes a throw-in to the megadeal. Has Hanley been a top-5 talent this season, justifying his preseason trade value? Probably not. But he still has the game to carry a contender to a fantasy pennant.

Mark Your Calendars

I'm happy to report the SI.com 2010 Fantasy Football Preview will launch on Monday, Aug. 3. In addition to the standard fare of exclusive commentary, layered mock drafts and insightful player rankings ... we'll also have a slew of video footage (starring yours truly) in the total package, which should be completed by mid-August. Sounds great, huh? Now, all I have to do is write it.

Running A Little Hot

Here are three separate avenues for landing Carl Crawford (19 runs, 5 HRs, 14 RBIs, 8 steals, .382 batting average since June 19) in a fantasy blockbuster:
*Crawford for David Wright
*Crawford for Ryan Howard
*Crawford for Joe Mauer
*Crawford for Roy Halladay

*Crawford for Nick Markakis/Chase Headley
*Crawford for Dan Haren/Adam Lind
*Crawford for Denard Span/Paul Konerko
*Crawford for Hunter Pence/Miguel Montero

*Crawford/Matt Kemp for Cole Hamels/Josh Hamilton
*Crawford/Josh Johnson for Albert Pujols/Johan Santana
*Crawford/Matt Cain for Adam Jones/Adam Wainwright
*Crawford/Torii Hunter for Ricky Nolasco/Alex Rodriguez

Stock Report

Here's an update for the highly volatile SI.com & Friends league (15-team, 5x5-roto):
1. The Baltimore Choppas (Jay Clemons) -- 115 points (acquired Matt Holliday to cure boredom)
2. The Youkileles (Lonny Krasnow) -- 103 points (best team on paper, comfortably in 2nd place)
3. Bronx Bulldogs (Charlie Kight) -- 100 points (no excuse for being poor in ERA and WHIP)
4. Crotch Bats (Jeff Ritter) -- 98 points (should have counseled Mat Latos on sneeze etiquette)
5. TEAM COCO Crisp (Micah Hart) -- 96 points (didn't come strong enough to land Holliday)
6. From First To Worst (Jon Machota) -- 95.5 points (no visible weaknesses for 6th-place team)
7. Ruxin's Rabbits (Brandon Marcus) -- 89.5 points (can Hanley vault him into triple digits?)
8. Tulo's Dirtbags (Scott Wraight) -- 86 points (Pagan's just 3-of-14 since Beltran's return)
9. Enter Sandman (Bobby Kight) -- 85 points (frankly, I've always preferred Bring The Ruckus)
10. Dominican Lous (Cory McCartney) -- 81 points (last good team of Tier II -- for now)
11. Kershawshank Redemption (D. Lampson) -- 67 points (boffo comedian, trade offer-wise)
12. Milwaukee Schlitz (Jeff Lewis) -- 65.5 points (right about John Axford -- that's something)
13. The Dirty Fuentes's (Andrew Lamb) -- 45.5 points (name change + bad team = zzzzzzzz)
14. Cabrera's Cannibals (David Komer) -- 41 points (busy picking seat at new Michigan Stadium)
15. Lenny Loves Twizzlers (Drew Packham) -- 32 points (beseiged by injuries all year -- whatcha gonna do?)

Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night (@SI_JayClemons), accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday/Monday during the NFL and MLB seasons.

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