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Week 4 – MLB 2012 Season: Fantasy Baseball Report

Monday April 30th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): This offseason, I told myself (and others) to stay away from names like Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton. It wasn’t even a question. There was no way Kemp could repeat his 2011 season (and his .380 BAPIP). But he appears to be on his way to surpassing last year and making a hard push towards the triple crown. Josh Hamilton, who I also intentionally stayed away from, simply cannot be counted on to play 150 games. Hamilton has had a Kemp-like start to the season and is also single-handedly carrying fantasy teams throughout the first month of the season. However, he did leave Sunday’s game with back tightness (out Monday as well) and this could be a start of a trend that we have seen in seasons past. 

On the pitching side, Jake Peavy was another guy who fell in the same category as Hamilton, having only made 39 starts in his 2.5 seasons with the White Sox. Furthermore, the results were poor in those starts as he transitioned from a pitcher friendly park in baseball’s weakest hitting division to the American League.  But even more of an afterthought in addition to the health concerns, was Peavy’s transition from the NL West and the most pitcher friendly park to the hitting friendly confines of U.S. Cellular Field. However, Peavy looks like the Peavy of old and is pitching like a number one type pitcher again.  But will that last? Are you prepared to take that gamble?

So, needless to say, I missed out on some of the league’s top fantasy performers to-date. Furthermore, having spent 20% of my budget on Albert Pujols, I am not sitting as pretty as I expected coming into the season. However, craftiness on the waiver wire (Alfredo Aceves, Hector Santiago, Pedro Strop, Scott Downs, Henry Rodriguez, etc.) have helped me acquire assets to make up for the void left by Pujols. But consider this. Despite currently sitting in fourth place in my league (with Pujols yet to do anything), I am finding myself tempted to trade Pujols for Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado. Obviously a keeper league, Harper and Arenado might be the two hottest keeping prospects to come down the pipe in some time.

The Nationals surprised everyone with the promotion of Harper, who was actually struggling in AAA. I think he will be here to stay, even when Zimmerman returns. Although we cannot expect instant success, Harper will certainly be an impact player. Fellow top prospect Mike Trout was also recalled this weekend. While Trout has struggled in comparison to Harper after the first couple of games, he had a lot of success last season while torching minor league pitching. Both guys will have their ups and downs, but can be contributors this year as fourth outfielder types, and obviously their keeper value is extremely high.

However, there is a lesser-known prospect, mentioned earlier, Nolan Arenado, who intrigues me the most as a keeper. Arenado, the Rockies top prospect, only 21 years of age, is having great success in AA with a .860 OPS. Colorado is incredibly high on him and impressed the coaching staff and teammates in spring training. Furthermore, there is nobody standing in his way at the third base position in any level for the Rockies. It’s not out of the question for him to be called up in June, and he could make an immediate impact. His 3:4 BB/K ratio is very encouraging, and the prospect of playing 81 games in Colorado in future seasons further increases his stock. This is a must know/own guy in keeper leagues.

Another guy I am really high on, but you will need to remain patient with, is Devin Mesoraco. He is currently getting 40% of the starts behind the plate in Cincinnati, but he is clearly the superior hitter to Ryan Hanigan. In his limited at-bats, Mesoraco is boasting a .300/1/3 statline and will only steal more at-bats as the season progresses. He is a great guy to target as someone who can contribute this year, but also in future years to come as he has a very solid track record with the bat.

Jose Altuve, unfortunately longer a secret, was a player I mentioned to target as both an instant contributor and someone with keeper value. He is currently a hitting machine (.373/1/10/4), and although I expect his numbers to regress a bit, will soon be a top-ten option at second base.

Lastly, if you are looking for help in the outfield, particularly if you own Chris Young, Gerardo Parra offers great value. He has displayed amazing speed (seven steals) and his decent enough pop and is batting at the top of the order to produce all around numbers. If he continues to be productive, it will be curious to see how his role changes when Young returns and with Kubel in left field.

Ultimately, I still believe in Pujols and my team’s ability to finish in the money (top-3). However, it is tempting to unload him, as I am really high on guys like Harper and Arenado. Think about today, but also remember to keep your fantasy team competitive for years to come.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein)***

 

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