My dear guests. I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Baseball Island.
Why don't you join me as I offer a toast to three players who helped fantasy teams immensely this week. These three players should be added to your team as soon as possible so that you can reap all the benefits they have to offer.
Catcher: Ronny Paulino, Marlins
Paulino has been a pleasant surprise for the Marlins. Over the past week, he hit .320 (8-for-25) and drove in eight runs. This is the first time he's been an everyday catcher since his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates and he's taking full advantage of the opportunity. For the season, Paulino is hitting .310, with 3 HR and 23 RBI. His .280 career batting average suggest that he can continue to produce base hits. He has also twice driven in 55 runs in a season, so there is no reason to believe that he can't match and perhaps surpass those totals this year.
First base: Troy Glaus, Braves
Glaus has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves, who needed help at first base during the offseason and took a chance with the oft-injured slugger. After being limited to 29 at-bats with the Cardinals in 2009, Glaus has bounced back nicely, as he is leading the National League with 44 RBI. Much of his damage has been done over the past week, as Glaus is hitting .348 (8 for his last 23) with a whopping 5 HR and 12 HR over those at-bats. He is one of the main reason that the Braves have won 10 of their 11 games and have pushed their way to the top of the NL East.
Starting Pitcher: Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
After the departure of Roy Halladay to the Phillies, the Blue Jays needed a new ace. They certainly got one in Ricky Romero. Romero has been brilliant and durable this year. He leads the American League in innings pitched with 85.1. He also leads the major leagues in strikeouts with 86. That's right. Your major league leader in strikeouts is not Tim Lincecum, but the unheralded Ricky Romero. The 25-year-old lefty is averaging over seven innings pitched per start and is holding his own in the ERA and WHIP departments (3.06 and 1.20, respectively). His pitching has been one of the reasons why the Blue Jays are toe-to-toe with the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox in the hotly-contested AL East.
Although these three players were not high on anyone's preseason draft lists, there is no arguing that they should be on your fantasy teams now. By getting any or all of these players, I predict that your team will rise to the top of your league before you leave Fantasy Baseball Island.
Now, I present to you my sidekick, Tattoo, who will talk to you about the little players who have been coming up big for their teams.
Thank you, Mr. Roarke. For many years, baseball players have been bulking up to perform better on the field, whether it be through weight lifting, performance enhancing drugs, excessive hot-dog eating, or by saying the words "By the power of Grayskull".
However, not all players have to be huge to come up large for their teams. Here are three players who performed like big stars despite their small stature.
Second base: David Eckstein, Padres
The 5'7" Eckstein came up big this week for the Padres. Over the last four games, he has hit .333 (6-for-18) with three doubles. His two-out, two-strike, game-tying RBI single on Wednesday against the Mets helped the Padres snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. His scrappiness is not just the Mets' problem. It has become the league's problem, as Eckstein is the toughest batter to strike out, having fanned only seven times this year. He won't fill up the stat sheet like a Chase Utley or a Robinson Cano would, but when all other second basemen are gone, don't forget about the little people like David Eckstein.
Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera, Reds
The 5'10" Cabrera has bounced around from team to team since the beginning of the 2004 season, playing for the Montreal Expos, the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County near Disneyland at an In-N-Out Burger, the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A's, the Minnesota Twins and the Bad News Bears (sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds) before finally putting an end to his peripatetic ways in Cincinnati. He has rewarded the Reds' confidence in him by being their best offensive shortstop since Barry Larkin. For the season, Cabrera is hitting .269, but has been producing in the extra-base hit department (12 doubles, 3 HR), the stolen base department (8 SB without being caught) and has scored 25 runs while driving in 27. All around, this little guy has been a serviceable fantasy player and should not be ignored even if you can barely see him on the field.
Relief Pitcher: Billy Wagner, Braves
The diminutive southpaw who spent a year on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery has proven that he is fully recovered from his ordeal. Questions about whether he could come back from that procedure at age 38 have been answered. Yes, he can! The old Billy Wagner is back and the Braves are happy to have him. So far this season, Wagner has picked up four wins and nine saves. In 21.1 innings, he has struck out 33 batters. Simple complicated math shows that of the 64 outs he's recorded, more than half have been via the strikeout. He has also done a fine job of limiting men from reaching base and scoring, compiling a 1.69 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP, while holding opposing batters to a .164 batting average against him. On behalf of all the dead little people in the world like me, I say "Merci" to Billy Wagner for showing that height doesn't always dictate your stature in baseball.
Apparently, we have a gate-crasher on Fantasy Baseball Island, someone who arrived on zee plane, zee plane to offer his two cents. Some of you may know him already. Here's Joey Beartran.
Excuse me, but isn't this Studious Metsimus? Why are we talking about players on other teams and not the Mets? Don't make me do a special Joey's Soapbox feature to rip apart this particular blog post.
Anyway, since we ARE talking about fantasy baseball, I thought I'd tell you which Mets players are hot and should be added to your team if they're not already there. Following in the footsteps of Mr. Roarke and the secretary of the French-Filipino segment of the Lollipop Guild, I will discuss three Mets players you should consider when trying to revamp the fantasy team you thought would compete in your league, but in reality is full of underachieving guys like Carlos Lee, Raul Ibanez and Grady Sizemore.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes
Many people did not draft Reyes due to their concern over how he would return from his leg and thyroid issues. Those who did draft him were not impressed over the first month and a half, as Reyes was having difficulty getting on base. In fact, if fantasy leagues gave rewards for pop-ups, Reyes would have been that league's MVP (most valuable popper-upper). However, over the last few weeks, Reyes has been the Reyes we all know and love. Since May 22, Reyes has hit .352 and has a .407 OBP. In those 13 games, he's scored nine runs, driven in nine runs, stolen five bases and has six extra-base hits (three doubles, two triples, one home run). The fantasy juggernaut might have turned a corner and should be added to your team as soon as possible.
Outfielder: Angel Pagan
With the discharge of Private Matthews, Angel Pagan no longer has to look over his shoulder in center field, unless if he's successfully chasing down a fly ball. Pagan has eschewed his flawed defense and baserunning for solid all-around play and is no longer viewed as a good fourth outfielder, but as a starting center fielder and quality fantasy player. His overall numbers are quite decent (.287, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 9 SB, 31 runs scored), but over the past month, he's been outstanding. Since May 5, Pagan has hit .324, with 19 runs scored, 3 HR, 13 RBI and 7 SB. He has also cut down on his strikeouts, with only 19 Ks over his last 108 at-bats since May 5. Pagan is the guy you want that no one else has.
Starting Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey
Everyone knows about Pelfrey's hot start, yet still he's not mentioned among the top fantasy pitchers in baseball. For the year, Big Pelf is 8-1, with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Perhaps he is overlooked because he is not a strikeout pitcher, but he is posting the best strikeout rates of his career. (52 Ks in 71.2 innings or 6.5 K/9 innings. His previous best strikeouts per nine innings rate was 5.6 in 2007.) More importantly for Pelfrey is that unlike his teammates' inability to win on the road, he has been able to pitch well away from Citi Field. In five appearances on the road, Pelfrey is 3-1, with a 2.93 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He also picked up a save in St. Louis. The rest of the team is a combined 5-17 on the road. Mike Pelfrey should be on your fantasy team, whether at home or on the road.
That concludes this week's edition of Fantasy Baseball Island. We hope you enjoyed your stay and come back again soon. Parting gifts will be given in the form of better fantasy baseball teams for you and your friends.
Until next time, Mr. Roarke, Tattoo and Joey Beartran bid you adieu (Joey says "Gesundheit") and hope that all your fantasies come true.