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It's always fun when you draft a player onto your fantasy baseball team with one or two particular stats in mind and then find out that not only can he deliver in those areas, but he'll pay you off with a bonus stat, too.
Such is the case this year with Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, already a top five 1B based on his HRs, OPS and, to some degree, runs scored (As a No. 3 hitter on a lesser team, he hasn't been an RBI leader, but that could change). One month into the season, Rizzo has reliably delivered in the categories we expected, with his current line reading 5 HRs, 13 RBIs, 21 runs and a 1.025 OPS. He's also excelled in a category where we didn't expect a payoff - stolen bases.
Rizzo leads all 1Bs with seven SBs, already a single-season career-high for him, and he's on a track to blow past his career total of 16 SBs. While he's not exactly Billy Hamilton or Vince Coleman or - you get the idea - getting seven SBs from your 1B during the first month of the season qualifies as a huge fantasy bonus.
It's doubtful Rizzo will keep up this pace, though if he does, he'll finish with something like 40 SBs, and will zoom up the fantasy rankings for next year. However, you have to think that because he hasn't been known as a prolific base stealer, he's probably just catching pitchers and catchers by surprise, and that adjustments will be made that force him to cut back on his SB attempts.
On the other hand, manager Joe Maddon is known for teams that run aggressively, so maybe Rizzo has orders to run when the situation seems right.
In any case, enjoy it while it lasts, but you probably shouldn't count on Rizzo to take care of all your fantasy SB needs.
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade Daily Dime offers some fantasy bargains, starting with the guy the Cubs traded to get Rizzo - Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner. Cashner has probably frayed the patience of too many fantasy team owners over the years, and he is only 1-4 this year, but could be a good long-term investment if the Padres and their beefed up roster go on a run as the season progresses.
* Bleacher Report has some suggestions for waiver-wire pick-ups, including Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier. Ethier has proven a streaky fantasy asset over the years, but with Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford injured, he is at least getting playing time.
* The Sporting News features its latest fantasy SP rankings, showing the Mets' Matt Harvey moving up the ladder, and the White Sox's Chris Sale tumbling down. Harvey has the stats I expected Sale to have right now - 5-0, 34 strikeouts, 2.41 ERA, 0.92 WHIP - and is proving to be a steal for anyone who put injury concerns aside and drafted him. Meanwhile, Sale's coming off a start in which he gave up eight earned runs in three innings, and it doesn't look like the Sox offense will rescue him anytime soon.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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