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Fantasy Fix: Fallen Heroes

By Dan O'Shea

This seems to be a year of fallen idols in the fantasy baseball world - and we aren't talking about the two superstars who have been linked to performance-enhancers. When you take a quick look at the pre-season top 10 fantasy players from Yahoo!, only one - Albert Pujols - is performing up to expectations.

As the pre-season and current No. 2 player, Pujols is actually playing exactly to expectations, but look at the rest of the pre-season top 10 and you will find four players who are either currently on the disabled list or have seen chronic injuries hamper their performance (Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore and Josh Hamilton - the latter three being DL-listed); two third basemen are hitting above .325, but are well off their typical RBI paces (David Wright, Miguel Cabrera); and three others who are having fine years, but just seem to lacking the numbers we were promised Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley).

It's hard to say if our old, familiar top 10 is in for a season-long shake-up. Pujols, perhaps the first star to be trusted in the post-steroids era, is the closest thing to automatic daily fantasy points in the majors. He's positioning himself nicely for a No. 1 pre-season ranking next year, and I see nothing at all changing for him.

Shortstop Ramirez, however, is making the handful of people who didn't trust his No. 1 pre-season ranking look prescient. He has possibly the worst of all nagging injuries in the wide world of sports - a sore groin - and that means fewer stolen bases. He also plays for a team that will not exactly help him pad his numbers.

Meanwhile, Reyes should be back soon, and should get better as the year goes on, but is part of a Mets squad that needs new motivation and probably a few new parts. Hamilton and Sizemore both have been flailing away, and you have to wonder whether their injuries are their only problems. Sizemore's injured elbow, however, is a doozy, and could keep him out for longer than his 15-day DL trip suggests. Out of the other five, only Wright may be worth worrying about. He is hitting .328 like clockwork and stealing bases at a fast pace than last year, but has only three home runs, and it has been widely suggested that the cavernous new Citi Field in New York has sapped his power for good.

Still, barring the DL-listed players, all of these guys are still everyday line-up residents.

That might leave you looking elsewhere for a points boost. My two current favorite lesser-owned players are Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, and Shin-Soo Choo, OF. Reynolds recently acquired the 1B qualification, adding to his value as a home-run hitter and occasional base-stealer. He gets knocked for striking out more than anyone in the National League, but he's hitting above .260, and he already has as many SBs (11) as he had all of last year. Choo also is an occasional, if not prolific base-stealer. He's hitting .301, with 7 HRs, 31 RBIs and 8 SBs and playing every day for the first time in his career.

Wieters Watch
The expert wire this week predictably is carrying a lot of Matt Wieters news, though not just Matt Wieters news. In fact, we'll start off with a non-Wieters piece:

* Closing Thoughts notes that Kansas City reliever Joakim Soria is just about ready to exit the DL. Soria was highly touted this year, a top-5 reliever on many draft lists, and the Royals started the year like a team that would hand a lot of leads to its closer. Alas, the Royals are starting to settle into their old losing routine, and it remains to be seen of Soria can live up to all the hype.

* Okay, for Wieters Watchers, Bleacher Report had the mock panic reaction to the highly regarded catcher's first game result, an 0-4. It looks like Wieters will be given every chance to succeed - unless he doesn't. He was 3-17 as of Tuesday night, but two of those hits were for extra bases.

* The Hardball Times says Cardinals reliever Chris Perez is worth watching for possible save opportunities. Ryan Franklin has been doing well as the Cards' closer, but many have probably forgotten it actually seemed like Perez's job to lose back in spring training before Perez got hurt and Jason Motte stepped up. Motte blew his first save opportunity Opening Day and gave way to Franklin. Manager Tony LaRussa loves to micro-manage his pitching, so it really wouldn't be surprising to see any of the three appearing in save situations.

* Fantasy Insider tells us not to give up if the season has drifted south - just make some good trades. There is a common belief in the fantasy baseball realm that if you have a losing record or are in the bottom half of the standings on June 1, you might as well start setting up your plans for next year. But there are enough second-half dynamos out there to trade for or pick up that I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet. As we've noted in the past, starting pitcher Roy Oswalt is second-half stud he also may have the added attraction this year of being traded to a winning team sometime before the trade deadline.

* Another player who could be trade-bait is Matt Holliday, the Oakland outfielder and former Coors Field star who nearly everyone felt was due for a bad year in a pitchers' park and a new league. He has deflated almost according to expectations, but Roto Rush suggests it's time to trade for Holliday. It's true that Oakland GM Billy Beane would sign his mother as a free agent and trade her the following May if he could get two young pitchers in return, and teams in more friendly hitters' parks, like Cincinnati, could be interested. For now, it could be the ultimate buy-low proposition. But not for long.


Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every in this space everyWednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

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Posted on Feb 21, 2020