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Fantasy Fix: Oh Canada

By Dan O'Shea

Albert Pujols, Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Aaron Hill: Which one of these things is not like the other? If you guessed Hill, you are correct. Those other three chaps certainly were expected by many to be ranked in the Top 10 among position player performances at this point in the season. Hill? Not so much.

Through earlier this week, Hill, 2B, was ranked No. 10 in many Yahoo! leagues after turning in a scorching first month of the season: .360 AVG, 6 HRs, 22 RBIs, 2 SBs, 45 hits (!). Hill's Toronto Blue Jays are the surprising toast of the American League East, and Hill their surprising superstar. But, can he keep up the good work? Since many people weren't aware of Hill before this season, they may be inclined to think he's a flash in the pan. However, Hill gave a pretty good indication of what he was capable of back in 2007: . 291, 17 HRs, 78, RBIs, 47 doubles (the last figure put him among the league leaders in that category.

So, how did his name get lost this year at second base?

Well, penetrating the Ian Kinsler/Chase Utley/Dustin Pedroia triumvirate is no easy task to begin with, but the real reason Hill fell off the board was that he missed most of 2008 after suffering a severe concussion in an on-field collision with shortstop David Eckstein last May. Hill may be running hotter than typical right now and probably will come back down to Earth a bit, but there's good reason to believe the former first-round draft pick is capable of numbers right around his 2007 figures, perhaps even a bit higher in the HR and RBI departments. He was probably an early waiver wire pick-up in many leagues, but some of those owners also may look to sell high, thinking Hill can't keep it up. You and I know different.

Yahoo!'s Big Board doesn't rank Hill in the Top 40, but they tend not to recognize surprise performers until they really prove themselves. Hill's on the bubble, but I'll bet he makes the Big Board before too long.

Elsewhere on the expert wire:

* Bleacher Report has a look at one of my favorite subjects: stolen bases. The guys they mention are probably worth a reach only in very deep leagues, though Michael Bourn would be a steady contributor of hits, runs and SBs if you have your power stats coming out of other positions. And though he's not mentioned here, how about that Carl Crawford? Six SBs in one game. As of Tuesday, he had a an SB in nine straight games. Crawford always has been a top stealer, but hasn't swiped more than 50 bases since 2004. I wonder if his recent run is his re-awakening in that department. He is currently on pace for 100 SBs.

* Will Althoff at OpenSports Blogs has a post about why he hates fantasy baseball. He's annoyed about some of the things that are bound to happen when you are in a league that sets rosters on a weekly basis - like you bench Mark Teixeira for James Loney and then Tex hits a pair of homers. His frustration is amusing . . . and familiar.

* Canada's Sportsnet highlights some of the surprise performances - both good and bad - so far this year. Lots of this territory has been covered by others, though it does give nice shout-outs to our pal Aaron Hill and Heath Bell, the San Diego closer who succeeded Trevor Hoffman and has already picked up 8 saves for a better-than-expected Padres club. Anyway, it's nice to see our Canadian friends are following America's Pastime so closely. I went to a Blue Jays game a few years ago and managed to buy first row, third-baseline seats on the day of the game right from the ticket window. They didn't even sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch.

* Newsday asks the inevitable question about a guy who has been so lights-out good as Zack Greinke: Should you sell high?

A week ago, a friend of mine said of Greinke, "He's really in a zone, but you know he can't be a 20-game winner on the Kansas City Royals."

Really?

He's already 6-0. The Royals are scoring enough runs to give him decision, and so far he's won every single one of them. The Royals certainly are not as bad as in past years, and I just don't see him finishing any worse than 15 or 16 wins even if he really treads water the rest of the year. I can't imagine who I'd take for Greinke if I had him and someone else wanted him. It would have to be a Top 5 position player, and straight-up position player-for-pitcher trades are a tough call for most managers.

* And finally . . . LeBron James won his first NBA MVP, and he has me slightly re-considering my potential first five fantasy basketball picks for next season. I'd still take King James first, but Dwyane Wade's late-season and post-season fade has me pushing down him from second down to fourth, after Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. 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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