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Fantasy Fix: The LaHair Conundrum

New and previously-overlooked star Bryan LaHair is officially the fantasy baseball sleeper success story of the year thus far (sorry, Adam Dunn). A 1.279 OPS going into Tuesday ranked second league-wide only to Matt Kemp, which is maybe the same as saying LaHair was first in OPS among mere mortals. His .388 average, eight home runs, 15 walks and 17 RBI weren't too shabby either.

Of course, this all begs the question: When should you trade him? I mean, that's what we do with fantasy baseball surprises, right? Because surprises have a way of fizzling once the initial thrill is over. LaHair probably wasn't drafted in many fantasy leagues, but has been getting added like crazy from the waiver wire over the last 10 days or so. If you don't have him on your fantasy team already, someone else in your league does.

Many fantasy owners probably see him either as a player whose success they can ride in the short term, or who they can turn into instant rewards by flipping him in a trade. If you want to trade him right now, his value certainly has never been higher, and it is hard to see how it could go any higher. At least that average will have to fall back toward Earth at some point.

This is all assuming you want to trade him. Is there an argument for keeping him? There certainly is, and it goes like this: Logic and history suggest that as more teams start realizing LaHair's potential, they will pitch him differently or pitch around him. However, LaHair has already demonstrated some prowess for hitting to the opposite field - and not just poking singles between third and shortstop, but actually driving the ball for opposite field home runs and doubles. Those home runs and doubles, plus the increasing number of walks he could draw from pitchers pitching way around him, should contain to fuel that epic OPS.

A couple weeks ago, I thought LaHair wasn't much more than an interesting bench option to use a day or two a week, but I'm starting to think differently the more I see him play. That's another point worth highlighting - LaHair is now playing every day, and has delivered the stats mentioned above in about 30 fewer at-bats than other 1Bs. I wouldn't blame you if you still think LaHair is a flash in the pan. He very well could be, or he could at least slow down enough that he's no longer among the top fantasy performers at 1B, as he is right now. But, I should warn you that discounting LaHair puts you in the same company as Jim Hendry.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report has its unfortunately frequent feature on all the new closers. Welcome Chicago's very own Chris Sale, Rafael Dolis and James Russell to the club . . . until further notice.

* SI.com's fantasy roundtable considers what to do about Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard after he comes off the DL. Maybe you can bench him if you keep LaHair.

* The Faster Times reports on the wave of injuries among third basemen. If you loaded your fantasy roster with 3Bs and closers, you probably aren't doing great right now.

* Bleacher Report examines the Derek Jeter conundrum: Trade him or keep him? He didn't make my top 10 shortstops this season, but if I had the guy leading MLB in hits right now, I'd keep him. Reaching 3,000 hits has done wonders for him.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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