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Fantasy Fix: Trending

The top three hitters in Yahoo! fantasy baseball right now are Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee; Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles; and Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Toronto. This should not come as a complete surprise, given that Braun was anticipated to be a top 10 pick in many leagues, and Kemp and Bautista were not far behind.

Yet, before the season there also was reason to believe that all three were headed for at least a slight decline. Braun saw a drop in HRs, RBIs, SBs and batting average from 2009 to 2010; Kemp saw a 50-point drop in his average from 2009 to 2010, as well as dips in RBIs and SBs; and Bautista came out of nowhere to hit 54 HRs last year - how do you top that?

Trying to figure out which direction players' stats are headed in is the most difficult thing about fantasy sports. Sometime, all the cues point in one direction, and they still end up being wrong. The difference, of course, is the human factor, something that not even the humans involved can predict. Playing stat trends is a huge part of the fantasy game, but never forget they can surprise you and head in the opposite direction.

Having said all this, if you are looking to read something into the stats of players who are still widely available, here are a few candidates:

Chris Coghlan, OF, Florida: 4 HRs, 13 RBIs and a .301 average for a first-place team. All this from a guy traditionally more known for SBs (he only has one). Available in 69% of Yahoo! leagues.

Johnny Damon, OF Tampa: 4 HRs, 17 RBIs, 3 SBs. The old man has made a habit of game-winning HRs this month. He's been benefiting from Sam Fuld getting on base extremely frequently in front him. Available in 71% of Yahoo! leagues.

Randy Wolf, SP, Milwaukee: Wolf for years has been a borderline fantasy candidate, and he has not exactly been dominant this season if you look at the numbers: 3-2 record, 29 strikeouts in 30 innings with a 2.64 ERA. However, in three straight wins, he has a 0.44 ERA and is benefiting from the Brewers' big bats.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report says Jonathan Broxton is out as the Dodgers' closer. The big man been very hittable since late last season.

* USA Today Fantasy Windup notes the demotion of Brandon Belt, 1B/3B, San Francisco, who had been a chic rookie draft pick in some leagues.

* ESPN still likes the fantasy value of Matt Garza even though he has yet to win. Other numbers, however, are comparing favorably against his stats last year.

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade wonders if Sergio Santos is the answer to the closer woes on the South Side. He certainly couldn't be any more of a question than Matt Thornton or Chris Sale. Santos had two saves in a row this week, so keep an eye on him.

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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 his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

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