Who were the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball leagues this past week? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?
Trevor Plouffe, 3B/SS/OF, Minnesota Twins
- June: .385 BA, 16 R, 9 HR, 17 RBI in 73 PA
Plouffe's still going "poof!" off waiver wires. Following a two-homer contest June 15, the weekend he first graced this space, he's 6-for-17 sans a homer with just one RBI. It's news when he doesn't leave the yard.
Albeit in a small sample size, the 6:3 walk-to-strikeout ratio in his cool-down period is promising, considering the hacker rep that he's trying to dispel; he's contributing in other ways when he isn't clearing fences. Plouffe's seemingly budding on-base penchant supplements his cornucopia of eligibility as a valid reason to extend your patience with him, particularly considering his middle-infield eligibility.
Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics
- Last 14: .283, 11 R, 7 HR, 12 RBI in 51 PA
The man who booted Kila Ka'aihue (when will he get a legit shot!?) made the A's look like geniuses for a bit. Last week, he smacked five homers in a span of four games - three of which came at Coors Field - and has seven so far.
With Bryan LaHair's early-season blast this year, we saw another mini-breakout from a Quad-A type. Could Moss, seemingly a charter member who'll turn 29 in September, be next? Considering his 15 K's in 46 at-bats and the fact that his home park being the polar opposite of Denver's, it's not a smart long-term bet in mixed leagues.
Ride the wave, but remain ready to bail off the board. Since he's given Oaktown some semblance of stability at 1B, however, he should maintain at least a month's worth of AL-only playing time value.
Brandon Belt, 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants
- Last 9: .414 BA, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB in 35 PA
During Aubrey Huff's anxiety-related DL stint starting in late April, Belt hit .324 with five RBIs in 34 at-bats. He kept Huff mostly as a reserve even after the vet returned, and now Huff is back on the DL with a sprained right knee. Bruce Bochy has no excuse to avoid playing Belt, and it looks like he's coming around on the kid ... finally.
Belt has tapped into his plentiful power profile in June, and his stat line sample marks his current hit streak. In mid-May it was revealed that Belt is standing upright at the plate, so he's seeing the ball better now. All three of his homers have come against southpaws, and he's hitting .286 against them compared to .255 versus righties. That bodes well for his development that he's already competent against his handedness-matching opponents, contradicting Bochy's previous platoon protests. Buy.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
- Since May 25: .323 BA, 19 R, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 1 SB in 106 PA
Take that, TLR! Considered a lost cause as recently as May, Rasmus has reminded us why he was a highly touted youngster with the St. Louis Cardinals. He's embracing his fresh start up north - a bit late, but better than never, eh? Returning to his old batter's box placement aligned him properly to attack the strike zone and helping him cut down on K's. Dwayne Murphy and the Jays have a knack for tapping into hitters' potential, especially if they're pull mashers like Rasmus.
Eleven of his 12 taters have been guided to right field, so maybe pitchers will adjust and throw more outside rawhide. And since he had to work to get his BA up to .259, you can't count on him being helpful there down the road unless his increased liner rate creates a new in-play baseline. Not foolish thinking, but hardly a guarantee.
Since outfield is a plentiful position, consider selling him if you need help in another area. His streaks can both carry and destroy a squad. Believe in the growth, but capitalizing on his latest upward fluctuation in redrafts makes sense.
Ryan Cook, RP, Oakland Athletics
- June: 4 SV, 0.00 ERA, 11 K in 6 2/3 IP
Another repeat inclusion: He's the "first choice," per Bob Melvin, for A's saves. You can view him as the unofficial closer. He should be owned everywhere.
The blowtorch can K them like a textbook bow-tier but still carries control issues. He'll probably go through a regression (0.59 ERA, 92.6 percent left-on-base percentage), but remember that relievers keep small sample sizes and could easily defy expectations if they're hard to hit. Cook needs to get ahead on batters more often, but this is a horse that could give you 20-plus saves this year.
Melvin will come to his senses. As usual, Oakland has nothing better to do than try out their future.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Last 5: .529 BA, 8 R, 5 HR, 10 RBI, in 21 PA
Marmol back in the ninth
The streaky free swinger just had another one of his bash binges, which broke up a long stretch of the clip crippling we've come to expect. Two two-homer games defined his current run, though he added his other one Thursday night.
Alvarez is only in your lineup for home runs. Most would be surprised to know that Alvarez hit .393 to the opposite field last year and is trumping that with a .438 clip this year! Unfortunately, not much is different about his contact peripherals - he's even hacking more often, even. Expect more of the ups and downs from the sometimes brilliant, more often frustrating bat.
Phil Hughes, SP, New York Yankees
- June: 3 W, 3.51 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 28 K in 25 2/3 IP
Great timing with his pickup rush for him to allow four homers Tuesday, reminding you of his biggest flaw (19 fence-clearers in 78 1/3 frames this year), but he's had a notable improvement at each calendar flip, culminating in this month's ERA in 25 2/3 innings. He's averaging nearly a K per inning and corrected his walk woes thanks to a more aggressive approach and some technical advice from Andy Pettitte.
Hughes will have plenty of outings like his last disaster and be a safer play when he's away from Yankee Stadium or any other hitter-leaning park. You'll have to manage him even more meticulously than the Yanks have in his career to extract the best from him, but his revived approach will keep him useful in the strikeout column, and he should push his 4.94 ERA back to the border of 3.00 and 4.00.
Carlos Marmol, RP, Chicago Cubs
- Last 4: 1 W, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 5 K in 3 2/3 IP
Funny how drafters weren't rushing to pick Marmol before the season. This is his second straight appearance in the Top 10. That's the way the inseason chase goes. Your ex-closer often looks great with save-deprived beer goggles.
He's looking like a more aggressive pitcher, which should please the organization, who earlier in the year grew tired of his slider-heavy nibbling game. Of course, he needs to show a longer period of improved control for us to be entirely comfortable. Plus, Marmol remains in danger to leave ChiTown - and save opportunities - as a potential part of what's expected to be a Cubbies clearance sale.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks
- June: .369 BA, 12 R, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 1 SB in 72 PA
... and over his last six games: .429-4-8 with eight plate crossings in 28 at-bats.
Keith chatted about Hill's torrid pace on Thursday. The streaky keystoner has had fluctuating output over the last few years but has righted many of the wrongs he's committed since his breakthrough 2009.
Sure, the 30-year-old carries a few warning signs. His same-field tendency - the same one that led to a rough regression following that campaign - all 10 of his homers landed beyond the left-field wall, and seven have cleared Chase Field's walls. He's not as potent hitting to center or right field this year and throughout his career. Considering his bloated .313 BABIP and fly-ball tendency, his limited spray further justifies the belief that his clip will finish closer to .260 than .290
On the other hand, don't let his usual approach belittle the growth he's taken in free-pass taking (9.2 percent after 6.1 last year). He's tweaked some things in the batter's box, hits in a favorable stadium and thieves bags for an aggressive basepath squad. His power-speed combo will continue to aid his owners even if you have to endure his clip correction.
Doug Fister, SP, Detroit Tigers
- First start back from DL: W, 3 H, 1 BB, 6 K in 6 IP
Most likely, players in shallower leagues took advantage of those who dropped the righty because they couldn't stash him during his second sideline stint this year. The right-hander came back with a bang in his comeback start. The control artist should be owned everywhere.
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
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