Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Leonys Martin, Ichiro Suzuki, more

by Keith Hernandez on June 27, 2013 @ 12:40:00 PDT

 

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KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait? Are they worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?

Hottest Pickups
Most frequently added in leagues polled

OF Leonys Martin, Texas Rangers

Martin had already staked his claim to the starting center field job in Texas before Craig Gentry suffered a broken hand. He's made 14 straight starts and is riding an 11-game hitting streak in which he's batting .421 with two home runs and five stolen bases.

The key for the former Cuban refugee has been regular playing time and confidence from the coaching staff in his abilities. "I feel confident knowing that someone has confidence in me," Martin said. "That has a lot to do with it, I think." Now that he's an unquestioned everyday player, Martin has excelled (.288/.339/.791 with five homers and 13 thefts in 67 games).

A lofty hit rate (.341) is keeping his average afloat at a high level, so unless he cuts back on his strikeout rate (19.5 percent), expect the BA to be dialed back some. Still, he deserves a roster spot in deep mixed formats. He resides in one of baseball's most potent lineups, and he can do a little of everything for you.

DH/OF Raul Ibanez, Seattle Mariners

New York Yankees OF Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro: still a fantasy hero?

What's gotten into Ibanez? Apparently he's forgotten that he's 41 years old and on the M's. The left-handed-hitting vet has left the yard four times in the last four games, including a two-homer performance last Sunday. He has nine homers this month and 18 on the season, putting him on pace to become the first 41-year-old to reach 30 bombs.

He must be on the juice, right? Ibanez has displayed above-average pop in the latter stages of his career, so his homer binge isn't all that surprising, but most pegged him as too far over the hill for this kind of behavior. He's topped 30 homers twice in his career, but hasn't done so since 2009.

His days of hitting for average are in the rearview, especially since he's striking out once every four times he steps to the plate. An insanely fortunate HR/FB rate (25.7 percent), easily the highest of his career, surely is boosting his home run total.

By all means, ride him while he's hot if you're in search of power, but just know that he's unlikely to sustain his June pace through the rest of the summer.

SP Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Kluber, 27, isn't flashy at all, but he eats innings and has pitched surprisingly well for the Tribe this season. In his last three starts, he's 3-0 with four earned runs and 15 K's in 21 2/3 innings for a 1.66 ERA. He's pretty much come out of nowhere after posting a 5.14 ERA and a 2-5 record in 12 starts for Cleveland last year.

The difference this year is his velocity is on the rise (mid- to low-90s) and the command of all three of his pitches has noticeably improved (1.65 BB/9). Opponents haven't had much trouble squaring up his pitches, but thankfully, he's keeping most of those out of the air.

Kluber has made some nice improvements, but he remains largely an average hurler. His recent success and an 8.75 K/9 has put him on the fantasy baseball map. Kluber's value likely rests as a deep mixed spot starter for the remainder of the year.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of leagues polled

OF Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees

Ichiro's ownership is likely to shoot up soon thanks to a modest six-game hitting streak (.346, two HRs, 3 SBs). The Japanese legend is 39, but like Ibanez, he still has valuable production left in him. In June, he's batting .321 with three fence clearers and seven stolen bags.

Miami Marlins SP Ricky Nolasco
How'd Nolasco look in different uni?

This obviously isn't the vintage Ichiro we came to know with Seattle, but he's aging very well and has retained elite contact rates and speed. He'll need his days off, but with Vernon Wells regressing and Curtis Granderson (pinkie) out until after the All-Star break, Suzuki is one of the Yankees' most productive outfielders.

Barring injury, he should reach 20 stolen bases, too. This could be perhaps the best time to own him as outfield depth in larger leagues.

SP Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins

Nolasco could be on the move ... very soon, in fact. The Los Angeles Dodgers are hot on his trail, as are several other National League West clubs. Bottom line: He won't be pitching for the win-hungry Fish come the end of July. And that's probably a good thing.

The 30-year-old right-hander has pitched pretty well in 2013 considering his frustration with the team's direction and the fact that he hasn't had an ERA under 4.00 in the last four years. He owns a 3.68 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 100 1/3 frames. Nolasco isn't as dominant as he once was, but he's stranding hitters on base and is limiting his walks.

He's been pitching in a park that is great at suppressing the long ball already, so a move to Hollywood - another pitcher-friendly environment - probably won't increase his value substantially. However, the prospect at more wins, on a Dodger team that could finally be getting hot, will surely pique the interest of some owners.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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