Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Pickups of the Week: Chris Johnson, Andy Dirks, more

by Tim Heaney on May 12, 2012 @ 16:08:27 PDT

 


We've scoured various fantasy baseball game formats to determine the top fantasy baseball additions of the past week. Should you run with them in your fantasy baseball lineup?

Note: We've excluded pickups for potential saves, which are covered in Diamond Market and Closer Hot Seat.

Batters

Carlos Ruiz, C, Philadelphia Phillies

Ruiz is finally adding plate power to his elite defense, having already matched his homer total from last season (six). He has been a bit fortunate when putting it in play, but he's one of the few things clicking in Philly's offense right now. His playing time was already an asset; now it's gravy.

Allen Craig, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates SP James McDonald
McDonald: lovin' it

Glad to see folks finally starting to catch up to his power potential. He's been at first base of late, and even when Lance Berkman (calf) returns, Craig will find time in the middle of the order throughout the season given how glass-like some of the vets have proven to be.

The growth of this lethal lumber has been interrupted by injury and depth chart burial; you saw last year how much he can take advantage of at-bats, and now he's adding another position of eligibility to his widespread 2B-OF pair. Enjoy.

Brandon Inge, 2B/3B, Oakland Athletics

Three homers (including two grannies) in four games will help your fantasy market share. He's already hitting in the middle of this order. Fresh starts often help, but this seems a bit over his head. His glove should keep him in the lineup, though, considering the position was a black hole for the A's before his arrival.

Prepare for the batting-average downfall, but he could still offer double-digit power when all normalizes to be useful in deep mixed leagues, especially if he carries keystone eligibility there. He'll likely have more staying power than Cody Ransom, who seems to be a hotter addition.

Chris D. Johnson, 3B, Houston Astros

We've seen his streaky side in its highs (2010) and lows (2011). A constant through this roller coaster, which is on its way back up this campaign, has been a liner rate that hasn't dipped below 23.2 percent (last year, per Fangraphs). Such thump typically points to more positives than negatives.

In 2010, he hit .451 with a .404 BABIP to the opposite field; here's where the negative surfaces. In 2011, he ran out of luck. So far this season, he's hitting .111 to right field, but he's doing extensive same-field and up-the-middle damage, which have been strengths throughout his short career. Either he'll gain fortune with more hits falling the other way, or he'll cool off in his comfort zones.

Despite his laser-style contact, he doesn't connect often, which presents a long-term issue despite his increasing swing restraint. He doesn't have elite power, either, but he's taking advantage of his home park's friendliness to righty lumber. Otherwise, you're relying on sustaining a high level of in-play success - not a stretch since he has done it for a longer window, but not a cemented contribution, either.

Plus, he recently hit three homers in three days, so that helped. Of course, given Houston's surprising start and the fantasy hot corner's crowded infirmary, it'll do for now.

Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves

He's ... healthy. How much are you willing to bet that'll continue? More than half of his batted balls have been grounders - not a great sign for a 40-year-old to carry on his success. Healthy knees can ramp up power; the proven run producer is merely swinging more and having more success on getting through the strike zone. The switch-hitter's .424 up-the-middle batting average is carrying him; he's batting just .236 everywhere else.

It's another stretch you can enjoy while it lasts, but you must plan ahead for when it comes to an end, either via correction or medical attention.

Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics

Hitting in the three-hole of any lineup is worth a fantasy roster spot. But since April 15, the former Boston Red Sox prospect is mashing: .293-5-13 with 16 runs scored and two swipes. He's seemingly there to stay. His hard contact gives hope for his clip, but his poor batting-eye ratio doesn't. He won't be a shallow-mixed asset all year, but he's entrenched as a steady deep-mixed contributor.

Andy Dirks, OF, Detroit Tigers

Dirks has occupied the two-hole for the past four contests. He hasn't been one to take walks, but he has fanned only four times in 60 at-bats so far; despite a recent bout with hamstring tightness he's 14-for-28 with two homers, six ribbies and six runs scored in May. Hitting ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder was supposed to help Brennan Boesch, who's relegated to the bottom third and platoon duty.

Sure, ride Dirks' wave, which will most likely come to shore in the next few weeks. Still, the lefty bat makes solid contact and seems like a Jim Leyland Guy - high effort, high discipline, maybe kinda sorta has a smidge of power upside. That makeup plus Detroit's overall slumping will keep him on the card; he's a palatable Jayson Werth stand-in.

Pitchers

Chris Capuano, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

He's walking more batters than he did last year, but his deceptive dominance has carried over, and he's money at home. Switching to a sinkerball has made a huge difference. Beware the imminent corrections that lay with his 87.3 left-on-base percentage and his 7.1 percent HR/FB, but at minimum he's proving to be a reliable matchup play in mixed leagues.

James McDonald, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Reining in his walk and homer rates and bolstering his slider with help from catcher Rod Barajas have helped McDonald get over the proverbial post-hyper hump. His .260 BABIP will move back toward .300, but the above-average left-on-base percentage of 78.5 comes on the heels of a 77.0 figure last year; maybe he's one of those pitchers who strands more runners than usual.

He won't be this good for the whole year, but he's finally settling in as a trustworthy deep mixed rotation capper.

Joe Blanton, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

Start believing? Hold on: Same pristine control, a lower K/9 say it could be a mirage. So do the 2.4 percent HR/FB and the somewhat fluky pairing of his .286 BABIP and 21.5 line-drive percentage allowed. But for all the fortune he's having, his LOB% of 63.6 - well below his career rate - means he could be better if everything breaks right.

Problem is, "breaking right" is part of Blanton's M.O. He lets his D do their share as often as possible. That's not a safe recipe for long-term investment, but you can stay in for when the good times are rolling.

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About Tim Heaney

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, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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