Who are the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball leagues? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?
Andy Dirks, OF, Detroit Tigers
The most popular new player in roto? Dirks crossed Tim's desk last week, just as the love for the left-handed hitter was creeping up. The 26-year-old's high-effort style has helped him to become a bit of an overachiever. His numbers have reflected that once he's had time to adjust to a new level.
His second year of exposure to major league pitching appears to be no different. It's been tough to get a good pitch by the man with a bit of power, a bit of speed and an ideal lineup spot (No. 2, for now). Dirks will slow down sometime, but he may be good enough to hold value in deep mixers.
Christian Friedrich, SP, Colorado Rockies
His debut (17 K's, two runs in 13 innings) is a carry-over of what looks like a breakthrough season (thanks to much improved control) at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Friedrich, 24, was once one of the game's better pitching prospects, but injuries and poor results at Double-A sidetracked him.
Beware: The 24-year-old dominated two lowly offenses (San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants). Still, he has the talent, especially the strikeout ability, to be an asset for a long stretch, at least in deep leagues.
Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics
Tim mentioned Reddick's rising steam last week, too. Folks might be catching him on the tail end of an incredible hot streak, but he has staying power in five-outfielder mixed leagues. His new owners will need to learn a little patience, though, because Reddick hasn't yet, completely.
Allen Craig's love will probably come to a halt now that he's hit the DL because of a hamstring strain. His bat is too good to let that factor in, or to ditch him.
Dale Thayer, RP, San Diego Padres
Huston Street (strained lat) is a few weeks away, and it's been Thayer, not Andrew Cashner or Luke Gregerson, who's filled in. Thayer isn't special, but he gets the job done without prompting Bud Black to reach for antacids. Saves are saves. The same goes for the Toronto Blue Jays' Casey Janssen, another trendy, short-term roto reliever.
Brian Fuentes, RP, Oakland Athletics
The A's demoted Grant Balfour, a move that probably came too late if it was going to happen. Fantasy players know Fuentes' name and that he's been a source of saves before. He's reduced his BB/9 drastically in the early going, but he's not necessarily a great bet to retain the closer's job.
Fuentes has been the fad, but the Chicago White Sox's Addison Reed is slowly gaining FAAB attention that is much more deserved.
Raul Ibanez, OF/DH, New York Yankees
Wisely, the Bronx Bombers haven't allowed him to face southpaws very often. Ibanez has been playing because the Yanks' outfield depth is depleted for a few weeks, and he went on a home run binge last week - while he was at home. The inconsistency may drive fantasy owners nuts, and the PT will dwindle in June, especially during the interleague slate.
A.J. Ellis, C, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ellis has seized opportunity in Hollywood and has a solid BA profile, which has produced bonus stats because of the Blue's hot start. In two-backstop mixed leagues, he's more of the "C who won't hurt me" type, so some probably won't stick with him once he slows down.
Roto players are running out of chances to grab Carlos Ruiz, who is adding power and speed - apparently - to his game.
Scott Diamond, SP, Minnesota Twins
It was an impressive beginning (no runs, nine hits allowed, plus 10 K's) to this left-hander's 2012 MLB ledger. His much improved curveball is most responsible for his increased confidence and effectiveness, and the Twins are desperate for good pitching. As long as he's average, he'll stick, and he can be that for a while, but he's too hittable to last in mixers.
Maybe roto managers are hoping for a Diamond in the rough because they're too late on the Cleveland Indians' Derek Lowe, whose sinker is back in style. On Tuesday, Lowe pitched a complete-game shutout without striking out a batter. Those marks won't continue, but he's a safer bet than Diamond.
Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Baltimore Orioles
This Asian left-hander is legit, at least to the degree that he's good enough to stick around in 12- and 15-team mixed leagues. Tim chronicled the reasons that Chen's music has the kind of beat you can dig.
Carlos Zambrano, SP, Miami Marlins
The Pittsburgh Pirates' James McDonald is, justifiably, quickly disappearing on lists of available free agents.
Hot on those heels: Big Z, who has reined in his BB/9 a bit while fanning more than seven per nine. With a new lease on baseball life, Zambrano, 31, could be a commodity all year in mixed affairs, at least while making half of his starts in that big park.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.