Top 10 Fantasy Baseball Pickups of the Week: Justin Morneau, Jonathan Lucroy, more

by Nicholas Minnix on May 26, 2012 @ 05:18:05 PDT


Who are the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball leagues? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?

Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins

  • May: .290, 4 HR, 12 RBI in 31 AB

A two-homer effort (on Thursday versus the Chicago White Sox) will get the attention of roto owners in shallow leagues real quick.

Morneau has hit only .248 this season, but two things are especially encouraging: (1) He's already hit eight bombs, twice as many as he hit last season in fewer than half of the number of at-bats; (2) there have been no signs of serious health concerns thus far. The wrist thing that required a DL stint was just a lingering effect of surgery and didn't surprise his doctor.

Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

  • May: .400, 3 HR, 21 RBI in 75 AB

Mixed leaguers who have to play two backstops were already plenty familiar with this up-and-comer. Lucroy introduced himself to a larger crowd with his two-jack, seven-RBI effort on Sunday against Minnesota. All three of his homers this month have come in the past week.

Lucroy's .349 batting average is sure to decline, but his BA indicators suggest that, since getting his feet wet in 2011, he's settling in. Power displays will be intermittent, but he'll hit.

Dayan Viciedo, OF, Chicago White Sox

  • Last 10: .368, 5 HR, 11 RBI in 38 AB

The Tank has cooled off a little, par for the aggressive swinger's course if he's been hot for a bit. It appears that the strides he took in the patience department in 2011 haven't carried over yet, either.

His streakiness will put off some fantasy players in shallow leagues, but they can afford to be patient, it may pay off. Viciedo is shaking his early-season doldrums, appears to be approaching locked-in status ... and still has last year's 8.0-plus walk percentage to shoot for. The talented batsman will hit for a .300-plus average on balls in play; he's not finished.

Mitch Moreland, 1B/OF, Texas Rangers

  • May: .327, 4 HR, 10 RBI in 49 AB

It's hard to go wrong with someone on the Rangers, even their No. 9 hitter. Moreland's seven round-trippers confirm that his wrist is fine and he's rebounding in power categories. He's a good hitter with a sound approach.

Texas has a few right-handed batters who can man first base, so Ron Washington rarely lets Moreland face a southpaw, though. His PT compared to other first basemen will probably frustrate some mixed leaguers, especially when things aren't going his way.

Yonder Alonso, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres

  • May: .354, 1 HR, 10 RBI in 79 AB

The Friars could platoon Jesus Guzman with Alonso at first base, but the left-handed hitter has been too hot to sit - against either hand. In 2012, Alonso has actually hit southpaws better, and his BB/K against them has been about as good as it is against righties - which is pretty good.

PETCO Park's Death Alley will hamper Alonso's home run output, but the one thing really missing from his game was the ability to hit lefties. Early signs are incredibly encouraging, and PT shouldn't be a problem for the first baseman who arrived as part of the package in the Mat Latos deal.

Freddy Galvis, 2B/SS, Philadelphia Phillies

  • Last 15: .345, 2 HR, 14 RBI in 58 AB

Chase Utley's stand-in has been unexpectedly hot. The big-league game hasn't been too big for Galvis, 22, who has hit only .250 but has made contact on more than 85 percent of the pitches at which he swings.

The catch-22: The switch-hitter has been batting seventh or eighth, where opportunities to drive in runs like he has don't come along so often. If he keeps hitting, Charlie Manuel could move him up, but then he wouldn't get pitches as good as those he sees while hitting in front of the pitcher.

He's short-term adequate in shallow leagues and long-term adequate elsewhere. It'd be nice to see him run a little, like he did in the minors, but he won't get a green light often while he's near the bottom of the order.

Ernesto Frieri, RP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  • Last 9: 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 6 BB, 19 K in 8 2/3 IP
Milwaukee Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy
Lucroy: fantasy unmasked

Since the Halos acquired this right-hander from San Diego, he's been unhittable. On Wednesday, he picked up a save, which undoubtedly poured kerosene on the flame that competitive rotisserie players carry for him. Frieri has longed for an opportunity to be a closer, and Mike Scioscia may be giving it to him.

Scott Downs remains in the ninth-inning picture, though, and Jordan Walden is close to painting himself back into it. Regardless, since he's become a reliever, Frieri has handed out plenty of free passes, but he's also been much tougher to score upon. No matter how it turns out, it probably won't hurt to have him around.

Roy Oswalt, SP, free agent

  • N/A

Those in deep leagues, wisely, aren't waiting for someone else to scoop up the right-handed vet now that word has spread: He's looking to sign soon and has worked out for a few teams. The list of possible destinations includes Texas, the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia and the Boston Red Sox.

Oswalt turns 35 in August, and back problems remain a potential threat to his availability. However, he still boasts the ability to post a K/BB of close to 3.00 and an ERA of around 3.50. An NL city would be preferable, but a spot with the Rangers - in the AL West - may not be so bad.

Elliot Johnson, 2B/3B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays

  • Last 17: .345, 2 HR, 8 R, 5 SB in 58 AB

Last year, Johnson seemed to stick around because he could play several positions and run in a pinch, and he was out of options. He hit .194. But in the minors, he flashed occasional power and was a decent base-stealer. He's been playing because of the injuries to Evan Longoria (partially torn lefy hammy) and Jeff Keppinger (broken toe).

The good news: In the minors, the switch-hitter stayed on hot streaks for long periods. The bad news: On the farm, he also went thru long down stretches, he doesn't make contact often enough to maintain a good BA, and this ain't the minors. As long as the PT is available, those in deep leagues can see how long it'll last.

Alex Cobb, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

  • Last 2: 1 W, 2.25 ERA, 9 H, 6 BB, 8 K in 12 IP

Fantasy players in deep leagues have hopped on the pitcher who's taken Jeff Niemann's spot in the rotation. No doubt they recall Cobb's 3.42 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 6.32 K/9 in nine starts for the Rays last year. If he performs, he should hold the job for the full couple of months. He's off to a good start.

It'll be interesting to see how Cobb's 2012 work will compare to last year's standard. He's really struggled with his control at the Triple-A level this season. It was a bit of a problem in his first MLB stint and almost was in his second such outing of 2012, too. AL East opponents won't be forgiving on a regular basis, but June's interleague slate may offer some reprieve.

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About Nicholas Minnix

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.

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