Who are the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball leagues? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?
ATL not Medlen with success
Manny Machado, 3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles
- Last 7: .308 BA, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI in 27 PA
He's two for his last 10, chilling a bit since a raucous start to his career. But that's not preventing picker-uppers from trying the super-prospect for the second consecutive week, and expecting that pace was a dream anyway despite the big pop he holds. Can the 20-year-old show the beyond-his-years plate discipline that helped him surge up the farm ladder? Or will he suffer more because of his weak walk work so far?
Either way, wouldn't you rather control his fate - even with trade offers - in your league so others don't have the potentially immense pleasure?
Kris Medlen, SP, Atlanta Braves
- Last 4: 3 W, 1.05 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 22 K in 25 2/3 IP
All he needed was a chance. The highly skilled pitcher has had a highly favorable schedule in this quartet: Miami Marlins, Houston Astros, at New York Mets, San Diego Padres (his first career shutout Thursday), but this merely was an exaggeration of his talents.
The Bravos will use a six-man rotation during their ongoing run of 19 straight days with a game, so Medlen will stick even though Tommy Hanson (back) returned Friday. Expect more earthbound numbers than what Medlen has shown so far, but that shouldn't discourage you from owning him. His long-awaited upside is finally starting to materialize.
Todd Frazier, 1B/3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds
- Last 40: .310 BA, 22 R, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 1 SB in 155 PA
Joey Votto's DL stay has opened another avenue for the versatile Frazier to display his pop. Even when "Vottomatic" returns (which might happen further down the road than initially expected), Frazier should frequently, if not permanently, kick Scott Rolen out of the hot corner.
Frazier made hard contact in most of his minors duration, but the late-blooming 26-year-old has displayed more lift - a promising development for a dweller of Great American Ball Park that has actually clubbed eight of his 15 taters on the road this year.
For frozen-ropers like him, high BABIPs (.333) are justified, to a degree. Because he still strikes out a tad too much, expect some cooling as September comes, but there's still plenty to like about his skills that act as a foil for his sweet positional eligibility.
Eric Young Jr., OF, Colorado Rockies
- Last 12: .469 BA, 12 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB in 54 PA
When speed finds a lineup spot while also learning how to hit, the waiver-wire dash begins. Young should keep his role even with Michael Cuddyer back from the DL; EYJ has provided too much of a card-topping spark to sit. His outfield defense has improved, too. Even when he quiets down, Young could serve as a pivotal swipes compiler down the stretch.
Dale Thayer, RP, San Diego Padres
- Last 14: 1 SV, 1.17 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 8 K in 15 1/3 IP
Thayer has staked his claim for Round 2 of replacing Huston Street (strained quadriceps), who'll stay out of MLB action until at least early September. With Street's penchant for dragging recoveries, it could easily last longer. Though he's had a decent run of late, too, Luke Gregerson isn't a clear and present danger.
Alex Cobb, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
- Last 4: 3 W, 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 21 K in 28 IP
Doumit still doin' it
Matchups against the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays inflated these stats a little, but don't scoff at Cobb going seven frames in each contest and walking just three overall. The grounder specialist doesn't induce many empty hacks, but he's looking like another developmental victory in the Rays' long line of useful home-grown SPs. He's improved his fastball command, curveball deployment and preparation leading up to his starts.
Cobb is contributing to the surplus but could soon be a casualty. Will he get the boot whenever Jeff Niemann (broken leg) returns? That could come in a few weeks, and Niemann was having a breakthrough of his own before he went down. Cobb makes the most sense to lose out, but maybe Jeremy Hellickson's recent stumbles tag him with a 'pen assignment. A six-man rotation would mean cutting down David Price's appearances. No thanks.
Cobb visits the Angels next, followed likely by hosting the surprising Athletics and, unfortunately, traveling to the Texas Rangers. He might be running out of steam by then anyway, so keep an eye on the future if you jumped on board.
Ryan Doumit, C, Minnesota Twins
- August: .347 BA, 7 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI in 51 PA
As he's moved around the diamond, Doumit keeps mashing as he rides in with his second straight entry here. Other than a weak clip versus left-handers on the year, the switch-hitter's plate peripherals don't show an imminent regression overall. He'll wind up as one of the biggest profit earners this season among backstops.
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cincinnati Reds
- Last 50: .320 BA, 26 R, 14 HR, 39 RBI in 195 PA
The last few stragglers are hopping on board. Ludwick was hitting .203 on the year before that stat period commenced June 12. He stands at .268 and has already matched his 22 homers from 2009 in 200 fewer plate appearances. The 34-year-old can credit revisiting the squared contact he made in past excellent years (23.2 liner percentage in '12) along with a minor but important uptick in cuts taken within the strike zone.
Ludwick's long-standing hacker tendencies should prompt a drop-off warning, though, and his stock won't be more sellable than it is now; his team's hot streak and home digs accentuate his value. Riding out his season wouldn't be a bad alternative, but if you have depth in the outfield, you can swap him to fill another need.
Grant Balfour, RP, Oakland Athletics
- Last 33: 1 W, 2 SV, 1.54 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 30 K in 35 IP
Those two wrap-ups have come over his last pair of appearances while he retook the Oaktown saves reins. Ryan Cook has looked a tad better lately, but the competing A's won't ditch Balfour - at least from top preference - if he keeps this up.
Eric Chavez, 3B, New York Yankees
- Last 12: .500 BA, 10 R, 5 HR, 11 RBI in 41 PA
A healthier, platoon-protected Chavez has paid off for the Bronx Bombers with Alex Rodriguez (wrist) hurt. A-Rod should return sometime in September, but Chavez could still find time at the hot corner if the Yanks decide to rest Rodriguez as October nears, so that'll mean some corner-infield utility even as a part-timer for deep mixers.
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 the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
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