Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Nate McLouth, Carlos Ruiz, more

by Tim Heaney on April 29, 2013 @ 13:00:00 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

Nate McLouth, OF, Baltimore Orioles

Philadelphia Phillies C Carlos Ruiz
Coo coo ca Chooch

Nate the Great has conquered fantasy hearts and minds. Since he finished April 18 action with a .244 clip, he's 15 for his last 29 with a homer, six ribbies and a 5-for-6 SBA record. The vet fly-catcher has perched atop B-more's lineup (21 runs scored) and boasts a 14:8 BB/K.

The calendar hints his 15.7 walk rate and .385 BABIP will dip significantly. Free passes fall into his "owned skills" column, though, and when 25.8 percent of your connections have been liners, such in-play success isn't unfounded for a stretch. He won't clear the fences often, but he's set up to contribute everywhere else (especially in AL-only). He's the most viable leadoff component and should remain there as long as he's setting the table effectively.

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

The latest blue-chipper to earn a call-up was probably snatched up long before you had the chance to read this. In 66 at-bats with Triple-A Colorado Springs, he hit .364 with three homers and 21 RBIs, plus a .392 OBP and .667 SLG. The latter was the figure that perplexed us during his 2012 drop-off, when he slugged only .428 while launching just 12 bombs for Class AA Tulsa.

Arenado, 22, passes the power eye test, though. (Take that, computers.) Plus, Coors Field more closely replicates his 2013 farm home than his 2012 digs. His Tulsa stint reminds us to prognosticate his natural, immediate power ceiling (many still overrate it) conservatively, but his above-average skills should continue to benefit from a positive offensive environment in Colorado. His contact and plate discipline provide a solid profile for immediate success for a rational BA ceiling estimation of approximately .280.

Last year would've been too early for a promotion; the extra seasoning will help. Chiefly, the way third base has treated the fantasy lot this year, he's worth a strong investment as you move into leagues bigger than 12-team mixers.

Kevin Gregg, RP, Chicago Cubs

Most closure chasers surrender to primitive urges. (Got save? Me add.) Recent Gregg acquirers must assess whether anything about this former outcast, including his Friday-Saturday combo of 1-2-3 conversions, will make us forget his past incarnations, and whether Dale Sveum's confidence in him stems from merit or a lack of alternatives.

Not much has changed about his peripherals to say the former outweighs the latter, but he apparently has ditched his cutter and is delivering more sinkers and two-seamers. A cutter typically helps a pitcher work along the black with more authority, but his often seemed too flat, and the more downward-moving options could limit his typically ghastly homer allowance.

Kyuji Fujikawa (strained right forearm) might need only a few rehab outings to rejoin the North Siders, and one would think he'd need little time once active to regain the gig, if he doesn't immediately. It's not set in stone, though. James Russell is a lefty alternative. Carlos Marmol isn't going away. Maybe Gregg scrapes together a few more chances in the meantime. It's a cautious starting point for a trial, which might not last through this week but might give you a month or more of semi-regular SVOs.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled

Carlos Ruiz, C, Philadelphia Phillies

Seattle Mariners 2B Dustin Ackley
Ackley: turn and face the strange

Ruiz returned Sunday from his 25-game Adderall suspension and went 1-for-4 with a double. Coming off a breakout season (.325-16-68), the backstop served as a preseason regression warning, but most of what he accomplished was real. The 34-year-old will give you a .280ish BA while teetering on double-digit homers (late-career power growth) and playing in a solid lineup.

Most single-catcher owners probably won't make the change until he shows more potency, but if you've been playing matchups or, say, sticking a bit too long with the waning John Buck, here's a good opportunity to change direction. Players of two-receiver games mustn't stall. He's one of the safest secondary options if not a game-changer.

Peter Bourjos, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Another BABIP alert: .400 through 79 at-bats. Why it'll land closer to 2011 (.338) when all's said and done: He still produces a ton of grounders. Will he surmount a .300 BA? Nah, but anything above .275 (plausible) makes him a money-making option considering he's capable of swatting 10 ding dongs and making a dent in deep-leaguers' stolen-base needs.

Theoretically, moving from ninth to leadoff was supposed to increase his likelihood of running, but it took him until Saturday to take his first 2013 bag. His latent larceny has probably kept many from committing, but he might start going soon. The club cites that opponents are trying to slow them down via quick deliveries with runners on. Bourjos also claims he's slipped a few times when trying to pilfer.

He'll move down in the order once Erick Aybar (heel) returns, possibly this week, but fixing his basepath approach and renewed vigor from the Halos' feet might render his lineup placement irrelevant.

Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners

The changes he made in spring didn't stick, but the modifications he installed earlier this month seem to be paying off. Tracing back from April 12, the first day he reportedly instituted his new stance in earnest, he's batting .316 in 57 at-bats. (Arbitrary end point, schmarbitrary schmend schmpoint.) There's only one RBI and four plate crossings in there, but at least he's showing life.

He was prematurely expected to become the next big fantasy thing in 2012, his first full campaign and a ripe target for a sophomore slip. With hype eroded, middle-infield-starved owners have little to lose in testing him, even if it's with an empty average and mostly based in an underwhelming offensive park. Joining his modest 2012 homer total (12) with anything close to his 2011 average (.273) could be his new baseline, and the results of a streamlined swing could help him exceed that pair and provide unexpected, Kyle Seager-ian MI profit.

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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 the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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