Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Ryan Raburn, Brandon Belt, more

by Tim Heaney on May 2, 2013 @ 13:40:00 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

Ryan Raburn, 2B/OF, Cleveland Indians

San Francisco Giants 1B Brandon Belt
Don't make me take off my Belt

What the.... He's 11-for-13 -- not a typo -- over a three-game span with four homers (a twosome of two-tater turns) and nine RBIs; the versatile vet also rides a five-contest hitting streak. Thanks to his keystone qualification, fantasy owners are increasingly willing to tag along on the opportunity he's received while Michael Bourn's lacerated right index finger heals. Raburn may box Drew Stubbs out of work after Bourn returns if he keeps raking.

Three-game samples don't define a player, though, nor do they hide flaws that Raburn still shows in plate discipline. Nothing radically different stands out in his indicators to justify even remotely a ridiculous .457 BABIP, save for slightly better restraint in hacking at bad pitches.

Picking him up for free or a minimal investment justifies taking a chance, yet throwing noteworthy bucks at this hyped but miniscule window -- many deep-mixed purchasers might because of that "2B" -- hardly provides security.

Russell Martin, C, Pittsburgh Pirates

Another scorcher, Martin has clubbed four homers over his last four contests and continues crushing right-handers. He's boosted his clip by more than 100 points in a few weeks. The .211 he posted in 2012 was ripe for a positive correction this season, and he's wasting little time showing why.

The 39 homers he registered in his two New York Yankees seasons weren't Bronx-bloated; 18 came in other locales. Given PNC Park's hitter stinginess, it helps that five of six fence jumps this year have come on the road. He hits ample grounders but makes the most of his flies, so he should approach 20 again on the year. A chunk of his dollar returns elsewhere relies on his in-play fortune, which fluctuates annually, seemingly.

Two-catcher buyers should be happy with his line even after he cools. Single-backstop players shouldn't remain loyal if a downturn sinks him.

Travis Wood, SP, Chicago Cubs

A start against the San Diego Padres typically creates seismic streamer skirmishes, but the southpaw has performed as better than a substitute. His predictive sabermetric formulas, including an 82.7 left-on-base rate, don't forecast a bright future, but some tangible alterations could help him buck the expected trends.

The soft-tosser's diverse cache has taken a step forward because his slider has become his best strikeout pitch, and he's establishing more 0-1 counts. Calling Wrigley Field home makes this more important: A smidge of a grounder boost and line-drive drop coincide with him recording safer fly balls, a lack of which has held him back since his prospect days.

Dub it Paul Maholmian progress with similar risks of regression. Though he'll likely return to being a matchup play as the summer hits, owners in leagues of more than 12 teams should show more patience through struggles considering his new foundation. He's been a "one skill away" type.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled

Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

Chicago Cubs SP Matt Garza
Garza may be waiting for you

Many gave up after the tease's dragging start to 2013. He hit his first homer of the year April 23, though, and including that contest he's 9-for-27 with two homer homers and eight total ribbies. Belt may be reflecting his name more often soon, which would affirm Bruce Bochy's resistance toward knocking him down to a platoon.

Belt still chases pitcher's pitches and has, likely unfortunately, connected on more stuff off the plate, which may be contributing to his jump in pop-ups. He has so far, once again, produced a liner on one-quarter of his batted balls, though, so straightening things out would transform more of those into bleacher screechers. Hope for a BA of .270, but buy for a potential 20-homer result.

Matt Garza, SP, Chicago Cubs

Garza probably was ditched or left on the pickup pile in many leagues because disabled list spots were limited or nonexistent. In his rehab from a lat injury, he'll probably need at least three more starts before warranting activation.

Winners look ahead. Despite his battles with homer allowance, anytime you can tuck away an experienced arm with his skills, act quickly. In three of the last four years, he hasn't recorded a K/9 lower than 8.33 or dished out more than 2.86 walks per nine.

Francisco Liriano, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Speaking of stashes, Liriano (fractured humerus) should come to your aid sooner than Garza, with an expected May 11 return date. Though he's not as reliable, he'll probably go unnoticed in many setups, and his upside approaches Garza's, if with worse control.

The three walks he's registered in 16 2/3 rehab frames means he may not hurt you as much in that category, however. The 27 K's in that time ... that's why you buy him. A move to a pitcher-friendly National League park typically makes the most out of talented but troubled pitchers. Ask A.J. Burnett. Liriano could have a similar turnaround, and hopping on it preemptively will save you anxiety and money.

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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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