Table: Do not bench list
Scott Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals
Schedule: 6 games - KC (3), PHI (3)
Analysis: Rolen has not been a consistent option this year at the hot corner. Rolen has gone 27 straight games without a homer, and hasn't clubbed one since May 31. Along with his power outage, he missed three games due to a strain in his hamstring. Even with three games against the Royals, you might want to ride a hotter hitter than Rolen until he comes around, especially since he has not been effective at all at home. At Busch Stadium, Rolen has batted only .239 with one home run and nine RBI. There is a chance he can turn things around against the Philadelphia Phillies after batting .292 with one home run and seven RBI against them last year.
Akinori Iwamura, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Schedule: 6 games - @ARI (3), LAD (3)
Analysis: He has three RBI over his last 10 games. The rookie suffered a bruised eye in his game last Saturday, but seems to be back. He leads the team with a .448 on-base percentage, and is setting himself up as a productive run-scorer as the leadoff man in the quietly potent Devil Rays' offense. He has 17 walks and 17 strikeouts, so he knows how to find his way on base. He's no slouch at the hot corner fantasy-wise and like the offense he plays for, can be useful under the radar. He is posting similar numbers at home and on the road, although his batting average is 94 points higher at Tropicana Field than it is everywhere else.
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
Schedule: 6 games -DET (3), CLE (3)
Analysis: The Z-Man's average is a bit down from last season, despite the fact that he has less strikeouts than at this point last year. He has nine RBI in nine games in June. His home average of .237 is actually 13 points lower than his road clip. His 35 RBI and 35 runs tell a story of a consistent run producer, one that shouldn't be benched even against two of the American League's best pitching staffs. While he is doing worse than he did last season, he did have his best months from July to September, so if that pattern repeats, his bat should start heating up soon.
Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
Schedule: 6 games - BOS (3), DET (3)
Analysis: Larry returned from the disabled list on June 12, and stepped right back into place with a 3-for-4 game. Clearly, he won't have a slow road back after hurting his hands and wrists in a collision with Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jose Bautista on May 11. Jones was placed in the designated hitter slot to make the transition less strenuous. Managers can comfortably re-insert the 13-year veteran into their lineups.
Casey Blake, Cleveland Indians
Schedule: 6 games - PHI (3), @WAS (3)
Analysis: Blake has three multi-RBI efforts in his last 10 contests. Six of his nine homers - and 23 of his 34 RBI - have come against right-handed pitching, so the matchup doesn't work with him. This means more playing time, which is better for his owners. His home/away splits are nearly equal: five dingers and 16 RBI at home as well as four home runs and 18 RBI on the road. He has also been hopping around the top five spots in the order, so he's always in the mix.
Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Schedule: 6 games - HOU (3), PIT (3)
Analysis: Figgins disappointed his owners by missing a good chunk of the first month of the season with injury. He has certainly been worth the wait, as he has 10 stolen bases and 12 runs scored in his last 10 games. He also has seven RBI in his last eight games. Against weak pitching, he should continue to pace an improving Angels' offense. He is hitting better at home, with a .288 batting average in comparison to his .250 batting average on the road, so start him with confidence.
Eric Chavez, Oakland Athletics
Schedule: 6 games - CIN (3), @NYM (3)
Analysis: Chavez has hit three home runs in each month in 2007. In June, he has hit three in 11 games. The notoriously slow starter has exceeded his expectations, with his .255 career Pre-All Star Break average 32 points below his average after the Midsummer Classic. Chavez' .238 average is no surprise; that was never a strong point for him. His home numbers dwarf those on the road: .256, eight homers and 21 RBI at Network Associates Coliseum, and .218, one home run and seven RBI everywhere else. If possible, set him in against the hapless Reds and sit him against the Mets.
Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks
Schedule: 6 games - TB (3), BAL (3)
Analysis: Reynolds is just one piece of wood in the logjam that is the Diamondbacks' corner infield/outfield. The righty has been in the starting lineup against two of the last four right-handers he's faced, so that just does more justice to the timeshare theory. After a solid start, Reynolds has not yet produced a home run or RBI in the month of June. His only extra-base hit of the month was a double on June 9. The combination of positional quagmires and a power slump make him avoidable, even with six games at home.
Melvin Mora, Baltimore Orioles
Schedule: 6 games - @SD (3), @ARI (3)
Analysis: Through Thursday's contests, Mora has nine hits in his last nine games, and a homer in his last two contests. The perplexing thing here, however, is his placement in the order seems to vary. In two consecutive games against left-handed pitchers, he hit seventh and second, respectively, in the order. His average hasn't been above .250 since May 20, another befuddling development for a career .278 hitter. The good news is that his nine home runs thus far situate in the normal pattern. Mora could falter this week against strong-staffed San Diego, so weekly managers might consider finding help in other places.
Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners
Schedule: 6 games - PIT (3), CIN (3)
Analysis: Beltre reportedly sprained his thumb last Saturday, returned Monday, and had to leave on Tuesday. Team officials had told reporters that Beltre is likely headed to the disabled list, as they said the injury gave him difficulty while swinging a bat. As of Thursday, Beltre was scheduled to sit for a few days to rest the digit, but was not yet placed on the disabled list. Turn to replacement Willie Bloomquist or find help somewhere else this week.
Willie Bloomquist, Seattle Mariners
Schedule: 6 games - PIT (3), CIN (3)
Analysis: With Adrian Beltre most likely headed for the disabled list, Bloomquist slides over in the hot corner queue. In 60 games this year, the infielder has four RBI, three stolen bases and 10 runs scored. If you need steals, then Bloomquist might be worth a quick look. However, he could match up with Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino for the Pirates, who sits at second in the league with 17 runners caught stealing. Bloomquist should be used in dire situations only.
OTHERS FOR CONSIDERATION
Edwin Encarnacion, Cincinnati Reds
Schedule: 6 games - @OAK (3), @SEA (3)
Analysis: Encarnacion received an awakening after being sent down to Triple-A Louisville on May 9. He has 13 RBI in 24 games since his first game back on May 22, including seven multi-hit games with two four-hit efforts. He has been benefiting from batting behind Adam Dunn in the order, often around the No. 6 hole. He has seven multi-hit games since his call-up. If you're pinched at third, give him a flyer, as it may become a long-term pickup if he stays hot.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Schedule: 6 games - SF (3), KC (3)
Analysis: Through just 63 at-bats, Braun has contributed across the board fantasy-wise. Scouts call his defense his greatest asset, but his four home runs, 10 RBI, 14 runs scored and two stolen bases have gained him some attention. He is firmly entrenched in the third slot in the order. Hitting in front of Prince Fielder doesn't hurt your offensive output. A few more solid games may move him up a level in these rankings.
Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers
Schedule: 6 games - @WAS (3), @ATL (3)
Analysis: This is nothing new for Brandon Inge: ghastly .250 average,
solid 11 home runs and 31 RBI. He has surprisingly scored 33 runs thus far,
ahead of his pace from last year. He gets knocked because of his average, but
is not to be entirely ignored. He smacked a home run in two consecutive games,
over which he had seven RBI. The Tigers are rolling right now, and Inge has
14 RBI in his last 10 games. If you want Inge on your roster, as usual, be prepared
to take his frequent "0-fers" with his multi-RBI barrages. The Washington
series would be a good matchup for him, but weekly-change leagues might want
to sit him with games in two pitchers' parks.
KEY PLAYERS ON DL
Joe Crede, Chicago White Sox - Out indefinitely
Hank Blalock, Texas Rangers - Out until August
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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