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Fantasy Baseball Free Agents: The top 7 commodities to buy

By: Tim Heaney, KFFL.com

These players deserve to be the most popular additions in fantasy baseball games.

About the author:

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

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


Fantasy Baseball Tips: Alexei Ramirez's clearer head, approach for real?

By: Tim Heaney, KFFL.com

It's hard to imagine anyone focusing after losing a close family member. Alexei Ramirez had to deal with that very situation last year when his father-in-law was murdered. 2013 had to have been a trying season for him, being away from his family during a time when they sorely needed each other.

Stoically addressing sensitive, real-world topics like this makes my work as an analyst seem callous, but my job is assessing and predicting performance via any possible clues.

Along those respectful yet inquisitive lines, it's logical to guess the improvement in both Ramirez's on-field approach and his family's emotional disposition (both confirmed by him here) have contributed to his hot start to 2014.

SS Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
Ramirez focused on the field

Ramirez now can focus harder on doing his job. Typically a laggard in BB/K, he has protected the plate with authority so far. It's hard to say he's "figured things out" through 54 AB, but it's encouraging that his lumber is moving more quickly through the zone and, more importantly, using the whole field. To the naked eye, his swing trigger looks a bit quicker, too, which lets him wait a bit longer to see the pitch more before making a decision on whether to offer at it.

Unfortunately, that .420 BA and .409 BABIP combo is typical pipe-dream material. Also, despite his three home runs so far, he's not going to revisit the 21 he belted in his 2008 rookie campaign. He's still a grounder-first swatter who won't sustain the 23.1 HR/FB% he's produced in this miniscule sample size; he left the park just 15 times in 2012-2013, which sadly equaled his 2011 figure.

But part of that two-year disappointment came in his tragic year. And from a simple pace standpoint, a double-digit output looks probable, which adds an upgrade to the contact-friendly game he's provided over the previous few seasons.

He should at least continue to be the stable midrange mixed shortstop from draft season, with a few more home runs. Staying put won't hurt aside from the BABIP comedown (something you should be banking on, obviously, so early in the year). Naturally, if you can cash in on a much bigger and impactful name with Ramirez's scorching start, by all means, do it.

About the author:

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

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


Trouble in fantasy baseball paradise: Yasiel Puig's off-the-field concerns

Yasiel Puig was a rookie sensation in 2013, exploding onto the MLB scene and captivating Dodgers and baseball fans alike with his heroics and natural baseball abilities.

If you were smart enough to grab him off the waiver wire before any of your fantasy baseball league mates could get their hands on him, your team was probably carried by the Cuban import last season.

Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
A Hollywood life for Puig

This week, Puig has been in the news for his off-the-field exploits. ESPN The Magazine detailed Puig's process of defecting Cuba in 2012 and reported that he has received death threats from the human traffickers that smuggled him into Mexico in order for him to gain residency in his attempt to become a professional ballplayer in the States.

Puig is special. There's no debating that. But at what point do his off-the-field concerns and mental lapses outweigh his natural five-tool talent on the diamond? Skipper Don Mattingly has publicly voiced his displeasure with some of Puig's antics, and now he's worried for his right fielder's safety and mental well-being.

No doubt the tale of Puig's escape from Cuba is something worthy of a screenplay in Hollywood (Puig even admitted that himself), and it's a lot for a 23-year-old to deal with, let alone his rapid rise in pro baseball in a country that he's still adapting to.

I think we're just now starting to understand and comprehend some of the things this young man is having to deal with in his life. Forget about baseball for a second. He's growing up before our eyes on the baseball field and making plenty of mistakes along the way while dealing with some pretty heavy stuff.

On top of all of that, he has the weight of trying to overcome the dreaded sophomore slump on his shoulders. A .250/.333/.396 start with one home run and 5 RBIs in 13 games isn't the way his owners envisioned his start to the season. Pitchers are adjusting to his game, but does Puig have what it takes between the ears to put everything else aside and take the next step?

It's debatable, but the good news is that seems to be the only thing really holding him back. Puig is probably the type of fellow that needs the continuous support from his manager, teammates and others to help him get through what he's dealing with and keep all of his focus strictly on baseball.

Does he have that in L.A.? The fans have been behind him, but what if he continues to struggle? Will they think about trading him? His fantasy owners drafted him as a budding superstar, but it'll be an uphill battle this year for him to overcome everything.


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