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Brad Evans

Weekly Rundown: Josh Willingham wields hammer, possibly owns sickle

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influences.

LEADING OFF

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Capital punishment can be executed in a variety of ways: firing squad, crushing by Colon elephant, forced rostering of a Washington closer. However, for the Nationals' Josh Willingham(notes), the harshest type of criminal retribution is defined very differently.

Despite being arguably one of the hottest outfielders in virtual baseball, the unheralded slugger continues to be bypassed time-and-time again by commodity-seeking owners. The primary reason for their errant dismissal: he plays for baseball's worst team.

As though he were an accused communist living in the McCarthy era, Willingham has undeservedly been blackballed by the fantasy masses. The Toby Keiths of your league may tell you otherwise, but Ivan Drago he is not.

Ignoring the name scrawled across his chest, the 32 percent-owned outfielder has been and will continue to be a beacon of production. Since returning from the bereavement list June 20th after the tragic death of his younger brother, the powerful righty has compiled a .337 BA with four homers, 18 RBI, 21 runs and three steals. Per Baseball Monster, that's the 10th-best line by an outfielder and the 34th-best tally overall during that stretch. Don't think he'll slow down anytime soon. Blessed with a discerning eye (13.9 BB%) and muscular stroke (18.1 HR/FB%), his underlying profile supports continued statistical reward.

Prominently mentioned in several trade rumors - most notably to Philadelphia and Cincinnati - Willingham would be a terrific consolation prize for a loser of the Matt Holliday(notes) sweepstakes. He's versatile, Schlitz-cheap (just under $3 million) and a dependable power source.

Obviously, landing in Cincinnati would be the best case scenario in terms of fantasy value. The hitting environment and unquestionable playing time would be very attractive. But with the Reds freefalling, they're likely sellers, not buyers.

A change of address to Cheesesteak Land wouldn't be completely damning. Although the well-rounded masher would basically be Ibanez insurance, he would likely yield spectacular results in roughly 2-4 starts per week. The Phillies' lineup and petite park are numbers-friendly, especially for a fly-ball specialist like Willingham (0.85 GB/FB).

For now, the forgotten 30-year-old is unfairly considered an afterthought in most mixed leagues. Regardless if he remains in Washington, it's time most owners give him proper respect.

Fearless Forecast (as a National): 174 at-bats, .280 BA, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 27 R, 5 SB

QUICK HITTERS

*The Baltimore Sun reports, ballyhooed starter Chris Tillman(notes) may make his much anticipated debut Wednesday. No official announcement has been made, but all indications suggest the 21-year-old will be promoted.

Scheduled to square-off against KC's Zack Greinke(notes), the top prospect is a commodity to immediately acquire in 14-team and deeper mixed formats. In 96.2 innings at Triple-A Norfolk, he's tallied an impressive 2.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9.22 K/9 and 2.42 BB/9.

But exercise caution.

Based on his unspectacular 0.98 GB/FB, 4.10 major league equivalent FIP and upcoming slate of lumber-heavy AL East opponents, several rocky outings are very possible. As we've learned from presumed Eighth Wonder of the World Matt Wieters(notes) and David Price(notes), living up to the hype, at least initially, is usually an unachievable endeavor.

*Rumor Mill (trade tidbits from around the league): Whispers of the overwhelmingly docile, fun-loving Milton Bradley(notes) packing his bags for Detroit appear to be baseless. Per the Chicago Tribune, a Cubs official squashed the rumor calling it "100 percent untrue." Based on the right fielder's exorbitant contract and heart-warming attitude, a move seems highly unlikely...Wild speculation circling around Roy Halladay(notes) continues. According to multiple sources, several teams including the Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Yankees have inquired about Doc's price-tag. The Phillies appear to be the hottest pursuer but are attempting to push J.P. Riccardi into a deal involving infielder Jason Donald(notes) and pitcher Carlos Carrasco(notes). Originally, J.A. Happ(notes) and elite starting prospect Kyle Drabek were the presumed centerpieces. If the Jays and Phills can't reach common ground, the Philadelphia Inquirer indicates Cliff Lee(notes), Erik Bedard(notes) and Jarrod Washburn(notes) might be possible contingency plans...The Twins have expressed serious interest in Oakland's Orlando Cabrera(notes). If acquired, the 34-year-old, who's been white-hot this month (.373 BA, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 7 SB), would supplant the platoon of Brendan Harris(notes) and Nick Punto(notes) at short. Regardless if he's shipped, the 35 percent-owned infielder is highly rosterable in 12-team and deeper mixed leagues.

*Battered, bruised or should not be used: Ted Lilly(notes), ChC (knee surgery, out three weeks), Ryan Dempster(notes), ChC (toe, will be activated Tuesday), Juan Rivera(notes), LAA (hamstring, could return to lineup Sunday), Kevin Slowey(notes), Min (bone chip in wrist, potential operation imminent; may be lost for season), Lance Berkman(notes) (calf, will likely only miss the minimum 15 days; eligible for actication August 7th), Erik Bedard (general brittleness; forthcoming MRI possible)

DOUBLE DIPPERS

For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.

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Other AL Double Dippers: Brian Bannister(notes), KC (at Bal, at TB), Vin Mazzaro(notes), Oak (at Bos, Tor), Vicente Padilla(notes), Tex (Det, Sea), Glen Perkins(notes), Min (ChW, LAA), Jason Berken(notes), Bal (KC, Bos), Rich Hill(notes), Bal (KC, Bos), Bruce Chen(notes), KC (at Bal, at TB)

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Other NL Double Dippers: Bronson Arroyo(notes), Cin (SD, Col), Mike Pelfrey(notes), NYM (Col, Ari), Barry Zito(notes), SF (Pit, Phi), Jon Garland(notes), Ari (Phi, at NYM), Kevin Correia(notes), SD (at Cin, Mil), Oliver Perez(notes), NYM (Col, Ari), Homer Bailey(notes), Cin (SD, Col), Jeff Suppan(notes), Mil (Was, at SD), Craig Stammen(notes), Was (at Mil, at Pit), Mike Burns(notes), Mil (Was, at SD), Josh Geer(notes), SD (at Cin, Mil)

FEAST OR FAMINE?

Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Rick Porcello is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through July 24:

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Image courtesy of AP

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