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Weekly Rundown: San Diego's Will Venable understands the importance of an opposable thumb

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.


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During its 263 year history, several notable heads of state, business pioneers, Hollywood-portrayed Nobel laureates and a well-known TV kid doctor have roamed the hallowed halls of Princeton University.

Though all are icons in their own right, the Padres' Will Venable(notes) might just be the most famous PU grad of all. That is, for fantasy players with short-term memories.

Recently, the former anthropology major and All-Ivy League guard, who helped lead Pete Carril-U to two postseason appearances in '02 and '04 averaging an admirable 9.3-3.5-2.3 in his four-year basketball career, has exhibited serious ONIONS on the diamond (Random thought: He and 6-foot-11 teammate Chris Young, also an ex-Princeton hoopster, must be the most lethal inside-outside hardcourt combo in baseball). Earning extensive at-bats with Scott Hairston(notes) in Oakland, the scorching lefty has routinely reached souvenir city compiling a .412 BA with five homers, 13 RBI and 14 runs in his past nine contests. The San Diego slugger attributes his sudden success to jumping on first-pitch fastballs.

"I think I was pressing a little bit," said Venable of his slow start. "I wasn't doing myself any favors."

He also wasn't swinging at fastballs.

"At the beginning of the season, I wanted to be patient. Patience is okay when you are Barry Bonds(notes). If you watch that first fastball go by, you are in trouble. I want to be aggressive on the fastball."

No spring chicken at 26, Venable entered the season as the seventh-best prospect in the Padres system according to Baseball America. Based on his tantalizing scouting report, the blasting binge isn't entirely fluky:

"Venable is a strong, live-bodied athlete with the natural aptitude required to pick things up quickly. That's why the Padres view him as a potential 20-25 home run hitter in time. His pure lefthanded stroke and solid bat speed already produce the line drives needed to hit for average. He has average speed and is a smart baserunner who reads pitchers well...Those who buy in completely see a potential David Justice, while those who don't see a tweener without enough bat for a corner or range for center."

Scouts also believe he wouldn't idiotically screw up a relationship with Halle Berry.

San Diego's outfield is overflowing with players hungry for an opportunity, but if the second-year product can continue to flourish, he should be able to stave off top prospect Kyle Blanks(notes) for PT in right.

In just over 230 career big league at-bats, he has shown a propensity for strikeouts (25.3 K%) and his 13.8 line-drive percentage is obscenely low. Still, his growing fly-ball rate and minor league history of double-digit power suggest his long-ball swing is rapidly evolving. But he's destined to cool.

For now, pop-starved owners in 14-team and deeper mixed formats should immediately acquire the 18 percent-owned highbrow. Despite playing for the lowest-scoring team in the MLB, he could accumulate appreciable HR/RBI totals batting consistently in the fifth spot.

Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 167 at-bats, .267 BA, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 18 R, 3 SB

Battered, bruised or should not be used: Torii Hunter(notes) (oblique, could begin rehab assignment next week), Joe Saunders(notes) (shoulder, placed on 15-day DL), Jason Bay(notes) (hammy/donut syndrome, Monday return likely), Jake Peavy(notes) (ankle, targeting activation August 28), Gil Meche(notes) (back, eyeing late week return), Nelson Cruz(notes) (ankle, may return to action by Tuesday), Carlos Zambrano(notes) (back, placed on 15-day DL), Lance Berkman(notes) (calf, will be reevaluated Monday or Tuesday), Michael Bourn(notes) (groin, day-to-day), Chad Billingsley(notes) (hamstring, day-to-day)


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: Aaron Laffey(notes), Cle (Tex, at Min), Kyle Davies(notes), KC (at Min, at Det), Sergio Mitre(notes)?, NYY (Tor, at Sea) (Update: Vicente Padilla(notes) was released this morning. Dustin Nippert(notes) will double dip for Texas this week. Also, Dallas Braden(notes) was placed on the 15-day DL. Recently acquired rookie Clayton Mortensen(notes) is slated to get two starts.)

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Other NL Double Dippers: Justin Lehr(notes), Cin (at StL, Was), Mitchell Boggs(notes), StL (Cin, SD), Ross Ohlendorf(notes), Pit (at Col, at ChC), Braden Looper(notes), Mil (SD, Hou), Brian Moehler(notes), Hou (at Fla, at Mil), Rick VandenHurk(notes), Fla (Hou, Col)


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 August 7:

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Image courtesy of US Presswire

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