Sat Apr 24 10:29am EDT
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 influence. NOTE: Because we're in the midst of moving our family cross-country to McCainada (Arizona), this week's Rundown is slightly abbreviated.
No longer tempted by complex carbohydrates, the now-svelte Jones, who dropped 15-20 lbs. during the offseason, is on the verge of a major career revival. Not only noticeably thinner, he's exuded a jovial attitude. Loose and laid-back, it appears the 10-time Gold Glove winner has buried, at least temporarily, his donut-cravings.
The birthday boy celebrated his 33rd in memorable fashion, clubbing two bombs to left, one of which sealed the Mariners' fate (see him blow out the candles here). It was his 39th career multi-homer game and the first time a major leaguer went yard twice on his birthday since Alex Rodriguez(notes) accomplished the feat in July '02. Widely considered deceased by 99.9 percent of the fantasy community entering the season, his resurrection has been nothing short of amazing. As a result, Sox play-by-play man Hawk Harrelson has tapped into his inner Meg Ryan shouting "Yes!" repeatedly.
What's more astonishing: he's gliding around the bases with the zeal of a 21-year-old. Over the past seven seasons, the former perennial 20-SB threat has averaged a mere 5.3 swipes per year. This season he already has three. Because of Ozzie Guillen's aggressive tactics, double-digit steals are likely.
The signs of a turnaround were apparent in spring training. The 15-year vet entered camp with a hungry attitude, determined to regain the everyday form that terrorized NL pitchers for years. So far so damn good. From Chicago beat-writer Bruce Levine:
"I'm really proud of him," Ozzie Guillen said. "He came [into spring training] with one goal – to play every day. I remember having a conversation with him. I said, ‘If you swing the bat good I will play you.'"
Guillen's growing confidence in Jones as one of the Sox's primary RBI threats greatly enhances his virtual value. Over the past couple games, the shifty manager has slotted Jones into the No. 3 spot. Based on the immediate rewards gained, it appears he will stay entrenched there for the foreseeable future. It also means Mark Kotsay(notes), who entered the season locked in a DH platoon with Jones, will remain firmly planted on the bench.
It's understandable why Jones is currently owned in only 16 percent of Y! leagues. Many owners are forever scarred by his Dodger days. Also, his high strikeout percentage (31.7) doesn't exactly inspire confidence. If the current trends persist, a final BA around .250, not .290, is a certainty. However, his fly-ball heavy profile (0.60 GB/FB), reignited bat/legs and steady PT are nothing to scoff at. Remember, the five-time All-Star averaged 34 homers and 103 RBIs from 1998-2007. He will post superb power totals in the smallish Cell.
It may seem unfathomable, but mixed leaguers with outfield needs should give Jones another long look.
Fearless Forecast (Season): 430 at-bats, .257 BA, 29 HR, 86 RBI, 74 R, 12 SB
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.
Other NL Double Dippers: Zach Duke(notes), Pit (at Mil, at LAD), Aaron Harang(notes), Cin (at Hou, at StL), Bud Norris(notes), Hou (Cin, at Atl), Kyle Lohse(notes), StL (Atl, Cin), Jon Garland(notes), SD (at Fla, Mil), Oliver Perez(notes), NYM (LAD, at Phi), Jason Hammel(notes), Col (Ari, at SF), John Lannan(notes), Was (at ChC, at Fla), Daniel McCutchen(notes), Pit (at Mil, at LAD)
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(notes) or Carl Pavano(notes) is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through April 23:
Image courtesy of the AP