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.
John Baker, a staple on Billy Beane's wish list in Moneyball, a book which heavyweights in Hollywood ridiculously feel would make an interesting film, is quietly blossoming in Florida. In early action, the former Cal standout has amassed a .308 BA with a pair of threes in RBI and runs. Oblivious novices would idiotically label that stat line useless, but Baker's contributions have been much appreciated for those who play in challenging formats.
In deeper leagues, burdensome catchers can be a perpetual thorn-in-the-side, fly-in-the- ointment, Johjima-in-the-Easter-basket to fantasy owners. Their horrendous batting averages and minor statistical yields can humiliate and frustrate even the most seasoned manager.
However, the 16 percent-owned Baker is the position's magical elixir.
Acquired from Oakland in 2007 for one-bagger Jason Stokes, the 28-year-old should continue to thrive sandwiched between Emilio Bonifacio and Hanley Ramirez as the Marlins' No. 2 hitter. As Baker predicted earlier this spring, he's already seen a steady diet of fastballs (58.7 percent of viewed pitches), many of which he's deposited in green spaces.
Although he'll cede playing time to Ronny Paulino against southpaws, his outstanding strike-zone judgment (career 13.9 BB%), line-drive stroke and runs-favorable lineup position should bear many fruits.
His power totals will be modest, but his overall body of work won't be. In fact, the value disparity between him and San Francisco wunderkind Pablo Sandoval could wind up being smaller than you might think. That's more than Jeremy Brown could ever say...
Fearless Forecast: 408 at-bats, .288 BA, 10 HR, 61 RBI, 70 R, 2 SB
• As expected, a bullpen controversy is brewing in the Windy City. After Kevin Gregg blew a save in Milwaukee the day before, Carlos Marmol, not Gregg, trotted in from the pen last night to shut the door. The dynamite Dominican freeze-framed Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder with a barrage of filthy sliders to log his first save of '09. But despite the captivating performance, Lou Piniella remains committed to giving Gregg the ball in the ninth:
"He came in and did a heck of a job. I said when the season started that there would be opportunities for both of them. Tomorrow if we get in a similar situation, Gregg will be in there."
Gregg is still likely to accumulate the most saves between the two, but a loose two-man committee could be in the works.
Baker pitched brilliantly in his lone rehab start. Wearing Fort Myers threads (Single-A), the crafty righty yielded just one earned run in seven innings. He also posted a 3:1 K:BB split. Ron Gardenhire plans to limit the Twins' No. 3 to roughly 95-100 pitches Wednesday against Toronto. Based on the torrid start by the Blue Jays and the shackles attached to Baker's arm, it would be wise to keep him benched.
As for "Da Schiznit," his rehab start was more adventurous, but equally encouraging. In 4.2 innings for Single-A Visalia, the bazooka-armed righty was routinely clocked between 92-96 mph. He allowed one earned on one hit, but walked four. Mad Max also struck out five.
Scherzer is slated to face St. Louis Tuesday. His secondary stuff still needs more polish, but due to his high-K upside, he's worth risking this week.
• Battered, bruised or should not be used: Hiroki Kuroda (strained rib muscle), Jose Guillen (groin), Scott Lewis (elbow), Geovany Soto (shoulder, day-to-day), Brandon Webb (shoulder, will likely start Friday), Garret Anderson (calf, day-to-day), Mark Teahen (wrist, day-to-day), Jorge Cantu (bruised hand, day-to-day), Justin Upton (destructive whiffs)
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: Brian Moehler, Hou (at Pit, Cin)
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 Scott Olsen is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through April 11:
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