In addition to Monday's nine featured Pickups of the Week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brandon Funston offers a Wednesday update on five hitters on the rise that weren't profiled in Monday's POW. The same criteria applies - players must be available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues. On Friday, we'll offer the same drill for pitchers.
Arizona shortstop set for his return – Tulo owners act now!
Stephen Drew (SS) Arizona Diamondbacks
A little more than 11 months after suffering an ankle injury that derailed the second-half of his '11 season (and nearly three months of '12), Drew is set to make his return to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. In the three seasons leading up to '11, Drew twice finished among the top six shortstops in the Yahoo! game. He's a proven upper class middle infield run producer with .270, 15-home run upside. Troy Tulowitzki owners should consider themselves lucky if Drew is still available.
Houston no longer has a problem with its left fielder
J.D. Martinez (OF) Houston Astros
As you might expect from someone who had only 53 games of MLB experience coming into the season, Martinez has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride in '12. He followed up an .859 OPS in April with a .564 mark in May. Things have trended back towards the positive side of the ledger in recent weeks, at least in the power department. Since May 25, Martinez has seven home runs and 20 RBIs, both top 20 numbers in fantasy for that span. He's hit just .236 in those 33 games, but he's hit .318 in the past week (3 HR, 8 RBI) with a 3:3 K-to-BB ratio. The plate discipline mention is, admittedly, for a small sample size, but Martinez was at his best in April when he was drawing a walk for every time he whiffed. So it's another positive sign worth watching. Martinez has staved off a demotion and has clear and present playing time with Justin Maxwell landing on the DL. Take the plunge if you need a little power boost.
Much-traveled vet is intriguing option for ardent matchup managers
Wilson Betemit (1/3/O) Baltimore Orioles
Betemit definitely fits in any league where bench size affords a platoon luxury. The O's use him predominantly against right-handed hitters, and fantasy owners should consider a similar approach. Against RHP, Betemit has hit .291 with nine of his 10 home runs on the season. Last season he enjoyed a .865 OPS against right-sided tossers. With his corner and outfield eligibility, he's a nice hole filler when, as I said, he's facing a right-handed pitcher.
Japanese import taking the lead for the Brew Crew
Norichika Aoki (OF) Milwaukee Brewers
Aoki was a guest in our POW update a couple weeks ago. The message then was that he he flashed 15/20 tools for eight years in Japan while maintaining a .329 batting average and an excellent K:BB rate. And, not only has he carried much of that production over to Milwaukee, he's upgraded the speed element. In June, Aoki has eight steals (four in one game), which ranks eighth in MLB. He also has three home runs this month, including one off Cincy's Mat Latos on Monday – it was one of only four hits, and accounted for the only run, off Latos in a complete game, 13 K performance. Aoki looks like he's settling into the leadoff spot in Milwaukee for the long haul, and he's a rock solid add for the speed needy.
Former Pirate feeling it for Minnesota this past week
Ryan Doumit (C/O) Minnesota Twins
Looking for a backstop? How about one riding a seven-game hitting streak that ranks ahead of Brian McCann, Jesus Montero and Carlos Santana in the Yahoo! game for the season. Doumit is hitting .500 during his hit streak, thanks to a four-hit game last Friday. After a lackluster April, Doumit is the No. 11 catcher in the Yahoo! game since May 1. He's not going to wow you with any one thing in particular but, so long as he's healthy, he'll provide respectable backstop totals in the batting average and power categories.
• LW Rank denotes a player's ranking in the Yahoo! fantasy baseball game for the past week