Fantasy Baseball 2012: Hitters Watch List for April 30-May 6

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: Hitters Watch List for April 30-May 6
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Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (four HRs, 14 RBI, 15 runs, .311 batting) has brought four-category goodness to fantasy owners in the season's first month.

Here's a countdown of eight premium hitters (and two slumping wild cards) who should fare well for the week of April 30-May 6.

 

National League

1. OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers

Baseball's biggest one-man, three-ring circus hits Coors Field and Wrigley Field this week on the hottest of hot streaks. At some point, Kemp (11 HRs, 24 RBI, 23 runs, two steals, .425 batting) will cool down to mortal levels; but there's no fun or glory in guessing when that will occur.

 

2. SS Starlin Castro, Cubs

The dynamic Castro (.326 batting, .430 OBP) is on pace for 70 steals this season. He has also supplanted Jose Reyes as the National League's No. 3 shortstop (behind Troy Tulowitzki/Hanley Ramirez).

Not bad for a kid on a fifth-place club that ranks dead-last in homers. The Cubs have a seven-game slate this week (Phillies, Reds, Dodgers).

 

3. 3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants

This may not be the year Sandoval breaks his personal best in steals (five), but his owners can alternatively revel in the Panda's club highs with runs (15), hits (28), doubles (five), homers (four) and RBI (14).

Put it all together, and we have plenty of reason to believe Sandoval's offensive magic will continue for the foreseeable future—especially against the Marlins and Brewers.

 

4. 2B Jose Altuve, Astros

Outside of Kemp, no other Senior circuit hitter had a better April than Altuve (one HR, 10 RBI, 15 runs, four steals, .373 batting, .984 OPS), universally the 17th second baseman taken in spring drafts.

At 5'5" and just 22 years old, it's easy to see why Altuve was largely overlooked on draft day. Bottom line: There are no more excuses with this explosive talent and his 12-homer/40-steal potential.

Houston takes on St. Louis and the New York Mets this week.

 

5. OF Shane Victorino, Phillies

Victorino has good production in four categories right now (four HRs, eight RBI, 11 runs, seven steals), but the .230 average does stick out like a sore thumb. 

Rest assured, though, as the Phillies get healthier and Victorino finds his summer groove, the across-the-board numbers will resemble that of seasons past. As a result, Victorino's an ideal trade target before Philly finishes its weekly run against Atlanta and Washington.

 

American League

1. OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers

There's a chance Hamilton (nine HRs, 25 RBI, 20 runs, two steals, .395 batting) may miss a game or two this week (back spasms)—but even if that's the case, who's to say he couldn't accomplish in four games what everyone else needs six or seven to reach?

That's how devastating Hamilton, the early choice for AL MVP, has been at the plate. He's just a notch below Matt Kemp.

 

2. OF Adam Jones, Orioles

 Jones (six HRs, 12 RBI, 17 runs, four steals, .330 batting) presents an interesting fight-or-flight scenario with his fantasy owners: Do they treat Jones as a sell-high commodity, knowing his seasonal pace in homers, runs, steals and batting average are way above career norms? Or is this brief sample a new template of expectations?

Yes, Jones is a gifted athlete and one of the 10 best center fielders in the game—but the differences between this year's white-hot start and previous campaigns are quite startling.

 

3. SS Derek Jeter, Yankees

I stopped trying to diminish Jeter's fantasy potential long ago, and I'm a better man for it. Even at the age of 37, even with 3,000 hits in his rear-view mirror, Jeter (.396 batting, 16 runs) continues to bring three-category excellence to a scarce position—at an inexpensive draft price.

Look for Jeter's success to spill over into his club's seven-game slate with the Orioles and Royals.

 

4. DH Billy Butler, Royals

 Speaking of Kansas City, it's certainly risky to assume Butler (.346 batting, three HRs, nine RBI, five runs since April 15) will crush Detroit and New York pitching this week.

But if everything goes to plan, Butler should avoid CC Sabathia and end up getting quality at-bats against Rick Porcello (Tigers) and Freddy Garcia (Yankees).

 

5. C/DH Jesus Montero, Mariners

 For good reason, Montero (three HRs, 12 RBI, six runs, .263 batting) hasn't attracted much publicity during the season, except from those pointing out how Seattle won the Montero/Michael Pineda swap by default (for 2012, at least).

But there's a reason why Montero was one of the top hitting prospects in February—and there's a reason why the Mariners just had to have him for the long haul. In the short term, Montero faces the Rays and Twins this week.

Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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