I’ll admit that SEAL snipers are cool, but I’m tired of hearing about pirates unless they’re Pittsburgh Pirates. I love the young lineup that they throw out and they seem to be jelling. A lot of pundits liked Cincy as a overperforming team with a young core—but it could be the Pirates filling that role in 2009. In other news, Toronto is the hottest hitting team in the majors, so players like Aaron Hill and Marco Scutaro may have been picked up in your league.
This week, we examine another group of players that could make an impact this season. For hitters, I’m bullish on guys in good lineups and players that have won good spots in the order. The pitchers list is composed of mostly young guys that are unproven in the majors. A lot of these guys are dicey, so proceed with caution.
Scott Rolen—3B —Toronto Blue Jays
Rolen changed his stance to one that puts less stress on his shoulder. He performed well at the end of last season and he’s continued his success in the beginning of 2009. I think that surgeries have probably sapped his old power potential, but he could still hit 20 homers. Toronto is one of the hottest hitting teams in the league, so he’s worth picking up while he’s playing well.
Jason Kubel—OF/DH—Minnesota Twins
He’s one of the first players I put on the list this week. Shortly thereafter, he hit for the cycle, which got him some Sports Center time. Kubel is hitting fourth for the Twins behind Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, and Justin Morneau. He’ll have a lot of opportunities to drive in runs and has the potential to hit 20-plus homers. He hit .272 with 20 homers in only 463 ABs last year and was a career .320 hitter in the minors.
Akinori Iwamura—2B—Tampa Bay Rays
In his first two seasons in the MLB, Iwamura hit .285 and .275. He didn’t really put up eye-popping stats in those years, but he can be a solid fill-in player. He scored 90 runs last year and is on pace to score 100-plus, so far this year.
Chad Tracy—1B/3B—Arizona Diamondbacks
Tracy only managed to rack up 500 ABs over the past two seasons. Prior to those two half-seasons lost to knee injuries, he hit 27 and 20 home runs. He’s been batting mostly fourth and fifth, but he hasn’t played every day. He’s a guy to keep an eye on, though.
Jason Bartlett—SS—Tampa Bay Rays
He has very little power, but he can still be a useful fantasy player. In six seasons in the majors, Bartlett has only 13 home runs and last season he hit just one. This season, he’s off to a hot start with two homers already. Bartlett is a career .280 hitter and he should easily surpass 20 SBs. If he steals 30 bases, he’ll be a great value.
Cody Ross—OF—Florida Marlins
Ross has 50 homers in 986 major league ABs, so the guy clearly has pop. He hit 22 bombs last year in only 461 ABs. He started off with a poor first week, but he’s picked it up recently. Ross could be a bargain if he duplicates his 20-plus homers from last year.
Freddy Sanchez—2B—Pittsburgh Pirates
He’s always done work with the bat, but he doesn’t fill up box scores. Sanchez is a career .301 hitter and averages 79 runs, eight homers, and 67 RBI per 162 games. He could improve on those averages in what I think is a betterthan-average Pirates lineup.
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