Manny Ramirez’s stupidity did not just ruin his own fantasy value.
Nobody in baseball benefited more from the teammate hitting behind him than Andre Ethier has since Ramirez was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trading deadline last season.
Before Hollywood transformed into Mannywood, Ethier was known in fantasy circles as a nice doubles hitter who could bat around .290, but had average speed and average power. He was good enough to be a fourth outfielder on a fantasy roster, but he did not do one thing well enough to be much more than that.
Then Manny arrived.
With Ramirez protecting him in the lineup like a beefy bodyguard and forcing hurlers to throw fastballs over the plate, Ethier was burning more pitchers than hot rosin bags. Ethier hit an astounding .462 last September, and .306 with 22 RBI this April, which quickly vaulted him towards the top of the most valuable outfielders in fantasy baseball.
Then Manny departed.
Since Ramirez has been out of the lineup thanks to his 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy, Ethier’s fantasy value has vanished quicker than the appetite of a vegetarian at a Wendy's. In nine Manny-less games, he has no homers, two RBI and has watched his batting average plummet more than 40 points. With Ramirez out for several weeks, Ethier could be in for a serious springtime slump.
This is not much different than what happens in hockey with Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby and his linemates. Crosby can take 20-goal grinders and turn them into point-per-game performers, elevating their games and their fantasy values because he is so special. That’s what Ramirez does with solid-but-unspectacular hitters like Ethier.
Unfortunately, Ramirez won’t be helping anyone anytime soon, and Casey Blake and Matt Kemp cannot bring Ethier to another level like Manny can.
Ethier is not the only outfielder fantasy owners should be concerned about. Here are a couple others:
Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Quentin has all the offensive talent in the world and is one of the premier young outfielders in fantasy baseball—when healthy. The problem is that at least once a season he suffers a major injury that knocks him out of commission for weeks, if not months. He had shoulder problems early in his career in Arizona, followed by the broken wrist that ruined his AL MVP chances late last season with Chicago.
Now after an ulcer-inducing 21-game stretch in which he only supplied one home run and five RBI, it has been determined that Quentin has a heel injury that has been causing him problems. After all, it's hard to homer when it hurts to stand in the batter’s box.
Fantasy owners better pray this is a one-week ailment, and not a two-month ordeal like most of Quentin’s injuries turn out to be.
Chase Headley, Padres
It feels like eons ago that Headley was regarded as a can’t-miss power-hitting prospect. A deadly combination of Petco Park, a hole-ridden swing and San Diego’s coaching staff having a desire to stick Jody Gerut in the lineup a couple times a week has really dragged down Headley’s batting average and fantasy value.
Headley has three home runs, 15 RBI, and a .246 average in 35 games. While I would never suggest giving up on a young player with the plethora of potential that he possesses, you probably have to consider benching him the next couple weeks until he gets his bat going and stops getting benched two to three times per week.
Hitting and Running:
Hitting and Running:
Here are three players fantasy owners can stop worrying about (and complaining about):
B.J. Upton, Rays
I can barely swing a wiffleball bat after a hard night at White Castle. So how do you think Upton felt after offseason shoulder injury, a badly bruised hand, and only a couple spring training at-bats? No wonder he only hit .177 in April.
But with two homers and five steals over his last four games, Upton is signaling that he is finally rounding into fantasy form.
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
OK, maybe Yankee fans were the ones whining about Tex’s six weeks of slumping. Fantasy owners should have known better. Teixeira is the Tim Salmon of the new millennium—he does not start hitting until about May 10.
Always infamous for being one of the slowest starting sluggers in fantasy baseball, Teixeira has driven in 14 runs over his last 13 games and looks a lot more comfortable now that Alex Rodriguez has returned to the Yankee lineup.
Nate McLouth, Pirates
There were whispers about McLouth being another one-hit wonder a la Dexy's Midnight Runners after hitting a ho-hum .259 during the opening month of the campaign.
Whisper no more, worry-warts.
McLouth is hitting .323 with three homers and 14 RBI in 16 May contests, and seems poised to have his second consecutive fantastic fantasy season.