Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers: Week Two

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Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers: Week Two
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The 2010 fantasy baseball season is just about to enter its third full week, and we've seen plenty of surprises already.

Several players have unexpectedly emerged as seemingly-reliable fantasy options, while other normally productive players are off to slow starts. 

Here's a rundown of who's hot and who's not in fantasy baseball as we begin the second half of April.


Risers

All Texas Rangers starting pitchers

This list consists of Scott Feldman, Rich Harden, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, and Matt Harrison.

While former closer Frank Francisco had some trouble finishing a couple of their stellar efforts, the Rangers' starting staff is off to a hot start.

Going into Friday, none of the five Rangers' starters boasted an ERA over 3.00, with Harden's 2.79 being the highest. 

Time will tell if they can hold up, but what stood as the biggest question mark for Texas coming into the season has actually been its strength early on.

Francisco Liriano, SP, Minnesota Twins

After struggling mightily in 2009, former phenom Francisco Liriano appears to have gotten things back together early in 2010. 

In his two starts so far, he's posted an ERA of 2.08 in 13 innings, struck out 11, and has given up eight hits and three runs.

The number that concerns most about Liriano is the walks. He's walked seven already through two starts, but five of those came in his first start.

In his second start, against Boston, Liriano threw seven scoreless innings while striking out eight and walking just two.

If he can start to look anywhere close to the guy that lit the world on fire in 2006, he'll become an extremely viable fantasy option.

Jeff Francoeur, OF, New York Mets

Another former phenom, Francouer, has gotten off to a stellar start this season.

He's hitting an incredible .457 thus far with three homers, seven RBI, and nine runs scored.

Often criticized earlier in his career for his incredible lack of patience, Francouer has actually drawn seven walks this season, and has whiffed just three times in 10 games.

He's always been a supreme talent, and now it appears as though he's finally beginning to harness it.

Chris Young, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

Like Francouer, Young's tendency to strike out early in his career made him an all-or-nothing type of hitter: he'd either hit one out, or strike out.

While he's struck out seven times in 10 games thus far, he's also hitting .325 with a .364 OBP, and an OPS over 1.000.

The 26-year-old has already driven in an amazing 15 runs this season, and has at least one RBI in all but three games.

He's being scooped up very quickly in fantasy leagues, so, if possible, get him now.

Scott Podsednik, OF, Kansas City Royals

Pods leads the AL in hitting through 10 games, hitting .436 with an on-base percentage of .500. 

While he has no real power to speak of, he does his damage on the basepaths.

Every time he's on base, he's a threat to steal, and has six stolen bases already.

Also, with productive hitters hitting behind him, he's a candidate to score 100 runs this season.

He's not going to be hitting .436 all year long, obviously, but he'll definitely be a reliable source for stolen bases and runs, should you need them.


Fallers

Mike Gonzalez, RP, Baltimore Orioles

Obviously, if you're removed from your role as closer, your fantasy value flies out the window.

He recorded one save in three opportunities early on, and has now been sent to the DL with an apparent shoulder injury.

However, once he returns, he doesn't seem like a likely candidate to resume with the responsibility of closing games.

Frank Francisco, RP, Texas Rangers

See: Gonzalez, Mike.

Francisco blew his first two save opportunities of the season, and has been replaced by Neftali Feliz as the Rangers' closer already.

While his fantasy value takes a huge hit with this move, all is not lost.

Ron Washington is hesitant to use the young Feliz on two consecutive days, and Francisco is still viewed as the fallback option should a situation like that present itself.

However, even if this does happen, will Frankie actually be able to close the deal?

Matt Lindstrom, RP, Houston Astros

This fall isn't due to any struggles from Lindstrom.

He's pitched fairly well overall through three outings, but there's just one problem.

He's been designated as the Astros' closer.

However, when your team is 1-9, you're not getting save opportunities. 

Until the Astros actually start getting into situations that would call for a closer, Lindstrom's fantasy value is extremely low.

He may be a viable option should team performance improve, but I'd hold off on him until they show signs of being able to win.

Nate McLouth, OF, Atlanta Braves

McLouth struggled badly in Spring Training, and it hasn't gotten any better since the regular season began.

He hit 20 home runs and stole 19 bases last season, but is hitting just .174 so far this season, with no home runs, one RBI, and no stolen bases.

If the Braves are serious about contending for a title in Bobby Cox's final season, they're going to need McLouth to be a regular producer at the top of the lineup.

He hasn't done that thus far, having struck out 10 times already in nine games.

Chris Davis, 1B, Texas Rangers

Davis, who was a strikeout machine all year in 2009, has gotten off to a similarly poor start this season.

Davis has struck out 11 times in 10 games, and has just six hits in 31 at-bats on the year.

He's known as a power hitter, but has knocked in just one run so far as well.

With former first-round pick (and fellow first baseman) Justin Smoak rapidly racing through the minors, Davis' job as the Rangers' everyday first baseman may not last much longer.

For fantasy baseball advice and much more, head over to MLB Soup.

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