Fantasy Baseball: Lance Berkman & 10 April Sleepers Who Would Make Good Pickups

Jim MancariCorrespondent IApril 26, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: Lance Berkman & 10 April Sleepers Who Would Make Good Pickups

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    Through the first month of the baseball season, there have been a few pleasant surprises.

    These are the type of surprises that fantasy baseball gurus have already jumped on.

    However, depending on the nature of the league, there may still be time to grab one of the following April fantasy sleepers.

    While there’s no guarantee that these players will continue their hot starts, the production they’ve shown in just a short time could be a precursor to a breakout year.

    As the old saying goes, “Strike while the iron’s hot.”

    Here are 10 players who are hot right now, and could be dynamite fantasy pickups.

10. Jason Bay, LF, New York Mets

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    After a slow start during his first year with the New York Mets, Jason Bay’s season ended prematurely after he suffered a concussion crashing into the left field wall in Los Angeles.

    His long road to recovery finally concluded, and he made his season debut last Thursday.

    In four games, Bay is hitting .333 with one HR and three RBI.

    Though this may be a small sample, he is swinging the bat well in the middle of a Mets batting order that is finally clicking.

    Bay’s power stroke may come back more gradually, but he can be a consistent extra-base hit threat and run producer.

    Since he started the year on the disabled list, he will likely still be available in many leagues.

    Taking a chance on Bay now before he gets hot may be the way to go.

9. Jonathan Herrera, 2B, Colorado Rockies

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    As Troy Tulowitzki continues to tear up the league, the player that hits a few batters in front of him has also done his share of damage.

    Colorado Rockies second baseman Jonathan Herrera is a scrappy little ballplayer who has proved to be a tough out this season. He’s one of the primary reasons Tulowitzki has had so many RBI chances.

    He’s split time at second base with Jose Lopez, but if he continues his torrid start, he’ll likely get the bulk of the playing time.

    Herrera is hitting .327, and has four stolen bases. He may not wow anyone in the power department, but his skills still have fantasy value.

    He could be a great pickup for a fantasy team needing a utility man.

8. Logan Morrison, LF, Florida Marlins

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    Though the Florida Marlins just placed Logan Morrison on the disabled list with a sprained arch, now can be the time for fantasy owners to step in.

    If Morrison continues his early season form when he returns from injury, he can be a great pickup.

    After hitting only two HR last year, Morrison already has four long balls this season, in addition to hitting .327.

    The Marlins have been one of the surprise teams in the National League, and Morrison has been a factor in this success.

    Florida hopes Lo-Mo’s injury won’t be lingering.

7. Placido Polanco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Placido Polanco isn’t the biggest, strongest or fastest player on the field, but he always plays the game hard.

    With Chase Utley sidelined, Polanco has picked up the slack for the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Regardless of his defensive skills, Polanco is hitting .366 with 15 RBI through the first 21 games.

    He won’t hit a ton of home runs, despite playing in the band-box that is Citizens Bank Park. However, he’ll drive in runs and consistently get on base.

    At a position that is known for big time sluggers like Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and Mark Reynolds, Polanco could be a sleeper pickup at third base.

6. Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets

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    Ike Davis hits moonshots, plain and simple.

    The Mets first baseman hasn’t cooled down after starting hot out of the gate.

    His power numbers have picked up over the last week, which bodes well for the remainder of the season.

    Davis is hitting .316 with four HR and 18 RBI.

    His RBI total is tied with Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun for second in the National League.

    With the plethora of talented first baseman out there, Davis may have slipped past fantasy owners in the preseason drafts.

    However, Davis is quickly showing why he can be a valuable pickup.

    Now that Jason Bay is back in the lineup and David Wright is heating up, look for Davis to continue hitting well and producing runs.

5. Jeff Francoeur, RF, Kansas City Royals

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    It looks like a change of scenery was all Jeff Francoeur needed to hit his stride.

    However, that’s what everyone said when he was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the New York Mets.

    Though there’s no stopping Frenchy from striking out—14 in 21 games—he has produced at a torrid clip.

    Francoeur is hitting .325 with four HR and 18 RBI.

    There’s no pressure on him in Kansas City, so he can just go out there each day and enjoy playing the game.

    He’s a strong option for a fourth outfielder or DH role, depending on the fantasy league.

4. Justin Masterson, SP, Cleveland Indians

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    The Cleveland Indians have been a surprise team so far, and they have Justin Masterson to thank for their fast start.

    Masterson has won each of his first four starts, and has posted a 1.71 ERA

    He’s only allowed five earned runs in 26.1 innings.

    Most likely, Masterson did not highlight the list of players to watch during preseason fantasy drafts.

    While he likely has been picked up in numerous leagues, he’s worth checking in on.

    Masterson will hope to continue his hot start, just as fantasy owners will continue placing their faith in the young right-hander.

3. Russell Martin, C, New York Yankees

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    Russell Martin appears to have regained his All-Star form back from his Los Angeles Dodgers’ days.

    He certainly has benefited from hitting eighth or ninth in a New York Yankees’ lineup that looks like the second coming of Murderer’s Row.

    Martin has seen a ton of pitches to hit, and he has capitalized.

    He’s hitting .328 with six HR and 16 RBI in just 17 games.

    The Yankees have young catching prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine waiting patiently in the minors.

    However, if Martin keeps up this pace, those prospects won’t be seeing Yankee Stadium anytime soon.

    Due to his struggles the past two years, fantasy owners may have opted to draft other, more stable catchers.

    If so, Martin would be a huge pickup after the first month.

2. Sam Fuld, LF, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Who is Sam Fuld?

    Pretty soon the whole country will know if he continues his early rate of success.

    Fuld was the major Chicago Cubs’ prospect included in the Matt Garza trade. Once Manny Ramirez announced his retirement, Fuld became the everyday outfield option for the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Not only had Fuld turned in highlight-reel catches, but he has also been an offensive machine.

    In just 20 games, Fuld is hitting .346 with one HR and eight RBI. He also leads the American League with 10 stolen bases.

    He definitely wasn’t a priority on draft day, but picking him up now would be a timely addition.

    Fuld has become a mainstay in Tampa Bay, and fantasy owners should think the same.

1. Lance Berkman, RF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Welcome back, Sir Lancelot!

    Lance Berkman had returned to the N.L. with a bang after his brief stay with the New York Yankees late last season.

    Berkman has begun the year hitting .377 with six HR and 15 RBI. Even more surprising is that he’s done this while playing right field instead of first base.

    Especially due to his late season struggles last year and injury history, Berkman couldn’t have been a highly-touted commodity on fantasy draft day.

    While he may be a candidate to fizzle later in the season, his early production has shown he is worth the risk.