Finally, back to back good weeks for the column. Led by the Giant pitchers' monster week and Ryan Braun's 35 points, I am currently leading my league in overall points this week with two days of games left. The Matt Cain perfect game was the true ultimate weapon as it was worth a ridiculous 64 points in one game. Joey Votto and Adrian Beltre had also had great weeks and have helped make up for Josh Hamilton scoring one total point due to a trip to the hospital for a virus. The Alfonso Soriano sneaky play did not work well, which I probably should have expected from his streaky self, but I got sucked in yet again.
Looking ahead to Week 12, take note that the following four teams only play five games this week: the Angels, Diamondbacks, Braves, Orioles. Unfortunately that means that I will have to take my buddy Mike Trout out of the lineup for this week. Looking at the seven gamers from an offensive standpoint, the first one that jumps out is the Red Sox who get all seven of their games in Fenway. The Rockies also have a nice schedule with three games in Texas over the weekend and then two games in Coors to end the week. I also really like the Tigers seven-game schedule with road trips to Pittsburgh and Texas. The Phillies also get seven at home, but they have been struggling so far this year. Among the six gamers, the Rangers look the best with five of their games at home. Let's see how the positions line up this week.
Catcher: Mike Napoli has not been productive this week, but with five home games, I almost decided to leave him in, until I saw the Cardinals have a seven-game week. Yadier Molina has had a fantastic season and has been hot lately, hitting nearly .350 the last three weeks. I am going to ride him for the seven-game schedule this week. I also considered Joe Mauer with seven games, but he is questionable right now with a bruised right quad so I had to shy away from him. If you want to save some cap at catcher, both Willin Rosario and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are nice sneaky seven game options.
First Base: My first inclination here was to jump on Adrian Gonzalez with the seven home games, but he is expensive and has struggled so much with power so far this year. However, David Ortiz has not struggled and of course has the same schedule as Gonzalez. Now that Papi does not have to deal with the NL parks this week, he is a very strong play and even a touch cheaper than Gonzalez. Joey Votto continues to rake almost nightly and is at the point where playing him for six, even at his high salary, has to be considered. Prince Fielder with seven games has to be considered, but I think right now I favor Ortiz with the all-Fenway week. Finally, I would also suggest considering Michael Cuddyer for the Rockies schedule. Among the cheaper options, I would consider Adam LaRoche or Justin Morneau, but neither excites me too much and I think I will try and save cap at other positions.
Second Base: My first thought on second base this week was to go with Dustin Pedroia, but he has really struggled since his wrist injury even though he is trying to play through it. Pedroia has hit .175 with no homers since the injury and does not show many signs of breaking out of it. Jason Kipnis continues to be an excellent play and at his price tag, has to be considered a play even though he has six games this week. Ben Zobrist has recently shown some signs of breaking out of his early season struggles and he could be a nice play this week with seven games. The same goes with Danny Espinosa of the Nationals, but he really seems to have batting average troubles, which make it hard to him to rack up points consistently. He has 20/20 potential though and can go off in any given week. I wouldn't argue if you wanted to toss him out there this week as he does a little cap over the other seven gamers noted. Without an obvious seven gamer to clot in, I am going to stick with Kipnis for his production and price tag.
Third Base: Beltre had a solid week and has a nice schedule so I was tempted to leave him in for this week, but let's see what the seven-gamers bring us. If you can afford to get Miguel Cabrera in your lineup, he is a great play this week. He has seven games, a nice schedule on paper and of course is just a stud. It's hard to go wrong with Miggy this week, but I realize he is very, very expensive. Hanley Ramirez has seven games also, but if I were going to go pricey, I would go Cabrera or Beltre over him. Hanley has been streaky this year and currently is in one of his downward swings. I do not see a lot of great cheap options at 3B, but I suppose Mike Moustakas for six games could work if you really needed to save money at 3B. Without any other fantastic options, I am going to try and do everything I can to play Miggy for his seven games this week.
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins has finally started to hit (thanks for those first two months in NFBC, J Roll!) and has seven home games. He looks like the best option off the bat and has been the best hitting SS in baseball the last 3 weeks or so, barring Trevor Plouffe, who is eligible at SS in Head2Head. Dee Gordon has finally warmed up lately and has seven games, but I don't like him as a hitter at all and so much depends on his ability to get on base and then steal bases. Jose Reyes also has seven games, but I think I like J Roll more with the seven games in Citizens Bank. I don't see a lot of cheaper options, but the best one is Trevor Plouffe at only $6.0 million who has been on fire with power. If I need cap here, Plouffe is certainly the place to go with a seven-game schedule, but can he really stay this hot?
Outfield: Unfortunately, with a five-game schedule, I am going to have to get Mike Trout out of the lineup. However, I just decided to swap phenom for phenom and play Bryce Harper with his seven games. Aside from the non-famous 5-strikeout game vs. the Yankees, Harper has been extremely valuable and saves a lot of cap over OF's who have produced similar numbers recently. He also gave us our 2012 baseball quote of the year with "That's a clown question, bro". I initially thought Carlos Gonzalez would be a slam-dunk this week, but he missed Sunday with hamstring tightness and even though his MRI was negative, I am concerned about using him. I may swap him in if he plays a full game on Tuesday. Giancarlo Stanton has been in a slump lately, but he is always capable of putting up a huge week with seven games and I think I am going to give him a try hoping to get the hot streak after the cold. Among other seven game guys, there are a number of cheaper options besides Harper, including Desmond Jennings, Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran. I decided to use Craig as my second cheap guy. He is hitting in the middle of the Cardinals lineup, appears to be finally healthy and does not face much good pitching as he misses Verlander and Josh Johnson. Looking at some more pricy options, B.J. Upton could be a play if he can get hot, as well as Hunter Pence, but I see the best pricy option as Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has been solid all year and could be a true gem if the Pirates can ever get a lineup around him.
Pitching Staff: I assumed I would never happen to time a no-hitter or perfect game on the exact right week, but was really glad that it happened. Watching Matt Cain's perfect game was fun enough, but when you add the knowledge that I had the Giants rostered here, it was just fantastic. With a lot of teams with seven games, we should have some pretty solid pitching options this week. Off the bat, the Dodgers look like an excellent play with trips to Oakland and San Francisco along with a weekend series in Anaheim. In addition, the week features two starts from Clayton Kershaw with starts against both Bay Area teams, gotta love that! The Phillies are always a consideration with seven, but with their injuries, they are just too pricy to play, especially without two starts from Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels. The Rays are another possibility with seven games and give us two from Matt Moore, who looks like he finally might have turned the corner. The only team I see matching the Dodgers this week are the Washington Nationals. They do get two games in Coors, but their staff features a lot of strikeouts and this week provide you two starts each from Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. The last two games are in Coors, but if anyone in 2012 can throw well there, it's Stras and Gio. I think this week absolutely comes down to either the Dodgers or Nationals and I think both are excellent plays, but I am going to go with Washington.
Here is where I landed for Week 12:
C: Yadier Molina ($8.1)
1B: David Ortiz ($10.0)
2B: Jason Kipnis ($6.3)
3B: Miguel Cabrera ($12.0)
SS: Jimmy Rollins ($8.4)
OF: Andrew McCutchen ($10.3)
OF: Giancarlo Stanton ($9.7)
OF: Allen Craig ($8.1)
Flex: Bryce Harper ($7.0)
Pitching: Washington Nationals ($19.2)