Week 19 has been a mixed bag so far, but has been pretty solid overall. Ryan Zimmerman and Buster Posey continue to mash and Mike Morse has been just huge for me this week. In addition, the Nationals pitchers continue to be a great play week in and week out. Looking back though, Danny Espinosa over Robinson Cano was really not a smart call. With salary cap not as big an issue this deep into the season, not playing Cano for seven games is not a wise move as he is just so dominant at his position. Jose Reyes has cooled off a bit and Andrew McCutchen has not broken out of his slump like I was hoping. But overall, pretty solid, I am second in my league in scoring for the week with two days left and I have a decent lead in my matchup as I try and get to 18-1.
I can't believe we are already at Week 20! While I love football season and I can't wait for my Niners this season, I will be very bummed when baseball season is over. The upside is that with a lot of your competition focusing on their football drafts, very often this is the best time to focus on baseball and make up some ground in your league. While it may feel like the season is winding down, there are still a lot of games left to play.
Week 20 should present a lot of good options and some high scores as more than half the teams in MLB play seven games this week. On the flip side, make sure to note that the Tigers and Astros have five games this week. Of course, you don't have any Astros anywhere near the lineup, but Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera should definitely be replaced this week. Also take notice that due to a doubleheader, the Reds have eight games this week, six of which are at home; it is too bad Joey Votto is hurt or he would be a slam dunk this week. Of the seven game teams, the Rockies look great with five home games, but they have been struggling mightily as a team. Carlos Gonzalez threw up the nice .000 for me in NFBC last week, fantastic! The Marlins have a nice looking schedule this week also with a four game series in Coors, followed by two games in Arizona. It looks like another good week for the Yankee hitters this week with five games in Yankee Stadium followed by two in US Cellular. Finally, the Rangers hitters look solid this week with road trips to New York and Toronto finished off with two games at home.
Catcher: Buster Posey is an absolute beast right now at catcher, but with six games including a trip to Petco, it is probably a good week to look elsewhere. Miguel Montero has been very solid lately hitting .365 the last three weeks with four home runs. The DBacks are on the road for a majority of their week, which is not good, but it does include three against the Astros and their utter lack of good pitchers. How about our good buddy A.J. Pierzynski? Dude has seven home runs in his last 12 games! Unfortunately, he sits a bit too much to trust in a points league where games player and at bats are gold, especially at catcher. Along with Montero, I would also consider Matt Wieters here who finally got hot this past week. The Orioles have seven games, which includes a couple games in Texas.
First Base: Price Fielder has been just ok this week, but the Tigers have five games this week so he will certainly need to come out. Billy Butler has been very solid lately, hitting nearly .330 in the last weeks with five home runs. The Royals get seven this week and Butler is definitely a very live play this week. Our friend from April, Freddie Freeman, finally makes a re-appearance in the column. After a rough middle of the season, Freeman seems to be totally healthy again and has started to produce lately. The Braves have seven games this week and are scheduled to only face one lefty, which is good news for Freeman. With seven D-back games, Paul Goldschmidt is also a play to consider as he just keeps hitting. Finally, Mark Teixeira needs to be considered with the Yankees schedule. He has cooled off the last three weeks, which is surprising for a guy who usually rakes most of the second half. One has to love that Yankees schedule this week though.
Second Base: I have no idea what has gotten into Neil Walker, a guy I really did not like coming into drafts this year. He has proven me very wrong and remains hot with 21 RBI in the last three weeks. The Pirates do get two games in Petco this week, but with seven total games, Walker has to be considered. If you have the cap, Robinson Cano seems to be the best play this week to me. He has not been huge lately, but is the best 2B out there and the Yankees play a nice schedule this week. I will do what I can to get Cano in the lineup. If not Cano, it probably makes sense to try and get Ian Kinsler in the lineup this week. Kinsler has not been fantastic this year, but he still puts up points hitting in that potent Rangers lineup. If you wanted to kick it old school, Chase Utley has been showing some pop lately and could be a solid play with Philly's seven games this week. The last guy I would look at is strictly a schedule play, Brandon Phillips. He has not been hitting for power lately, but he has to be considered with the Reds eight games.
Third Base: In the latest instance of baseball being tough to predict, Chase Headley of the weak-hitting Padres who play in by the far the worst offensive park in the Majors has been the most productive 3B of the last three weeks with seven homers and 21 RBI. And right behind Headley?¬† Well, new Diamondback Chris Johnson of course who has been very productive with his new squad. Both of these guys have seven games this week, but I am going to be stubborn and not play a Padre in Petco in a weekly points game. One guy I really like this week is Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez has been solid lately and gets six home games and one game at Coors for a little sweetener. If you believe in the Hanley Ramirez re-birth, he gets seven games for the Dodgers this week, but I prefer Aramis myself. If you really wanted to save some cap, Todd Frazier has been playing almost every day and the Reds do get eight games this week. I think Frazier is one of the better and sneakier cheap plays this week.
Shortstop: I think SS comes down to three plays this week, all with seven games. Jose Reyes has been the most productive SS as of late and gets a sweet four-game trip to Coors this weekend. Josh Rutledge continues his productive ways and gets a majority of his games at home this week. Rutledge is also very cheap if cap becomes an issue for you this week. Finally, the schedule play is Derek Jeter. After a down couple of months, Jeets has picked it up lately hitting .350 over the last three weeks. With the nice Yankees schedule this week, Jeter should put up a lot of points this week.
Outfield: For one my six-game plays this week, I will leave Mike Trout in. We have discussed him to death, but I just don't see the sense in trying to fade Mike Trout at his price. You can try it, but you better nail it, because most teams will have Trout in and if he goes off, he is going to really beat you. My other two outfielders this week were total opposites as Andrew McCutchen has been my worst player so far this week and Mike Morse has been my best. With the Coors schedule this week, one has to consider Carlos Gonzalez as always, but boy is he struggling right now. If there is one that you want to play when he is hot, it is Josh Hamilton. After a long quiet period, Hamilton has once again caught fire. Hamilton has home runs in three of his last four games and when Hamilton is hot, no one is better. I think I want to jump on and hope that he stays hot this week with his nice seven-game schedule. Now than Giancarlo Stanton is back from his injury, you have to consider him this week with 4 games in Coors this weekend.
How about Drew Stubbs? The much-maligned (well, in the roto community) outfielder has been very productive in the last three weeks with 5 HR, 21 runs scored and eight stolen bases. Toss in the eight-game week and Stubbs looks like a nice play this week and one that will likely not be popular. His teammate Ryan Ludwick has to be considered also due to his recent hot streak. Ludwick has hit nearly .370 the last three weeks with some power and very impressive 22 RBI. Another blast from the past, Nick Markakis, has come back from his injury very solidly. Markakis gets seven games this week and has hit over .320 the last three weeks with some pop.
Of course, any time the Dodgers have seven games, you can't take Matt Kemp out of the mix. Kemp has found his stroke again and while he is not quite the base stealing threat he was prior to the hamstring issues, he can still flat out rake. If you want to play a stud that has been ice cold, Ryan Braun fits that tag perfectly right now. The Brewers have a nice schedule and Braun is really due if you believe in that sort of thing. Other names to consider this week in the OF in the mid-range that could be very good this week are Curtis Granderson, Corey Hart, Jay Bruce and Nelson Cruz. If you need to save some cap this week, I like Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gomez and Jason Kubel this week. Another cap saver could be Alex Rios. Rios is a very affordable $7.0 and has had a huge bounce back season. The White Sox have seven games this week against a slew of pitchers than will scare no one.
Starting Pitching: The Nats put up another solid week this week. With their stable of pitchers, it is hard for them to not put up points over the course of a week. Of course, we will want to search for an option with seven games this week. The Braves look good this week as they get to host the Padres and Dodgers in Atlanta. The Braves are considering a six-man rotation with the return of Tommy Hanson this week so you only get two starts form Paul Maholm. If you are still a believer in the Phillies rotation, you can play them this week and get two starts from both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. The Reds do get an extra game on the field, but combine their park and me not trusting their pitchers after Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos and I will have to pass. I would have strongly considered them if the two-steps were from Cueto and Latos rather than Homer Bailey and Mike Leake. The Dodger do not have the best schedule in the world, but with their solid starting core and two games from Clayton Kershaw, they have to be in consideration also.
During our best week of the season a few weeks back, the Tampa Bay Rays were a big reason for the success. They look like a solid play this week and you get two games from David Price, which is always a good thing. The four games in Anaheim worry me a bit though, since while the Angels are certainly streaky, when they are on, they are extremely tough. The other AL team to consider is my Oakland A's. They pitch extremely well at home and get five of their seven games at home. Their rotation is a bit hard to predict with Brett Anderson coming back from injury, but you will likely get two starts from Brandon McCarthy. Pitching is tough this week, really not any obvious choices like we have some weeks.
After a lot of back and forth, I ended up with the following for Week 20, a bit of a "stars and scrubs" philosophy.
C: Matt Wieters ($8.2)
1B: Mark Teixeira ($10.2)
2B: Robinson Cano ($9.5)
3B: Todd Frazier ($6.0)
SS: Jose Reyes ($7.9)
OF: Ryan Braun ($12.0)
OF: Josh Hamilton ($10.9)
OF: Mike Trout: ($7.0)
Flex: Alex Rios ($7.0)
SP: Tampa Bay Rays ($21.3)