Bruce has given much cause for celebration to teammates, fans and especially fantasy owners. (Barbour / flickr)
[Welcome to the first edition of “Phantasy Impact” where we will take a look at fantasy baseball with stories, news, tips and more. In this column I will be using a percentage owned stat which is taken from ESPN reflecting how many leagues across the board a player is owned in. This should be very similar to whatever website you use for your league. This will be a periodic feature as I want to make sure not to tip off anyone in my keeper league. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate emailing me at any time and I will be happy to help.]
The Bruce is Loose
The world of fantasy wheeling-and-dealing is much like that of the stock market. When a player is playing at his peak, try to get as much as possible for him (sell high). When a player is playing like garbage, try to steal them away for as little as possible (buy low). With this in mind, there will always be exceptions to the rule.
One such exception is a player who has been the golden child of the fantasy year thus far. Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Jay Bruce sat on many team’s benches (including mine) all season just waiting for the Reds front office to pull the trigger on giving him his rightful throne in center. When that day finally happened, any league in which he wasn’t already owned became a feeding frenzy of owners trying to snatch him up.
Since then Bruce has had a monumental introduction to the Major Leagues hitting a gaudy .463/.569/.756 with 14 runs, 3 HR, 10 RBI, and 2 SB in his first 41 at-bats. Those are rookie level video game-esque type numbers.
Of course from there the lucky yet greedy owners of Bruce came out of the woodwork looking to trade him while the iron was hot. Normally this logic makes sense, but certainly not in this situation.
Jay Bruce is an extremely special player, one you don’t see come around too often. Bruce has been a monster at every level he has played and now plays in the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark. Trading him in a normal league is bad enough but if you traded him in a keeper league, well then you need your fantasy privileges taken away. Take a look at a brief scouting report of mine on Bruce who is the number one ranked player in my top 25 prospects list:
Bruce is a monster of a prospect and a five tool player to boot who can impact the game with his power bat, speed, and defense. He has a powerfully lofted swing with fantastic bat speed which gives him the ability to hit for power and average. He needs to work on his plate discipline and he also tends to struggle against lefties and off speed pitches which racks up his strikeout total. If he can learn these items the next few years and combine that with his current skills, he will be a monster with 35-40 HR in the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark.
With that glowing report along with his past and present track record there is no reason to trade him unless the other guy is throwing half his team at you. Bruce is going to be one of the top two or three players drafted next season in fantasy leagues everywhere. Take advantage of the steal of the century you got from this kid now before he becomes virtually unattainable for years to come.
I know I did.
[KEEP AN EYE ON]
Big Branyan is now flexing his muscles on a more full time basis. (jodieandlarry / flickr)
Russell Branyan, 3B MIL (10% owned)
Yes surprise, surprise Russell Branyan is still floating around out there but it shouldn’t come to too big of a shock. Branyan has always supplied whatever his team of the moment is with a lot of raw power, particularily as a pinch hitter. This year with the Brewers isn’t any different. In fact, he’s pretty much won the third base job for any time his club is facing off against a right handed pitcher. Hitting .323/.447/.871 with 5 HR and 6 RBI on the season in 31 at-bats has to be noticed. While his average probably won’t stay up that high (career .230/.329/.484 hitter), he will add some pop to your lineup if you are hurting for it. Key Stat: Branyan has three of the four longest homers ever hit in Miller Park.
Cody Ross, CF FLA (11.4% owned)
I’ve stayed away from Cody Ross all year long as his AVG (.217) and OBP (.292) have been miserable. While his power numbers were there (10 HR), it just wasn’t worth taking a hit in the other categories. However over the past two weeks we have seen a new side of Mr. Ross. Over that span Ross has hit .282/.364/.692 with 5 HR and 10 RBI. It’s worth keeping an eye on him and how he progresses as we move deeper into the season. Key Stat: Ross had 14 hits in the month of May with 10 of them being homers.
Kyle Lohse, SP STL (13.7% owned)
Kyle Lohse seems to have found his groove with the Cardinals this season. After bouncing around the past couple of seasons he has begun to find success in St. Louis. Over the past two weeks he’s posted a 3-0 record with a 1.06 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. While he has only racked up 7 strikeouts over this stretch, he is a pitcher you may want to keep an eye on if you are in need of some wins. Be careful though, as a lifelong Twins fan I can tell you that Lohse has some pretty violent ups and downs and this will eventually catch up with him as he doesn’t have a lifetime 4.77 ERA for nothing. Key Stat: Lohse has a 5.06 ERA on the road the past three seasons.
Edgar Renteria, SS DET (100% owned)
After a fantastic 2007 season (.332/.390/.470) in Atlanta, Edgar Renteria has been a huge letdown to owners all over fantasy world. Coming into Saturday the veteran was hitting .262/.303/.354 with 4 HR, 25 RBI and 1 SB. This is painful in a league like mine that includes OBP and SLG as a stat category. Now I know my stance on “Dump ‘Em” is probably not one many would agree with (try to trade him away if you can), but realistically there are a lot of other options that could fit the bill depending on what stat you need the most. One nice option is Texas Ranger Ramon Vazquez (owned in 0.7%) who is eligible at both shortstop and third base. Now that he’s been inserted as an everyday player, he’s even more valuable with his .317/.390/.480 line with 2 HR and 14 in only 123 at-bats. While Renteria definitely has the chance to turn things around in a potent Detroit lineup, in a fantasy season you don’t always have the time to play the “wait and see” approach.
[Grab ‘Em Now Player of the Week]
Ryan Spilborghs, OF COL (19% owned)
This opportunistic Ryan Spilborghs has done a fantastic job filling in for Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe while they’ve been nursing injuries on the DL. But unfortunately for Spilborghs both men are set to rejoin the team very soon. But reports are starting to trickle out of Colorado that Spilborghs may start seeing a lot of time in centerfield once the corner outfielders are back. Willy Taveras continues to play himself out of a job and will start to see his playing time drastically disappear. Luckily for Spilborghs he has been playing wonderfully for the Rockies (.312/.421/.496, 4 HR, 23 RBI) while the rest of the lineup has been slumping. Also working on his side for playing time is the fact that it is looking more and more likely that Matt Holliday will be traded before the deadline on July 31. With little or no contract talks thus far and a snake of an agent (Scott Boras) it appears as if Holliday’s days are numbered in a Rockies uniform. So snatch this guy up quick before he’s gone.
I hope you all enjoyed the first edition of “Phantasy Impact.” It will pop up every now and again with different variations so let me know how you liked it and if its something you’d like to see more often. Again, any questions please don’t hesitate emailing me or posting a comment below.
By Matthew Whipps
“The Diamond Cutter“
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
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