Matt Larkin isn’t a total loser, but he doesn’t get laid much either. A large reason why? His borderline pathetic obsession with fantasy sports. Every Wednesday, he’ll post fantasy sports advice -- hot pickups, players to drop, buy lows and sell highs. Follow his tips and you’ll be winning pools and not having intercourse in no time.
Baseball is more predictable than any other fantasy sport. The law of average dominates. Career .300 hitters who hit .280 in the first half almost always hit .320 in the second half. Every year, prospects start popping up around now as non-contenders say “What the hell” and give them chances.
This week’s notable players fit baseball’s routine -- young call-ups or guys whose current numbers aren’t consistent with their averages but soon will be.
Andrew Miller, SP, Detroit Tigers
After shutting out Atlanta on Sunday, the Tigers rookie has won three of four starts this year. The first-round pick has the pedigree for success and isn’t owned in many fantasy leagues. Grab him now and enjoy a pile of wins as the Tigers offence keeps destroying every organism in sight.
Marlon Byrd, OF, Texas Rangers
Cast away by fantasy owners because of his Kirby Puckettesque physique and failure to live up to his hype, Byrd is quietly back on the radar. It's idiotic to believe he’ll maintain his .380 average, but it’s not insane to expect Byrd to hit .300 with a tater here and there for the next couple months. Pick him up in deep leagues but keep him on a short leash.
Dustin McGowan, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
He should be owned in virtually every deep league by now, but some of you play in those crappy shallow leagues with 10 teams filled only with superstars. Chances are someone dropped him after he shat the bed against the Dodgers last week only to watch in horror as he one-hit the Rockies. Snatch him if he’s still on the wire.
Billy Butler, LF, Kansas City Royals
Kansas City’s superprospect is back in the bigs, and there’s no way he won’t get a long look. He might take a while to heat up – not as long as Alex friggin’ Gordon, mind you -- but his pop makes him worth plugging into your last outfield spot in deep leagues or your bench in shallow ones.
Ryan Theriot, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
The Cubbies’ plucky utility man was the toast of the town in April and May, but Mike Fontenot is badly outplaying him now and stealing away at bats. Fine by me. I hate owning guys whose names I don’t like. Doesn’t Theriot sound like a penis? Probably cried when it “wasn’t fair teams” in kickball at recess.
Felipe Lopez, 2B/SS, Washington Nationals
Lopez was an unsung fantasy hero the last few years with his five-category production, but he’s fallen off the wagon this year. Washington is a black hole for hitters. To put it in perspective, I’d hit .158 with 0 HR and 17 RBI in a full season with the Yanks, but .068 with 0 HR and 6 RBI with the Nats. Translation: cut Lopez, but be ready to take him back if he’s dealt before the trade deadline.
Travis Hafner, DH, Cleveland Indians
Pronk hasn’t been himself this year, possibly because he’s had the exhausting task of playing in the field the last month or so during interleague play. Still, we all know he posts video-game numbers in second half every year. Guys who’ve had similar years to date: Luis Gonzalez, Nick Markakis, Aaron Hill (!!???!!). If you can acquire Hafner for one or even two hitters of that calibre, do it and laugh all the way to a playoff berth.
Barry Zito, SP, San Francisco Giants
This is a classic “He can’t be that bad” situation. Zito’s season hasn’t been a total nightmare, but it’s been disappointing. However, he’s a strong second-half pitcher (3.92 career ERA pre-break, 3.26 after break) and he should be putting his wang in another celebrity any day now, so acquire him and let the law of averages do its job.
Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Mets
He’s playing through a nagging quad injury and his numbers are suffering. He could easily end up on the DL in the next few weeks. Sure, it’s a massive risk to deal him, but how much would it suck to have him on the shelf down the stretch? Test the waters. Don’t trade him away for a previously viewed copy of Corky Romano, but see if you can get a healthier superstar or multi-player package for him.
Brad Penny, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
He’s the anti-Zito -- great first half player, but he tires (he’s fat) in the second half. Don’t make the same mistake everyone made last year when he was the all-star game starter. Penny owners, Eliza Dushku included, should ship him off for someone who can handle the summer heat better.