Weekly 10: First things first
Davis, Smoak give owners corner options; Zito riding resurgence
Are you a fantasy owner struggling to get production out of your first-base slot? Then this was the week for you, as both the Mets and Rangers called up their top prospects at the position and gave them a chance to make an impact immediately.
For more on what you may have missed out on last week and what you need to know heading into this one, here's your Weekly 10 ...
1. King of Queens
The player: Ike Davis, 1B, Mets
The week: .318 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 5 R, 0 SB
Anyone who needed proof that this highly touted Mets prospect is the real deal got it when the 23-year-old launched a 450-foot bomb to center field off Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami on April 23. He had an outstanding first week as a big leaguer, as his numbers above reflect. As with any rookie, there's no guarantee of continued success, but Davis certainly appears to have locked up his spot in the Mets lineup for now. If he can continue to rake like this, fantasy owners in all formats will have a viable option on their hands, and Mr. Jason Heyward may have some competition in the National League Rookie of the Year Award race.
2. Smoak screen
The player: Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers
The week: .000 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBIs, 1 R, 0 SB
Although his arrival was overshadowed by Davis', Rangers prospect Justin Smoak had owners scrambling for the waiver wire when he was called up to take the roster spot of the scuffling Chris Davis. The 23-year-old Smoak hit .290 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs over three levels of the Minor Leagues last season and was hitting .326 with two homers, five RBIs and six doubles in 14 games at Oklahoma City before getting the call. OK, so the numbers for his first week in the bigs aren't pretty, but relax -- the kid only had five at-bats. He is loaded with power and will log roughly half of his at-bats in hitter-friendly Arlington. If you have room on your roster and a healthy dosage of patience, Smoak has the opportunity and the talent to be an American League Rookie of the Year candidate.
3. Stuffing the stat sheet
The player: Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers
The week: .364 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 6 R, 3 SB
Braun put big smiles on the faces of his owners last week by not only pounding out plenty of hits, but by delivering three stolen bases as a bonus. One of those swipes came in a three-hit, five-RBI game against the Pirates on April 22. As we approach the end of the season's first month, Braun's OBP sits at a monstrous .432. The 26-year-old was ranked No. 3 overall in the MLB.com 2010 Fantasy Preview, ahead of the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley and Mark Teixeira, and it's weeks like the one that just passed that illustrate why.
4. Cubbie clunker
The player: Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs
The week: .148 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 2 R, 0 SB
Lee is one of those oft-overlooked options at first base when it comes to fantasy, and it seems to be because of his propensity to get off to slow starts. Owners are dealing with those struggles again in 2010, as the Cubs veteran is batting just .227. Most of the power numbers are still there, though, as he slugged his fourth home run of the season in a game against the Brewers on April 25. Lee is a career .275 hitter in March/April and .250 hitter in May. Even last season, he started the year with a .189 average in April before going on to record a .306 average, 35 dingers, 111 RBIs and a ninth-place finish in the NL MVP voting. Stick with this guy; you'll be glad you did come season's end.
5. Sharing the load
The players: Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Tyler Colvin, OF, Cubs
The week: .430 AVG, 5 HR, 19 RBIs, 18 R, 0 SB
While Lee may be struggling, the Cubs' outfield was the hottest unit at the plate in baseball last week. Byrd led the way in average, posting a .516 mark (16-for-31) with seven RBIs over his last seven games. He was given the day off April 25, but the lineup continued to click thanks in part to the efforts of Colvin, who stepped in to go 3-for-4 with a double and a gigantic homer off Brewers starter Dave Bush. Fukudome delivered a similar performance in that game (3-for-4, HR, 2B), while the highlight of Soriano's week came when he lifted a homer out of Citi Field off the Mets' Manny Acosta on April 25. The only downside to all four players excelling at once is that one will have to sit out on any given day, though it seems this arrangement is bringing out the best in them.
6. Return to dominance
The player: Barry Zito, SP, Giants
The week: 1-0, 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 10 Ks
This is becoming a lot more than just a good start or two to begin the season for Zito. Dare we say that he is finally starting to look like that guy who won 23 games and the AL Cy Young with the A's in 2002? OK, maybe we won't go that far just yet, but it can't be ignored how dominant the 31-year-old has looked. On April 24, Zito struck out 10 in a win over the Cardinals, tying his high in a Giants uniform and falling one short of his career best. He owns a .161 average against and a 1.32 ERA after four outings, so perhaps it's time to look at him as more than a spot starter in mixed formats.
7. Desert heat
The player: Kelly Johnson, 2B, Diamondbacks
The week: .375 AVG, 4 HR, 7 RBIs, 6 R, 0 SB
Wow, who saw this coming? Johnson hit just eight homers in 303 at-bats all of last season but already has gone yard seven times in '10, tying him for the NL lead. He had an epic weekend series against the Phillies, launching four long balls and driving in six runs. Clearly, Johnson will not continue to rake like this, and there's no way to guarantee any kind of significant fantasy success going forward. However, all owners can look for is opportunity, and Johnson has that before him right now. This power surge has made it unlikely that manager Bob Melvin will be moving him down in the lineup, even when Conor Jackson returns from injury, which means he should continue to receive plenty of RBI opportunities.
8. Hold the phone
The player: Brian Fuentes, RP, Angels
The week: 0-1, 1 BS, 1 SV, 1 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks
In the last edition of the Weekly 10, we implored owners to hold on to Angels reliever Fernando Rodney even with the imminent return of Brian Fuentes. Well, here's why. In his first game back from the disabled list April 21, Fuentes served up a game-tying home run to Miguel Cabrera and was tagged with the loss. Now, Fuentes did bounce back nicely by shutting down the Yankees in a 1-2-3 ninth on April 23, but manager Mike Scioscia undoubtedly is keeping Rodney in mind in case his regular closer struggles for an extended period. Given that Fuentes blew seven saves a year ago, a changing of the guard is a realistic possibility at some point in the near future.
9. Light at the end of the tunnel
The player: Hunter Pence, OF, Astros
The week: .318, 0 HR, 3 RBIs, 5 R, 1 SB
It was a solid week for Pence despite a 1-for-11 stretch. Given the way the 27-year-old struggled out of the gate, both he and his owners will take the improvement. Pence only has one homer so far in '10 and his batting average is a paltry .209. He did post back-to-back two-hit games to close out the weekend against the Pirates, so that is a positive sign going forward. Will he come around? Yes. Should he be in your starting lineup right now? Probably not.
10. Tough luck
The player: Jonathan Sanchez, SP, Giants
The week: 0-1, 7 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 10 Ks
One of the frustrations of fantasy baseball is watching pitchers on other teams pick up wins while your guys wind up getting the short end of the stick despite superior efforts. Those who watched Sanchez take the loss vs. the Padres on April 20 after he allowed just one hit and one earned run on a sacrifice fly understand this pain full well. Where's the justice?! The Giants' struggles at the plate as a team have left Sanchez with only one victory despite the fact that he's been brilliant all month. Owners have to stick with him, and hopefully his supporting bats will come around to give him some wins to show for his efforts.
Brandon Costa is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.