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With twenty full weeks of the 2013 season in the books, today RotoBaller casts a critical eye on three players who are on the rise early in Week 21.


Three Up for Week 21

Brandon Belt 20111) Brandon Belt (1B, SFG): Belt's sudden pop makes him a very attractive pickup for UTIL or CI spots on teams looking for HR/RBI help as they head into the stretch for their fantasy playoff run. Midway through August, his .278 BA, 15 HR, 61RBI, 61 R and 5 SB place him among the top 15 first basemen, yet he still available in nearly 40% of leagues. His isolated power is at .208, which is consistent with his minor league numbers. This suggests Belt is finally getting more comfortable with major league pitching and delivering the power numbers the Giants anticipated several years ago. Belt’s fly ball rate is eight points higher than last year (44% v 36%) which provides full support for this recent power burst. Factor in his .295/.273 split versus LHP/RHP, and you’re looking at first baseman with guaranteed everyday playing time who can make a real difference down the stretch.

2) Will Venable (OF, SD): Venable is a perfect end-of-the-year waiver wire pickup who can make all the difference in a tight race. He provides a unique power/speed combination that is hard to find on the waiver wire. In the past, the knock against him was that he couldn't hit LHP and he didn’t help himself with a .231 BA against LHP in 2012. This year, his .300 BA against LHP guarantees everyday at-bats, which is usually the difference between a player who is owned in 30% of leagues and one who is universally owned. Playing every day, Venable has notched 16 HR and 14 SB, with 5 HR and 6 SB since the All-Star break. It’s amazing that he's is still as underowned as he is right now-- that should correct itself soon enough, though, so invest in Venable while you still can.

3) Alex Wood (P, ATL): Wood gained a permanent roster spot once Tim Hudson was lost for the season, and he's pitched well enough to warrant serious fantasy consideration. In six GS he’s registered a 1.0 K/IP, including his most recent start with 9 K in 6.1IP against the Nats. Pitching in the weak NL East with consistent starts against the Marlins, Mets and Nats further enhances his value. He’s only given up 1 HR in 51.1IP, which is certainly a bit lucky, but not unsustainable considering his phenomenal 2:1 GB/FB rate. As a solid LHP arm, he’s effectively neutralized lefties, holding them to a .190 BA and racking up an even more impressive 13.78 K/9 rate. He’s owned in only 30% of leagues, which is far too low for a guy consistently putting up these kinds of numbers.  Take a chance and enjoy his starts against NL East bottom-dwellers.



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