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RotoBaller Week 4 Fantasy Baseball Musings: Zimmerman, Hill, Choo, Upton, Pujols and more...

Ryan Zimmerman helmetlessIf you own Ryan Zimmerman and/or Aaron Hill, I feel your pain (and, to a lesser extent, their pain). But this could be a moment to seize opportunity… for their replacements and for you.

The Nationals shut Zimmerman (hamstring) down for 15 days, allowing Anthony Rendon (Harrisburg/AA) a chance to prove his prospect status legit. If Rendon’s eye (14 BB in 48 AB on the farm so far) and bat produce in the bigs, he has the opportunity to move from 3B when Zimmerman returns, possibly sliding into the 2B job. He’s been playing 2B and SS this season in AA to improve his defensive versatility in the hopes of maximizing his chances of cracking the Washington lineup. Current Nationals 2B Danny Espinosa, a career .237 hitter with moderate pop and speed, is struggling along at .170 so far this season with one dinger and zero stolen bases. Expect growing pains for Rendon, but the potential for rewards certainly exists here.

Aaron Hill broke his left hand last week and will be on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. His replacement, Didi Gregorius, is presently listed as a SS in the Yahoo game, but he’ll add 2B eligibility soon. He has 2 HR in 11 AB, including 2-for-3 with a bomb on Sunday.  Current D-Back SS Cliff Pennington is keeping a spot warm for Gregorius. When Hill comes back, look for Gregorius to stick with the big club when, like Rendon, he’ll have dual position eligibility.

Reds Table Setter

Cincinnati lead-off hitter Shin-Soo Choo has people in the Queen City saying, “Drew Stubbs Who?” Choo leads MLB in OBP (.523), is tied for fourth in runs scored (17) and OPS (1.155), is tied for fifth in batting average (.382), and has been on base in every single game he’s played this season (18). He presently ranks #14 in the Yahoo game and has rejuvenated lifelong Reds fans who have grown accustomed to poor leadoff hitters. His batting eye and speed in this Reds lineup is going to make him a hot commodity all summer. Don’t bite on any cheap trade offers.

Braves Table (Un)Setters

Justin Upton leads MLB with nine home runs, but is tied for 21st in RBI with thirteen. Of his nine bombs, only one (a first inning shot off of Roy Halladay on April 3) has come with a runner on base. Imagine what his stats would look like if leadoff hitter Andrelton Simmons (.211) and two-holer Jason Heyward (.121) could make it on to the base paths. The jury is still out on Simmons’s bat, but the 23-year-old Heyward has giant-sized thunder in his stick to go along with impressive speed. Don’t give up on Heyward yet.

Albert Pujols on April 14, 2012Pujols Podiatry Prognosis

King Albert is hurting, according to a recent LA Times report, and will spend more time at DH to allow him to heal. This will be big news in the baseball community, but it’s really no big deal until he can’t drag his lumber to the batter’s box.  He’s having a good year so far (.317/2 HR/13 RBI – same number of ribbies as Justin Upton) and qualifies for fantasy purposes as a first baseman. Don’t press the panic button, especially on a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer who is still wearing a uniform.

Anderson Avoids the DL….For Now

I was tickled to death to get Brett Anderson in the 16th round of my Marty and Joe (Yahoo) draft. The oft-injured young lefty seems to have been around forever, but he’s only 25 years old and is wicked good when he’s healthy. I thought I had the steal of the season (and perhaps I still will). He hurt himself Friday (sprained ankle) but, as of now, he's penciled in as the starter next Wednesday. His line so far looks pitiful (1-3, 5.95 ERA, 1.63 WHIP). His first two outings he fanned sixteen in thirteen innings while giving up only two runs. His last two outings…6.2 innings, 11 ER, 3 K. Keep an eye on him Wednesday at Fenway against the smoking hot Red Sox. And be patient Daniel Straily fans. He’ll get his chance soon enough.

Speaking of Straily, I plucked this young stud off the waiver wire last week in my Channel 4 News League (also Yahoo), as an insurance policy for Jarrod Parker, who at the time was handing out free passes to home plate at the same rate as Anderson. But Parker gave me hope again with a solid effort against the Rays (6.1 IP, 5 K, 1 ER), even though he took the loss. The one earned run he surrendered in the 1-0 loss was a solo shot to Matt Joyce.  I’ll hold on to Straily for now, especially given Anderson’s health history.  I recommend you put him on your watch list, too.

Surprise Top Performers (who will soon fade out)

Be honest, how many of us expected five dingers from Coco Crisp this early in the season? At his present pace, he would become the fifth member of the 40/40 club (joining Canseco, ARod, Barry Bonds, and Alfonso Soriano). I’m betting my savings and all three of my children against that, but if you own him, congrats on the across-the-board production he’s given you so far.

John Buck appears to be settling back into human form. He’s always had decent pop (seven bombs so far/Leading MLB in RBI), but he’s a career .236 hitter. He has six hits in his last 30 ABs. Don’t expect extended help in the BA department, and do expect the power to dim.

Alicia Keys had nothing on Paul Maholm his first three starts (3-0, 0 ER, 20 K). This Brave was on fire until the Bucs handed him his first loss on Saturday. Even in the loss, he still collected another quality start. Maholm is a decent and serviceable pitcher, but don’t expect him to stay near the top of the leaderboard much longer.


Be sure to check out RotoBaller's Ultimate Waiver Wire Watch List for more info on gems you can pick up for short-term help.