First let me start out by saying a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of those who have served, are serving, or will serve our country this Memorial Day. The bravery and sacrifice that you and your family give to the United States is something that we could never repay you for or thank you for enough. You are the true heroes!
Now back to meaningless stuff, like Fantasy Baseball. Real or Fake? That is a question that rolls into our brains for many different reasons. This week we will examine both the world of Fantasy Baseball players on hot streaks, as well as mythical creatures that people have claimed to see but can never confirm their existence.
This week is also very Pennsylvania-heavy as the Pirates and Phillies dominate the content. As always find me on Twitter @fightingchance to tell me that Bigfoot is real and feedback on the article is also appreciated.
Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
There may not have been a player who divided people’s opinions more this offseason than Ryan Braun. Many thought he would bounce back and reclaim his role as one of Fantasy’s elite players, while others thought his wrist problems might linger and didn’t believe he was worth the hype or the early round pick that he cost you. And while the doubters enjoyed his lack of production in the first five or so weeks of the season, Braun’s supporters are the ones laughing at the moment. In the last 10 days he has smacked five home runs and driven in a ridiculous 16 runs. So the Braun lovers win, right? Listen, I was a Braun hater in March, and I’m not going to let a 10-day hot streak change my opinion. If you play daily games, he’s likely a viable option against lesser pitching. But if you are a season-long player, I’m saying that Braun’s hot streak is fake as Bigfoot. Some people might believe he’s out there, but until I see something confirmed, I’m not believing in Sasquatch or Ryan Braun.
Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
After being touted as one of the better hitting prospects in the Phillies organization last season, Franco was rewarded with a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues which went (to be polite) unsuccessfully. Franco had just 10 hits and struck out nearly once every fourth time he came to the plate. Fast forward a year and now Franco is back in the Majors and this time he is making the most of his opportunity. He has been batting fifth for the most part, and he has, to quote Fat Amy, CRUSHED it! In just nine games he already has three multi-hit affairs to go with two homers and seven RBIs. The Phillies appear committed to this guy for the long term, and you should be too as he has flashed 20-25 homer power in the Minors.
Josh Harrison, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
On May 10th Harrison hit rock bottom. He was batting just .173 after having just two hits and six strikeouts since April 27th and he was benched in favor of Jung Ho Kang. He was back on the field on May 12th and has never looked back. He has had a hit in every game since, clubbed two homers and driven in seven runs and stolen two bases. He has had six multi-hit games and has his batting average for May at .315. For those who were concerned that Harrison was going to be a one-year wonder, I think he is putting those concerns to rest. Harrison will never lead the league in any category, but he will give you a decent amount of help in all. Look for him to continue along this path remain the type of player he was last year. If you were patient with him, this is your reward, the real Josh Harrison
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Belt struggled badly and missed a little time to start the season, and Fantasy owners were very frustrated as this was supposed to be Belt’s big year. Well, since May 15th he is showing signs that he is going to finally reward those who have been supporting him since his rookie season. Belt has raised his batting average 35 points while belting four home runs and driving in 11 runs. He also has four 3-hit games over that span. By season’s end I do expect his batting average to finish back down around .285-.290, but I could also see him either getting close to or surpassing 20 home runs which means there are plenty more in his bat over the next four months. I am on the Belt Bandwagon and think he is for real.
Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies
After a non-descript start to the season, Papelbon has turned hot as fire in the last two weeks. Since May 8th he has recorded six saves and has struck out 11 guys in 6.2 innings while walking one and allowing just one earned run. Papelbon has been an okay closer with a below average strikeout rate over the last three seasons, so this latest stretch is certainly out of the norm. Before the season started people were after Papelbon figuring that he was going to be traded at some point during the season, but is another team going to take on a 34-year-old closer that makes $13 million? He may still be an effective closer during the season, but he certainly isn’t going to be perfect all season long and this start is as fake as the Loch Ness Monster.
Aaron Harang, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Through nine starts this season Harang still has an ERA under 2.00, and has four wins for a terrible team. In his last four outings he has allowed a combined three earned runs, and has struck out 13 guys in his last fourteen innings. It is time to pump the brakes on Harang. He is pitching for one of the worst teams in the National League, and for his career he is a below .500 pitcher with an ERA over 4.00. In fact, he’s never had an ERA under 3.50 in any of his 14 seasons, and he is nowhere near striking out a batter an inning. He is off to a nice start but he’s as real as Michael Jackson’s third nose (scary!), and there’s no way that Harang can keep this going for much longer. Look for the bottom to fall out any time now.