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AL Player Daily Notes - May 13, 2011

Joe Ribando

1. Eric Hosmer (1B - Royals) - A ton has been written about Hosmer's fantasy value over the past week. Claims of overpaying for him and an attempt to rank him among the league's other first baseman moving forward were written to help minimize the hysteria of fantasy owners rushing to get him at all costs. Whatever the case may be, he has been up for about a week now and has not disappointed one bit. Through 6 games and 21 AB, he has 2 HR, 2 doubles, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 5K's, and a stolen base. There are few chances throughout the year to grab prospects such as Hosmer and when the opportunity arises (and you need help at that particular position), you jump on it. Hosmer's been the real-deal at every level and he has certainly busted onto the scene with confidence and the ability to perform on the big league level.

2. JJ Hardy (SS - Orioles) - Hardy has been swinging a hot bat since returning from his oblique injury. He is 7-for-13 with a HR, 3 RBI, and 2 BB through his first three games back with the team. It wasn't that logn ago that Hardy was putting up 20+ HR seasons, so I wouldn't be shocked to see him return to old form. In 2007 and 2008, he posted AB/HR rates of 22.8 and 23.7. Injuries and slumps took hold in the subsequent two years, combing for a total of 740 AB's in 2009 and 2010 and hitting just 17 HR total for a combined 2-year rate of 44.4. In a weak position like SS, Hardy has some upside. If you're rotating through shortstops, now is the time to grab him.

3. Nick Swisher (OF - Yankees) - This season is looking awfully similar to 2008 for Nick Swisher, and its not pretty. Swisher has been mired in a deep slump pretty much since the beginning of the season. He has just 2 HR (one in each month) to go along with his .218 average, .333 OBP, and .303 SLG. Swisher has always been able to draw a walk (21 so far) and his BB% is in line with his career average (15% in 2011 vs career rate of 13.3%). In 2008, Swisher never got it going and only posted one solid month of production with the White Sox. He finished the season hitting .219/.332/.410 with 24 HR, and an EYE of 0.61. The one difference this year versus 2008 is his performance against RHP/LHP. In '08, it was negligble with a .741 OPS against RHP and .746 against LHP. This year, with the caveat that we're still dealing with a small sample size, Swisher has a .543 OPS against RHP (89 AB) and a .911 against LHP (30 AB). So either something is going on with his swing from the left side of the plate or he just happened to be really hot or face cold lefties when he was hitting righty. Because he has a history of prolonged slumps, I don't think this is a buy-low scenario. This is more of a hold and wait-and-see situation for now.

4. Zach Britton (SP - Orioles) - Britton hurled a gem on Thursday, going the distance and allowing just 3 hits with no walks and 5 K's. He is now 6-for-8 in quality starts to start his rookie season to go along with his 2.42 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. There are already grumblings of ROY honors for Britton (which is a little premature after just 8 starts), but he is certainly on his way for making a case for himself. For fantasy purposes, he is pitching well on the Orioles (so the W's may be inconsistent) and the K/9 of 5.02 is low. So, I'm keeping my enthusiasm in-check for now.

5. Melky Cabrera (OF - Royals) - Melky likes hitting in the Bronx, but just in a different uniform. Cabrera tagged the Yankees for a double and a HR, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored yesterday, bringing his series totals to 3-for-12, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, and a SB. Cabrera has been performing well with the Royals, but is still a #3 mixed league fantasy OF option. His OBP of .317 is still below his career rate of .328 and his OPS of .787 is now only slightly higher than his career of .712, mostly due to the two HR's in this recent series (he had a .746 heading to NY). He's been serviceable, but I feel like the recent talk has him slightly overrated in fantasy circles right now.

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