Billy Hamilton (OF-CIN) - Billy Hamilton hit his 3rd homerun in the last 7 days and now has 4 roundtrippers on the season. After a slow start, the Reds' speedster has stolen 14 bases and hit a respectable .267/.308/.392 since May 1. Hamilton's owners didn't draft him for the power so the homeruns are a nice bonus to go along with his 25 stolen bases, good for the 2nd highest total in the big leagues. Another reason for optimism lies with his .299 BABIP and 23% line drive rate. Traditionally, speed-based players have higher BABIPs due to their ability to beat out more balls in play (i.e. infield hits). As a general rule of thumb, most batters can expect to have a BABIP roughly 12% higher than their line drive percent. In Hamilton's case, that means his current BABIP is under-stated by at least 50 points (not even factoring in the higher numbers that speed guys usually have). If he can start turning his luck around, he'll be able to get on base more frequently and offer more opportunities to steal bases. I'm considering Billy Hamilton a strong buying opportunity.
Anthony Rizzo (1B-CHC) - Anthony Rizzo smacked his 14th homerun of the season and is now on pace for 34 homeruns and 90 RBIs to go along with a strong slash of .282/.406/.509. The biggest surprise for the young slugger is the drastic improvement that he has made with his approach at the plate. Going into the season, Rizzo's walk rate was around the league average, but this year, he's 7th in baseball by walking in nearly 16% of his plate appearances. He has seen a slight rise to his strikeout rate, but he remains near the league average of 19%. Rizzo's power plays well in the friendly hitter confines of Wrigley Field and will continue to provide good power to fantasy owners as the weather heats up and the wind blows out on Chicago's North Side.
Pablo Sandoval (3B-SF) - "The Panda" crushed his 9th homerun and 34th RBI of the season on Sunday afternoon. Since the calendar turned to May, Pablo Sandoval has been on fire, hitting 7 of his 9 homeruns and posting a batting average north of .300. It was widely publicized that Sandoval came into spring training significantly lighter than previous years. During his early season slump, there were many theories that he would not be the same type of hitter without the weight, but it looks like he's successfully quieted those concerns. Hitting a baseball is an art and a significant change to the body can easily throw off a hitter's timing or mechanics. It's likely that Sandoval just needed to get used to his new body. I'm confident he will provide enough production to be considered one of the best 3rd baseman the rest of the season.
Troy Tulowitzki (SS-COL) - Troy Tulowitzki returned to the starting lineup on Sunday and launched his 18th homerun on the season. If he can remain healthy for an entire year (he hasn't played more than 150 games since 2009), he will be on pace for his first 40-homerun season. The shortstop has a fantastic 0.97 batting EYE and is currently the only player with an OPS above 1.000. Tulo fell to the second round of most drafts amid concerns over his durability, so he has provided a great return so far this year. It's not wise to count on a full-season from him, but even if he has a season shortened with injuries, he will provide enough production while on the field to finish as a top shortstop option. I wouldn't be selling Tulowitzki for anything less than Mike Trout in any fantasy league.
Joey Votto (1B-CIN) - Since returning from the disabled list, Joey Votto has hit .320 with 3 doubles and 3 RBI. On the season, he has walked the same amount of times he has struck out (36) and currently has the highest contact rate of his career at 83%. While the .270 batting average isn't quite as high as what fantasy owners were expecting and hoping to receive, there's a reason to expect this number to rise as his luck begins to swing the other direction. Despite a 25% LD rate, Votto's BABIP is sitting at just .307. For his career, his BABIP has been around .360 while his LD rate sat around the same 25% benchmark. To illustrate his bad luck, if Votto had just 5 of his batted balls fall for hits instead of outs, his batting average would be back over .300. If you still have the opportunity to buy low on Votto, I would jump at the chance.
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