“That’s Amore!” National League Central: Full of Third Base Talent
I was trying to think of a specific topic that sets the NL Central apart from any other division. I could have gone many routes, but one thing stuck out more than the others. The National League Central has some of the best third basemen in the game, as well as the fantasy realm. Three (Todd Frazier, Matt Carpenter, & Kris Bryant) are in the top ten for home runs across Major League Baseball. Aramis Ramirez may be on his last legs, but has put together a very impressive career. The last, Josh Harrison, made a name for himself in 2014 and is looking to build on that success. With the exception of Ramirez, all players are owned in over 80% of fantasy leagues. You can’t go wrong with Frazier, Carpenter, or Bryant. If you don’t have one of the top third baseman in the game, Harrison and Ramirez are viable options with Ramirez’s ceiling being much lower than Harrison’s at this point in his career.
|Todd Frazier||CIN||.258 (15th)||12 (1st)||24 (6th)||.346 (9th)||.541 (2nd)|
|Matt Carpenter||STL||.323 (2nd)||8 (T-4th)||27 (T-3rd)||.391 (2nd)||.595 (1st)|
|Kris Bryant||CHC||.285 (6th)||6 (T-9th)||30 (1st)||.399 (1st)||.477 (6th)|
|Josh Harrison||PIT||.261 (14th)||4 (T-19th)||14 (T-23rd)||.291 (16th)||.408 (14th)|
|Aramis Ramirez||MIL||.227 (19th)||5 (T-11th)||14 (T-23rd)||.276 (19th)||.420 (13th)|
Week 7 Fantasy Studs
Jay Bruce [RF – CIN]: Two seasons removed from three straight 30 home run seasons, Bruce struggled last season and has followed suit in 2015. He has always had a high amount of strikeouts, but was able to reward owners with a high number of home runs and RBI. His average (.211) is around where he was last season. I have yet to give up on the power lefty, and he’s shown signs of progression in Week 7. Bruce hit .375 with three walks and three strikeouts in 16 at-bats.
Ryan Braun [RF – MIL]: I was ready to write Braun off, but he’s getting back on track to where he was when he produced five straight 30+ home run seasons with four of the seasons batting well over .300. Last week, he was no slouch hitting .381 with three home runs, 11 RBI, and one stolen base. On the season, Braun is hitting .273 with 12 home runs and 36 runs batted in.
Josh Harrison [3B – PIT]: After a slow start, Harrison is starting to heat up. He’s a player that you could have bought at a low asking price, and the rewards are starting to show. This past week, Harrison hit .455 in 22 at-bats with four RBI and two runs scored. He only had three strikeouts and was able to swipe one base. If you’re looking for a nice addition for a cheap price, give Harrison a look as he could be a spark to your lineup.
Chris Coghlan [LF – CHC]: I don’t know what it is about Coghlan, but he seems to be one of those guys that gets the job done when given the at-bats. I’ve contemplated picking him up a number of times this season, and I wish I would do so already. For a guy owned in less than 3% of fantasy leagues, Coghlan has been able to drive the ball out of the ballpark. Sporting a sexy average has never been his forte, but he’s on pace to have a career year. In week seven, Coghlan hit .294 with three home runs and four RBI. If he keeps producing like he has, he makes Jed and Theo’s job easy when it comes to acquiring a veteran outfielder at the trade deadline.
Anthony DeSclafani [SP – CIN]: His record doesn’t tell the story. DeSclafani has been a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who has given up more than three runs in only two starts this season. Making only one lone start last week, the righty threw seven inning of three hit baseball surrendering only one run. His six strikeouts tied his season high.
Gerrit Cole [SP – PIT]: He’s been on this list week after week and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. Cole has lead the charge for a Pittsburgh rotation that has been as good as any team in the league. With an ERA just north of 2.00, Cole is a young stud that should be owned in redraft and keeper leagues. Last week, Cole won his only start giving up zero earned runs in 8.1 innings pitched. He had 10 strikeouts and walked only one batter. On the season, Cole is 6-2 with a 2.05 ERA. His 63 strikeouts tie him for eighth in the big leagues.
Michael Wacha [SP – STL]: He’s been perfect through nine starts in 2015. He’s been everything the Cardinals could hope for and then some. He’s picked up the slack after Wainwright went out with a season-ending injury, and has supplanted himself as the Cardinals’ ace. In Week seven, we saw Wacha go 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He hasn’t produced a double-digit strikeout performance yet, but he had a 9:4 K:BB last week. If you’re looking to build a young pitching staff for years to come, Wacha and Gerrit Cole should be on the top of your list.
Jason Hammel [SP – CHC]: If you’ve listened to any podcasts, Corey Roberts suggests paying attention to Home/Away splits for many pitchers. Hammel is a perfect example of this notion. At Wrigley, Hammel is 1-0 in four starts with a 2.54 ERA. He sports a 22:3 K:BB, but hasn’t gotten the run support while pitching at home. On the road, Hammel is 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts. His 36:4 K:BB is fantastic. Hammel is the perfect player to target for spot starts or to have in a reserve pitching role. Last week, Hammel went 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts, but had 17 strikeouts to only one walk. There’s a reason why he was resigned, by the Cubs, after being traded around the deadline last season. He simply loves pitching in Chicago, or at least his stats suggest so.
Favorite Matchups Week 8
Tsuyoshi Wada: [vs. WAS & vs. KC] Making his debut in week seven, Wada pitched well. He threw 4.2 innings of work and gave up two earned runs with nine strikeouts. This performance is what the Cubs needed from a fifth starter. The book is still out on Wada after making his MLB debut last season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013. He’s a great pickup, but buyer beware: Wada is a flyball pitcher who tends to make mistake pitches.
Carlos Martinez: [vs. ARI & vs. LAD] The flamethrower has had his ups and downs, but has put together two solid starts in a row. I want to see what Martinez can do against Arizona and Los Angeles, two teams with powerful lineups. If he can string together two more good starts, then it’s a sign that he’s finally commanding his pitches.
Michael Wacha: [vs. LAD] He’s handled every team he’s faced this season, keeping his record perfect. The Dodgers provide the best lineup he’ll see up to this point. Numbers suggest he’s more of a ground ball pitcher, which should come in handy against a team that can hit the ball out of the park at any moment. I see Wacha raising his record to 8-0 after Saturday’s game.
Matt Carpenter: [3 vs. ARI & 3 vs. LAD] He has been spectacular through a quarter of the season. Carpenter is hitting .327 on the season, and even hit .292 in a sub-par week seven. He will miss seeing the Dodgers’ aces and I look for him to continue raking against the Diamondbacks (.371 since 2012) and Dodgers.
Stars of Week Seven:
C – Francisco Cervelli (PIT)
1B – Pedro Alvarez (PIT)
2B – Kolten Wong (STL) & Brandon Phillips (CIN)
3B – Josh Harrison (PIT)
SS – Jung Ho Kang (PIT)
LF – Chris Coghlan (CHC)
CF – Carlos Gomez (MIL)
RF – Ryan Braun (MIL)
SP – Jason Hammel (CHC), Gerrit Cole (PIT), & Michael Wacha (STL)
CL – Francisco Rodriguez (MIL) & Mark Melancon (PIT)