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A.L. West

“In Lou Of”- West Coast Notes entering week 3

Well, we are almost two full weeks through the MLB season and the only thing I can say with complete certainty is that no one is going to win 162 games. We have already been treated to some miraculous defensive plays, incredible pitching performances and seen a rookie make history by hitting 7 HR in his first 6 career games. The new slide rule has come into effect a few times already as well, handing teams “walk off wins” that really aren’t deserved. Hopefully the players will adjust to the rule sooner rather than later or perhaps the MLB will make necessary adjustments.

Now it’s time to focus specifically on the MLB’s western divisions. There are a number of players with either noteworthy or lackluster performances so far this season and I’m going to discuss their impacts not only on their MLB club but also on fantasy rosters. Before doing so, lets take a look at the NL West and AL West standings as of April 14th.

Batters:

1B: Tyler White- HOU:

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He was a long shot to make the team out of spring training, having to compete with Astros top prospect A.J. Reed for the starting 1B spot. White shined throughout the spring and made the opening day roster. He has done nothing but hit so far this season, taking home AL player of the week honors in week one of the season. Although he isn’t a highly touted prospect, White has hit at every level of the minor leagues and drove in 99 RBI in 2015. He is a pure hitter with surprising power. His entire professional career he has always had to look over his shoulder, knowing he could be replaced at anytime and this season is no different. Only time will tell if he can keep up his production at the MLB level, one thing is for sure, this is a great Cinderella story and it goes to show that hard work pays off.

2B: D.J. LeMahieu-COL:

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He has been over shadowed by the historic start of team-mate Trevor Story, however, LeMahieu deserves some love too. He has at least 1 hit in his first 8 games, 2 HR and a .464 BA and is coming off a career year in 2015. Hitting in Colorado obviously helps but it is worth noting that D.J. is 27 years old this season and if history tells us anything, it’s that this is when most players enter their prime. He was drafted later than some of the big names at the 2B position and could prove to be one of the best draft day bargains by seasons end.

RF: Matt Kemp-SD:

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The last few seasons Kemp has gotten off to slow starts and fantasy owners appear ready to cut him or trade him. Like clock work, after the all-star break he seems to turn it around, have an incredible 2nd half and end the season with very good stats. Although it’s only been 2 weeks, Kemp is off to a strong start this season and if he can continue hit on a consistent basis in the early stages of 2016, he could be primed for the best season he’s had in years. If the Padres find themselves out of contention come late July, don’t be surprised if Kemp is traded. It is well documented that San Diego is a tough ball park for hitters so moving away from there and moving to a team with a better lineup than the Padres, will only add to Kemps value.

RF: Kole Calhoun/1B: Albert Pujols: LAA:

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This is a tale of two very different starts. While Calhoun is hitting .387 and has a hit in every game this year but one, Pujols is hitting just .176 and has no HR.
Calhoun set a career high in HR last season but did see a dip in his avg. I expect his avg to rise in 2016 and he should still hit 23-26 HR. He is currently hitting behind Pujols in the Angels batting order and will benefit when Albert starts to get on base more frequently.
Pujols did hit 40 HR last season, however his avg was only .244 to go with a dreadful .307 OBP. The Angels can only go as far as Trout, Pujols and Calhoun will take them so it’s crucial that Albert is able to get back to being productive at the dish.

Pitchers:
SP: Taijuan Walker- SEA:

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In 2015 there was tons of hype surrounding Walker as a top pitching prospect, not only in the Mariners minor league system but across MLB as well. He struggled with his command and had a horrible 1st half of the season, leaving fantasy owners wondering if he was all that he was made out to be. His 2nd half of 2015 was definitely better and his first 2 starts this season have been quite good. I still question whether you should be starting him every time he pitches or if you should be playing the favorable match ups. It’s usually a safe bet to start him when he’s pitching at home and if he can improve on his strike out totals from the first couple starts, he may prove to be a solid fantasy option in 2016.

CL: Sean Doolittle- OAK:

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Doolittle missed a lot of the 2015 season due to injuries and although he is healthy in 2016, he’s gotten off to a rocky start. He’s given up a bunch of runs already in the 9th inning and Oakland has even decided to give set up Ryan Madson a few save opportunities already this season. Madson has been near perfect in those appearances and if Doolittle continues to struggle, Madson may take over the 9th inning role for good. This is a situation to monitor closely if you own either one of these players. I like to look at closers the same way I do with RB in football. It’s always good to handcuff players with their “back ups” and this appears to be the perfect handcuff situation in the early going.

SP: Kenta Maeda-LAD:

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Traditionally when pitchers come over from Japan they enjoy immediate success for a season or two. This is usually because the hitters aren’t familiar with them. So far Maeda is no exception to this. In his first 2 starts this season he has thrown 12 innings, allowing no runs, has a WHIP under 1.00 and has added 8 strikeouts. Of course, at some point he is going to allow a run to score, however Dodgers fans and owners who took a risk on drafting him should be very enthused by his performance thus far. He can throw his fastball in the mid-high 90’s and has only walked one batter, showing very good command of all his pitches. He was one of the bigger question marks in the Dodgers rotation entering 2016 and clearly to this point he has shown that he is up to the challenge of replacing Zack Greinke.

SP: Jake Peavy- SFG:

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Yes, Peavy has had great success in his career pitching in the NL West, however, he is now 34 years old and is a much different pitcher than he was when he won the CY Young award with San Diego many years ago. His first 2 starts of 2016 have been a complete disaster. He has allowed 10 runs in only 9 innings pitched and has allowed 22 base runners. He clearly is having trouble getting people out and if he continues to struggle this much, it won’t be long before he is replaced in the rotation by swing man Chris Heston. Of course, it is early so I preach caution, but it’s difficult to ignore his 2.44 WHIP.

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday April 14th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #9 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Our Thursday night show will do some weekly recaps, player updates, and preview the coming week-end games.

Our guests this week is Bryan Luhrs, and Calvin Martin, Jr. Bryan is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com and the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports. Calvin is a veteran owner in MLFB leagues, and the commish of MLFB3.

“You can find our show on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section.”

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday April 17th, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. Every week we will do a quick recap of Fr-Sat games, and a forecast of Monday through Thursday’s games.

Our guests this week are Marc Foster and Zak Sauer. Marc has been an owner in MLFS leagues 8+ years, a 3-time champion, and former writer with MLFS. He will be a frequent guest this year on our baseball shows. Zak is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com, the co-host of Major League Fantasy Football weekly, and the co-host of “Sports Talk” with Lou Landers every Monday.

“You can find our show on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section.”

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