When the Manny Ramirez retirement news broke, I immediately went out and grabbed Sam Fuld in my AL-only league. While he’s highly unlikely to be in the Rays’ long-term plans, he’s capable of producing quality numbers while holding down the fort for Desmond Jennings. He was out of his mind on Monday, posting a double, triple and home run in his first three at-bats. Given a shot at a cycle in his fourth trip to the plate, Fuld smacked another double. The hitting isn’t even the most impressive part of his game; that honor goes to his six stolen bases, good for the American League lead and one off Matt Kemp’s MLB-leading seven. Once the Rays offense hits its stride, Fuld could benefit the most as the team’s leadoff hitter. A must-own in mono-leagues and worth a look for speed-strapped mixed-league teams, Fuld is the Pickup of the Week.
Alex Avila, DET (22 percent owned). The Tigers backstop got out to a slow start, collecting only one hit in his first three games. He’s been on fire since, with six hits in 18 at-bats and three homers to boot. If he can continue with that power stroke, he’ll be mighty valuable in fantasy leagues all year. It’s not unheard of, as he did manage five dingers in 61 at-bats back in 2009.
Also: Nick Hundley (18 percent), Wilson Ramos (2 percent).
Lance Berkman, STL (37 percent). The Cardinals outfielder hit his first two homers of the season on Monday, then followed up the performance with another homer on Tuesday. Considering he’ll be hitting behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday all year, he should enjoy a healthy stat-line by season’s end. With outfield eligibility as well, it’s time to boost his ownership rating.
Also: Matt LaPorta (12 percent), Brett Wallace (5 percent).
Orlando Hudson, SD (7 percent). It’s quite possible Hudson was a name you’d forgotten heading into the 2011 season, but he’s doing his best to make you remember. In the midst of an eight-game hitting streak, Hudson has actually collected multiple hits in each of his last three games and four of his last five overall. He also grabbed three steals over that stretch, making him a three-category (with runs) threat.
Also: Ryan Raburn (45 percent), Angel Sanchez (17 percent).
Angel Sanchez, HOU (17 percent). Sanchez wasn’t expected to be much of a fantasy options while filling in for Clint Barmes at shortstop, but he’s proving everyone wrong. Over the past week, only Shane Victorino has collected more hits than Sanchez, who is coming off a 4-for-5 day that raised his average to .395. He’s also contributed a homer and a steal so far.
Also: Maicer Izturis (40 percent), Ryan Theriot (18 percent).
David Freese, STL (36 percent). Freese has been unstoppable in his last three games, collecting seven hits in 12 at-bats, including two home runs. While the power is likely to tail off, he is capable of boosting a fantasy team’s batting average, and his RBI opportunities should be plentiful if he continues to hit sixth.
Also: Edwin Encarnacion (10 percent), Wilson Betemit (2 percent).
Corey Patterson, TOR (1 percent). Patterson has been called upon to replace Rajai Davis, who hit the DL on April 11 with a right ankle strain, and the former Cub has gotten out to a fast start. In his first two starts Patterson has already managed four hits, one run, one homer, four RBIs and a stolen base. He’s an excellent short-term pickup while Davis heals.
Also: Fuld, Berkman, LaPorta, Raburn, Jonny Gomes (20 percent), Johnny Damon (9 percent), Chris Coghlan (9 percent).
Chris Narveson, MIL (39 percent). Take away Narveson’s 4.99 ERA from last year and his numbers actually look quite good: 12-8 record, 137 strikeouts and 59 walks in 167.2 innings. He’s hit the ground running in 2011, shutting out the Braves and Cubs while racking up 14 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. While I seriously doubt he can morph into a top fantasy option this season, we may as well ride the hot streak while it lasts.
Also: Jeremy Guthrie (46 percent), Zach Britton (43 percent), Chris Young (32 percent), Justin Masterson (27 percent), Esmil Rogers (11 percent), Jeff Francis (7 percent).
Kyle Farnsworth, TB (34 percent). Considering how much of a premium is placed on saves, Kyle Farnsworth is surprisingly available in two-thirds of fantasy leagues in the Yahoo rotosphere. Farnsworth has collected both of Tampa Bay’s saves this year and has looked good doing it, with his only run allowed of the year coming in Tampa Bay’s 16-5 blowout of the Red Sox this week.
Also: SP Alexi Ogando (37 percent), Chris Sale (44 percent), Jason Motte (12 percent), Aaron Crow (6 percent), Sergio Santos (2 percent).
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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