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Stealthy Ninjas are back, and on the heels of last week’s A’s edition, we’ve got a Royals edition.
Shudder. But the fantasy baseball stats don’t lie. … Except in the case of Royals starting pitcher Brian Bannister. The 2003 seventh-round draft pick has been all sorts of pitcher this season.
Over four starts from May 19 to June 3 Bannister was an unholy team-killer. He allowed 22 runs in 20.2 innings — and that was with a 2-earned-run no-decision mixed in. However, in the six starts sandwiching that bad stretch he’s allowed just seven runs.
So, is Bannister a team killing-fantasy saboteur who deserves a blade in the kidney, or will he provide marginal aid for the ERA-challenged?
Unfortunately for us fantasy owners, Bannister only produces about 4 Ks per start so his only value is in the IPs, Ws and the pitching averages. Playing for the Royals virtually eliminates him from consistent win-producer status.
The right-hander is a spot-starter in all but the deepest fantasy leagues who will be consistently valuable in only one or two categories a week.
Some other Stealthy Ninjas, according to ownership rates in Yahoo leagues, starting with this week’s hitters:
Miguel Olivo, C, Royals (4%) Key stats: .381 average, 4 HR, 7 R, 8 RBI, 1 SB
- Advice: In 2006 and 2007, Olivo hit 16 homers, career highs. He’s on pace to break that this season, and currently in a 3-way tie for second on the team in Kansas City. However, to hope his .381 BA continues is very wishful thinking because he’s a career .242 hitter. If you’re playing a catcher of the week, you probably have some flailing ninja filling the spot next to C on your roster. Olivo would be the C du jour right now.
Alberto Callaspo, 2B, SS, Royals (24%) Key stats: .522 AVG, 6 R, 2 HR, 8 RBIs, 0 SB
- Advice: One of the few Royals I would own on one of my fantasy teams, Callaspo hit his first career grand slam Wednesday. That skews the RBI total a bit, but the .522 is pretty impressive. Looking at his minor league stats, I wouldn’t consider it a stretch for him to pop out 10-15 homers and 10-15 steals with a .320 average in his career. He hasn’t shown any speed yet this year and looks like he’ll be on the low end of those power numbers, but the average and dual-MI eligibility works.
Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins (25%) Key Stats: .440, 5 R, 3 HR 6 RBI
- Advice: Those expectations will never be met, but he’s a serviceable fantasy outfielder, and a potential starter in deep leagues. I gave up on him in one league weeks ago, but he’s hitting .276 with 8 homers and 29 RBIs. he raised his average nearly 30 points in five games, but then was held hitless against Toronto on Sunday.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Padres (10%) Key Stats: .375, 3 R, 2 HR, 11 RBI
- Advice: Who doesn’t want to recommend Kouzmanoff. Just say it, Kouzmanoff. Nice, right? But what marginal help Kouzmanoff will bring to you in power, he will sabatoge you right in the batting average. Despite his recent scorching performance, he’s still only hitting .235 and is a career .259 hitter.
Cody Ross, OF, Marlins (20%) Key Stats: .407, 6 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI
- Advice: Take away his third grand slam of the season and those numbers don’t look that impressive. But, then again, he already has three grand slams this season. That ties the club record held by Bobby Bonilla and Jeff Conine. Ross cut his teeth for years, did well in his first regular-playing time situation last year and has been solid this year. I like him for 25 homers, 85 RBIs, 10 steal and a .270 average this season.
Jose Contreras, SP, White Sox (7%) Key stats: 16.0 IP, 2 W, 11 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP.
- Advice: Since his return from Triple-A punishment, Contreras has been an impressive assassin. He started 0-5 with an 8.19 ERA, so his demotion was necessary. He won’t keep up the torrid pace, there will be a good correction for him the rest of the season, but he’s better as a spot starter. And, for some reason, I really like his matchup Thursday at the Cubs.
Brad Bergerson, SP, Orioles (4%) Key stats: 17.0 IP, 2 W, 9 K, 1.06 ERA, 0.71 WHIP
- Advice: Dynasty leaguers, gather around for an important announcement. Go get Bergerson now. He’s not going to strike out the world, but the Orioles’ rookie is 3-0 in his last four starts with a 1.69 ERA. the stretch has dropped his average from 5.49 to 3.79. With Luke Scott hitting a homer every other day, and that lineup still primed to heat up, I’d say wins are on the way.
Scott Baker, SP, Twins (52%) Key Stats: 15 IP, 1 W, 13K, 3.06 ERA, 0.67 WHIP
- Advice: Baker was coveted by several owners in two of my leagues this year. I didn’t see why, but I also don’t understand why he’s only owned in 52 percent of leagues now. He’s 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in his last 4 starts. That includes a 10 K game and an 8 K game. He’s got 62 strikeouts in 74 innings so far this season.
Jason Hammel, SP, Rockies (1%) Key Stats: 11.1 IP, 2 W, 11 K, 2.38 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
- Advice: He’s not an inning eater, or a master of K. His ERA, WHIP and batting average against tell me he’s playing mindgames. But, he’s 4-0 in his last five starts, including 3 wins in a row and a 3.53 ERA. I wouldn’t play him against a team stacked with mashers, but he appears to have spot-start capabilities.
Sean West, SP, Marlins (8%) Key Stats: 13.2 IP, 2 W, 6 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.80 WHIP
- Advice: A 2005 draft pick, the rookie has five starts this season. In two of his last three West gave up 7 runs in 10 innings. The game in between he pitched 8 innings of shutout ball and struck out 6 San Francisco Giants. Like Bergerson, West is a pickup for dynasty leaguers, but the Marlins lefty will have a more rocky 2009.
What do you think? Is Ross worth a pickup? Why is Baker so available? What players have you targeted? Let us know in the comments, or visit our forums and start a conversation.