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Fantasy: Summer not a magic formula for hitting

| Sunday, May 4, 2008

As the weather heats up, so do major-league hitters. At least that's how the saying goes.

But that's not always the case. While a year ago, the average number of runs per game went up each month of the season, it only takes a look back to 2006 to see that fluctuations are common:

Month '08 '07 '06
March/April 4.54 4.54 4.93
May ??? 4.65 4.84
June ??? 4.81 4.80
July ??? 4.81 5.17
August ??? 4.95 4.68
Sept./Oct. ??? 5.00 4.76

The moral of the story: Don't be eager to trade your pitchers for hitters. And don't expect your hitters to suddenly spike in production come summer.

If anything, you might be able to pry some pitchers away from your competitors who believe the "summer time" theory.

Smoltz back to closing?

It's rare that an injured player turns into a hot trade commodity, but that is exactly what is happening after Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz said this week he would be amenable to a return to the bullpen when he comes off the disabled list. The Braves need a closer and it would be one way for the aging Smoltz to get more life out of his arm. See if you can pry him away from an opponent on the cheap while Smoltz is out.

Hot pickups
Name Team Pos.
Carlos Quentin CWS OF
Josh Hamilton TEX OF
J.Saltalamacchia TEX C
Freezing Cold
Name Team Pos.
Kenji Johjima SEA C
A.J. Burnett TOR SP
Bretty Myers PHI SP

By the numbers

22 RBIs for Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz entering Saturday despite a .198 batting average. By contrast, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton managed only 10 RBIs despite a .277 average and one more at-bat than Ortiz. Amazing what a good spot in a great lineup will do for a player.

Unsure about Scherzer

Hitters strike out against Arizona righty Max Scherzer like an overweight sportswriter at a Victoria's Secret party. He throws a hard fastball with some sinking action that mixes with a competent changeup and slider. But the 23-year-old hasn't been immune to struggles during his short pro career -- his 3.91 ERA during a stint in Double-A last season proved that. He's a hot pick who will make his first major-league start Monday, but expect a few bumps in the road along the way. Think 4.00 ERA.

Galarraga no stud

Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga is off to a quick start in the majors (1.88 ERA and 15 strikeouts in four starts). But he's also the same guy who had a career 4.13 ERA in the minors entering 2008 and already missed a year (2002-03) to Tommy John surgery and another half season (2006) to "elbow soreness." Don't get too excited.

Quick pick:

Andy Sonnanstine

Forgotten because he pitches in Tampa Bay, Sonnanstine should not be missed on your fantasy team. His stellar minor-league career (40-18, 2.58 ERA, 463 strikeouts and 75 walks) suggests that the 25-year-old is a quality big-league pitcher. His strikeout-to-walk rate for Tampa Bay in 2007 (97-to-26) says the same. Now he just has to limit the homers. He starts twice this week.

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