Oh, look. It’s already the third week of the fantasy baseball season.
Excuse me while I rapidly check my calendar, assuming that is not at all possible.
Alas, the season does fly bye ever year, and 2014 is no exception. Fantasy owners need to always be on their toes, paying attention to the upcoming schedule. Streaming pitchers is an obvious strategy to use, but targeting hitters with strong matchups is sometimes overlooked, but could really be the difference between a good week and a huge one.
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (vs ATL, @COL)
Like the majority of the Phillies lineup, Howard is clearly declining, but he can still hit the long ball, which is basically what he is looked to do for fantasy teams nowadays. He has just one home run on this young season, but that could very well change this week. Howard and the Phillies play six games this week, three at home, three on the road. And it just so happens that both venues are the two most home run friendly in all of baseball.
First, he’ll host the Braves in a three-game series in Philadelphia, a ballpark that saw the most home runs per game a season ago (1.517). Howard is obviously very comfortable with his home ballpark, and with the Braves rotation depleted due to injury, it makes for a nicer than usual opponent. Also, consider that all three opposing pitchers are right-handed, which is terrific when you consider that Howard is a career .295 batter against right-handed pitching, compared to just .224 against lefties. And over the last three seasons, he has nine homers against the Braves, his second-most against any team during that span.
Finally, he will travel to Coors Field, an obvious hitter-friendly with the altitude and all. Coors has seen top-10 finishes in the home run department in every single season since way back in 2001, and Howard still possesses 25-30 home run power. In just 32 at-bats in Colorado over the last three seasons, Howard has launched three homers and, again, all three opponents are righties.
Howard is only owned in 63 percent of Yahoo! leagues, y’all…
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals (@HOU, vs MIN)
How do I put this nicely? The Royals offense has “lacked confidence” to start the season. Unfortunately, they have also lacked runs, sporting the third-fewest, averaging about three per game. And if Alex Gordon hadn’t launched a homer on Wednesday, this unit would still be the only one in baseball without one. Still, this club has a ton of high-upside, young batters, so I expect them to get on track this week. The pitchers they face are not very good, as guys like Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes will be on the bump, so look for the top Royals batter, Eric Hosmer, to get back on track, too.
Hosmer is going to hit. It’s just going to happen. Remember, this guy tore it up after the All-Star break last year, batting an impressive .323. Five of Kansas City’s six opponents are right-handed, which bodes well for the left-handed Hosmer, who is averaging 30 batting points higher against righties than lefties. The Twins matchup is intriguing to me, as he is batting .273 with seven home runs against them over the last three years. Those seven homers are hi most against any team during that span.