Salary Cap Baseball – Week 9

It doesn’t matter what fantasy game I’m playing or where I am in my league’s standings, I always spend a few minutes each week scrolling through the overall leader boards to get a feel for where I rank amongst the game’s best.  I’m always comparing strategies and starting lineups in an effort to eliminate any gaps in my game.

This morning I noticed that the top three entries in ESPN.com’s Baseball Challenge had something in common.  Each of the current points leaders started Angels center fielder Mike Trout in Week 8, whereas most of us (22.4% to be exact) decided to make Matt Kemp the most owned CF again this week.  Fail!

For the last month Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has been battling a hamstring injury and now he’s headed back to the disabled list.  Two weeks ago I recommend that salary cap owners keep Kemp in their lineups while he spent 15 days on the DL. I was convinced he’d return to the Dodgers lineup as good as new and the numbers he’d put up over the remainder of the first half would justify the short-term setback.

Apparently I wrote a convincing piece because Matt Kemp remained the most owned center fielder during Week 6 (32.2%) and Week 7 (23.8%).  Unfortunately, anyone that took my advice and kept Kemp got burned. Mistakes like this are inevitable in fantasy sports.  The key is not making the same mistake twice.  Kudos to the Weekly Warriors for switching to Trout back in Week 5 and avoiding the whole Kemp fiasco all together.

With only 6 weeks left in the first segment of the game and talks of Kemp missing up to 4 weeks on the DL, it is time to drop Matt Kemp from your ESPN Baseball Challenge lineup.  The 3.9% that already own Mike Trout now have a clear advantage on the rest of the field.  Most owners will not be able to free up the cap space needed to acquire Adam Jones – BAL ($5.8) or Curtis Granderson – NYY ($6.0).  Trout’s average points per game (4.1) is right in line with these guys and at ($4.6) I am adding Mike Trout to both GoPro – ESPN Baseball Challenge lineups for Week 9.  Here’s why:

* During the month of May, Mike Trout hit .324 with 21 Runs, 5 Home Runs, 16 RBI, 11 Walks, and 8 Stolen Bases.  (Stats courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)

* ESPN.com Fantasy Writer Tristan H. Cockroft predicts Trout’s final “pace” stat line will look like this:  .304 AVG, .364 OBP, .522 SLG, 23 HR, 65 RBI, 37 SB, 93 R  (See more on Trout in Tristan’s weekly Hit Parade)

* The Angels hitters have favorable matchups this week.  Three games at home against Seattle and then three on the road at Colorado.  I expect Trout to rebound from his 4 for 17 performance against the Mariners last time out.  Even if he struggles against Felix Hernandez, so what?  It’s worth using him for the games against the Rockies alone.  Colorado has given up the most runs this season and we all know the ball flies at Coors Field.

* Still not impressed?  NBC Sports Hardball Talk Writer Aaron Gleeman reported that the rookie center fielder’s current pace would place him in some exclusive company.  “Trout’s current .887 OPS would be the highest by any 20-year-old since Alex Rodriguez in 1996 and in the entire history of baseball only Rodriguez, Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Al Kaline, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, and Mickey Mantle have posted a higher OPS at age 20 while qualifying for the batting title”.  (See more on why Aaron believes Trout deserves just as much attention as Bryce Harper).

Last week I started fresh with the GoPro 2.0 entry.  My new mix actually outperformed my original GoProFantasySports entry (through Friday) by 32 points and it’s all the Dodgers fault.  Losing Kemp hurt, Chris Capuano’s poor performance on Friday killed, and Giancarlo Stanton out performed Andre Ethier.

I expect Ethier to suffer a bit in Kemp’s absence.  The move to Trout on the GoProFantasySports team lets me add Marlins RF “Mike” Stanton ($5.5).  Over the last 15 days of Baseball Challenge only LF Carlos Gonzalez – COL (90 points) and LF Melky Cabrera – SF (81) have more points than Stanton’s 77.

The move to Trout on the GoPro 2.0 team meant dropping B.J. Upton.  I also picked up the Brewers PS ($6.7).  Their recent performance and next week’s match ups against the Cubs and Padres are hard to pass up.  The extra cap space allows me to add the game’s top producing catcher, Yadier Molina – STL ($5.4).

You may have noticed that I lied last week.  I mistakenly added Jed Lowrie – HOU at SS rather than Zack Cozart – CIN.  This definitely worked out in my favor.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.  I’ll be making the moves I mentioned above on Sunday night just in case the injury bug decides to bite at the last-minute.

Good luck this week.  If you have any salary cap baseball questions email me at goprofantasysports@gmail.com or find me Google+ and Twitter @GoProFS24.

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