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Stars of the past week

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Another week of fantasy baseball is gone, the first month of the MLB season is following it Monday, and summer is fast approaching.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of the impending change in seasons is that 2012's first summer blockbuster -- "The Avengers," a movie that promises six super heroes instead of the usual one -- hits theaters on Friday.

Surveying the Avengers' lineup is similar to looking at the stars of the week. There are the superstars you expect will be there all the time, like Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk -- characters who have each carried their own movie -- and then there are the secondary players, akin to Hawkeye and Black Widow.

Let's take a look at the MLB players who wielded enchanted lumber and those who made opposing lineups invisible in the past week.

Catcher

Star: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants - Posey has been red hot all season, but he turned up the power in the past week, socking three home runs, knocking in five runs and scoring six.

Surprise: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox - Salty started out horribly in April and looked to be ceding playing time to Kelly Shoppach, but he crushed opposing pitchers in the previous seven days, blasting three homers with seven RBIs and four runs in 16 at-bats to lock down the No. 1 catcher ranking last week. That barrage came after a 4-for-5 day against the New York Yankees on April 21, so Saltalamacchia has provided solid production for longer than just a week.

First base

Star: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers - The consensus preseason No. 1 player had three homers and eight RBIs while going 7-for-22 with a 1.173 OPS last week.

Surprise: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles - Instead of him continuing an ongoing battle against teammate Mark Reynolds to be the league's whiff king, Davis produced a No. 9 overall ranking last week, first among first baseman. The Orioles' slugger had three homers, seven RBIs and six runs scored.

Second base

Star: Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves - With not much to choose from last week in the pool of star second basemen, Uggla's solid week will have to do. In addition to his one home run, Uggla went 7-for-19 (.368) with seven RBIs.

Surprise: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros - Altuve was the No. 4 overall player last week, first among second basemen. The diminutive second baseman collected 13 hits in 27 at-bats (.481) and had one homer, four RBIs, two steals and eight runs scored.

Third base

Star: David Wright, New York Mets - Wright never let his broken pinkie cool his bat off. In the past seven days, the Mets superstar went 9-for-27 with a homer, six RBIs, two steals and nine runs scored and is now hitting .397 on the season.

Surprise: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays - Encarnacion had quietly been a top roto player over the first few weeks of the season, but his performance in the past three days ensured that he's not flying under the radar anymore. Toronto's DH (eligible at first and third) went 5-for-9 with three home runs, seven RBIs, one steal and five runs scored over the weekend.

Shortstop

Star: Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers - Like second base, star shortstops had a lousy week. Andrus was the only SS ranked in the preseason top 100 who was in that range in the past week, ranking 37th overall largely due to his four steals. He also batted .333, knocked in two runs and scored four.

Surprise: Mike Aviles, Boston Red Sox - Aviles continues to be one of the bigger surprises in all of baseball this season. Though Jacoby Ellsbury's injury was a bane to many fantasy owners, those who have wisely grabbed Aviles have to look at that in a different light. The shortstop replaced Ellsbury at leadoff in Boston's batting order and hasn't stopped hitting since. Last week, he was the top ranked shortstop in Yahoo! leagues, going 8-for-30 with two long balls, five RBIs, one steal and seven runs scored.

Outfield

Star: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds - Bruce is one of the streakier players in baseball and last week, owners caught him on the upswing. The outfielder ranked No. 1 overall with a .476 batting average, four homers, 10 RBIs, two steals and seven runs scored in 21 at-bats.

Star: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies - After not hitting a home run prior to last week, Gonzalez clearly wanted to make up for lost time. He knocked four out of the park along with 11 RBIs, two steals, seven runs scored and a .391 batting average in 23 at-bats to grab the No. 2 overall spot on last week's Yahoo! rankings.

Star: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers - Hamilton didn't crush the ball as well as Bruce or Gonzalez in the past seven days, but he still turned in a solid week, going 6-for-19 with two homers, eight RBIs, one steal and five runs scored.

Surprise: Tony Campana, Chicago Cubs - With Marlon Byrd gone, Campana took over in center field for the Cubs -- and on the base paths for his small ownership base. The 25-year-old stole six bags and hit .421 in 19 at-bats last week, ranking seventh overall in Yahoo! leagues.

Surprise: Jason Kubel, Arizona Diamondbacks - Kubel finally broke out last week after doing virtually nothing the first two. The Diamondbacks outfielder hit .480 (12-for-25) with two homers, seven RBIs and five runs scored.

Surprise: Bryan LaHair, Chicago Cubs - Though he plays first base for the Cubs, LaHair also is eligible in fantasy outfields, and thus qualifies here. The 29-year-old with 3,136 career minor league at-bats went 8-for-19 with two homers, three RBIs and six runs scored last week to raise his batting average on the season to a robust .382.

Starting pitcher

Star: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays - On the strength of a complete game shutout against the Los Angeles Angels, Price was the No. 5 starting pitcher in Yahoo! leagues last week. The lefty won two games while tossing 15 1/3 innings, striking out 12 and recording a 1.17 ERA.

Star: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants - Bumgarner wasn't far behind his fellow southpaw Price in the rankings, turning in 14 2/3 stellar innings (1.23 ERA, 0.82 WHIP) with two wins and 10 strikeouts.

Star: Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs - Garza threw seven shutout innings of one-hit ball with 10 strikeouts on Sunday to give him 14 innings, 15 strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA on the week.

Surprise: Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks - Miley is the surprise of all surprises this week, as he stepped into Daniel Hudson's spot in Arizona's rotation and turned in the week's best pitching stats. Miley didn't allow a run in 12 1/3 innings while striking out 13. He won both games and had a tidy 0.49 WHIP.

Surprise: Chris Capuano, Los Angeles Dodgers - Capuano is now 3-0 on the season after he won two games with a 0.66 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings last week.

Surprise: Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox - This will be the last time Peavy is eligible to appear as a "surprise" because nothing he does from now on should shock any owners. The former Cy Young Award winner continued his impeccable comeback campaign by throwing two complete games last week, allowing one run on seven hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts in 18 innings. Peavy is now 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 0.69 WHIP on the season and should be owned in all leagues.

Relief Pitcher

Star: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves - Kimbrel barely edged Milwaukee's John Axford to post the top numbers among the league's most widely owned closers last week. Kimbrel and Axford both saved three games, but Kimrel's seven strikeouts in three innings made him slightly more valuable than Axford, who fanned three.

Surprise: Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Alfredo Aceves, Boston Red Sox - Casilla was the No. 1 reliever of the past seven days, going 3-for-3 in save opportunities with zero runs allowed and six strikeouts in four innings to strengthen his hold on the Giants' closer role. Jansen, meanwhile, saved two games despite Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's proclamation that Javy Guerra was still his closer. Jansen also struck out seven in four innings and shut out opponents to rank 53rd overall. Like Casilla, Aceves also went 3-for-3 in save chances. The righty gave up eight earned runs in his first three innings this season, so seeing him bounce back with a clean week is quite a shock.



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