Stars of the past week

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last week was a banner one for third baseman, as four players ranked in the top 13 overall players.

Too bad not one of them was owned in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Chipper Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Kyle Seager and Chris Johnson each dominated the week for 20-45 percent of owners, but likely were left floating in an inner tube in the free agent pool in shallow leagues.

In fact, the entire list of top third basemen from the past week mirrors the list of widely available players at that position.

The only player in the top 150 overall players from the past week who we would consider highly touted is Hanley Ramirez at No. 39, and he didn't exactly have a week to write home about. Ramirez hit .250 with one home run, seven RBIs, five runs scored and two steals while carrying a .732 OPS.

Listen to these other names on the list of top third basemen in the past seven days. Mark Reynolds, Chad Tracy, Cody Ransom, Will Middlebrooks, Sean Rodriguez and Chris Davis all had excellent weeks while the likes of Jose Bautista (No. 178) and David Wright (No. 265) struggled to make an impact.

Though owners likely didn't draw much production from third base last week, plenty of other positions had widely owned players who were able to pick up the slack, and as always there were a few surprises along the way as well.


Expected: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles - Wieters' defense behind the plate is widely acclaimed in Major League Baseball, and his bat has finally caught up to that. With an OPS of .983, seven homers and 18 RBIs in 93 at-bats, Wieters in the No. 2 catcher in Yahoo! leagues. Last week, he claimed the same spot by going 10-for-27 with a homer, three RBIs and seven runs scored.

Surprise: Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies - Wieters was forced to accept second place at the catcher position last week because Ruiz, affectionately referred to as "Chooch" by Phillies fans, slugged his way to No. 1. Ruiz went 8-for-24 (.333) with two home runs and 11 RBIs on the strength of a seven-RBI performance in an extra-inning game against Atlanta on May 2.

First base

Expected: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves - Freeman has been our star at first base in two out of three weeks. Last week, he was the No. 4 overall player, going 11-for-30 (.367) with three homers, 10 RBIs and six runs scored.

Surprise: Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox - It's safe to say that Dunn is back. The Big Donkey was arguably the worst player in baseball in 2011, but he's stormed back this season. His resurgence took more shape last week when he clubbed four homers. Dunn has hit five longballs in the past seven games, giving him nine on the year -- he hit 11 in 415 at-bats last season.

Second base

Expected: Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians - The Indians second baseman went 10- for-22 with two homers, six RBIs, six runs scored and two steals last week to take control of the No. 1 spot among second basemen on the season. Since April 21, Kipnis is 22-for-52 (.423) with two home runs, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases.

Surprise: Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox - Beckham's time as a fantasy relevant second baseman has come and gone after he burned many owners with a terrible sophomore campaign, but he turned it up last week. In 20 at-bats, Beckham hit .400 and had two home runs and five RBIs with one stolen base.

Third base

Expected: None

Surprise: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves, Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners, Chris Johnson, Houston Astros - As mentioned above, a surprise cast of characters lead the charge at third base last week. Jones went 9-for-21 (.429) with two home runs and nine RBIs, Alvarez hit .364 with three bombs and eight RBIs and Seager and Johnson had three homers and 10 RBIs apiece. Aside from the steady Jones, the most intriguing player in the bunch is Alvarez, a former No. 2 overall draft choice who struggled mightily last season and then went 1-for-24 to start the year. Since April 18, the Pirates third baseman is batting .340 (18-for-53) with four doubles, six homers, 14 RBIs, eight walks and 11 runs scored while striking out just 14 times.


Expected: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs- The 22-year-old Castro continued his hot start last week, batting .407 (11-for-27) with his first homer of the season, five RBIs, five runs scored and a stolen base.

Surprise: Jed Lowrie, Houston Astros - Lowrie has returned with a bang for Houston, batting .333 with four home runs and 12 RBIs after missing the first week. In the past seven days, Lowrie had 10 hits, two home runs, six RBIs and six runs scored.


Expected: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies - After grabbing the No. 2 overall ranking last week, Gonzalez obviously wasn't satisfied. This week, the Colorado star slugged three more home runs while driving in nine runs, scoring six runs and batting .391 to claim the No. 1 overall spot in the past seven days.

Expected: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers - Braun dealt with a sore Achilles tendon in the middle of the week, but that didn't stop him from posting top-10 numbers. Last week, Braun left the park four times while knocking in seven runs.

Expected: Hunter Pence, Philadelphia Phillies - Pence had his best week of the season after slumping to start the year. The Phillies outfielder went 10-for-30 with three home runs, nine RBIs, seven runs scored and a stolen base.

Surprise: Bryan LaHair, Chicago Cubs - LaHair continues to rake at first base for the Cubs, but, like I said last week, he also is eligible in the outfield in fantasy. The 29-year-old is making the most of his first full-time gig at the major league level. Last week, he hit .409 while hitting three homers in 22 at-bats. The performance raised his batting average to .390 on the season.

Surprise: Cameron Maybin, San Diego Padres - Maybin has struggled in San Diego after a breakout second half in 2011, batting around .200 with just one homer this year. However, he showed signs of breaking out last week, when he had seven hits in 17 at-bats while swiping five bases.

Surprise: Eric Hinske, Atlanta Braves - Hinske made the most of a few spot starts last week, collecting two four-hit games and producing 10 hits, one homer and four RBIs in 16 at-bats overall.

Starting pitcher

Expected: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners - By his standards, 2011 was a down year for King Felix (3.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP). He appears to be back to his Cy Young Award form this season, especially in his two starts last week. In 16 innings, Hernandez gave up just six hits -- he tossed eight shutout innings of one-hit ball against the Twins on May 5 -- and one run while striking out 18.

Expected: Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels - Weaver threw a no-hitter against Minnesota in his only start last week to grab the No. 2 spot among starting pitchers.

Surprise: Joe Blanton, Philadelphia Phillies - The forgotten man in the Phillies' rotation threw a complete game shutout last week against Atlanta, striking out six and giving up just three hits.

Surprise: Jerome Williams, Los Angeles Angels - Like Blanton, Williams also threw a surprise complete game shutout last week, and, like Hernandez and Weaver, his dominance was also at the expense of the Minnesota Twins. He followed that up by earning a win against Toronto with 6 2/3 strong innings, finishing the week 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.

Relief pitcher

Expected: Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians- Perez has put his Opening Day blown save far behind him by giving up just one run in his last 12 innings and going 11-for-11 in save opportunities to lead the league in saves. Last week, Perez picked up four saves with a spotless ERA, 0.55 WHIP and two strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings to rank as the No. 1 reliever.

Surprise: Brett Myers, Houston Astros - Myers has excelled in his second go- round as a full-time closer, picking up seven saves with a 1.04 ERA and 0.58 WHIP. In the past seven days, Myers saved three games while allowing only one batter to reach base in three innings.

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