Who are these guys? They’re not household names. You didn’t see them in the all-star game Tuesday night, but they’ve been having near all star seasons. They should be considered our Fantasy Baseball Dugout Midseason Sleepers for 2008.
Catcher — Ryan Doumit (Pirates) — .329 – 11 – 29 – 0
Doumit earned his first starting job this year and he has not disappointed in Pittsburgh. He lost about four weeks of action after suffering a broken left thumb on May 14. Ronny Paulino has been the Bucs’ main catcher the past two seasons, but he got optioned out on June 6 after hitting just .218. 35-year-old Raul Chavez has also spent some time behind the dish, but Doumit is clearly the guy for the rest of the season at this point.
First Baseman — James Loney (Dodgers) — .291 – 7 -50 – 3
Loney was promoted from Las Vegas in June last year and has been playing ever since. He was Baseball America’s “Best Pure Hitter” in 2002 coming out of high school in Houston where he was part of the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program.
Second Baseman — Kelly Johnson (Braves) — .272 – 8 – 38 – 7
After debuting in 2005 as an outfielder, Johnson had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2006 season. He came back in 2007 as a second baseman for the Braves and hit .276-16-68-9.
Third Baseman — Jorge Cantu (Marlins) — .283 – 18 – 54 – 3
Cantu was profiled earlier this season by Fantasy Baseball Dugout. He is back to his 2005 form when he went .286-28-117-1 with Tampa Bay before the Devil Rays foolishly gave up on him. After spending most of 2007 in the bush leagues, Cantu is back with a vengeance for Florida.
Shortstop — Yunel Escobar (Braves) — .286 – 6 – 35 – 2
Escobar got the call from Richmond last June and played three infield positions last year for the Braves where he surprised with a .326 average. He’s earned the full time spot this season at shortstop and continues to improve.
Outfielder — Matt Kemp (Dodgers) — .284 – 9 – 51 – 22
Kemp earned a spot on the opening day roster last year for the first time. He proceeded to hit .342 for the season — fourth highest in Dodger history. He also had 10 homers, 42 RBI, and 10 stolen bases last year. Although his power is average for an outfielder, we like his 22 stolen bases this year. Watch when Kemp hits a homerun; he’ll salute his late brother who died at the age of two. Kemp was our Week 5 Player of the Week.
Outfielder — Xavier Nady (Pirates) — .321 – 12 – 56 – 1
Nady got an at bat in 2000 with the Padres, but then didn’t appear in The Show again until 2003. After a short stint with the Mets, he joined Pittsburgh in 2006. His stats last year were solid at .278-20-72-3, but this year looks like Xavier’s breakout season. His .729 career slugging percentage is a Pac 10 record; the old record holder was Mark McGwire. Nady was our Week 1 Player of the Week.
Outfielder — Cody Ross (Marlins) — .266 – 15 – 48 – 4
Ross missed 11 weeks in 2007 due to injury, but managed to hit .335. He has also had short stints with the Dodgers and Reds. He once batted against golfer Phil Mickelson.
Designated Hitter — Jason Kubel (Twins) — .262 – 13 – 44 – 0
The left-handed hitting Kubel is in his fourth season with the Twins. He smacked 13 homers in 2007, but has already matched that total this season. Kubel also qualifies as an outfielder.
Starting Pitcher — Ricky Nolasco (Marlins) — 10-4 – 3.70 – 1.28
Nolasco was 11-11, 4.82 in 2006 then was limited to just five ML games in 2007. Nolasco hit a homerun for his first major league hit. His brother David is in the Brewers’ organization.
Starting Pitcher — Andy Sonnanstine (Rays) — 10-4 – 4.58 – 1.36
Sonnanstine comes out of Kent State. His lifetime ERA is 5.26, but he has ten wins already for the surprising Rays this season. He led all MLB rookies last year with a strikeouts to walk ratio of 3.73.
Starting Pitcher — Chad Billingsley (Dodgers) — 9-8 – 3.25 – 1.30
Billingsley is in his second full season with the Dodgers. He was both a starter and reliever last year when he went 12-5, 3.31. Was slated to play at University of South Carolina when the Dodgers came calling in the 2002 draft.
Relief Pitcher — Matt Capps (Pirates) — 2-3 – 3.12 – 1.07 – 17
Capps had a surprising 2007 season by earning 9 wins against just one loss while going 3.79. Capps had signed with LSU before deciding to go pro. He was the best man at teammate Zach Duke’s wedding.
Relief Pitcher — Jon Rauch (Nationals) — 4-2 – 2.85 – 1.02 – 17
Rauch has come up big for the Nationals this season and not just because he’s 6’11″. With the Nationals floundering, expect the big man to be dealt for prospects prior to the trading deadline. The Nationals have said that at least ten teams are interested in Rauch’s services. FBD expects Rauch to go to the Red Sox who are in need of his bullpen help and are most likely to put together the best package for the giant National.
Relief Pitcher — Brandon Morrow (Mariners) — 1-2 – 1.76 – 0.88 – 9
Morrow has only been Seattle’s closer for about a month, but he’s been lights out except for two recent outings on July 10 & 12 when he gave up two earned runs each outing to the A’s and Royals respectively. After these two outings, his ERA “ballooned” to 1.80 from a sick 0.63. Right handed hitters are hitting .109 against him (that’s not a misprint). This guy is going to get a lot more chances to save games for the M’s this year.