Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
As we approach the All-Star break, some All-Stars are not playing up to par, while some non-All-Star invitees are putting up big-time statistics.
Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs - Ramirez is as hot as he's been in a couple years, hitting five homers in the first five days of July. His power suddenly returned in June (eight homers) and has continued into the first week of the new month. Over his long career, he's hit more home runs in July that any other month, so keep him on your roster and resist the temptation to trade him. He should keep playing well, assuming he stays healthy, through the month of August (career OPS 0.896) as well.
B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay - Upton has always been a better baseball player than fantasy asset. While he continues to struggle with his batting average, he is amassing solid totals in home runs and stolen bases, the magical speed and power combination that fantasy owners salivate over. In the past two weeks he's posted an OPS of 1.106, 376 points above his season-long average. This is the perfect moment to trade him, while his value is at its zenith.
Mark Reynolds, Baltimore - Reynolds has raised his batting average 40 points since June 1st and his OPS from an ugly 0.672 to a solid 0.859. That includes seven home runs in the last nine games as Reynolds has finally gotten into the groove. He's no longer a threat to steal 20 bases, but he is showing the power numbers that made him valuable, particularly at such a weak fantasy position as third base. If he's not on a roster in your league, put him on yours and ride out this hot streak.
David Ortiz, Boston - Interleague play, and his lack of playing time, has hurt Ortiz's value more than any other player in the league. Since embarking on a road trip that had the Red Sox in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Houston, Ortiz has gotten just 17 at-bats and not coincidently, just two measly base hits. He's homer-less in his last 18 games. The good news is that interleague play is done for the year, but if you draft/keep "Big Papi" in 2012, remember this situation and prepare for it by having another solid first base option on your roster.
Jay Bruce, Cincinnati - There was no hotter hitter in the National League during May than Bruce (12 HR, 33 RBI, OPS 1.140) and no one colder than the Reds' outfielder over the past month. In the last 25 games, Bruce is batting a paltry .156 with one home run and just five RBIs. That's Bruce in a nutshell and you should have known this when you drafted him. For his career, July is by far his worst month from a production standpoint, but he also turns it around and usually has a good August (career OPS 0.878) and a great September (OPS 1.039). Now is not the time to panic and "sell low."
Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee - Weeks doesn't steal bases like he did a few years ago, but he's added more power to his repertoire. The Brewers' second baseman is on pace similar to last season when he posted a career-high 29 home runs. He's been particularly good at Miller Park (2011 home OPS 0.886 vs. 2011 road OPS 0.752). Unfortunately, over the past two week he's hit just .200 with an OPS of 0.558. It could be time to platoon him, playing him only in Milwaukee, until he returns to form.