Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It was 33 years ago today that one of the great film directors who ever lived, Alfred Hitchcock, died at the age of 80 in his home in Bel Air, Calif.
In today's piece we honor his effort behind the camera with players who represent some of his greatest works:
Lifeboat (1944) - The Yankees are missing Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez from their lineup yet the team remains competitive. One of the primary reasons is the play of DH Travis Hafner. Thought to be at the end of his career due to injuries which have kept him primarily on the sidelines since 2007, Hafner has surprised everyone by playing at an extremely high level. Through his first 20 games, Hafner is batting .305 with six home runs, 14 RBI and a 1.117 OPS. And the good news is that he's still owned in less than 40 percent of all Yahoo fantasy leagues. If you are searching for some offense, look no further.
Spellbound (1945) - Media and fantasy owners marvel at what Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper can do at 20 years old. After a rookie season in which he was overshadowed by Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Harper has started 2013 as if he wants to show everyone who really is the best young player in the game. Harper has been a fantasy stud from opening day when he blasted a pair of home runs, and after the first 24 games he's batting .360 with 18 runs, nine homers, 18 RBI and a league-leading 1.200 OPS. As a late second-round pick on draft day (Yahoo ADP 19), Harper may end up being the steal of the draft.
Notorious (1946) - It wasn't long ago that Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was talking about whether he could reach his goal of 50 homers and 50 stolen bases in a season. It was 2011, actually, and he had just produced a 39- homer, 126-RBI, 40-stolen base year that had fantasy owners salivating. Injuries ruined his 2012 season, and offseason shoulder surgery before this season seems to have robbed the Dodgers' slugger of his power. He has just one home run in 2013 and a total of six extra base hits which has produced an ugly .669 OPS. Hopefully, the shoulder will get stronger and his power stroke will return, but fantasy owners must be concerned for a player who is historically a fast starter.
Stage Fright (1950) - The Minnesota Twins were willing to move two center fielders in the offseason (Denard Span and Ben Revere) because they were confident that rookie Aaron Hicks could get the job done. Unfortunately, he started his first major league season by going a chilly 2-for-48 (.042) and even after a modest five-game hitting streak is still batting just .118 through his first 20 games. If the 23-year-old can mentally weather this storm, he might become the player the Twins, and fantasy owners, were expecting.
To Catch a Thief (1955) - Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is also an excellent base runner, who has a career 78.9 percent success rate. It's the blend of speed and power (63 steals and 74 homers over the past two seasons) which makes Braun a top-five fantasy pick every year. He's still producing the long ball (seven homers in 20 games), but he's been caught three of the four times he's tried to steal a base. We don't expect that to continue, but for now he's better off staying put until he figures out the problem.
The Wrong Man (1956) - After a mediocre 2012 season (.242, 20 homer, 73 RBI) many experts thought 2013 would be the year that Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas would finally show off his considerable talents and become a serious offensive force. Instead, the second overall pick of the 2007 MLB amateur draft has fallen backward. He's batting just .169 with no home runs and just two RBI in 20 games.
Vertigo (1958) - While all around him the Yankees' world seems to be spinning in hundreds of directions at once, closer Mariano Rivera continues his journey that will ultimately end up as a first-year Hall of Fame selection. Despite injuries to half of New York's starting lineup, the one constant is Rivera's ability to successfully finish a game. He's made 10 appearances in 2013 (after missing most of 2012 with a knee injury) and has earned nine saves in nine opportunities.
North by Northwest (1959) - The Seattle Mariners have displayed a renewed interest in actually competing in the tough AL West brought on by the influx of new talent. Michael Morse has brought power to the Mariners' lineup and right- hander Hisashi Iwakuma has become an excellent No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. Despite a solid 9-5 record last season, fantasy owners didn't think much of Iwakuma on draft day and he was a 24th-round selection, if at all, in most leagues (ADP 283). Those who took a flier on him have been rewarded with six excellent outings to begin the season. He's posted a 1.37 ERA, a league- leading 0.69 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings pitched.
Psycho (1960) - How else to you explain R.A. Dickey's fall from invincibility last season (20-6, 2.73 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, league-high 230 Ks) to his April 2013 mediocrity (2-4, 4.50 ERA, 1.306 WHIP)? "It's obviously incredibly disappointing for everybody," Dickey said after Sunday's loss to the Yankees. The knuckleballer was the 14th pitcher off the board in the preseason, but he has not lived up to expectations.
The Birds (1963) - The Orioles offense is averaging over five runs per game and most of the damage has come from three hitters: Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Nate McLouth. Davis has continued the power surge from 2012 when he blossomed into a 33-homer, 85-RBI middle-of-the-order hitter. This season, he leads the AL in homers (nine), RBI (28), slugging percentage (.756), OPS (1.194) and total bases (65). He's paying huge dividend as a 10th-round selection (ADP 121). But the Orioles wouldn't be 15-10 without the table setters in front of Davis - leadoff hitter Nate McLouth (.351 BA, 21 runs, eight stolen bases, .941 OPS) and Adam Jones (.352 BA, 22 runs, four homers, 20 RBI, .932 OPS). McLouth probably wasn't even drafted in most fantasy leagues with his ADP of 319.
Family Plot (1976) - Brothers Justin and B.J. Upton arrived in Atlanta in the offseason to help the Braves rebuild their offense (4.32 rpg in 2012). Younger brother Justin is doing his share, helping the Braves and fantasy owners with a sizzling start. He leads the NL in home runs (12) runs (21), total bases (68) and slugging percentage (.773), and is batting .307 with a 1.171 OPS. Fantasy owners who scooped him up at the beginning of the third round (Yahoo ADP 22) have been rewarded with the No. 1 player in fantasy. On the other hand, B.J. Upton has been very little help to fantasy owners as he struggles with a .151 batting average, three stolen bases (caught twice) and a .520 OPS. He's never been a high average guy, but you expect 20-plus homers and 30-40 steals, which are still reachable goals.