Three Unlikely Stars

Over the past 30 days, Jose Bautista has hit 11 homers and knocked in 24 runs.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The three best fantasy hitters over the past month are not names you would expect. Albert Pujols isn't on the list, in fact, he's had a bad 30 days and is ranked 98th. Chase Utley didn't make the list either, he's stuck at No.87. And Evan Longoria, though he's had a pretty good month, is only fourth on the list.

No, the top-three performers over the past month are aged Vladimir Guerrero, Alex "I've never lived up to my potential" Rios and Jose "Where did this power come from?" Bautista.

Guerrero, 35-years-old with bad knees, is a future Hall-of-Fame outfielder, it's just that he hasn't been one for about two years. So when April's fantasy drafts were held, Guerrero wasn't thought of very highly. His ADP (Average Draft Position) was 158, making him a 14th-round selection. And when he hit just two homers in April, expectations fell even lower.

But May has Guerrero looking like "Vlad the Impaler" once again. He's bashed 10 home runs, knocked in 30, batted .350 and has an OPS of 1.038. Guerrero has even played six games in the outfield, so he's not just a DH anymore. Though he's not likely to keep up this pace, and you always have to be concerned about the knees, it's certainly nice to see he's back on top of his game.

Guerrero is owned in more than 90% of all leagues and if you want to trade for him, remember that this is as good as it's likely to get - so don't overpay.

Apparently it took a while for the "change in scenery" to work it's magic on Alex Rios. But for the first time since what every pundit thought was his breakout year in 2007 (114 runs, 24 HR, 85 RBI, 17 SB, .297 batting average), Rios is playing like a star.

Through the White Sox first 48 games, Rios is batting .309 with 30 runs scored, 10 HR, 25 RBI, 15 SB and an OPS of 0.947. He's been even better over the past 30 days, with an OPS of 1.055. For those who chose him high in 2008 and 2009, only to be disappointed, this display must be extra frustrating. But if you were one of those who chose him this season, you are getting quite a bargain. Rios had an ADP of 151 back in April and based on his current production is a candidate for the 2010 TSN Fantasy Best Bargain Award. Rios has the talent to continue at this pace and at 29-years-old, likely hasn't peaked, so even more is possible.

Rios is owned in around 90% of all leagues, but if he's not already on your roster, the price to obtain him will be "sky-high." Also keep in mind that for his career, his OPS drops 57 points after the All-Star break (0.807 - 0.750).

Beware of any fantasy owner offering you Jose Bautista in a trade!

Bautista is the definition of a "journeyman" player having a "career" year or in this case, a "career month." The Toronto outfielder was having a mediocre- or-worse April (.213 batting average) when things suddenly clicked. Over the past 30 days, Bautista has hit 11 homers, knocked in 24 runs and scored 25 times. His OPS is 1.092. And remember, this is a hitter with a career OPS of 0.749 who's April was right in line with those numbers (OPS 0.741).

So, unless you believe that Bautista has sudden found the secret to hitting for power, this hot streak will end soon and he'll return to the nondescript player he has been for the past six seasons.

If you have him and someone is willing to give you a good offer I'd take it immediately. If you are trying to trade for him, be very careful. This is "fool's gold," a mirage. It would be the ultimate definition of "buying high" and we all know how that ends up, don't we?

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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