Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
We are about 10% of the way through the 2011 baseball season and a few patterns are beginning to emerge.
Troy Tulowitzki, normally a slow starter, is off to a quick start and could be in for a "monster" season.
Ryan Braun, Joey Votto and Matt Kemp are some of the young stars who have already proven they can do it year after year.
Travis Hafner appears to be healthy again and its showing in his production.
Jose Bautista may not hit 54 homers this season, but he is a much improved player from the batter who averaged 14.75 home runs per year from 2006-2009. He should be able to hit 40 home runs this year.
As for who is hot of late, I've selected three "hot" hitters and three "cold" hitters from the Sports Network's Who's WHot, Who's Not pages.
Adrian Beltre, TEX - While four Texas Rangers made the "Who's Not" top-10 (more on them later), Beltre has put what's left of the Texas offense on his back. Since AL MVP Josh Hamilton injured himself on April 12th, Beltre is batting .348 with an OPS of 1.043 which is 230 points above his season OPS. It's been Beltre and the Texas pitching staff which has kept the defending American League champions in first place in the West.
Curtis Granderson, NYY - Granderson is batting just .255, but has already hit five home runs in his first 51 at-bats to give him an OPS of .917. After a slow start, Granderson has come to life, batting .421 with an OPS of 1.421 over his past five games. Joe Girardi has rewarded his hot hitting by moving him into the coveted No.2 hole in front of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez (when healthy) and Robinson Cano.
Be aware, Granderson has a history of faltering in the August heat, so my advice is to enjoy his play for the next 2-3 months and then trade him before the end of July while he is still at peak fantasy value.
Jed Lowrie, BOS - Marco Scutaro who? Since getting a chance to play every day, Lowrie has become an "offensive machine." For the season he's batting .457 with an OPS of 1.172, but since becoming an everyday player on April 12th, Lowrie is batting a scotching .579.
Sure, the career .266 will eventually return to earth, but you might just as well ride the wave until it ends. Lowrie is still available for pickup in 50% of all leagues.
Nelson Cruz, TEX - Rangers hitters are well represented on the "cold" top-10 with Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus all in the midst of a slump. We'll pick on Cruz because he's expected to do the most of the group. After starting the season quickly, Cruz is batting just .205 over the past two weeks with an OPS hovering just below .600. His OPS is .519 since Hamilton's ill-fated dash to home which resulted in a six-to-eight week stint on the disabled list. If the Rangers are to stay near the top of the AL West, Cruz will have to quickly turn it around.
Cruz historically gets off to good starts (career April OPS .886), so this is troubling, but it's not time to trade him. Give him another month before making that decision as May is traditionally a good month as well (career May OPS .858).
David Wright, NYM - Wright has always been a slow starter, so the fact that he is here on the "cold' list should not scare fantasy owners. For his career, April is his worst month statistically for batting average (.276), slugging percentage (.468) and OPS (.855).
Don't let his current .239 batting average and .700 OPS get you down. Now is not the time to make a "panic trade." Stay the course and you will be better off in the end.
Andrew McCutchen, PIT - The young and talented McCutchen started the season well, batting .389 over the first week. Unfortunately, since then he is hitting just .163 with and OPS of .550.
You could probably still get third-round value for McCutchen in a trade, particularly in keeper leagues, but why panic after 15-20 games? I still believe he'll finish the season with 20+ HR and 30+ stolen bases while batting around .280 and isn't that why you selected him at No.29 on Draft Day?
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