Did we really witness two cycles in less than two weeks? As if it was easy to hit for one, let alone two. Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2B Aaron Hill did it all on Friday, June 29, 2012. He ended his spectacular night by going 4-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, and 2 runs. His first cycle of the year was on June 18 and he enjoyed it so much that he went and did it again. Hill joins some guy named Herman Ruth as one of the only other players in the 1900s to hit for two cycles in a single season. And he did it in 11 days. Can we get two more cycles to complete the cycle?
This is coming from a guy who went largely unheralded. Despite the relatively shallow pool of fantasy contributors at second base, Hill’s name was rarely put in the discussion of player targets. Many owners probably remembered the disappearing act in Toronto after his 36 HR campaign. But since his move to the desert, it’s been a different story. This year, Hill’s hitting .302, 11 HRs, 38 RBI, and 7 SBs. He’s one of the best all-around hitters for 2B and arguably belongs in the top five at the position. For those that missed the wagon on this player, it’s safe to say your chance to get Hill for a reasonable price is gone.
Return of the Big Dickey
Boy did the Mets miss seeing SP R.A. Dickey. Granted, it was one bad start, but Dickey brought the legend back with another dominating game. His win last night improved his record to 12-1, lowered his ERA to 2.15, and added another 10 Ks to his season totals. His 8 IPs of shutout ball against the Dodgers were impressive despite the opponent’s anemic offense. It’s becoming routine to expect 8+ innings of no-run ball from Dickey and that’s just unfair. It would also be unfair if this guy doesn’t get the ball to start the NL All-Star game despite what some analysts say. As for this game on a fantasy standpoint, 2B Daniel Murphy played another great game but warrants little consideration, OF Lucas Duda finally got a hit, and 1B Ike Davis continues his path to fantasy relevance. As for the Dodgers, the hitting is awful and no one should own a player not named Dee Gordon (if you really need to), Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp for the offense. For the night, RP Kenley Jansen did look pretty good in his inning of work.
Monster Offensive Days
The Diamondbacks provided two great hitting nights. 1B Paul Goldschmidt went 4-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI but makes the list because he missed the cycle by a difficult triple. He would have matched his teammate, Aaron Hill, with his very own cycle in the same game and on the same team. It would have been something special. He’s hitting the ball well right now. The D’Backs should make sure they keep him in the lineup, instead of yanking him for Lyle Overbay, when he’s hot this time. Chicago White Sox C A.J. Pierzynski continues his amazing season with last night’s 3-5, 2 HRs, 3 RBI effort. Now hitting .285 with 14 HRs and 45 RBIs, he remains in the top tier of Cs in the fantasy game. Last but not least, Pittsburgh Pirates’ OF Andrew McCutchen continued his NL MVP candidacy with a torching of Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright. He finished the night at 4-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI and added a walk for good measure. For the season, he’s hitting .344 with 15 HRs and 51 RBIs! If you didn’t make a trade or drafted him early, he will cost a premium penny now. McCutchen may have sealed off any doubts that he is a first-round selection next year with this first-half.
Don’t Call It a Comeback
A few players on the comeback trail showed encouraging signs of life. First, Toronto Blue Jays 1B/OF Adam Lind hit two jacks in his return to the lineup. It’s a continuation of good things from his AAA stint and may be the start of a trend. I would hold for now until he puts together a consistent couple of weeks. Washington Nationals 1B/OF Michael Morse, a guy I wrote about for The Fix this week, is 12-19 in the past 4 games and is now hitting a robust .294 after a 4-4 night. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Tampa Bay Rays OF Desmond Jennings played his best game offensively with a multi-homer game as well. For the struggling speedster, a multi-homer game after a return to the top of the order must help the confidence. Look for the trend to continue for the talented 20/40 threat. For the SS-starved owner, White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez is finally putting together some signs of life. After his big 4-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, he’s hitting .301 for the month of June.
A few unconventional pitching gems occurred on Friday. Of the names mentioned, only two have real fantasy relevance. First, Boston Red Sox SP Aaron Cook needed only 81 pitches to finish a CG SO gem against the soft-hitting Mariners. Chicago Cubs SP Paul Maholm was brilliant in his 8.1 innings of work, shutting down the Astros. Reds SP Mike Leake continues to hold onto his rotation spot with a CG win over the Giants. But Miami Marlins SP Josh Johnson and Texas Rangers SP Matt Harrison should really be on your radar. Both are intriguing buy-low prospects with Harrison on the “unknown” edge. They both have great track records and do not provide too much risk for any buyers. Friday’s encouraging starts could be the start of a strong second half.
And happy 2000 hits to Carlos Beltran.
Matchup to watch on Saturday
PHI @ MIA
This should be the marquee pitching matchup for the Saturday slate: Cole Hamels vs. Mark Buerhle. The Marlins will want to end June on a strong note after such an awful month and can do so with a win over another struggling club in the Phillies. It will be interesting to see if the returns of 2B Chase Utley and the hot hitting of both SS Jimmy Rollins and OF Hunter Pence are enough to keep the Phillies’ hopes for contending alive.
Written by Tim Lee exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Follow Tim on Twitter at @SHBL_Tim.
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