By Zach Steinhorn
OF Jason Heyward Braves
Expectations were sky high for Heyward
entering the season, and while he hasn’t quite matched the production of the
’07 Ryan Braun or ’08 Evan Longoria, the Braves’ right fielder has done more
than enough to prove that he’s the real deal. After battling inconsistency for
much of the first half, Heyward is hitting a robust .326 in 60 games since the
All-Star break to go along with a .938 OPS. He remains a must-own in keeper
leagues and will make for a fine mid-round selection next year.
OF Austin Jackson Tigers
The Tigers’ front office deserves a lot of
credit for their gutsy decision to trade away Curtis Granderson for a package
that included Jackson. There were questions as to whether the 23-year-old
center fielder was ready for the big show. Not anymore. Through 140 games this
season, Austin is batting .300 with 98 runs scored and 24 steals.
Although his power upside is limited, Jackson has wasted little time
establishing himself as a quality three-category contributor.
OF Mike Stanton Marlins
Take a look at the .241 average and the 108
strikeouts in just 316 at-bats and you’ll realize that Stanton is
still a work in progress. Then take a look at the 20 home runs and .500
slugging percentage and you’ll know that he’s a star in the making. What can
you expect from Stanton in 2011 and beyond? Power, and lots of it.
We’re talking Adam Dunn power. Simply put, Stanton is Adam Dunn with
SP Jaime Garcia Cardinals
Garcia wasn’t even assured of a rotation spot
heading into the season, but after a strong spring training the Cardinals named
him their fifth starter. Six months later, it’s safe to say that the club has
not regretted this decision. Through 28 starts, the young southpaw
is 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA. Even more impressive than Garcia’s overall
numbers is his consistency. In 24 of those 28 starts he’s given up three earned
runs or less. Oh yeah, and then there’s the 2.64 ground-out to fly-out ratio and
the nine home runs allowed over 163 1/3 innings. All signs point to continued
success in 2011.
RP Neftali Feliz Rangers
Will the Rangers eventually move Feliz into
their starting rotation? Maybe. For now though, the closer role is suiting him
just fine. Through 64 appearances this season, the 22-year-old flamethrower
sports a nifty 3.00 ERA and miniscule 0.92 WHIP to go along with 36 saves in 39
chances. He’s been especially lights out in the second half, posting a 1.78 ERA
in 25 relief outings since the All-Star break, and will go into next season as
a sure-fire No. 1 fantasy closer. However, keeper league owners should monitor
his situation during the offseason. Feliz’s 2011 appeal could take a hit should
he convert to a starter as he has yet to make one big league start. Who knows
how he would handle the switch.