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Bits: Josh Hamilton gets homer-happy

5/9/2012

The fourth-round pick spent on Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton looks good so far. Hamilton homered four times and knocked in eight runs Tuesday, raising his batting average to .406 and vaulting over Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp into the top spot on ESPN's Player Rater. I'll still take Kemp. Remember why the talented Hamilton wasn't a top-30 player on draft day: He has averaged 114 games played the past three seasons. That doesn't mean you necessarily sell high, but health is a skill, too.

Only in fantasy baseball can we transition from a potential Triple Crown winner to Scott Diamond! The Minnesota Twins left-hander made his first start of 2012 a successful one Tuesday, tossing seven shutout innings against the frustrating Angels. Diamond doesn't come recommended; he's not a big strikeout option and the Twins, frankly, are awful. Avoid all Twins pitchers except closer Matt Capps.

Those who stuck with Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett after his historically bad 12-run outing last week were rewarded when he fanned 10 Nationals over eight innings Tuesday. Burnett allowed six hits, one walk and two runs. We can't remove his May 2 implosion, but in his other three starts the former Yankee boasts a 1.71 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Speaking of the New York Yankees, outfielder Raul Ibanez produced a half-Hamilton Tuesday, swatting two home runs. Ibanez is 40, doesn't take walks and doesn't belong anywhere near the outfield, but can he hit 20 home runs for the eighth time in his career? Yes, he can, which is why he's worth owning in deeper formats.

Chicago Cubs infielder Adrian Cardenas made his first big league start Tuesday, playing second base and batting eighth, going hitless in three at-bats. Cardenas isn't bound for stardom, but the former Athletics prospect posted a .897 OPS for Triple-A Iowa, with twice as many walks as strikeouts. He could steal playing time at second and third base and provide some batting average and stolen base upside.

Ryan Vogelsong versus Clayton Kershaw didn't seem a fair fight Tuesday, but the San Francisco Giants right-hander did well, allowing one run over seven innings to win for the first time in five starts. Vogelsong likely isn't All-Star-bound again, but his ERA is 2.97, and he's owned in a low 12 percent of ESPN leagues.