Concussions and other minor injuries derailed Justin Morneau’s prime, but the new Colorado Rockies first baseman is in the midst of a resurgent year.
Hitting .346 with five home runs, 17 RBI and six doubles while scoring 11 runs, the 32-year-old appears to be enjoying his new slugger-friendly Coors Field confines in his first full season in the National League. Last week he was named the NL Player of the Week, knocking in 12 RBIs and an incredible .875 slugging percentage in seven games.
Morneau of course started his career as a third-round draft choice of the American League’s Minnesota Twins and helped the club win three division titles in five years, including his 2006 MVP year during which he registered 34 home runs and 130 RBIs with a .321 average and .934 OPS.
Morneau earned four straight AL All-Star team berths, but his downward spiral began midway through the 2010 season when he suffered a head injury sliding into second base. It was later ruled a concussion and Morneau sat out the rest of the season.
In 2011 he sustained another concussion and only appeared in 69 games. Over the next two years Morneau never hit better than .267 and he totaled 212 strikeouts.
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Now Morneau is an integral cog in the Rockies top-ranked offense, along with outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Whether Morneau can maintain his numbers throughout the season is up for debate, but as of now fantasy owners should pounce on him before he’s off the waiver wire.
Below are several other players who might deserve a spot on your roster.
Justin Morneau, 1B, Colorado
A six game road-trip against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks could make or break Morneau’s comeback season. He’ll have a tough test against L.A.’s much-improved rotation and bullpen, but might feast on struggling Arizona.
Lucas Duda, 1B/OF, N.Y. Mets
Owners looking for some power and slugging percentage who can afford a dip in overall batting average may turn to Duda. He has hit cleanly in four of the Mets last five games, so average might not be an issue for long. For the season Duda’s recorded four home runs, 10 RBIs and scored 10 runs.
Garret Jones, 1B/OF, Miami
Jones’s average is atrocious despite breaking out of a slump with a seven-game hit streak last week, but he’s well on pace to score 100-plus runs for the first time in his career. However, Jones has been hitting clean-up for the Marlins and will have a lot of RBI opportunities should he get going in the next month.
Marcus Semien, 2B/3B, Chicago White Sox
Semien’s riding a four-game hit streak, which was started by a 4-for-6 outing on the road against Texas, highlighted by a grand slam. It’s better to stash Semien for now and see if the recently re-activated Gordon Beckham can hold on to his starting second base job.
David Murphy, OF, Cleveland
Murphy’s hitting .288/.358/.492 with two home runs and 15 RBIs, including four doubles. He’s tops among available outfielders in RBIs, and Murphy’s well on-pace to match his 2012 season with Texas during which he hit .304 with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs. His speed might be gone (from 2010 to 2012 he notched 35 stolen bases), but Murphy might surprise owners later in the season.
Matt Joyce, OF, Tampa Bay
Joyce his putting up the best offensive numbers of his career, and can easily best his 2011 career-season of 19 home runs and 75 RBIs and line of .277/.347/.478. So far he’s recorded 18 hits, including six doubles and two home runs for a .346 average and 12 RBIs. His OPS is an astounding 1.016 and owners should ride his hot streak as long as possible.
Chris Denorfia, OF, San Diego
The Padres No. 2 in the lineup leads all available players in most leagues with four stolen bases, and he’s hitting an excellent .328 at the top of the order. Any owner looking to shore up runs will have to take a risk, with Denorfia unfortunately having no one to bring him home in San Diego’s 30 th ranked offense.
Will Smith, RP, Milwaukee
Smith is part of a Brewers staff that’s second in the NL in ERA at 2.52, and he’s personally come up with seven saves-plus-holds, with 13 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP. He’s especially valuable for leagues with the category of strikeouts per nine innings.
Adam Ottavino, RP, Colorado
The 2006 first round pick hasn’t allowed a run yet this season, and he’s totaled 13 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings of work. Also only allowing five total hits places Ottavino’s WHIP at 0.54 and an opponent average of .156. It’s impossible for Ottavino to keep this up, but he’s a proven commodity at this point.
John Danks, SP, Chicago White Sox
Danks has posted a quality start in all four of his starts his season, and he’s a solid 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA and 14 strikeouts. He recently topped Detroit’s always-dangerous lineup by going 6 1/3 innings and allowing one run. Another stash pickup who could sour over time, but owners in need of a starter should give Danks a once over.