Here are six well-known, but occasionally erratic outfielders who are primed for hefty fantasy stats — the good kind — during the scoring period of April 22-28 (Week 4):
1. Josh Hamilton, Angels
Given the crude treatment Hamilton received from Rangers fans in Arlington two weeks ago, this recommendation seems rather obvious.
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Forget about the .176 average or painfully low on-base percentage of .247. And forget about Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando and Yu Darvish taking the hill for the Rangers during the three-game series in Anaheim.
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith on a highly motivated star’s resurgence — against all odds. And Hamilton, despite just one hit in his last 21 at-bats, has an interesting setup against the Rangers at home, followed by a four-game set in Seattle (with King Felix on Sunday).
For what it’s worth, Hamilton has 18 career homers and a .275 batting average in 75 lifetime outings against the Mariners.
2. Lorenzo Cain, Royals
Of his last five games, spanning 18 at-bats, Cain has racked up one homer, two steals, three RBI, four runs and 10 hits on a Kansas City team that’s been flat-lining a bit at the plate (particularly Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas).
Since April 8, Cain (.368 seasonal batting average) also has six multiple-hit games.
Of equal importance, Cain gets three games at spacious Comerica park and three outings against the porous Indians at Kauffman Stadium in Week 4.
Finally, it’s a small sample size (six games), but Cain has a cumulative career average of .450 against Detroit and Cleveland pitching.
3. Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OK, so Kemp’s opening month in 2013 (zero homers, six RBI, .235 batting) resembles nothing of his absurd production from last April (12 HR, 25 RBI, 24 runs, .417 batting). But this isn’t the time to sound the panic bell.
From April 7-13, Kemp cobbled together a six-game hitting streak for the struggling Dodgers. And of the last two days (April 20-21), he boasts a pair of three-hit games. That’s tangible progress for a superstar who had a .120 batting average and .207 OBP just two weeks ago.
For the week, Kemp can look forward to encounters with the Mets (three) and Brewers (three), with set matchups against Matt Harvey and Yovani Gallardo on the docket. And yet, there’s not much trepidation with the recommendation here.
Here’s why: Kemp has a .367 lifetime average at New York’s Citi Field … and a .303 career average against Milwaukee.
4. Jay Bruce, Reds
Through April 21, Bruce still has the double-bagel infamy of zero homers and zero steals on his resume, breaking the heart of a certain guru who gushed — just one month ago — the Reds outfielder had the “reasonable upside” for 13 steals and 37 dingers by season’s end.
Slow start notwithstanding, Bruce still holds the status of a rare fantasy marvel who can strike out 150-plus times and produce 30 homers, 95 RBI and a .340-plus on-base percentage. So, why get too down about seasonal paces that involve less than 50 walks and/or more than 180 punch-outs?
Essentially, he’s too good to be this bad for much longer.
For the week, Bruce has a seven-game slate against the Cubs (three) and Nationals (four) — with no plans of encountering Washington ace Stephen Strasburg from Thursday to Sunday. Plus, of his last seven outings, Bruce boasts a .320 batting average and .452 OBP.
One last thing: Against the Cubs (62 games), Bruce also has lifetime tallies of 12 homers, a .300 average, .413 OBP and .954 OPS.
5. Desmond Jennings, Rays
The Tampa Bay outfielder has had a sluggish start in homers (two), RBI (four), batting average (.239) and slugging (.408); but he’s far from a lost cause in fantasy circles.
Jennings (15 runs) has scored at least once in 13 of his 18 games. He also ranks fourth in the majors with five steals.
For the week, Jennings draws three home outings against the Yankees (CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte), and then a weekend road series with the White Sox — a four-game set that doesn’t include Chris Sale as a probable pitcher.
6. Justin Ruggiano, Marlins
It’s a shame the Marlins couldn’t wait a few days to play the Twins. The weekend forecast for Minneapolis suggests sunny skies and temperatures approaching 70 degrees. But alas, Miami can only hope that its one-day series with Minnesota (Tuesday doubleheader) gets played in full.
Otherwise, the Twins might have trouble shoehorning makeup dates with the Marlins into their back-loaded schedule for June, July and August — due to other weather cancellations in recent weeks.
From an on-field perspective, though, Ruggiano remains the Marlins’ best hope for consistent power, after Giancarlo Stanton. And from Tuesday to Sunday this week, he’s primed for six manageable outings against the likes of Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey (Twins) and every other Cubs starter not named Jeff Samardzija.