CLEANING UP THE COMPETITION – TOP 10 #4 SPOT HITTERS IN MLB BASEBALL
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Traditionally the number four hitter in a given lineup was the guy who was your go to for power and gave you the best chance at knocking in runs early and often. Though that spot in the batting order features several pure power hitters, major league managers have grown accustomed to putting pure hitters and OBP guys in the four spot. Players like Hunter Pence , Eric Hosmer , Starling Marte, Brandon Philips and even Corey Dickerson have graced many a line-up card at the four-spot. Other manager’s delight in placing power hitters exclusively who offer nothing else. Players like Lucas Duda, Mark Trumbo, David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz can go yard seemingly at will, but are these the types of hitters you want in such a critical spot? The truth is the manager has the liberty to do what works, which means they may try several different players in that spot and at the end of the day a manager is going to do what’s best for the lineup. For me personally, before I take a clean up hitter, I’m looking at only two things… Who’s batting in front of the four-spot and who’s batting behind the four-spot. With only a week in the books, it’s obvious only a few players are suited for this spot and the rest are subject to get bumped. I’ve compiled a list of the ten players I think are a great fit and have the stats to prove it.
Anthony Rizzo–Chicago Cubs
Rizzo is deserving of the first round pick in fantasy drafts this season and will be worth every penny spent. There’s nothing Rizzo can’t and won’t do so gobble him up in daily leagues as well. He’s off to his typical start with a .448 OBP, a couple of bombs while crossing the plate six times already. Forget the power for just one second and consider that Rizzo is pure contact hitter who is super consistent. Don’t be surprised if he’s in running for the NL MVP award as well.
Nolan Arenado–Colorado Rockies
Arenado actually fits the bill of your typical cleanup in appearance and productivity. He plays better with runners on base or RISP and he has a keen eye for the RBI. The Rockies have the best first four in baseball right now, and Arenado owners should be excited about getting Arenado in the first round. With Blackmon, Cargo, and rookie phenom Trevor story in front of you, its no wonder Arenado’s RBI totals are through the roof. He’s a daily league dream as well.
Edwin Encarnacion–Toronto Blue Jays
Give me Donaldson and Bautista in front of me and you can bet Encarnacion will get good pitches to hit in almost every AB. Tulowitski hitting behind EE only brings more clarity to my stance that Enacarnacion is going to have one of the best fantasy baseball seasons of anyone in 2016.
Giancarlo Stanton–Florida Marlins
It doesn’t matter that his lineup is not the greatest, Stanton rakes when he is healthy and that’s all owners care about. It’s amazing that he does it Christian Yelich batting in front of him. I stayed away from Stanton for this very reason, but he has become, a dependable resource for power and this year should be no different.
Todd Frazier–Chicago White Sox
Frazier has been a welcomed addition to the White Sox, and has tremendous upside. I would question why Abreu is not batting fourth and Frazier with his speed batting 3rd, but Robin Ventura has other plans. I like Frazier when he can steal bases, but he’s plenty good enough to bat fourth and Melky Cabrera batting behind him helps as well.
Adrian Gonzalez–Los Angeles Dodgers
Gonzalez who is still waiting to get that special pitch he can drive out of the yard is a stat sheet filler right now. He has six RBIs and 6 runs with a .429 average. You’re not going to get 30 HRs out of him this season or again for that matter, but he can drive home his teammates like no other clean up hitter so if you’re after RBIs and average, Gonzo is your guy.
Nelson Cruz–Seattle Mariners
With back-to-back 40 HR seasons under his belt Cruz is seems like an obvious choice here… but not so fast. He’s 35 years old and will have to hit a wall sooner than later. He’s off to a slower start, but 30 HRs are the almost guaranteed. Cruz is always an injury risk but his current production leads me to assume he’s got a little more in the tank. Needs to start hitting though.
Adrian Beltre–Texas Rangers
Beltre plays in a hitter’s park for a team that will be in contention all season. He’s done this before as well once the first 7 players are gone you have to roll with the player you know you can rely on. Beltre is killing it right know, so anyone who drafted him after the 4th got great value. He’s a good value play in daily as well.
Victor Martinez–Detroit Tigers
I like the two HRs already. This tells me that he is healthy, and swinging well. I love it even more that his four-spot is bookended by Miguel Cabrera and JD Martinez. Yes 38 HRs last season JD Martinez. V-Mart is in the perfect spot to succeed and as long as he’s healthy the value is there.
Mark Texiera –New York Yankees
Big Tex had 31 bombs in only 111 games last season before getting injured. He was dirt-cheap last season on draft day, and was again this year. His power numbers can’t be ignored, and he plays a full season expect the same output. He already has 2 HRs and 7 RBIs with a .381 opb while continuing to be the master of the short porch in Yankee Stadium. He’s a daily fantasy darling when playing at home, so get him in there.