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RotoAuthority Unscripted: Billy Hamilton Ain't Waiting Till Next Year (But We Can)

Just yesterday, I was telling my wife excitedly that Billy Hamilton had already stolen five bases, despite a career batting line that read 0/3. (She was duly impressed.) It turns out, I spoke too soon, considering that he just swiped four bags in his first ever start. "What is going on?" was my wife's incredulous response.

What indeed? Maybe Hamilton won't ever hit enough to be the next Rickey Henderson, and he might not last long enough to eclipse Mr. "Greatest of All Time's" career record, but you have to start thinking that Hamilton might be making a run at the 126-year-old single-season record of 138 steals, next year. Seeing as his nine steals in eight games would put him on track for 182 in a full season, they guy would have value even in a bench role--he could fight for the league lead as a pinch runner.

You may or may not need steals right now (but if you do, grab Hamilton--he's clearly got the ability to make an impact in a short amount of time), but you know he's on the radar for next year. But who else should be?

In the next couple sections, we'll take a perfunctory (and scattered) look at some things that have stood out this season.

Fallen Stars

I love fallen heroes, unpopular players, and first-rounders who didn't produce last year. Ryan Braun is all three of those things, and you have to bet you've got leaguemates who'll be wary of him off the juice and away from baseball for over half an injury-plagued season. I think he'll be a great value next year.

Matt Kemp, Albert Pujols have no business in the first round anymore, but that doesn't mean they can't put up a first-round season still. Both injury-plagued LA sluggers are likely to come value-priced. Not for the meek, that's for sure.

Some lower-level stars fell even farther: consider the horror that has been Starlin Castro's season--or worse, yet, B.J. Upton's. But do you really believe these guys are a step away from the end of their careers? The Cubs and Braves have every incentive to give these players a chance at redemption. Neither has been good enough to count on, but their upside makes them worthy lottery tickets for your bench.

On the other side of the ball, pitchers like Justin Verlander, Matt Cain, and Cole Hamels are all more than likely to regain most of their previous form--but they could still come at a pleasant discount. Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia seem a lot riskier, but their draft positions ought to be low enough that you won't be truly expecting anything.

Not every fall from grace is an opportunity; at this point I'm probably going to let others take risks on players like Jimmy Rollins and Paul Konerko

New to the Stage--or Back on It

Josh Donaldson and Matt Capenter weren't on a lot of fantasy radars last season, but their big splashes will make them starters for sure next year. Daniel Murphy and Will Venable have been much more quiet, but very valuable. Yasiel Puig and Jose Fernandez certainly won't be forgotten by any owners, but Brandon Moss and Marlon Byrd might. Hunter Pence and Alfonso Soriano looked ready to exit the fantasy stage, but bounced back with a vengeance. What will they look like next year?

Pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma and Anibal Sanchez haven't gotten much press since their hot starts, but both look pretty legit. Mike Minor has turned a quiet corner, while Clay Buchholz and Francisco Liriano have come back from the fantasy dead.

I Bet You Didn't Know...

...that Brandon Phillips and Freddie Freeman have 100 RBI's.

...that Chris Carter has 27 homers to go with his .220 average.

...that the Texas Rangers have three of the top 12 base stealers: Elvis Andrus (40), Alex Rios (37), and Leonys Martin (32).

...that Manny Machado's .286 batting average is extra valuable thanks to his place among the league leaders in hits and at bats.

...that nothing about the league leaders in runs scored really surprised me.

...that Jorge De La Rosa has been durable enough to win 16 games.

...that Justin Verlander and Kris Medlen both have 12 losses--and winning records.

...that Yu Darvish has 29 more strikeouts than the next best guy.

...that Buchholz's 1.51 ERA is spread over 95.1 IP.

...that only four starters with 100 IP or more have WHIP's under 1.00.

There's a lot left to look at before 2014 starts, but hopefully this will give you some thinking points--especially if the last week and a half of this year aren't holding your attention any longer.


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