Forget Barry Bonds' quest for 756 home runs. Fantasy baseball team owners have more important things on which to focus.
We're not that excited that Sammy Sosa finally hit No. 600, and we're not concerned with Ken Griffey Jr.'s quest to surpass Mark McGwire or Jeff Weaver retiring his first batter of the year. These milestone events mean nothing to roto geeks, who will get just as much credit for a Jason Kendall homer as they will for The Big One from Bonds.
That said, there are streaks fantasy owners find meaningful.
How about hitless games for Andruw Jones? Or at-bats without an RBI for Brian Roberts?
Or, if we're being more positive, how about innings without a home run allowed for Jake Peavy? Or without a walk for Paul Byrd?
These are the things that keep fantasy owners up at night.
Paul Byrd, RHP, Indians
On June 6, Byrd walked David DeJesus of the Royals intentionally in the sixth inning to set up a double play. It worked; he doubled up the next batter to get out of the inning. This seems insignificant except that is the only walk Byrd has allowed in nine starts, dating back to April 26. After walking Kenny Lofton to lead off the third on April 26, Byrd has gone 59 innings without walking a batter unintentionally, through June 21. He's walked four in 73 innings this year, and that means he has more wins (six) than walks. Since 1920, only Bret Saberhagen, in 1994, finished with more wins than walks. The problem with Byrd is that by throwing the ball down the plate, he's allowing opponents to hit .327 against him. He's also allowed three times as many home runs (12) as walks. That's hard to do. He's dangerous to own, but pitches for a good team and should win his fair share of games this year.
Jake Peavy, RHP, Padres
In the last four seasons, Peavy has had two seasons in which his ERA was higher than four, and two in which is was under three. Both 4.00-plus seasons, he allowed more than 20 home runs; both sub-3.00 years, he allowed fewer than 20. So what does it mean that in his first 15 starts, Peavy has allowed just one home run, back on April 19? That's 11 starts, 74 2-3 innings, without allowing a homer. Sounds like a Cy Young campaign to me. Peavy has a 1.82 ERA, and it's no surprise, since opponents are hitting just .201 and slugging a mere .246 against him. He's as valuable as any pitcher in the league and will continue to be all year.
Brian Bannister, RHP, Royals
A Royals pitcher with wins in four straight starts? Alert the media. But that's what Bannister has done in June. After beginning the year 0-3 with a 4.55 ERA in seven starts, the 26-year-old righty has allowed five runs in 28 innings in June. He's walked three batters all month, with 15 strikeouts. No one will tell you Bannister is a top fantasy option, but he flashed some ability last year with the Mets; he had a 2.89 ERA in five starts before a hamstring injury sidelined him until August. Give him a look if you're in a deep league. Typical mixed league owners should keep an eye on him for now.
Andruw Jones, OF, Braves
What are owners of the embattled Braves slugger to do? Jones was hitless in his last 18 at-bats as of June 21, with seven strikeouts in that span, his average tumbling to .202. With his trade value at its lowest, it may not be worth it to trade him, so waiting it out seems like the best thing to do. It hasn't been a pleasant wait so far this month, with Jones hitting .132 in his first 76 at-bats in June. Even if Jones doesn't pick up his average much, at some point he'll start hitting home runs. It's what he does. He has 11 and he'll hit 30 at a minimum.
Jeff Weaver, RHP, Mariners
Weaver has pitched two quality games in a row, a streak that may have some fantasy owners wondering if they should take the plunge with the veteran pitcher. The problem is, the streak comes after another streak of seven straight non-quality starts to begin the season. Not to worry, even after pitching a four-hitter, Weaver's ERA is 8.56. Also, his two good starts have been against NL teams, while all his poor starts were against AL teams. It's a pretty safe bet that Weaver will continue to get knocked around as the season progresses. No fantasy league should be deep enough for you to seriously consider picking him up.
QUICK HITS: All Blue Jays RHP Shaun Marcum has done since becoming a starter on May 13 is go 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in seven starts. He's allowed four hits or fewer in five of the starts. Home runs are a concern, however; Marcum has allowed 11 in 58 innings this season. ... Devil Rays SS Brendan Harris has opened eyes with 18 RBIs in his first 18 games this month. Is he worth a flyer? In deeper fantasy leagues, absolutely, but in standard mixed leagues you want to be very careful with overachieving players like Harris.

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