A week has passed since the break, and the AL features a plethora of big names making news in the fantasy world. Let's have a look at who is making the most noise of late.
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels: He's come out of the break scorching, with a .542 average and nine runs batted in. With the team still looking to find consistency in their infield, Aybar is a good bet to continue seeing at-bats going forward. He's a good cheap speed threat (eight steals) for those in shallow, AL-Only leagues.
Matt Holliday, OF, Athletics: Playing for a contract down the stretch, the time to buy is now on Holliday. He's showed signs of life since the break. His speed has held up in Oakland. And a change of scenery to a better park is quite possible for this soon-to-be free agent. I was able to acquire him in a mixed format on the cheap this week, so the possibility is there for others, too.
Brett Anderson, P, Athletics: My latest man-crush has been cruising the past month, going 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA and near-perfect game. A key to his success is growth in his fastball, as he's now working in the 94-97 MPH range — elite for a lefty starter. In a pitcher's park, he is a relatively cheap addition for those in need of a big pitching boost.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Red Sox: The news just recently broke that LaRoche would be shipped off to the Red Sox for two mid-level prospects. He's a second half player, with a .296 career average post-break. Hitting in a dangerous Sox lineup, he could put up some very nice production for AL-Only owners. But he will not play everyday and thus should be only on the cusp of consideration in deeper mixed formats.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers: I think there's a lot of bad luck in his .240 average on balls in play despite the sub-par line-drive percentage (under 14 percent; 24.2 percent in '08). Assuming this line-drive rate corrects, you'll see a rebound in his average. Either way, by season's end, he should have over 30 homers and 35 steals, elite production from a middle infielder.
Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels: He doesn't hit for much power anymore (seven bombs thus far in '09), but is solid in every other category, making him great even in shallow formats. He hit .327 with 10 homers after the break in '08, so the possibility of a late power surge is there. But remember that he's only been a low-double-digit homer hitter in the AL outside of games at Yankee Stadium.
Jarrod Washburn, P, Mariners: I refused to part with Washburn in an offer for Joba Chamberlain earlier this year and do not regret it. His FIP currently sits at 3.77, which is significantly higher than his 2.87 ERA, but still proof that he's been both good and lucky. His BABIP of .259 is due for a correction, but he'll still be a solid back of the rotation starter in mixed formats.
Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays: He's been ill since the break and has yet to play a game, but that isn't the reason I'm selling. His career average declines steadily from July through September, and he's never posted an OPS higher than .780 in either August or September for his career. This is a veteran player who I'm willing judge based on career trends.
Bobby Jenks, P, White Sox: He's had an ERA of 6.00 during the past month, which isn't very good, despite the five saves. His career monthly ERAs during the second half fluctuate wildly (July: 5.84, August: 1.09, September: 4.86), and with other solid options in the 'pen, Jenks could find himself in middle relief if he doesn't turn it around soon. Let someone else deal with the headache of owning him.