Highlights at the twilight

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“Of course I am the best.” (Icon/SMI)

We’ve got a month and a half of baseball left to play. A lot can happen and anything can happen over that stretch. To illustrate my point, guess who has been the most valuable hitter over the past 14 days? No, not Roger Bernadina. Its Albert Pujols, believe it or not. You don’t need the best to win, but you will win most often with the best.

With that in mind, here are notes on a few players of interest.

Not a rock?

Before the season started I made the ill-fated prediction that Todd Helton would be a solid late-round option at first base. While that didn’t work out, I stand by my method, seeing how he could easily be matching the seasons of comparables Billy Butler and James Loney, who were both picked well before Helton in drafts.

Unfortunately Helton was the wrong old dude to throw your chips behind this year as his .252 average, four home runs, and balky back scream “retire.” However, in August he is showing there are some reserve tanks to tap into, batting .300 with two home runs already. If Helton has been forgotten in your league, I think he warrants remembering, and a roster spot.

Crisp Jr.

If you ignored my Twitter advice earlier in the season and missed out on Coco Crisp‘s speedy goodness, worry not because his clone Eric Young Jr. will be batting leadoff for the Rockies for the foreseeable future. Like Crisp, his batting won’t impress much, but for any team looking for steals, Young is your best option to get them cheaply.

Everyone deserves a fifth chance

If you are looking for a suggestion for an even deeper league, Chris Dickerson gets my vote as someone to watch. He is in line for a stretch of semi-regular playing time in Milwaukee after impressively going 19-for-43 during his Triple-A rehab assignment. Dickerson has good on-base skills and is a stolen base threat.

Smokin’ Raburn

Tigers second baseman/oufielder Ryan Raburn is on an absolute tear at of late, with four home runs in his last five games. Raburn had a solid season last year so he makes for a good play down the stretch.

Above replacement level

Filling in for the oft-injured Rafael Furcal, Jamey Caroll has proven his fantasy worth, collecting hits and stealing his fair share of bases. Furcal won’t be out that much longer, but Caroll is worth playing in deeper leagues until the status quo changes.

Out of misery

Rookie Chris Carter of the A’s went 0-for-19 to start his major league career and two players returning from injury may spare him from being devoured by more major league pitchers. Travis Buck and Conor Jackson returned to action Monday with Jackson hitting a solo shot—the A’s only hit off Shaun Marcum—in the seventh.

Both Buck and Jackson have had their careers derailed by injuries somewhat but with the A’s out of contention, they could get more playing time down the stretch than they probably deserve. In AL-only leagues where playing time alone is a basis for ownership, don’t overlook these two.

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