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Fantasy baseball: Breaking down the Tigers’ hot bats

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, right, is

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, right, is congratulated by J.D. Martinez after reaching home plate on a two-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, May 18, 2017, in Detroit. Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

Despite a 3-3 homestand, the Tigers are swinging some hot bats with Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Alex Avila all on fire.

Designated hitter Victor Martinez was reinstated from the paternity list Monday morning after missing the past three games.

In 14 games before that this month, Martinez was hitting .360/.431/.580 with two home runs, 11 RBIs and seven runs. The switch-hitter is available in 53 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 43.3 percent of ESPN leagues. At 38, age is a concern, but Martinez coming off a season where he hit .289/.351/.476 with 27 home runs, 86 RBIs and 65 runs. Martinez has played in at least 150 games in three of the past four seasons, and because he’s essentially a full-time DH at this point, there’s less risk for injuries.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters Martinez “probably” would return to the cleanup spot, which will lead to some questions in the lineup. Miguel Cabrera had served as the DH and Alex Avila played first with Martinez attending the birth of his third child.

J.D. Martinez, who had initially hit sixth in his return, has hit either third or fourth the past five games with either Victor Martinez or Miguel Cabrera out. With all three back, J.D. Martinez could get bumped to fifth, which still would give him plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.

J.D. Martinez’s average draft position was 69.3, according to FantasyPros, so he’ll be hard to scoop up, but his stock is on the rise. After missing the first month and a half of the season with a right foot injury, Martinez is 11-for-27 with six home runs, 12 RBIs and nine runs. Patient fantasy owners are benefiting from holding out for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be feeling the effects of his strained right foot.

Avila, the Tigers’ backup catcher, has worked his way into the lineup nearly every day. His .380 batting average and .494 OBP would lead the American League if he had enough at-bats to qualify. It’s a small sample size (71 at-bats), but the numbers are hard to ignore from a player who hasn’t hit above .218 the last three seasons.

Avila told the Detroit Free Press he hasn’t changed his approach at the plate. The biggest difference seems to be a clean bill of health. From 2014 to 2016, he dealt with concussions, a knee injury and a hamstring injury.

With eligbility at both catcher and first base, Avila is worth an add in all formats. As of Monday morning, he was available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 79.4 percent of ESPN leagues. It’s hard to expect him to keep up this level of production, he has a chance to be a strong sell-high candidate.

In weekly formats, Tigers’ bats have the potential to be even bigger sources of production this week as they have the rare eight-game week, so be sure to start them. Detroit is making up a rainout from April 5 against the White Sox with a doubleheader Friday. Avila in particular likely will get a game or two off as he’ll be seeing more time behind the plate, but even a six-game week is on par with most of the rest of the league.

New York Sports