3 up, 3 down

April 18, 2006|By SHEIL KAPADIA

Up

Albert Pujols, first baseman, Cardinals -- He probably could be in this section every week, but Pujols definitely earned it in St. Louis' three-game series against the Reds, going 6-for-12 with four homers, six runs scored and seven RBIs.

Jim Thome, designated hitter, White Sox -- Last year, the veteran slugger hit seven home runs in 193 at-bats. This year, he matched that total in 38 at-bats.

Oscar Villarreal, reliever, Braves -- Bet you didn't have this guy penciled in to be leading the league in wins after two weeks. He has benefited from the struggles of Atlanta's starting staff and picked up four wins out of the bullpen. Villarreal doesn't have any saves and isn't a great fantasy option, but he did win 10 games as a reliever in 2003 with Arizona.

Down

Manny Ramirez, outfielder, Red Sox -- It's too early to panic, but Boston's enigmatic star is hitting .239 and doesn't have an extra-base hit. Ramirez has averaged 41 home runs and 135 RBIs in his career. This year, he has struck out 16 times, managed 11 hits and knocked in three runs. Be patient.

Ryan Howard, first baseman, Phillies -- Fantasy owners expected big power numbers from Howard, but he has just two extra-base hits and two RBIs. Keep an eye on Howard's place in the lineup. If he hits sixth, his struggles to put up big power numbers could continue.

Johan Santana, starter, Twins -- Minnesota's ace has yet to pick up a win and hasn't completed the seventh inning in any of his three starts. He has a 5.71 ERA, but keep in mind he has faced the Blue Jays, Indians and Yankees. His numbers will pick up.

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