Bringing power to Dodgers — and fantasy teams

When the weak-hitting Los Angeles Dodgers called up highly touted prospect James Loney in early June, they were looking for some much-needed offensive pop. Unable to contend for a National League West title on just a formidable pitching staff, Los Angeles was in desperate need of a jolt to boost their anemic run support (even now, no Dodger has more than 11 home runs).

Loney, who was picked in the first round of the 2002 draft, could be the long-awaited cure for the Dodgers’ offensive woes — as well as a potential remedy for fantasy baseball owners looking for a similar boost of their own.

Although he has played just 27 games this season (aftersuiting up for 48 games last year, in which he hit a respectable .284), Loney was hitting at a .385 clip, with 54 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs. During one eight-game streak from June 22-29, Loney hit a staggering .548 (17-for-31) with four RBIs and six runs scored. The weeklong binge was part of an impressive June, in which Loney hit .440 with three home runs and 14 RBIs (in just 50 at-bats.)

While Loney has not exactly provided the home run threat the Dodgers may have hoped for (through Wednesday, he has not gone deep since June 26) he has managed to consistently hit for a high average. After his June explosion, Loney struggled to open up July, going 3-for-19 over the month’s first six games. But since going hitless on July 6 in one at bat, he has recovered nicely by going 10-for-22 (.455).

For fantasy owners, Loney could be a risk — all but two of his hits this month have been singles, and his entire playing career totals up to less than 100 games — but at this point in the season, when most up-and-coming players have long been discovered, he is worth taking a chance on, at the least on a week-to-week basis.

As his hot streak in late June attests to, he can put the ball in play, and his average of two total bases a game are better than any other Dodger can boast. Plus, he has shown the ability and confidence to bounce back from mini-slumps.

WHO’S HOT?

» David Ross, C, Reds

» Josh Fields, 3B, White Sox

» Jonny Gomes, DH, Devil Rays

» Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros

» Scott Olsen, SP, Marlins

WHO’S NOT?

» Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres

» Scott Thorman, 1B, Braves

» Bobby Crosby, SS, A’s

» Chuck James, SP, Braves

» Sergio Mitre, SP, Marlins


Will Loney be a first-round pick in 2008?

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