Archive for June, 2010

Week 13 Trade Possibilities

Here are seven players for your consideration to either acquire or send packing.


Ian Kinsler – An ankle injury kept Kinsler out of the lineup early in the year. It is unclear if that injury has led to his decline in power. Kinsler has just 3 HR in 201 ABs after hitting 31 HR in 2009. He is suffering from hitting fewer FB and hitting fewer of those FB out of the park. But in his last eight games, Kinsler is batting .412 with 2 HR and 3 SB. It could be a small sample fluke or it could be evidence that the ankle is finally not bothering him anymore. I lean towards the latter and expect Kinsler to exceed the 10 HR (R) ZiPS projects for him.

Shane Victorino – Preseason projections had Victorino batting between .283 and .290, making his .249 AVG particularly annoying for his owners. A .227 BABIP in June has been especially troubling for Victorino. But the rest of his fantasy numbers are on pace or better than what was expected from him coming into the season. He is still a good source of SB and has displayed more HR power than anticipated. A comeback in AVG would make his fantasy season complete.

Barry Zito – After starting the season 6-1, Zito has cooled off considerably. In his last eight decisions he is 1-3 with a 4.80 ERA. But Zito has 5 Quality Starts in that span and could easily have a few more wins to his credit. Overall his FIP (3.78) is right in line with his ERA (3.43). Zito’s xFIP is considerably higher, but he has posted a lower ERA than xFIP in the eight previous years, each season for which xFIP data is available. With a solid WHIP (1.23) and an acceptable K rate (6.26), Zito remains an above-average pitcher if he keeps his ERA at his current FIP levels.


Adrian Gonzalez – Heading into the final day of June, Gonzalez has a .363 AVG with 7 HR and 23 RBIs in the month. He will not maintain either the AVG or RBI pace going forward. Gonzalez is a great player, one of the top sluggers around. But if you have the depth to trade him, now is the time to move him at the height of his value.

Carl Pavano – Raise your hand if you thought Pavano would have 9 W and a 3.33 ERA at the end of June. Last Player Picked has him at $15, making him one of the top 20 pitchers in all of baseball. But his K rate collapsed in June. After posting a 6.32 K/9 the first month of the season, Pavano was down to a 3.83 mark this month. Only a .187 BABIP and an 84.5 LOB% has kept his numbers so strong. Because people remember the injury-prone Pavano of a few years ago, it may be hard to find much trade interest in him. But his owners owe it to themselves to find if anyone is willing to gamble on a top-20 pitcher.

Buster Posey – Trade recommendations are for redraft leagues. Posey is one of the top prospects in the game but in 2010 his name value far exceeds his production. So far he has shown a tendency to chase pitches out of the zone (31.4 O-Swing%) along with having significant trouble versus fastballs (-3.59 wFB/C). Posey has not hit for much power and has a nice AVG thanks to a .310 BABIP. That is at the upper limit of normal levels but catchers as a group tend to have lower BABIPs than other players. Look for Posey’s AVG to fall without having a lot of power to make up for the drop.


Clint Barmes – The injury to Troy Tulowitzki has given Barmes a new lease on life as he takes over as the starting shortstop for the Rockies. After struggling through BABIP nightmares in April (.222) and May (.234) Barmes has turned it around in June to get his mark up to .269 for the season. He’s not going to hit for much of an AVG but at least now it is high enough to be a major league regular. Since taking over at SS, Barmes is hitting .316 with 2 HR, 7 RBIs and 7 R in 11 games. The real question is if he can get back to the power numbers he showed in 2009. I like Barmes to exceed his (R) ZiPS total of 7 HR for the rest of the way.

Theriot Behind in the Count

Now that 20-year-old Starlin Castro is the Chicago Cubs’ starting shortstop, Ryan Theriot has shifted to second base and again holds position eligibility on both sides of the DP combo. And, for the first time in a few years, he’s stealing bases at an efficient rate. Theriot went 28-for-32 in SB attempts during his first year as a starter in 2007, adding about 3.4 runs of value according to Baseball Prospectus’ Equivalent Stolen Base Runs metric. But he went 22-for-35 in 2008 (-3.5 EQSBR) and 21-for-31 last season (-2.6 EQSBR). In 2010, Theriot has swiped 15 bases in 18 tries, with +1.1 EQSBR so far. He’s running, and running well, when he gets the chance. Unfortunately, Theriot’s getting on base at a career-low-clip.

In 314 PA, the 30-year-old has a .280/.321/.307 line, with a paltry .289 wOBA. Never known for driving the ball, Theriot has a .027 Isolated Power that falls short of his very modest .074 career ISO. The fact that he has all of seven extra-base hits this season clearly contributes to his feeble offensive output. But another reason why Theriot’s bat has been nearly 11 runs below average is his declining walk rate.

Theriot took ball four 8.9% of the time from 2007-2009, slightly above the average big league walk rate. This year, he’s walking in just 5.1% of his PA. Is he expanding his strike zone by swinging at more pitches thrown off the plate? Slightly, but it’s hardly a dramatic increase. Here are Theriot’s outside swing percentages in recent seasons, as well as the MLB average for each season. The last column shows Theriot’s O-Swing as a percentage of the big league average:

If Theriot’s not hacking at more pitcher’s pitches, then why has his walk rate dipped? For starters, opponents are throwing him more pitches within the strike zone:

Pitchers have long challenged the former LSU Tiger with in-zone offerings, but he’s getting more pitches over the plate than ever before. Unfortunately, Theriot is having a hard time recognizing balls from strikes. According to StatCorner, the percentage of pitches that he has taken for a strike has increased this year. Theriot has taken 38.6% of pitches for a strike in 2010, compared to 33% in ’09, 36.1% in ’08 and 37.7% in ’07 (the MLB average is 31%).

Pitchers are throwing Theriot more strikes, and he’s keeping the bat on his shoulder more often against those strikes. It’s no surprise, then, that Theriot’s often ending up in pitcher’s counts. His first pitch strike percentage is 66.9 this season. That’s the fourth-highest rate among qualified MLB hitters and well above his 60.1% average from 2007 to 2009 (58-59% MLB average).

Opposing hurlers aren’t afraid of Theriot, and they reflect that confidence by pounding the zone against him. In order to return to his previous .290/.355/.360 range, Theriot needs to knock more than two extra-base hits a month and stop putting himself at the mercy of the pitcher.

Promotion: Barry Enright

Arizona Diamondbacks purchased the contract of RHP Barry Enright from Double-A Mobile.

A second-round pick in the 2007 draft, Enright will make his major league debut this afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals. Edwin Jackson was originally scheduled to start, but he was pushed back to Friday following his 149-pitch, eight-walk no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 25th.

Speaking of walks, Enright basically refuses to issue them. The Pepperdine University product handed out 1.6 free passes per nine innings in college. Enright’s plus control endeared him to scouts, compensating in part for his modest stuff. Here’s how Baseball America described Enright at the time that the D-Backs popped him with the 73rd overall pick:

On a good day, Enright touches 90-92 mph with his fastball, but he pitches in the 87-89 range, and none of his secondary pitches–slider, curveball or changeup–excites scouts either…He improved his feel for pitching steadily through his college career and firmed up his body. His stuff, strike-throwing and bulldog nature profile him best as a middle reliever, but he’ll get a chance in the back of a professional rotation.

The 6-3, 220 pound right-hander made his full-season debut in 2008. Pitching in the High-A California league, Enright struck out 7.83 batters per nine frames, walked 1.92 per nine and posted a 3.52 FIP in 164.1 innings. His ERA (4.44) was considerably higher than his FIP, as Enright suffered from a .344 batting average on balls in play. BA named Enright the 11th-best prospect in Arizona’s system following the season, saying that he had a chance to be a back-end starter but also that his margin for error was thin.

In 2009, Enright moved up to the Double-A Southern League. His K rate took a hit (5.94 K/9), while he continued to be stingy with the walks (2.13 BB/9). Enright’s FIP in 156 innings was an even four. His prospect status took a hit — Arizona’s farm system did receive a big infusion of talent in the 2009 draft (Bobby Borchering, Matt Davidson, A.J. Pollock, Chris Owings, Marc Krauss and Mike Belfiore, among others), but Enright fell of the D-Backs’ top 30 list entirely.

The 24-year-old opened 2010 back at Mobile. In his second go-around the Southern League, Enright whiffed eight hitters per nine innings, walked 1.4 and had a FIP around 3.6 in 93.2 innings pitched. His ground ball rate did decline — Enright had a 42.8 GB% in ’08 and a 42.7 GB% in ’09, but he got batters to smack the ball into the grass 38.1% of the time in 2010.

What can we expect from Enright in the majors? According to Minor League Splits, Barry’s pitching with the Bay Bears in 2009 translated to a 5.38 major league FIP, with 4.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 1.3 HR/9. His 2010 pitching equates to 5.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9 and a 4.48 FIP at the highest level. Before the season, ZiPS projected 4.9 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.4 HR/9 and a 5.06 FIP, while CHONE thought he’d get battered for a 5.73 FIP, with 5.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 1.8 dingers per nine innings.

Enright might be up for just one start, but mere competence today against the Red Birds could put him in line for a more prominent role. Dontrelle Willis, picked up from the Tigers for RHP Billy Buckner in early June, has a 12/27 K/BB ratio as a Diamondback. The formerly famous lefty has thrown 98.1 innings since the beginning of the 2009 season, and he’s got 5.69 K/9, 7.71 BB/9 and a 5.83 xFIP. It’s near impossible to make the case that he’s a major league-quality pitcher at this point.

With excellent control and quality secondary stuff, Enright has a chance to stick at the back of a big league rotation. But, with limited ability to fool hitters and fly balls tendencies, he’s hardly a sure bet to be a contributor in fantasy leagues. Pitching in a park that inflated run-scoring by 15 percent and home runs by seven percent over the past three years (per the Bill James Handbook) won’t help, either. Enright might have some value to the D-Backs, but should only be an option for pitching-starved NL-only owners.

Stock Watch: June 29th

  • Stock Up
  • Jose Reyes, Mets

    After missing the majority of the 2009 season with a hamstring injury and then being reduced to spectator status with a thyroid condition in early April of 2010, Reyes was understandably rusty at the plate. The switch-hitting speedster posted a .285 wOBA and a .088 Isolated Power in April, and slogged through a May in which he put up a .311 wOBA and a .112 ISO. But in June, Reyes has heated up — a .403 wOBA and a .220 ISO. His season line has climbed to .279/.323/.420, with a .335 wOBA. The 27-year-old has also swiped 19 bases in 21 attempts.

    Reyes’ turnaround has been fueled by fewer swings on outside pitches, more contact and a sinking infield/fly ball rate:

    ZiPS projects a .288/.348/.446 rest-of-season line, with a .359 wOBA. Those who gambled on Reyes over the winter (and held onto him after his rough start) are being handsomely rewarded.

    Trevor Cahill, Athletics

    Last season, Cahill was jumped to the big leagues as a 21-year-old with minimal experience above A-Ball. As such, he kicked and flailed to keep his head above water at the highest level. Cahill finished his rookie year with 4.53 K/9, 3.63 BB/9, a 47.8 GB% and a 4.92 xFIP. While no stud against same-handed hitters (4.53 xFIP), Oakland’s second-round pick in the 2006 draft was lashed by lefties for a 5.31 xFIP.

    Given Cahill’s impressive minor league resume (including a career 9.9 K/9 and a 58.6 GB%) and prospect pedigree (Baseball America ranked him as the 11th-best prospect prior to ’09), he was expected to make considerable progress with more major league experience. And he’s on his way — in 2010, Cahill has whiffed 6.24 batters per nine innings, walked 2.88 per nine and has induced grounders 53.3%. His 4.02 xFIP (3.88 versus lefties) isn’t close to his pristine 2.88 ERA (he’s not gonna keep that .235 BABIP all season long), but Cahill is showing across-the-board improvement.

    His swinging strike rate is 7.9%, up from 7.4% last season (8.3% MLB average). Cahill’s contact rate has decreased to 81.1% from 82.1% in ’09 (81% MLB average), and his outside swing percentage is comfortably above the big league average after coming in well below that level as a rookie. He got batters to chase off the plate just 21.6% last season (25.1% MLB average), but opponents have gone fishin’ 29.2% in 2010 (28.4% MLB average).

    According to Pitch F/X data from, Cahill has marginally increased the whiff rate on his fastball (4.9% this season, compared to 4.6% in ’09 and the 6% MLB average). But his secondary stuff is fooling hitters more — Cahill’s getting whiffs 14% of the time that he spins a breaking ball, up from 7.3% last year and above the MLB average of about 13%. His changeup is getting a whiff 15.9% in 2010 after posting a 13.6% rate in ’09 (12.6% MLB average). Why is this guy still on the waiver wire in 60% of Yahoo leagues?

  • Stock Down
  • Todd Helton, Rockies

    We chronicled Helton’s power outage last month, and things haven’t improved for the 36-year-old since then. He’s got a .250/.344/.318 triple-slash on the season, with a .068 ISO. That’s Jason Kendall/David Eckstein territory there. He has been bullied by fastballs — Helton hit heaters for a +0.99 runs/100 value from 2007-2009, but he’s down to -0.62 per 100 this season. Once you adjust for the Coors assist that Helton receives, his hitting has been 20 percent worse than the league average (80 wRC+). It’s no surprise, then, that the singles-hitting first baseman has been sub-replacement-level (-0.2 WAR).

    Trying to figure out whether a player is “done” is often a fool’s errand — see David Ortiz — but Helton’s hitting with little authority, struggling to fend of fastballs and putting the ball in play more to left and center field, with ghastly results. At the very least, it’s not looking good.

    Brad Bergesen, Orioles

    The 24-year-old sinker/slider pitcher shouldn’t have been expected to replicate his 2009 season, as there was nearly a full run separating his ERA (3.43) and xFIP (4.42). Bergesen garnered a reputation in the minors for pounding the strike zone (1.6 BB/9 on the farm) and keeping the ball down (52.6 GB%), and he continued to limit free passes and fly ball balls in the majors (2.34 BB/9, 50.1 GB% with the O’s in ’09). However, Bergesen missed few bats in the minors (5.8 K/9) and whiffed just 4.74 per nine during his rookie year. His BABIP (.289), strand rate (75.2%) and home run per fly ball rate (8.3%) all figured to climb in 2010.

    However, instead of regressing to a mid-four ERA-type pitcher, Bergesen has been the AL’s answer to John Lannan this season. In 58 innings, Bergesen has just 2.17 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, a 50.2 GB% and a 5.90 xFIP. That K rate is by far the lowest in the majors among pitchers tossing 50+ frames. His contact rates were high last season, but they’re untenable this year given just average control.

    Bergesen is getting swinging strikes 3.4%, compared to 6.4% in ’09. His overall contact rate has spiked to 92.2% from last season’s 85.5%. On pitches within the strike zone, batters are connecting an astounding 97.7% (91.2% last year, 88% MLB average). That’s the highest rate of in-zone contact in the majors. Bergesen’s fastball didn’t get many whiffs last year (3.5%), but that figure is down to 2.4% this season. His slider (12.2% in ’09, 8.3% in ’10) and changeup (6.9% in ’09, 3.8% in ’10) are also getting fewer whiffs. With good control, ground ball tendencies and a mediocre K rate, Bergesen can be of use to the O’s. With OK control, ground ball proclivities and an abysmal K rate, he’s a batting practice pitcher.

    A Pair Of Phillies Hit The DL

    The last week and a half have really been hell on fantasy owners. First Troy Tulowitzki went down, then Dustin Pedroia, then Victor Martinez. Now it’s a pair of Phillies’ infielders. The Phightin’s lost both Chase Utley and Placido Polanco to the disabled list today, and it’s unclear how long either will be out.

    I’m certain there’s some poor sap out there that had both Utley and Polanco on his/her team, so let’s try to help them out. Replacement options for Utley are the same as they are for Pedroia, so I’m just going to refer you to that post. Meanwhile, here’s a few 3B options you can turn to in Polanco’s stead…

    Eric Hinske | Braves | 6%

    The versatile Hinske is eligible at not only 3B, but also 1B and OF in Yahoo! leagues. A platoon player basically all season, injuries to Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward have forced him into every day duty, which really isn’t a problem when he’s got a .380 wOBA and 30 RBI. His .302 AVG will come down as his .360 BABIP regresses, but (R) ZiPS still projects a .351 wOBA the rest of the way. Atlanta won’t face another LHP until the middle of next week at the earliest, so you’re in the clear for a while.

    Kevin Kouzmanoff | Athletics | 27%

    Kouz is a below average offensive player overall (.321 wOBA), but his fantasy totals are pretty solid for an injury fill in (.285 AVG, 8 HR, 39 RBI). He’ll kill you in an OBP league (just a .317 OBP), though. (R) ZiPS calls for .268-10-43 the rest of the season, but hopefully you won’t need him for that long.

    Felipe Lopez | Cardinals | 19%

    Lopez is pressed into every day duty now with David Freese hitting the DL (guess we should include him in this post, huh?), though he’s not exactly killing it with a .248/.326/.391 batting line (four homers, four steals). Regular at-bats should help get him back in a groove (and help bring his .295 BABIP closer to his .319 career mark), and will hopefully add a few more steals to your ledger. Lopez is also eligible at 2B and SS, if that helps.

    Ownership rates are based on Yahoo! leagues.

    Surviving the V-Mart Injury

    As if the Red Sox didn’t have enough injury issues with Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, and basically their entire outfield on the disabled list, they lost Victor Martinez to a fractured thumb over the weekend. A top tier fantasy catcher is impossible to replace, so hopefully he’ll be back after the required 15 days and all you V-Mart owners won’t have to suffer too long.

    In the meantime, here’s a few backstops you can find on the waiver wire to help keep your head above water, starting with Martinez’s replacement…

    Jason Varitek | Red Sox | 6% owned

    Varitek has a very strange stat line this season. He has only 23 hits in 98 PA (.258 AVG), but he’s got seven homers and a .303 ISO. Those seven bombs come with only 14 RBI too. Yeah, it’s just small sample size noise, but it’s still kinda funny. (R) ZiPS projects a .227 AVG with a .178 ISO, and realistically that’s about the best you can hope for out of Varitek for the next two weeks or so.

    Ronny Paulino | Marlins | 16%

    Very quietly, Paulino has posted a respectable .343 wOBA this season, though he’s hit .322/.373/.435 in his last 126 plate appearances. He’s an absolute horse behind the dish, perhaps to the point that you have to worry about him turning into a pumpkin in the second half. Paulino’s started the team’s last 19 (!!!) games, though he did have the benefit of three off days during that stretch. (R) ZiPS sees a regression back to .274/.332/.397 the rest of the way, but at least he won’t kill you in AVG during V-Mart’s absence.

    John Jaso | Rays | 6%

    Tampa has been platooning Jaso with Kelly Shoppach ever since they decided to send Dioner Navarro to the minors, and six of Tampa’s next seven games come against righthanded pitchers. Jaso is a must own in OBP leagues (.398 OBP), but his .271 AVG and 25 RBI still have value elsewhere. I’m a sucker for guys who walk more than they strikeout, though (R) ZiPS seems him falling to .269/.354/.368 the rest of the way.

    Ownership rates based on Yahoo! leagues.

    Promotion Watch: Brett Wallace

    It’s not common to see a highly regarded prospect traded twice less than two years after being drafted, but that’s exactly what happened to now Blue Jays’ farmhand Brett Wallace. As you know, the Cardinals shipped him to Oakland in last year’s Matt Holliday deal, and they turned around and flipped him to Toronto in the third leg of the Roy Halladay trade this winter. Regardless of where he’s been playing, Wallace has done what he’s always done: flat out rake.

    After hitting a combined .293/.367/.455 with 20 homers and 26 doubles across two levels and three teams last season, Wallace is mashing to the tune of .301/.363/.507 for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate this year. With 14 homers and 20 doubles, he’s not far off from last season’s totals in 261 fewer plate appearances. It’s worth noting that the Pacific Coast League is a hitter friendly environment in general, especially where Wallace is playing in Las Vegas. has his park adjusted triple-slash line at .288/.351/.484, still outstanding.

    The bat has never been an issue with Wallace. Baseball America said he “has outstanding bat control and knows how to get in favorable counts where he can do the most damage, allowing him to project for 20 homers per year despite not having outstanding raw power” when they named him the game’s 27th best prospect before the season. The question has been about position ever since he played at Arizona State, though the move to Toronto has cleared that picture up. After years of trying to fake it at third, Wallace has played first base exclusively since the trade (save for the occasional DH assignment) and figures to do so in the long run.

    The good news is that Wallace retains 3B eligibility in Yahoo! leagues, where he’s owned in just 1% of leagues. Obviously he hasn’t been called up yet, so anyone that does own him is likely in a deep keeper league looking towards the future. The Blue Jays are slowly fading out of contention in the ultra-competitive AL East, having gone 11-15 this month and 13-20 dating back to May 20th. Incumbent first baseman Lyle Overbay is having a simply dreadful year, checking in at -0.1 WAR through the team’s first 77 games. He’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season, so Toronto could simply cut bait and designate Overbay for assignment if they don’t get lucky and find a trade partner infatuated with name recognition. Point is, the first base job can open up for Wallace at any time, especially now that we’re past all the service time milestones and the team has basically acquired another year of cost control.

    CHONE predicted a .252/.306/.401 batting line with 16 doubles and 23 homers in 489 at-bats for Wallace this year, but he’s obviously not going to meet that playing time projection. The triple-slash projection isn’t unreasonable for a rookie in a division packed to the gills with power pitching, but that doesn’t make Wallace any less of a fantasy option, especially with 3B eligibility. He’s a must have in a keeper league, and definitely has value for the rest of 2010 in any league assuming a late-July promotion (at the latest).

    Rankings Update: Third Base

    Back, but probably not better than ever. If the rankings are crazy, blame my cold.

    Big Three
    Evan Longoria
    David Wright
    Alex Rodriguez

    Every week that A-Rod doesn’t show his old power, he continues to lose value. He is still a very good third baseman in real life, but his days as a dominant force may be over. I’d like to see Longoria hit a couple more dingers this week, otherwise Wright may be able to squirm his way into the number one spot.

    Large Two
    Ryan Zimmerman
    Scott Rolen

    Rolen still carries some injury risk, but he is really tearing it up.

    Medium Four
    Mark Reynolds
    Casey McGehee
    Michael Young
    Adrian Beltre

    Reynolds is doing everything he can to hit 40 homers, even if it means killing his batting average. Young is playing like a man who is much…never mind, that pun wasn’t worth it.

    Sad Panda
    Jorge Cantu
    Ian Stewart
    Jose Bautista
    Pablo Sandoval

    Cantu is steady, so he’s a good play if you want to know what you’re getting. Stewart has more power than he’s show, or so I think. Bautista will kill your average, but could save you with his power. And Pablo, well, he’s not doing so hot.

    I am Jack’s Third Baseman
    Kevin Kouzmanoff
    David Freese
    Casey Blake

    If we all try hard enough, we can will David Freese to hit more homers. Blake has always been a favorite bench guy of mine, because you know what you’re getting year-in and year-out.

    The Rest of ‘Em
    Neil Walker
    Chase Headley
    Pedro Alvarez
    Chipper Jones

    Slow down, Pedro. Just do your thing and everything will come together. With Edwin Encarnacion getting DFA’d, I had to find a new guy to fill out the list. I’m liking what Neil Walker is showing, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    Rankings Update: First Base

    Back, but probably not better than ever. If the rankings are crazy, blame my cold.

    Gigantic Two
    Albert Pujols
    Miguel Cabrera

    I knew it felt wrong to slide Cabrera in front of Pujols, so after some evaluation, Pujols is back on top. I expect Miggy to have better power numbers going forward, but the steals that Albert may grab you will make up for it.

    Big Three
    Joey Votto
    Justin Morneau
    Adrian Gonzalez

    Three lefties, and three big performers. All of these guys will put up similar numbers, but I think Votto comes out ahead. But, really, can you go wrong with any of them?

    Strong Contributors
    Ryan Howard
    Adam Dunn
    Kevin Youkilis
    Paul Konerko

    Howard has been disappointing, Konerko has been a nice surprise, while Dunn and Youk continue to do their thing. Losing Pedroia, and possibly Victor for some time could hurt Youkilis’ value. …

    I am Jack’s First Baseman
    Prince Fielder
    Mark Teixeira
    Garrett Jones
    Troy Glaus

    It pains me to do it, but Fielder and Teixeira need to drop down this far. Fielder isn’t even driving in runs, something you’d expect even if he wasn’t hitting homers. I’m really close to putting Jones above Teixeira. Maybe Glaus, too.

    Writers Block
    Billy Butler
    Nick Swisher
    Adam LaRoche

    Big AVG from Butler, but it’s a bit too empty. Swisher has been great, and LaRoche needs to bring his strikeout rate down.

    The Rest of ‘Em
    Luke Scott
    Justin Smoak
    Aubrey Huff
    David Ortiz
    Derrek Lee
    Carlos Pena
    Russell Branyan
    Ike Davis
    Lance Berkman

    I know this group is huge, but that’s how close these guys are. You could take any one of these guys over another, and I couldn’t chew you out for it.

    Waiver Wire: June 28th

    Here are three players with low ownership rates who could pay immediate dividends in fantasy leagues:

    Russell Branyan – Seattle Mariners (owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues)

    Branyan returns to the place where he enjoyed the most success in his MLB career, having hit 31 HR for the Mariners last year. Seattle was receiving such poor production from its first basemen that they had played Josh Wilson, a shortstop, there for a few games before re-acquiring Branyan. His HR/FB rate is down from a year ago, but still a solid 17.5 percent. Any club looking for power should look in Branyan’s direction.

    Seth Smith – Colorado Rockies (owned in 5% of Yahoo! leagues)

    He may only be a platoon player, but Smith crushes RHP. He has a .289/.353/.572 line against righties in 170 PA. Smith has 10 HR in 181 ABs. His 13.9 HR/FB rate is right in line with what he’s done the past two seasons but he is hitting more fly balls. Smith’s FB% is at 45.9%, up from 41.6 a year ago and 34.1 percent in his rookie season. It is amazing he is available in most leagues. Do not be scared by his platoon-status. Even if you play in a league with weekly transactions, he should be a valuable player even if he only plays 4-5 times a week.

    Jose Tabata – Pittsburgh Pirates (owned in 3% of Yahoo! leagues)

    We have heard about the former Yankees prospect for a long time, but he is still just 21-years old. Tabata has been installed as the Pirates’ leadoff hitter and he should have an opportunity to pick up a bunch of SB. He has been successful on all four of his steal attempts in his first 16 games. While owners should believe in his speed, do not expect much power from Tabata this season. So, the make or break for him in 2010 will be his AVG. So far, he has a .258 AVG on a .291 BABIP. While it would be nice to see more production in the AVG category, he has an acceptable walk rate (8.3%) so he is still setting himself up for steal chances. There is no (R) ZiPS to compare but if Tabata can stay healthy he has a good shot to clear 20 SB the rest of the way.