There’s nothing like the threat of being sent down to light a fire under a player, and while Kyle Blanks had started his climb out of the depths before he was given his reprieve, Yonder Alonso’s broken hand may yet prove to be the turning point in Blanks’ season.
Simply put, Blanks doesn’t hit well when he doesn’t start. So far this season, Blanks has come into the game as a sub in 12 of the 41 games he has played in. In those 12 games, Blanks has hit .182/.250/.273 without a single home run or even an RBI; if he isn’t in the starting line up, he isn’t providing any type of fantasy value. If he does start, Blanks hits .311/.395/.538 with all six of his home runs, 21 RBI, and a stolen base for good measure, and this is where Alonso’s injury comes into play. Read the rest of this entry »
Rookies of the Year have a mixed record of success after their first season. Some, like Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander, and Ryan Braun, go on to have many productive seasons and great careers. Others, like Bobby Crosby, Dontrelle Willis, and Angel Berroa collect their trophy and promptly crater. It’s too early in Chris Coghlan’s career to unceremoniously drop him in that second category just yet, but his wRC+ in 2012 was five. That’s it, just five, or the equivalent of 95 percent below league average, so he was certainly headed in the direction of obscurity. Recently, however, not only has Coghlan (ESPN: 6.7 percent owned; Yahoo!: 3 percent owned) received consistent playing time in a way he hadn’t in previous seasons, he has been hitting the cover off the ball. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s no way to know how often players push through injuries they shouldn’t; it certainly happens with some frequency, but the times when one can pinpoint the exact moment a player should have been placed on the disabled list and wasn’t are few and far between.
I have no idea when in 2011 John Lackey tore his ulnar collateral ligament – if my life depended on guessing, I could talk myself into a late July tear, which would mean he made an additional 11 or 12 starts carrying an injury that used to be career-threatening – but I do know that it affected his performance rather negatively. The problem is that there’s still not a good way to determine how much of his abominable 2011 was due to the injury and how much was simply a bad season. Read the rest of this entry »
There were a pair of catchers caught violating Major League Baseball’s substance abuse policy this offseason but, because of the rather odd split between amphetamines and other drugs of abuse, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has 56 PAs in 16 games under his belt already this season while Yasmani Grandal is still a week away from joining the Padres for the first time this season.
Setting aside the issues I have with MLB’s differentiation between amphetamines and things like testosterone, Ruiz hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his return from suspension, which probably helps those looking to target Grandal, since no one is looking to cash in on the next Chooch at this moment. Grandal is owned in just 3 percent of Yahoo! leagues and less than 0.5 percent of ESPN leagues, so there’s a very good chance he’s available. Those in two-catcher leagues should definitely look his way, since unlike most of the chaff on the wire, Grandal has a high ceiling and a decent shot of hitting it. Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Carter (ESPN: 21.7 percent owned; Yahoo!: 23 percent owned)
In the minor leagues, he never had a full season OPS under .800, nor has he hit fewer than 10 home runs in a season, yet Chris Carter has also never played even half a season in the majors. His power is not really up for discussion; he has hit at every level, including the majors, but his ability to contribute beyond 25-30 home runs a season is what has kept him from getting a serious shot in the majors until this year.
The move to Houston in the offseason was good for Carter’s value in a couple ways. First, unlike Oakland, who has designs on competing for the AL West title again this year, the Astros have a greater incentive to see what he can do given a full year of playing time than they have to sit him if he hits an extended cold spell. Second, given that the vast majority of Carter’s value comes from his HR and RBI potential, heading from one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the majors to a far more hitter-friendly one should be a boon for his value. Read the rest of this entry »
Jason Vargas (ESPN: 15 percent owned; Yahoo!: 16 percent owned)
Despite a number of high profile injuries to pitchers on both sides of the city, there is some good pitching going on in Los Angeles and the surrounding environs. However, unlike Clayton Kersahw and Hyun-jin Ryu, Jason Vargas is actually available in most leagues.
Veras opened the season well against the Rangers, then was absolutely shelled by the A’s and the Twins in back-to-back starts that pushed his ERA up to nearly 7.00 and his WHIP above 2.30. Since then, Vargas has had three consecutive quality starts, having pitched at least seven innings each time, culminating in his complete game shutout of the Orioles on May 3. Read the rest of this entry »
There are good weeks, there are bad weeks, and then there are weeks like the two Aaron Hicks (owned in 1.2 percent of ESPN leagues and 3 percent of Yahoo! leagues) had to start the season. His .042/.179/.042 line over the first 13 games of the season was marred by 20 strikeouts in 56 PAs, and he reached base more often via error (3) than he did by getting a hit (2). It’s not exactly a line that breeds confidence. He managed to be driven in six times, which is somewhat impressive given his incredibly low batting average, and was largely due to the fact that even though he wasn’t hitting, he did walk in 14 percent of his plate appearance.
His ownership started slipping, for obvious reasons, right about the same time there were rumblings that Hicks may need a stint in Triple-A to improve his eye. The Twins did decide that Hicks should no longer lead off, but elected to keep him in the majors. Three games after he was dropped from the leadoff spot in the Twins’ order, Hicks started hitting. Heading into Monday’s game, Hicks had been hitting .300/.375/.350 with just four strikeouts in just 24 PAs. Monday night, he struggled against Max Scherzer, but that’s hardly a unique issue. If that’s the criteria for success or failure, better players than Hicks would fall into that second category. Read the rest of this entry »
Consider this a bit of a twist on what usually appears in this space. Rather than a player who is outproducing his expected value, today we have a player who is being rapidly added in leagues where he will probably cease to provide the kind of value for which his new owners are hoping. Especially in light of reports that Chris Johnson wouldn’t lose playing time now that Freddie Freeman has returned off the disabled list at the expense of former platoon-mate Juan Francisco, there seems to be a sense that he’s worth rostering in nearly 100 percent of leagues; in the last seven days, Johnson has been added in over 72 percent of ESPN leagues and the only reason he isn’t atop the Yahoo! trends is because he’s already owned in a majority of leagues at this point. While Johnson may well have more value than it appeared he would on draft day, he’s unlikely to finish as one of the 10-12 best third basemen this season.
The obvious red flag with Johnson is his .468 BABIP, which is so ripe for regression it has almost spoiled on the tree. Since 1995, just two players have finished a qualifying season with a BABIP over .400: Manny Ramirez, who had a .403 mark in 2000, and Jose Hernandez, who managed just a .288 batting average despite a .404 BABIP in 2002. So yes, regression is coming, but expecting Johnson to slide all the way down to .300 is probably a mistake for a couple of reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
Justin Maxwell (ESPN: 37 percent owned; Yahoo!: 14 percent owned)
If Justin Maxwell were a pitcher instead of an outfielder, his career may have ended before it even really started. While rehabbing in the minors after undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2010 season, the former 4th round pick torn his labrum diving for a ball in the outfield. It’s a tough enough pair of injuries for a position player to work though, but for a young pitcher, it would have been a far more difficult road back to the majors. Read the rest of this entry »
Jim Henderson (ESPN: 3 percent owned; Yahoo!: 41 percent owned)
The closer carousel is a fickle ride at the best of times, but it’s seldom worse than it is during the first few weeks of the season. Some closers are obviously safe, but even established closers can find themselves vulnerable with a single bad week…if the cries of “throw the bum out!” from the fans are to be believed.
Normally, closers don’t find themselves back in the general reliever pool this early in the season if they’ve had the job for more than a few months, even if a replacement is available. The Twins ran with Matt Capps until late June last season, even though Glen Perkins was a logical successor, and while Addison Reed recorded 29 saves last year, he didn’t get his first until May. Clubs generally have more patience than fans this time of year and with good reason. Read the rest of this entry »