I hope that I’ve been giving it to you straight. On that note, these recommendations aren’t the most inspired. Oh, look: a guy who hit two bombs yesterday. Check it out: a recent call-up who was raking while in the minors.
Which kind of brings me to a larger point: It’s not often that I find players inspiring enough to recommend. Obviously, I’ve done it. I’ve been doing it for years … sometimes well, sometimes not so much. As far as the players go, I mean. Perhaps I’m just feeling particularly cynical or depressed.
What kind of recommendations do you want to see? I second-guess just about any name I come up with because of the multitude of league formats out there and, as a result, the usefulness of a rec. To me, there’s never enough context. I’d love to see what kinds of things readers want in a list of recommendations.
1B/OF/DH Chris Carter, Houston Astros
Ownership: CBS 27% | Yahoo! 19% | ESPN 8.6%
You know Carter’s deal. He has struck out more often than I would at a singles luncheon. (I’ve never attended a singles luncheon, but if I had, I surely would have struck out 500 times. Carter hasn’t even reached 400 yet! Maybe I should try singles breakfasts. I love Belgian waffles. Hey, I’m a pretty good-lookin’ guy, but I’m awkward around women.)
Carter did his thing last year: He hit .223 with the 29 jonrones. His M.O. has kind of been MIA this year: Entering play on Wednesday, he had that .192 average and a mere six ding dongs. The strikeout rate is down, but the swinging-strike and chase rates are up. As is the fly-ball rate, and the line-drive percentage is pretty much where he’s compensated.
Carter wasn’t in the lineup for three straight contests before yesterday. It made the news, which begged the question: Is he losing his spot? Bo Porter’s explanation: He’s asked his regular DH to work on some things with the team’s hitting instructors, and it’s more advantageous to sit out so that potential changes can sink in. I’ll buy that.
Porter has been committed to Carter. The manager has seen the kind of damage the slugger can do when he stays back a bit longer and is driving the ball consistently. It looks they may have quieted his bat and shortened his load just a little. Obviously, the Astros are pleased with the initial returns of those tutorial sessions, whatever they worked on.
Carter can be a hard player to own in mixed leagues. The drops began to pile up when the calendar struck May. He’s still owned in most deep leagues, of course. But those in shallow leagues, head-to-head leagues and any setup where there are frequent lineup changes can find a use for the potentially realigned Carter, 27. I like to follow stories of players who are making changes to see what they may yield. I kind of wish he hadn’t hit two round-trippers yesterday; one would have done. C’est la vie.
1B Jesus Aguilar, Cleveland Indians
Ownership: CBS 5% | Yahoo! 0% | ESPN 0.0%
You have heard of Aguilar. Scott Strandberg talked about him a month ago and appears to have a slight crush on him. (I hope that I didn’t steal Scott’s thunder with this rec. It’s nothing personal, if so.)
In terms of Aguilar’s ability and avenues to playing time, Scott has stated much of the case. He’s a good hitter. He’s a bad fielder. The Tribe called him up a couple of days ago because they placed Carlos Santana (concussion-like symptoms) on the 7-day disabled list and Nick Swisher (hyperextended left knee) on the 15-day DL.
The right-handed-hitting Aguilar may not make contact often enough in the majors to produce a beneficial batting average. But, as Scott noted, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder has a little power, with a career farm ISO of .174. He’s collected only one hit, a single, thus far, but he’s demonstrated his willingness to take a base on balls.
Aguilar’s stay could be short. Both of the injured Indians players could be back in the minimum amount of time. It’d be interesting to see what would happen if the condition of either Santana (seemingly more likely, with an unpredictable head injury) or Swisher were more serious than expected, though. Cleveland has slotted Jason Giambi at DH against right-handers in the absence of the two regulars, but it seems highly unlikely that they’d want to do that for any significant length of time. Aguilar’s glove is a natural fit at DH.
Whereas Carter is a play in leagues with MLB universes, Aguilar is pretty much an AL-only target. For those who play in extremely deep mixed leagues, he might be worth a look. I think he’ll take a little time to adapt to major league pitching, given his slow but steady ascension through the ranks, and again he probably won’t be around for long, so I’d make him a last resort in the mixers.
But I think Aguilar would be a nice target in in a league like AL LABR, where minor leaguers aren’t in the FA pool and salaried players must be active as long as they’re on a real-life 25-man roster but can be reserved if their parent clubs deactivate them. A fantasy owner in such a league could win him and, after he’s optioned to the minors, then save the hefty hitter for down the road, when there might be a more clearly defined role for him.
Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.