Don’t look now, but the San Diego Padres might actually have a useful fantasy hitter. Over the past 30 days, Guzman has hit .343/.384/.600 while receiving regular playing time in the Padres’ lineup. He’s slugging five home runs and stolen three bases in that period as well. While his performance has been impressive, Guzman plays first base — where the level of offense is extremely high. Guzman is riding a hot streak at the moment, however, and could be a useful pickup down the stretch.
Though he’s passed through many different organizations, the 27-year-old first basemen does have a history of success at the minor league level. In his four seasons at AAA, Guzman’s career slash line reads .319/.382/.506. Despite that success, he has never received a shot at regular playing time until this season. While it’s unlikely for players in their mid-20s to suddenly figure things out for good, we’ve seen players come up and experience hot streaks like this before. The Padres seem committed to playing Guzman down the stretch, so he should have a legitimate chance to show whether he can keep up the pace.
Thus far, Guzman’s ability appears to have translated well to the majors. He’s managed to hit for a high average, slug a couple of home runs and even steal some bases. While his BABIP is bound to experience some regression, and his walk rate could stand to be a bit higher, Guzman has at least shown that he deserves to keep playing until his hot streak ends.
Problem is, the level of offense at first base is extremely high; meaning Guzman’s performance might not be as impressive in most leagues. Due to an error over at ESPN, however, Guzman actually qualifies as a shortstop; increasing his value exponentially.
If you play in an ESPN league, this makes Guzman an extremely valuable pickup. Over the last month, Guzman actually rates as the second best shortstop according to ESPN’s player rater — behind Troy Tulowitzki. At a position where offense is extremely scarce, Guzman could be a great injury fill-in down the stretch. If your team has lost Stephen Drew — or Rickie Weeks in leagues that allow a MI spot — Guzman is definitely worth a pick up.
Unfortunately, Guzman loses a lot of value in non-ESPN leagues. In leagues where he qualifies solely at first base, Guzman is likely nothing more than an injury fill-in. More than likely, teams will have players similar or better than Guzman in their starting roles. Perhaps Guzman is best served as a UTIL fill-in for teams looking to ride a hot streak for a few weeks.
The Padres are in desperate need of offense, and Guzman seems to be hitting at just the right time. He’s managed to gain the trust of Bud Black for the time being, and it looks like he’s going to be the starter at first base down the stretch. In many leagues, Guzman is nothing more than a fill-in for teams looking to ride a hot streak. In ESPN leagues, Guzman could be a legitimate contributor to teams still fighting for the playoffs. His availability at the shortstop position really makes a huge difference. If you play in an ESPN league — and don’t own Troy Tulowitzki — Guzman a must add.
Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.