August 17, 2010
Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop
With rotations up the middle more or less set heading into roster expansion, there are very few changes this week to the Value Picks portfolio. Bill Hall is our lone drop, leaving the list just as quickly as he came. Once again the problem is with his playing time, but this time around his replacement at second base is likely to be a bit more permanent. Dustin Pedroia is expected to make his return from the DL on Tuesday night, meaning Bill Hall is once again relegated to utility infielder status. There is a good chance that Hall will get some playing time in the outfield now that Jacoby Ellsbury is out of action again with injury, but with a multitude of other (equally mediocre) outfield options such as Ryan Kalish and Darnell McDonald, Hall would be splitting time with too many players to be worth a fantasy roster spot.
Ian Desmond has heat up since he last graced the VP portfolio, batting .340/.377/.540 this month. The hot streak has brough Desmond's season line to an unsurprising .266/.302/.411, around the mark that we saw earlier in the season when he was still a decent play. Right now, while the slash line (and particularly the OBP) are still uninspiring, Desmond's consistent playing time and speed on the bases make him a decent play if you are desperate for stolen base help. Because he has suddenly found himself on base more often during this hot streak, Desmond has swiped five bags in the month of August. Desmond has taken off in 13.8% of stolen base opportunities this season, so with some continued BABIP fortune to assist his poor walk rate and OBP, he can still be of assistance if you are looking to make up ground in steals.
J.P Arencibia was unable to follow up his impressive first day in the majors with much production, going hitless in three starts since the four-hit, two-homer debut. Still, PECOTA sees favorable power numbers going forward and he has the advantage over Jose Molina in terms of future playing time. Expect more power production with an average (for a catcher) BA and mediocre OBP. Cliff Pennington stole another bag this past week as part of a .273/.385/.455 slash line. Pennington continues to look good as a steals option who, unlike Desmond, walks often enough to maintain a decent OBP and consistent steal opportunities.
Felipe Lopez had an awful .109/.190/.158 week but was still able to drive in and score two runs. With David Freese still out of action, Lopez looks to get all of the playing time at third base. When Freese returns, expect Lopez to lose a bit of playing time overall, returning to the super-sub role that he was supposed to fill at the beginning of the year. Because of a decent walk rate and BABIP upside, Lopez is still an available pickup (taken in only 7.9% of ESPN leagues) who will give you good counting stats weekly. Adam Kennedy too had an awful week (.222/.222/.278) and did not get on base often enough to provide any assistance on steals. PECOTA has Kennedy pegged for four more SB in 180 PA of playing time, which is a good deal below the rate at which he swiping bags this season. Chris Snyder capped off the VP NL triumvirate of bad weeks, getting just one hit in 16 PA. Still, he walked twice and the one hit did drive in two runs, and Snyder will continue to get playing time behind the plate even though Ryan Doumit has returned. However, this week may be a bit rough for Snyder, as the Pirates remain at home facing the Florida Marlins and New York Mets, two teams heavy with home-run preventing pitchers.
One More to Watch
J.J. Hardy recently returned from a wrist injury with which the Twins were extremely careful. Combined with the return of VP graduate Orlando Hudson earlier this month, the Twins once again have their defensively strong middle infield combination from the beginning of the year. The interesting thing to note is that, while Hudson has performed as well as expected, Hardy has disappointed for much of the year. However, this has not been the case in the last month and a half, as he has hit .333/.369/.486 since the start of July. Hardy clearly is not that good, but he has been drastically improving and has climbed back to a respectable .267/.310/.399 line. Though the power for which he was known in Milwaukee may have dried out, he is still a backup shortstop option for most deep mixed leagues. He is taken in 28.8% of ESPN mixed leagues, so he may yet be available.