By Zach Steinhorn
It’s no secret that drafting proven players while their
value is low is one of the keys to building a championship team. Every season,
there are plenty of guys who, despite boasting solid big league track records,
are undervalued on draft day due to either health concerns or poor performance
the previous year. Owners should never be afraid to take a chance on these
players so long as the price is right. Let’s take a look at the first half of
the 2010 Fantasy Comeback Team.
C Geovany Soto Cubs
One of the biggest busts of 2009, Soto redeemed himself in a
huge way this season, looking a lot more like the player who took home Rookie
of the Year honors in ’08. The Cubs backstop got off to a red hot start,
batting .340 in April, and finished 2010 with a very solid line of .280-17-53.
Although his streaky ways can be frustrating, Soto is a safe bet for quality
power numbers at a thin position and is arguably a top-5 fantasy catcher
heading into 2011. In other words, don’t expect to draft him at a bargain this
1B Aubrey Huff Giants
You just never know what you’re going to get from Huff from
year to year. Maybe all he needed was the excitement of playing for a
postseason-contending team. Maybe all he needed was the motivation of playing
for a new contract. Whatever the reason, Huff is enjoying one of his finest
seasons to date. The first-year Giant sports a career-best .382 on-base
percentage through 153 games and has reached the 25-home run mark for just the
second time in the last six seasons. Having gone undrafted in the majority of mixed
leagues following an awful 2009 campaign, Huff has easily outperformed a number
of mid-round first basemen, including Derrek Lee, Lance Berkman and Carlos
Pena. Go figure. Considering Huff’s inconsistent track record, be careful not
to overvalue him on draft day 2011.
2B Rickie Weeks Brewers
Health, not talent, has always been the question with Weeks,
but in 2010 it hasn’t been an issue at all. Although Weeks doesn’t quite fit
under the “established track record” category, he had shown flashes of stardom
before. The problem was that he had yet to play more than 129 games in a
season. Well, the 28-year-old second baseman is finally injury-free and proving
exactly why he was such a highly regarded prospect, batting .270 with 28
homers, 82 RBIs, 109 runs scored and 11 steals through 156 games. Look, there’s
little doubt the guy can put up strong numbers, but the number that will always
matter most for Weeks is the one under the column labeled “G”.
SS Jose Reyes Mets
Entering drafts this past spring, nobody epitomized the term
“high-risk high-reward” much like Reyes, the former top-5 overall pick who was
limited to just 36 games in 2009 due to a myriad of leg injuries. Spending a
fifth round pick on the Mets’ speedster would either prove to be a huge steal
(no pun intended) or a huge waste. Turns out that fifth round is about where
Reyes will go next year, and I’d be more than glad to take him in that spot.
While the days of 60-plus steals are probably over, Jose remains a safe bet for
30-35 steals to go along with double-digit homers and a solid average…and
that’s a conservative projection. Sure, he remains a health risk, but how many
other shortstops can offer that type of production?
3B Adrian Beltre Red Sox
What a wise decision by Beltre to sign a one-year deal with
Boston coming off the worst season of his career both performance-wise and
health-wise. With the Red Sox, the veteran third baseman would get the chance
to restore his stock in hopes of inking a lucrative long-term contract at year’s
end. The plan has worked to perfection. Aided by a far superior supporting
lineup than the one he had in Seattle, Beltre has surpassed the 100-RBI plateau
for the first time since 2004. Oh yeah, then there’s the 28 homers and gaudy
.323 average through 153 games. Beltre’s a career .275 hitter, so a
considerable drop-off in the average department can be expected in 2011. That
said, aside from 2009, Adrian has been one of the more consistent options at
the hot corner over the past decade. For owners willing to wait until the
mid-rounds to draft their third baseman, Beltre will make for a fine choice.
Smoak is finally proving the Mariners right. The biggest
cog in the midseason Cliff Lee trade, Smoak went deep again on Wednesday,
marking his third straight game with a tater. The 23-year-old first baseman has
hit safely in six straight games, driving in seven runs in the process nad will
be a great late-round option with tons of upside in mixed-league drafts next
Hamilton — Had another good day swinging the bat Wednesday
and is expressing optimism that he can be in the lineup as early as Friday.
McDonald (L, 6 IP, ER, 5 H, 7 K vs. STL) — Despite the
outcome, McDonald once again proved that Pittsburgh made the right move in
acquiring him for Octavio Dotel at the Trade Deadline. In 11 starts for the
Pirates, McDonald went 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA and 61/24 K/BB ratio over 64 innings.
Walters (W, 7 IP, 3 H, BB, 4 K vs. PIT) — Walters, who was
roughed up in his first start after being recalled from Triple-A Memphis —
where he went 8-5 with a 3.81 ERA in 19 games — submitted a more polished
performance in this one, scattering a couple of singles while expending just 80
pitches. The 25-year-old right-hander finishes the season with a 6.00 ERA and
22/10 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work.
Blanton (W, 7 IP, R (0 ER), 3 BB,
6 K vs. WSH) – Over his last 10 starts, Blanton is 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA and
58/16 K/BB ratio. Not a bad close out to the season.
R. A. Dickey (L, 7 IP, 6 H, ER, 4 K
vs. MIL) — Despite the loss, Dickey was sharp on his final turn
in the rotation in 2010, allowing one run or fewer for the 11th time in 26
starts. Most impressive about the 35-year-old hurler is his impeccable control
of the knuckleball. The right-hander walked just 41 batters in 173 2/3 innings
— a 2.12 BB/9 ratio, good for fifth in the National League.
Figueroa (W, 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 0 ER,
3 BB, 5 K vs. CIN) — Figueroa’s ninth and final start with the Astros
was his best, notching his only scoreless start. Since joining Houston’s
rotation, the journeyman right-hander was 3-3 with a 3.62 ERA and 37 strikeouts
over 49 2/3 innings.
Francisco (3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBIs)
— Given the rare opportunity to start consecutive games, Francisco
didn’t disappoint, notching his first multi-homer game of 2010. The 28-year-old
reserve outfielder is hitting .267 with a .500 slugging percentage as a
Hill (2-for-3, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R,
BB) — Hill’s long ball was his 5th in September and his 26th overall.
Home run power has been the keystoner’s lone source of production in an
otherwise rough season. In 516 at-bats, the 28-year-old is hitting .207 with a
Lincecum (W, 7 IP, 6H, ER, 4 BB, 11
K vs. ARI) — Lincecum closes out a wonderful September with a 5-1
record and a 1.94 ERA. The defending NL Cy Young Award winner racked up his
sixth double-digit strikeout performance, improving his total to an NL-leading
231. The ace right-hander may take the mound one more time this regular season,
either in the finale against the Padres on Sunday, or in a one-game playoff on
Mayberry (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs)–A
day removed from clinching a fourth consecutive NL East title, manager Charlie
Manuel played an irregular lineup and Mayberry took full advantage of the
opportunity. Wednesday night’s game marked the first start Major League start
of the season for the second generation Major Leaguer. The 26-year-old spent
his most of his year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley hitting .267 with 15 dingers and
Young (W, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB,
6 K vs. CHC) — Young, who’s still working his way back from shoulder
woes, was the sharpest he’s been since returning from the disabled list. His
K/BB ratio of 6/2 in Wednesday’s tilt is a marked improvement from the 4/6 mark
from his previous two starts.
Madison Bumbgarner might be really good for a really
long time. The 21-year-old rookie southpaw was dealing in Thursday night’s
pivotal drubbing over the Cubs, permitting seven hits with a walk and nine Ks
over seven shutout innings to even his record at 6-6. After being staked to a
10-0 lead in the second, all Bumgarner needed to do was throw strikes and
cruise to his first win since Aug. 20. The outing marked his fifth straight in
which he yielded two earned runs or fewer — and first in which he actually got
some run support. The young phenom will carry a 3.06 ERA into what will likely
be his last start of the regular season on Sept. 29 vs. the D-backs.
Pujols — Went deep twice in Thursday’s win over the
Pirates for his 40th and 41st homers of the campaign. Pujols has now reached the 40-homer mark an
incredible six times in his storied 10-year career. He needs six more long
balls in order to match the 47 he launched a season ago.
Braden (W, 8 IP, H, 2 BB, 7 K vs. TEX) — Simply a dominant
performance from Braden, who consistently got ahead of hitters and induced 16
swinging strikes on 114 pitches. The outing was markedly different from his
previous four, in which he went 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA. The left-hander is on
track to toe the rubber again on Sept. 28 vs. the Angels in Anaheim.
Drew (3-for-5, 3B, HR, 4 RBIs) — Drew, who has blasted
off in consecutive contests on the heels of a 20-game power outage, has popped
off for six multi-hit efforts in the last 10 tilts. For the season, he’s
batting .280 with 11 triples and 78 runs.
Gallardo (W, 6 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 9 K vs. FLA) — Just
another night on the job for Gallardo, who has surrendered a total of 20 hits
and six earned runs over his last four starts, spanning 27 2/3 innings. Owners
can expect the Milwaukee ace to finish the season on a high note when he takes
the rock on Sept. 29 vs. the Mets in New York.
Gonzalez (2-for-5, GS, 6 RBIs) — More of the same from Gonzalez, who
extended his hitting streak to 10 games while nearly singlehandedly bringing
the Rockies back from an 8-2 deficit. The MVP candidate has gone 17-for-39 with
six extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and 11 runs during the latest surge, which has
kicked his average up to a season-high .342.
Kelly Johnson (3-for-5, HR, 2 RBIs, 2
R, SB) — And the beat goes on for Johnson, who’s sent five into orbit in the
last eight games. The swipe was his 12th.
Kuroda (W, 8 IP, ER, 5 H, BB, 4 K vs. SD) – That’s five
straight quality starts for Kuroda, who is wrapping a bow on his finest Major
League season. The third-year import is now 11-13 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
and 153/47 K/BB ratio over 190 innings.
Morse (2-for-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 R) — Morse has brought
out the heavy lumber three times in the last five games on the heels of a
16-game power outage. The big right fielder has enjoyed a solid second half,
batting .296 with nine jacks, 29 RBIs and 28 runs in 54 tilts.
O’Sullivan (W, 6 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 3 K vs. CLE) — O’Sullivan
finally ended a very rough stretch in which he had been tagged for at least
five earned runs in four consecutive starts. The victory was his first since
Aug. 22, as the right-hander lowered his ERA by more than half a run to 6.03.
O’Sullivan will try to put together successive quality outings when he toes the
rubber again Sept. 28 vs. the Twins.
Uribe (2-for-4, 2 HR, 6 RBIs) — Uribe enjoyed a second
inning for the ages, as the infielder belted a two-run jack before following it
up with a grand slam as part of a nine-run explosion by the Giants. In doing
so, he broke out of a 2-for-21 rut while equaling his RBI output from the last
23 games. Uribe, who has already established a new career high with 83 RBIs, is
one homer away from tying the 23 jacks he totaled in 2004.
Dempster (L, 1 2/3 IP, 9 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K vs. SF) — A
forgettable night for Dempster, who faced 15 batters and recorded only five
outs. While he entered the game having hurled a combined 14 shutout innings
over his last two starts — both wins — the writing was on the wall in his two
outings before those. In 7 2/3 innings vs. the Mets and Pirates, Dempster got
tuned up for 16 hits and 14 runs (10 earned). The right-hander is on track to
return to the hill on Sept. 28 in San Diego.
By Zach Steinhorn
OF Jason Heyward Braves
Expectations were sky high for Heyward
entering the season, and while he hasn’t quite matched the production of the
’07 Ryan Braun or ’08 Evan Longoria, the Braves’ right fielder has done more
than enough to prove that he’s the real deal. After battling inconsistency for
much of the first half, Heyward is hitting a robust .326 in 60 games since the
All-Star break to go along with a .938 OPS. He remains a must-own in keeper
leagues and will make for a fine mid-round selection next year.
OF Austin Jackson Tigers
The Tigers’ front office deserves a lot of
credit for their gutsy decision to trade away Curtis Granderson for a package
that included Jackson. There were questions as to whether the 23-year-old
center fielder was ready for the big show. Not anymore. Through 140 games this
season, Austin is batting .300 with 98 runs scored and 24 steals.
Although his power upside is limited, Jackson has wasted little time
establishing himself as a quality three-category contributor.
OF Mike Stanton Marlins
Take a look at the .241 average and the 108
strikeouts in just 316 at-bats and you’ll realize that Stanton is
still a work in progress. Then take a look at the 20 home runs and .500
slugging percentage and you’ll know that he’s a star in the making. What can
you expect from Stanton in 2011 and beyond? Power, and lots of it.
We’re talking Adam Dunn power. Simply put, Stanton is Adam Dunn with
SP Jaime Garcia Cardinals
Garcia wasn’t even assured of a rotation spot
heading into the season, but after a strong spring training the Cardinals named
him their fifth starter. Six months later, it’s safe to say that the club has
not regretted this decision. Through 28 starts, the young southpaw
is 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA. Even more impressive than Garcia’s overall
numbers is his consistency. In 24 of those 28 starts he’s given up three earned
runs or less. Oh yeah, and then there’s the 2.64 ground-out to fly-out ratio and
the nine home runs allowed over 163 1/3 innings. All signs point to continued
success in 2011.
RP Neftali Feliz Rangers
Will the Rangers eventually move Feliz into
their starting rotation? Maybe. For now though, the closer role is suiting him
just fine. Through 64 appearances this season, the 22-year-old flamethrower
sports a nifty 3.00 ERA and miniscule 0.92 WHIP to go along with 36 saves in 39
chances. He’s been especially lights out in the second half, posting a 1.78 ERA
in 25 relief outings since the All-Star break, and will go into next season as
a sure-fire No. 1 fantasy closer. However, keeper league owners should monitor
his situation during the offseason. Feliz’s 2011 appeal could take a hit should
he convert to a starter as he has yet to make one big league start. Who knows
how he would handle the switch.
Better late than never, I guess, Jose Lopez. The Mariners infielder
blasted three homers Wednesday night vs. the Blue Jays, proving that he does,
in fact, have a pulse. The long balls were his first since Aug. 15, which ended
a 30-game power outage. And while the fireworks display is surely encouraging,
it doesn’t change the fact that there haven’t been many bigger disappointments
in the game this season than Lopez, who is batting a paltry .237 with 10 long
balls and 56 RBIs one year after posting a .272-25-96 line.
Ramirez — Was
sidelined again with an elbow injury. After going 1-for-4
in his return on Tuesday night, Ramirez felt more discomfort in his left elbow
Wednesday. “He said he was feeling worse,” manager Edwin Rodriguez
said. The elbow has bothered Hanley for about six weeks, and he had missed four
straight games before playing on Tuesday. It is unclear when he will be back in
Pedro Alvarez (2-for-5,
2B, HR, 4 RBIs)
— It would be an understatement to say Alvarez needed a night like this, as
the rookie third baseman was just 5-for-36 with two RBIs over the last 10
games. While the highly-touted basher has endured his fair share of struggles,
there’s no doubt he’s shown he can rake at the big league level. He will be a
sneaky mid-to late round pick in mixed leagues next year.
John Bowker (3-for-3, 2B, HR, 2
RBIs, 2 R, BB) — That’s two multi-hit efforts in the last four games for
Bowker, who has struggled in limited duty this season, batting .222 with 12
extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 15 runs in 57 contests between the Giants and
Espinosa (2-for-4, 3B, 2 RBIs, 2 R ) — A big night for
Espinosa, who came through with his first multi-hit effort since exploding for
two homers and six RBIs on Sept. 6. In 19 games since his inaugural callup, the
23-year-old infielder is batting .229 with nine extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and 11
Morales (2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBIs, R, BB) — Getting just his
fourth start of the season, Morales came through with his second multi-hit
effort. The 27-year-old catcher is 6-for-22 with seven RBIs and three runs for
the season. He could be a nice late-season add if Joe Mauer misses more time.
Scherzer (W, 7 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K vs. KC) — A dominating
performance from Scherzer, who held everyone in the Royals lineup not named
Gregor Blanco hitless. Despite a forgettable first two months, the
smoke-throwing right-hander boasts a formidable 3.40 ERA and 8.54 K/9 mark.
Owners can throw Scherzer with confidence when he takes the rock again on Sept.
28 in Cleveland.
Niese (L, 5 2/3 IP, 6 ER, 5 H, 6 BB, 7 K vs. FLA) – Since posting
a 2.48 ERA for July, Niese is just 2-6 with a 4.83 ERA. He gets the Marlins
again next time out, so tread water cautiously.
Stauffer (W, 6 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 5
K vs. LAD) —Stauffer continues to get the job done for the Firars. In
26 innings as a starter, the 28-year-old swingman is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA, and
he’s allowed one run or less in four of his five starts. He gets the Cardinals
in St. Louis next time out.
Tejada (3-for-4, 2-R HR) — Tejada’s
300th career homer underscored just how productive the shortstop has been since
joining the Padres. The third inning shot was his 15th of the season and his
eighth as a Padre — eclipsing his Baltimore total in 207 fewer at-bats.
Wells (W, 7 2/3 IP, 6 H, 0 ER,
BB, 6 K vs. SF) — Wells has spun back-to-back gems after going 1-5 with
a 5.98 ERA over eight starts between August 2 and September 8. The second year
right-hander is 2-0 in these last two starts, having allowed just one run,
eleven hits and one walk with eleven strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings of work. The
28-year-old sports a 4.28 ERA and a 142/59 K/BB ratio for the year.
Wolf (W, 6 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 7
K vs. CIN) — Wolf has turned his season around in the second half. The
veteran lefty entered the All-Star break on many a waiver wire with a 6-8
record, 4.58 ERA and a 74/58 K/BB ratio. Since, the 34-year-old has gone 7-3
with a 3.80 ERA and a fantastic 61/27 K/BB mark.
Cueto (1 1/3 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 3
BB, 2 K, HR vs. MIL) — Cueto just didn’t have it as the Brewers hitters
got him for three singles, four doubles and a homer before he was relieved by
Aaron Harang with one out in the second inning. It was the shortest outing of
the season for the 24-year-old flame thrower, who had pitched a minimum of five
innings in all but one of his 28 starts entering the night’s action. The
right-hander will attempt to get back on the beam at home against the Astros on
Clayton Richard is pretty good
at throwing a baseball. The Padres sophomore breakout turned in his best
performance of his young career Tuesday night, firing a complete-game shutout by
scattering eight hits while walking two and striking out six in a win over the
Dodgers . This coming after he allowed a career-high eight runs on 11 hits six
days ago against the Rockies. With a 13
wins and a 3.38 ERA under his belt, Richard has been one of the better
waiver-wire gems of the 2010 campaign, as he sets up to face the Reds on Sept.
26 in his next start.
Edinson Volquez (:W, 8 IP, 1 ER,
4 BB, 6 K @ MIL) — Normally a flyball-strikeout pitcher, he
uncharacteristically notched 16 of his 24 outs via the groundball and helped
himself by inducing four double plays. Using 108 pitches for the night, Volquez
faced the minimum 15 batters through the first five innings, with both hits
erased by double plays. He had only 49 pitches to that point. He is scheduled
to make his next start on Sept. 26 at San Diego.
Carlos Zambrano (ND, 6 IP, 0 ER,
3 H, 5 BB, 8 K v. SF) — It’s been a wild ride for Zambrano, who has gone from
Opening Day starter to needing anger management therapy. In eight starts since
Aug. 14, he’s 6-0 and has given up seven earned runs over 52 innings for a 1.21
ERA. What’s the difference? Zambrano’s slider and split have been more
effective than earlier in the year. He is lined up to make his next start on
Sept. 26 against the Cardinals.
Trevor Cahill (W, 8 IP, 2 ER,
6 H, 1 BB, 7 K v. CWS) — Cahill labored on his way to his 15th victory. He
threw 116 pitches — just 60 for strikes — over six innings and walked six
batters. The 22-year-old helped himself with a pickoff n the first inning and
was picked up by a Rajai Davis outfield assist in the fifth. With a 15-6 record
and a 2.72 ERA, Cahill has been one of the breakout fantasy stars of the 2010
Andres Torres – Could return
from appendectomy by the weekend. Huge news for Giants fans and Torres owners,
as the breakout outfielder is hitting .278 with 13 homers, 59 RBIs, 78 runs
scored and 23 steals.
Ervin Santana (W, 9 IP, 0 ER,
5 H, 1 BB, 8 K v. TEX) — Santana is driving to the finish line with wins in
seven of his past eight decisions. Having established a career high with 17
victories against nine losses, he figures to have two more starts, meaning a
20-win season is unlikely. Santana faced only one batter over the minimum
through five innings, moving into eighth place on the Angels’ all-time
strikeout list when he put away Moreland to end the fifth. It was Santana’s
845th career strikeout. He is lined up to make his next start on Sept. 26
against the White Sox.
Justin Upton — Looks like he’s done
for the season. Upton, who aggravated his stiff left shoulder on Aug. 30, has
started just two of the Arizona’s last 19 games. He served as a ninth-inning pinch-runner
and stole a base in losses on Sept. 11 and 17. Upton worked out at Chase Field
on the club’s off-day Monday and also prior to Tuesday’s game. The right
fielder has averaged 126 games in his first three full MLB seasons.
Brad Bergesen (W, 6 IP, ER, 5
H, 4 BB, 2 K vs. BOS) — Another strong performance from Bergesen, who’s gone
3-1 with a sterling 1.30 ERA over his last five starts, spanning 34 2/3
innings. The 24-year-old right-hander will face a big test when he toes the
rubber again on Sept. 27 in Tampa Bay vs. a Rays club that has knocked him
around a few times this season.
Jarrod Dyson (3-for-4, 2 2B,
3 R, RBI, BB, SB) — A nice all-around night for Dyson, who’s 8-for-18 with
four doubles, six runs and four steals in eight games since his inaugural
callup. The 26-year-old center fielder batted .272 with 33 runs and 13 steals
in 46 games with Triple-A Omaha before his promotion.
6 1/3 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 8 K vs. SEA) — An impressive showing from
Rzepczynski, who threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 28 batters while inducing
13 swings and misses. The left-hander, who has surrendered three earned runs or
fewer in four of his last five starts, earned his first victory since Aug. 13.
Rzepczynski is on track to take his next turn in the rotation on Sept. 26 vs.
Mike Minor (L, 2 1/3 IP, 3
ER, 7 H, BB vs. PHI) — Minor, who needed 73 pitches (42
strikes) to record seven outs, was bounced after serving up a three-run homer
to Jayson Werth in the third. Minor has been hit hard in each of his last four
outings, surrendering a combined 17 earned runs and five jacks in 16 1/3
innings. Owners should probably stay away from the rookie when he hurls again
on Sept. 27 vs. the Marlins.
By Zach Steinhorn
in fantasy baseball is as much about unproven rookies as it is about
established stars. Why? Because you don’t have to spend an early-round draft
pick on a guy with little to no big league experience. As we head towards the
finish line of the 2010 fantasy season, you can bet that all teams still in
contention have at least one breakout rookie on their roster. The time has come
to present the 2010 All-Rookie fantasy team. We’ll cover the infielders today
and move on to outfielders and pitchers on Thursday.
We all predicted
a bright big league future for Posey, but few could have expected the San
Francisco backstop to ascend to elite catcher status this quickly. For some
reason, the Giants decided to keep their top prospect down in the Minors until
late-May, but once he got the call it didn’t take long for him to make his
mark. Posey’s batting average has yet to dip below .289 this season and his
performance in July (.417 AVG 7 HR 24 RBI) was flat out ridiculous. Project his
stats over a full 162 game schedule and you’ve got 24 homers and 104 RBIs to go
along with a .321 average. Pretty good. Buster will head into next year as a
clear-cut top 5 fantasy catcher, and keeper league owners must be salivating
over the thought of having him on their squad for years to come.
stat line (.279 AVG 18 HR 78 RBI) doesn’t exactly jump out at you,
let’s note that Gaby went undrafted in the vast majority of mixed leagues, so
to get this kind of production off the waiver wire cannot be overlooked.
Sanchez’s 16 home runs in just 85 Minor League games last season suggests room
for improvement in the power department, and considering the depth at the first
base position, there’s a good chance he falls to the very late rounds in drafts
next spring. 20-25 homers and a solid average in the 22nd round.
What’s not to like?
I’ll be honest,
even though he did appear in 17 games for the Pirates in ’09, I had no idea who
Walker was when he got called up by Pittsburgh towards the end of May. I would
soon find out. The 25-year-old kicked off his big league season with a bang,
recording multiple hits in six of his first 10 games. He’s been a mainstay in
the Pirates’ lineup ever since, and has even earned a spot on most fantasy
rosters as a quality option at the weak-hitting second base position. Walker
will surely be a tempting choice come draft day 2011, but be careful not to
overrate him. A very high .349 BABIP points towards a regression in the average
department. Don’t be surprised if by this time next year, we’re categorizing
Walker as more of an NL-only choice than a viable mixed league starter.
league owners will probably want to aim higher than Desmond when drafting their
starting shortstop next season. That said, the 25-year-old will make for an
intriguing late-round option. While Desmond doesn’t profile as much of a power
threat right now (just 10 homers so far this season), his ability on the
basepaths (16 steals in 142 games) combined with a steady average is certainly
worthy of attention. Factor in Desmond’s considerable improvement in the second
half (.312 AVG since the All-Star break as opposed to .255 AVG before the
Midsummer Classic) and we’re looking at a player who still has plenty of room
to grow. I can see him develop into a consistent 15 home run, 20 stolen base
guy as soon as 2011.
Johnson plays both football and baseball? No, this is the other Chris Johnson,
the one who, after dominating at Triple-A this year to the tune of a .329
average and eight homers in 38 games, took his talents to the Majors and didn’t
miss a beat. Johnson batted .374 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 30 games
from June 22 through the end of July, piecing together a 14-game hitting streak
in the process. A 16 RBI month of August followed, and it became clear that
Houston had found its third baseman of the present and future. Not only will Johnson
be a popular NL-only draft target come 2011, there’s a good chance he’ll
maintain mixed league value.
Check back in on
Thursday for the rest of the 2010 All-Rookie Team.
With Jair Jurrjens still nursing a tight knee, the
Braves turned to prospect Brandon Beachy
to make his Major League debut start for Atlanta’s pivotal opener vs. the
Phillies Monday night. It went exactly how you thought it went. The 24-year-old
right-hander yielded three runs – one earned – over 4 1/3 innings of four-hit,
three-run ball in the losing effort. Considering the circumstances and
magnitude of the game, Beachy’s shakiness is certainly understandable. What is
unclear is whether or not he makes another start for the Braves. If he does, he’s
worth picking up in NL-only leagues, as he combined to go 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA
— the best ERA posted in the Minor Leagues — while playing for Triple-A
Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi this year.
Avila (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 R) – You could do worse for
a late-season catcher pickup than Avila, who turned some eyes last season by
posting a .279-5-14 line in just 61 at-bats.
Betancourt (4-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs) — A timely outburst from
Betancourt, who was just 8-for-57 (.140) in 15 games since he last dialed up
the power. Despite a pedestrian .259 average, the 28-year-old shortstop has
been a worthy play in AL-only formats thanks to his 25 doubles and 74 RBIs.
Bogusevic (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R) — Getting his second start since his
inaugural callup on Sept. 1, Bogusevic collected his first career multi-hit
effort and improved to 4-for-14 with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs as a
big leaguer. The 24th overall pick in the 2005 Draft, Bogusevic batted .277
with 13 homers, 91 runs and 23 steals in 131 games with Triple-A Round Rock
Capuano (ND, 6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 7 K vs. CIN) — Capuano continues to receive scant
run support despite pitching well. Over his last four starts, he’s posted a
2.59 ERA in 24 1/3 innings of work. Owners in head-to-head playoffs should give
the left-hander some consideration when he returns to the hill on Sept. 25 vs.
Granderson (2-for-3, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, SB) –
Curtis, don’t hurt ’em! A huge night for Granderson, who has popped four out of
the yard during a seven-game hitting streak. With his first blast Monday, the
outfielder officially reached the 20-homer plateau for the fourth consecutive
season. The swipe was his 12th.
Hamels (W, 8 IP, ER, 6 H, BB, 6 K vs. ATL) — Hamels
continues to make opposing hitters look silly. The surging left-hander has won
each of his last five starts, posting an utterly absurd 0.49 ERA and 37/7 K/BB
ratio over 36 2/3 innings. Owners can expect another masterpiece when Hamels
hurls again on Sept. 26 vs. the Mets.
Matusz (ND, 5 IP, ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 4 K) — After leaving his
last start early with a bruised left triceps, Matusz showed no ill effects from
the injury, surrendering three earned runs or fewer for the fifth straight
outing. The 23-year-old southpaw, who is 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA and 26/8 K/BB
ratio in that span, is worth a start in all formats when he toes the rubber
again on Sept. 26 in Toronto.
Murphy (5-for-5, 2B, R) — Murphy has been on a tear over
the last three weeks. The outfielder has hit safely in 15 of 16 games in
September, batting .398 with eight extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and 11 runs.
Holland (L, 3 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, K vs. LAA) – He’s now
1-3 with a 4.82 ERA since the All-Star break to go with a 29/15 K/BB ratio over
28 innings. The talent is there, you just can’t trust him.
Porcello (ND, 5 1/3 IP, 5 ER, 12 H, 2 K vs. KC) — Porcello, who was scratched from his
last start with strained right index finger, wasn’t very sharp in his return to
action, as the 12 hits represented a season high. The no-decision snapped a
four-start winning streak for the 21-year-old right-hander, who will carry a
5.22 ERA into his next outing on Sept. 26 vs. the Twins.
Gavin Floyd — Was taken out of the game with tightness in the back of his right
shoulder after throwing just seven pitches vs. the A’s. Floyd
left the game with a 2-2 count to leadoff hitter Rajai Davis. Tony Pena
replaced Floyd and got Davis to fly out to center. Floyd is 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA
lifetime against the A’s, but he has been struggling recently. In his previous
start, he allowed nine hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the
Twins. Before that, he gave up 13 hits and five earned runs against Detroit.
Hey look, it’s Andy
Pettitte! The veteran southpaw had a strong return to the mound on Sunday,
tossing six innings of one-run ball, yielding three hits and one walk, while
striking out two vs. the Orioles. Pretty impressive numbers considering
Pettitte has been sidelined since July 18 with “persistent small tear” of
his left groin. He’ll face the Red Sox next and is a worthwhile stash for the
Abreu (2-for-5, 2 HR) — Abreu
has now hit in five straight games, with extra-base hits in three of those
contests. With that pair of solo shots on Sunday, the veteran outfielder has
the ninth 20-homer season of his career.
Baker (3-for-4, RBI, BB, 2 R) —
Baker has really made the most of his starts in September. Including his
performance on Sunday, the reserve infielder has four multi-hit games in six
starts this month. However, sparse playing time combined with a .726 season OPS
leaves will keep Baker from fantasy relevancy.
Guillen (2-for-4, HR (GS), 6 RBIs)
— Guillen appears to be enjoying his time in the Bay Area. In 95
at-bats since being traded by the Royals, the veteran slugger is
triple-slashing .315/.354/.453 with three homers and 15 RBIs. He could be a
sneaky play in deeper leagues if playing time comes to him at a regular pace.
Kemp (3-for-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI,
BB) — Kemp broke out of a 3-for-24 slump in a big way, notching three
hits in a game for just the seventh time this season. Despite the .251 batting
average, the 25-year-old outfielder has been a solid source for power (23
homers, 24 doubles) and RBIs (77) this season.
Lee (2-for-5, HR (GS), 2B, 2 R) — Lee, who entered the
game with five RBIs in September, nearly matched that sum in one swing of the
bat. His seventh inning grand slam was just the veteran first baseman’s second
homer as a member of the Braves, as he’s batting just .267 with Atlanta.
Lester (W, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB,
4 K vs. TOR) – Ho hum. Lester is now 5-0
with a 2.38 ERA in that spa, racking up 46 strikeouts against 17 walks.
Rasmus (2-for-3, HR, 2 R) –
Rasmus continues to rake, as the talented sophomore is now batting .387
(12-for-31) with two homers, five RBIs and nine runs scored over his last eight
Adam Wainwright (W, 8 IP, 5
H, ER, 3 BB, 7 K vs. SD) — A nice bounce-back performance from the
Cardinals ace, who entered the contest having lost five of his previous six
Miller (L, 1 1/3 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4
BB, K vs. CHC) – The Marlins aren’t doing Miller any favors by sending
the lefty out there every fifth day. Over his last three starts, Miller is 0-3
with a 14.81 ERA. That’s not a typo. Miller has really allowed 17 earned runs
over his last 10 1/3 innings.
Niemann (L, 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3
BB, 5 K, 2 HR vs. LAA) - Speaking of pitchers who’d be better off out of their
team’s rotations, Niemann just hasn’t been the same since returning from the
DL. In his five starts back, Niemann is 0-4 with a 14.43 ERA. Not good. Expect
Jeremy Hellickson back in the Rays rotation ASAP.
Chris Tillman (3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 6
BB, K vs. NYY) – That’s two straight games with six walks for Tillman, who is
0-0 with a 4.02 ERA (not
bad) and a 9/15 K/BB ratio (bad) over his last three trips to the mound.
Drabek was the centerpiece of the Blue Jays’ haul from the
Roy Halladay trade. Kyle Drabek also made his Major League debut Wednesday night vs.
the Orioles. He was pretty solid, allowing nine hits and three earned runs with
three walks and five strikeouts over six innings of a losing effort. The
22-year-old right-hander spent the season at Double-A New Hampshire, where he
went 14-9 with a 2.94 ERA and 132/68 K/BB ratio in 162 innings. Those in keeper
leagues already know Drabek well, but those in deeper leagues that need a
swanky new arm down the stretch might want to press “click” on Drabek’s name,
as he’ll face the Mariners next.
One highly touted rookie you won’t want to pick up
down the stretch is Jenrry Mejia. The Mets pitching prospect left
Wednesday’s game in the third inning with an acute strain in the muscle in the
back of his right shoulder, a injury that could end his season. Stay tuned for
results on his MRI.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced that upon Scott Baker‘s return from the DL, Baker
will pitch out of the bullpen. Baker has not pitched since his start against
the Tigers on Sept. 2 when he had a second occurrence of tendinitis in his
Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter was removed from Wednesday night’s 7-3 loss to the
Cubs due to cramping in his right hamstring in the seventh inning. Let’s stay tuned for an update on that one
but I’m guessing it’s nothing too serious.
Bergesen (W, CG, ER, 7 H, 3 Ks vs. TOR) – Hello! AL-only leaguers who rolled the dice here have been
rewarded in spades, as Bergesen is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA over his last four trips
to the hill. He gets the Red Sox next.
Betemit (2-for-3, HR, 4 RBIs, BB) — Betemit has been
absolutely destroying the ball during a five-game hitting streak, going
11-for-22 with two jacks and eight RBIs. Just add him already.
Buchholz (W, 7 IP, ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 6 K vs. SEA) — A nice
bounce-back for Buchholz, who was tagged for five runs in just one inning last
time out. The victory was his first since Aug. 22, as the young right-hander
lowered his ERA to 2.48, which is good for second in the AL. Owners can return
to throwing Buchholz with confidence when he hurls again on Sept. 21 vs. an
Orioles club he blanked earlier this season.
Cain (W, 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 5 K vs. LAD) — A dominant
performance from Cain, who surrendered less than two earned runs for the first
time in eight starts. Oh, and he didn’t walk anyone. The big right-hander will
carry a 3.08 ERA and 1.10 WHIP into his next outing on Sept. 21 vs. the Cubs at
Johnson (2-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBIs) – Hey, that was exciting!
Too bad there’s likely not much to see in Johnson here, as in 25 games this
season, he’s batting .221 with 16 RBIs and 12 runs.
Bailey (ND, 3 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 5 Ks vs. ARI) — Uh
oh. Bailey has really become the ultimate pitching tease with all of his
inconsistencies, flashing ace form one day and then clunking it up the next.
This disaster came on the heels of a seven-inning, nine-strikeout shutout of
the Pirates last time out.
Cahill (L, 5 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K vs. KC) – Didn’t see
that one coming. Cahill entered the contest having hurled 13 consecutive
scoreless frames over his last two starts. Don’t you worry about Trevor Cahill,
he’ll be just fine.
Floyd (L, 5 1/3 IP, 6 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 4 K vs. MIN) –
Back-to-back rough outings for Floyd, who’s now been hit for 11 earned runs
over his last 11 1/3 innings. After going 3-1 with a 0.80 ERA for July, Floyd
is 4-5 with a 6.13 ERA since. Not good.