May 5, 2010
Hot Spots: Outfield
Recap: It's somewhat amazing just how fast season stat lines can change this early in the season. Josh Willingham hit a bomb, but otherwise took a huge step backward, making his stat line look a lot more like his PECOTA than it did last week. On the plus side, Delmon Young's big game pushed his OBP and SLG above PECOTA levels. Cameron Maybin continues to score runs and little else. He's an even better “Value” pick now. Though with Mike Stanton knocking the stuffing out of the ball in the minors, his margin for error is much lower. Will Venable had a 2-SB week, salvaging fantasy value from a poor offensive showing, and Jeremy Hermida had a brush with “The Curse of the Value Picks”, as his hammy was injured almost as soon as "Publish" was clicked. Fortunately for him, it wasn't bad enough to land him on the DL, and he's back in the lineup.
Departures: Fave Josh Willingham will be reluctantly replaced on this list, for much the same reasons that Mike Street used for his replacements—it's more of a “graduation” than a dismissal... public opinion has nearly caught up to his true value. Kyle Blanks, on the other hand and while still possessing jaw-dropping power, gets at least a “time out”. The next couple weeks don't look good for him on the schedule, with only the games at Houston being favorable, and there are three Astros righties on the billet for those, including Roy Oswalt. It's always problematic to try to time a player like this because he could easily have a multi-homer game at any time, but until he shows some more stats, he's outside looking in.
Arrivals: Sabermetric whipping boy Nate Schierholtz steps up this week. Drafted during Brian Sabean's long tenure as Giants GM, walking just over once per 20 PA in the minors, and possessing “doubles power” (read: never more than 18 homers in the minors), he was doomed to be hated by most analysts from the start. His minor-league stats have always evoked Garrett Anderson, though, with a useful .308/.355/.516 batting line in his minor-league career. In 2006, he appeared to fail to make the transition to AA, having a “clunker” of a season at Connecticut (.270/.325/.443), but that's a very difficult ballpark for hitting. He was promoted to the friendlier PCL in 2007, where he raked to the tune of .333/.365/.560. He essentially duplicated those stats in 2008 before falling flat in San Francisco in 2009, hitting just .267/.302/.400 in 308 PA.
When Schierholtz had a terrible Spring Training, he was beaten out by John Bowker, who continued his torrid hitting from 2009 into the spring and looked poised to become a full-time player. But Bowker (.192/.246/.288, and a lesser defender) has given the job back to Schierholtz, and Nate will keep it even when everyone is healthy. He isn't a typical platoon-split lefty, as he's shown a virtually “flat” platoon differential between the high minors and MLB results (he's actually mashed lefties to the tune of .389/.422/.583 in the bigs, but that's just 117 PA, so assuming he'll continue to be highly “reverse” isn't indicated). The facts that he plays on a team which won't score bushels of runs and that he's yet to homer are suppressing his value in many leagues, making him a great “value” despite the gaudy batting average. But he's a full-time player, and he slugged .560 and .590 in 2007-2008 in AAA, so there's no doubt that the power will come. The lack of walks may hurt his run-scoring chances but will also – as with Garrett Anderson in his heyday – provide more RBI than a more passive hitter.
Another week, another Red Sock. There's really not a lot to be added about J.D. Drew, honestly. His profile is like that of Carlos Guillen, in that you can count on him to hit when healthy. He's been an even better hitter—amassing a career line of .283/.391/.503 and plays in a better park with better-hitting teammates (presumably). His walks will limit his value in non-OBP leagues, but this guy has hit a combined .279/.399/.521 the past two years in 995 PA. The low RBI totals should be completely ignored (somehow, he amassed just 132 in that span) because he's shown almost no “situational bias” to his splits in his career (.285/.387/.509 career with bases empty, .279/.396/.496 with runners on, for example). Expect him to be an outstanding source of runs and RBI and to provide some homers with a neutral batting average.