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May 18, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop

by Michael Jong

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Value Picks Season PECOTA Games Scoresheet
C/2B/SS Team PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG BA OBP SLG C 2B SS vRH vLH Rng
Mike Aviles KCR 49 2 7 2 0 .388 .388 .531 .277 .311 .419 0 9 2 –29 +66 4.78
Ian Desmond
WAS 127 3 15 17 3 .246 .291 .421 .241 .306 .400 0 0 35 –12 +29 4.75
Cristian Guzman WAS 122 0 17 13 1 .322 .347 .417 .287 .324 .396 0 23 9 –20 +51 4.72
John Jaso TBR 61 1 7 12 0 .313 .443 .438 .255 .341 .357 17 0 0 +23 –67 .62/.22
Felipe Lopez STL 50 1 6 4 0 .273 .347 .432 .267 .338 .376 0 5 5 –4 +11 4.27
Ronny Paulino FLO 79 2 8 12 0 .297 .342 .432 .254 .316 .376 19 0 0 –23 +48 .67/.28
Carlos Ruiz PHI 106 2 12 11 0 .345 .472 .476 .269 .372 .390 28 0 0 –22 +60 .60/.24
Skip Schumaker STL 154 1 21 7 1 .232 .305 .290 .270 .334 .359 0 27 0 +48 –158 4.22
  Avg for Catcher .256 .324 .397   vRH = OPS v RH
  Avg for Second Base .274 .337 .409   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Shortstop .272 .329 .396   Rng = Range

This week, the Hot Spots Value Picks portfolio features some light changes as compared to last week, when three players were turned over in a large overhaul. This week, two players leave, one graduating from Value Picks while the other being dropped. Mike Aviles found himself quite popular this week among ESPN leaguers, as the middle infielder saw his league representation shoot up 20 percent this week alone. As a result, he leaves Value Picks after a week full of singles and not much else (.333/.333/.367 slash line the last seven days). Those who picked him up this week should enjoy a decent AVG, but beware the lack of power or OBP; Aviles still has only two RBI to his name despite being a starter for two weeks now. Skip Schumaker has been given a few weeks to work out his kinks, but regression seems to be coming slowly for the St. Louis second baseman. With the return of Felipe Lopez from the DL, there simply is no reason to wait for Schumaker, a lesser player compared to Lopez, to regress accordingly.

Speaking of Lopez, this is his second tour on Value Picks, and hopefully the results do not mirror his first week-long stay. Previously, I had listed him the morning he was assigned to the DL, furthering the oddity of the "Value Picks Phenomenon" (like my colleague Rob McQuown before me said, we will not use the "C" word here). Lopez went on the DL with an elbow problem potentially stemming from his one-inning stint as a pitcher during the 20-inning marathon between the Mets and Cardinals. With his return, Heater team expert Erik Manning has Lopez taking the majority of playing time at shortstop (his worst defensive position) while taking some time at second base and third base as well. The MO for Lopez is the same now as it was before he went on the DL; it all depends on BABIP. His walk rate is passable, but nothing impressive, and his power is what you would expect from a middle infielder. With his speed, he should be able to get a .280 AVG and thus be an effective player at the top of the lineup for the Cards. The benefit of slotting at the top of that order is the bounty of runs it will produce. Even Schumaker, who had a .305 OBP heading into last night's games, still somehow scored 21 runs batting in front of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Even with PECOTA's down projection for Lopez (.338 OBP), expect plenty of runs from him as he moves around the diamond for the Cards.

The other addition this week is a fresh face to Hot Spots. Ronny Paulino has been hitting well all season long and has been in consideration for a spot in Value Picks for a little while. However, being the small half of a platoon with John Baker kept Paulino too low on playing time to be placed here. Now with the Marlins sending Baker to the DL with a forearm injury, Paulino has been promoted to the primary catcher for the Fish. With a current line of .297/.342/.432, you would think that this would be a good thing for the Marlins, especially given Baker's recent struggles at the plate. Paulino has displayed solid patience (8.1 percent walk rate) and decent pop (.144 adjusted ISO) while with the Marlins, but that performance comes with an important caveat: half of Paulino's plate appearances with Florida have come against left-handed pitching. Scoresheet owners will note that the platoon split is significant, though not as extreme as some full-time starters. Full-time play will expose Paulino to more right-handed pitching, and for his career Paulino has only hit .250/.303/.343 against righties, compared to a .338/.394/.497 against lefties. Baker's DL stint should last a bit more than two weeks, meaning Paulino will be the go-to catcher for that period of time for the Marlins. His spot in the lineup is conducive to RBI, as he hits behind the solid OBP of Dan Uggla. With the bottom of the Marlins order heating up, expect a few more runs scored than we have seen so far this year as well. Paulino's average is a bit inflated right now, but he has managed hard contact in his time in Florida (22.1 percent line-drive rate), and even with regression a .270 AVG is not out of reach. PECOTA's weighted mean of .264/.331/.419 looks like a solid expectation for the next two weeks.

The remaining players on Value Picks had up-and-down weeks. Ian Desmond cooled off again, displaying a streaky nature so far this year, while teammate Cristian Guzman heated up. Guzman has gotten a few starts lately in the outfield, but Heater expert Paul Bugala states that Guzman's defense has shown him to be only an emergency option there. A loss of playing time to Adam Kennedy's recent hot streak is discomforting, and despite the tear Guzman has been on, his time on Value Picks may be nearing an end. John Jaso continues to hit, even if the hits are not going as far. He did not pick up much in the way of counting stats (or PA, really), but his .313/.443/.438 is still quite impressive. Carlos Ruiz went through a similar week, continuing to impress with his slash line but not picking up significantly in the counting stats.

Michael Jong is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Michael's other articles. You can contact Michael by clicking here

Related Content:  Felipe Paulino

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