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June 1, 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
Reid Brignac TBR 116 2 15 20 1 .311 .371 .462 .250 .303 .398 0 33 9 +33 –99 4.72
Ian Desmond
WAS 171 4 18 25 3 .263 .304 .410 .243 .305 .387 0 0 47 –12 +29 4.75
John Jaso TBR 106 2 12 19 0 .310 .425 .448 .261 .351 .379 26 0 0 +23 –67 .62/.22
Felipe Lopez STL 98 3 12 10 0 .267 .351 .442 .267 .343 .385 0 8 13 –4 +11 4.27
Ronny Paulino FLO 113 3 12 16 0 .306 .335 .435 .260 .321 .386 27 0 0 –23 +48 .67/.28
Carlos Ruiz PHI 114 2 13 11 0 .298 .426 .395 .260 .361 .386 37 0 0 –22 +60 .60/.24
Carlos Santana CLE 208 10
32
43
6 .313 .447 .566 .253 .355 .424 38 0 0 –4 +12 .62/.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

Note: Statistics in bold are 2010 minor league stats

The Changes

This is the second week of light changes for Value Picks, but the sole change in this week's installment is significant. While the departing Carlos Ruiz did not do anything to merit his demotion from Value Picks, his replacement in the portfolio is a very important addition. With June coming around, numerous top, young prospects are on the cusp of being brought up to the majors, once their teams are certain they will not qualify for Super Two arbitration status. One of those names, San Francisco's Buster Posey, was brought up recently, but by Sunday, he was already owned in 39.5% of ESPN leagues. However, another catching prospect, Cleveland's Carlos Santana, is likely to be brought up in the next few weeks.

When Santana does come up, he should face little problem at the plate. He is a career .289/.400/.494 hitter in the minors, basically blowing through every level with relative ease. This season's .313/.447/.566 line in the International League translates to a .296/.423/.538 according to BP's Davenport Translations. That translated line is good for a .329 TAv that would rank 12th in the majors this season. Even after the translation, Santana comes out with more walks than strikeouts, and his minor league career numbers reflect that level of plate discipline and strike zone recognition; for his career, he has walked and struck out in around 15% of his minor league PA. This is an promising note for his AVG, which should remain decent, especially compared to the average catcher, even with a below average BABIP. Santana's superb plate discipline is paired with solid power as well. In the minors, he hit 20.4 homers per 600 PA, and PECOTA projects similar production at the major league level, with his 50th percentile projection at 18.9 HR/600 PA. PECOTA projects a tempered ISO of .165 at the 50th percentile, but the .200+ upside of the 60th percentile and up matches what Santana has done in the minors.

This will all depend on whether Santana is brought up to the majors, but the odds are increasingly likely that the Indians will give him an extended look this season. Incumbent catcher Lou Marson, acquired last year in the Cliff Lee trade, has done his very best to lose the job, putting up a paltry .221/.276/.283 (.222 TAv) that has him currently at -0.5 WARP. Marson's backup, journeyman Mike Redmond, elicits the same sort of visceral, negative reaction for fantasy owners. With the struggles at the plate for the Indians' battery, Santana's arrival should be a matter of when, not if. When he does hit the big leagues, PECOTA projects a .253/..355/.424 line after adjusting for team and playing time. This seems like a good, conservative line for the 24-year old, but there is definite upside; PECOTA's weighted means projection has him at .262/.358/.461, and his 60th percentile and up projections have him at .289+ TAv, far exceeding the average for a catcher. He is a definite pickup in any league, and he may still be available in many, being taken in just 0.9% of ESPN mixed leagues.

The Incumbents

The remaining players on Value Picks maintain their holds for the week. Ian Desmond was on thin ice last week, but adding a home run and run production numbers as part of a .278/.263/.444 week kept him on the list. Desmond's lack of walks is appalling but unsurprising, but as long as he contributes some power and the solid average, owners will take his production, which is right around the league average for shortstops. Reid Brignac had a nice .333/.364/.476 week in response to arriving on Value Picks. Felipe Lopez had a good week (.294/.400/.353) that was not rewarded with counting stats (two runs and two RBI for the week), but he remains a solid pickup. This is especially true given his dual eligibility at second base (last year's position) and shortstop (his primary position in 2010). Due to his impressive recent play and the struggles of Sean Rodriguez and Jason Bartlett, Joe Maddon is also giving Brignac more playing time at second base and shortstop, which can only mean good things for fantasy owners for the time being.

Brignac's teammate in Tampa Bay, catcher John Jaso, had his first off-week since being added to Value Picks (.250/.308/.250), but his job appears to be secure into the foreseeable future. With the struggles of Dioner Navarro, there is a good chance the Rays will keep Jaso in the majors despite his remaining minor league option and jettison Navarro when Kelly Shoppach returns from the DL. Ronny Paulino continued his hot play (.400/.400/.480 this week) and started in all but one of this past week's games. His BABIP is due for some heavy regressing, but his power and walk rates should creep up a bit as well, leaving about an average hitter and above average hitting catcher. He should continue to be a good play as long as platoon mate John Baker remains injured.

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:  Reid Brignac,  Carlos Ruiz

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

OTSgamer

Speaking of value pick catchers, where does Iannetta fit at the moment? He's back in the majors, but Olivo has played pretty well and it seems like Iannetta may be getting dealt to the Red Sox.

Here is my question... if Iannetta gets dealt to the Red Sox, what kind of playing time estimates are we looking at. I picked up Olivo after my draft of Iannetta went in the tank, and he has played pretty well for me, but I really don't know if that is sustainable over the long-haul. On the other hand, I really cannot justify adding Iannetta at this point if he is going to spend most of his time on the bench, whether it be in Coors or Fenway.

Jun 01, 2010 07:22 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Jong
BP staff

OTSgamer,

Iannetta is being mistreated right now by Colorado. With Olivo playing as well as he is, playing time will be rare. Heater expert Tom Stephenson has them splitting catching duties 70/30 as of the latest Heater update for this week. That's about two out of every six games in the week, which does not warrant a pickup for the moment.

I don't believe he'll be dealt to the Red Sox, but if he is, I find it difficult for him to find playing time. With Ortiz hot, Heater expert Evan Brunell has him playing essentially full-time DH, meaning that slot is no longer available for Victor Martinez. I suspect if he's dealt here, he'll get normal backup playing time, about as much as Jason Varitek is getting now. Neither option would be good for him.

For now, Iannetta is not an option for you, the playing time just isn't there.

Jun 01, 2010 07:37 AM
 
friel27

My current Catcher is Russel Martin, take a chance on Carlos Santana? or will I be fine with Martin

Jun 01, 2010 18:04 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Jong
BP staff

friel27,

Without knowing much about your league, I would say the two project similarly. Martin is not a .240-ish hitter, and his AVG should regress. I'm more optimistic about a .270 AVG than PECOTA is at the moment. However, his power drop is real, and he's now hitting squarely near the bottom of the Dodgers lineup. Santana is on an inferior team, but he'll put up similar numbers with better power than Martin. The only playing time concern he will have is whether his defense sticks at catcher, or whether the Indians get fed up quickly and demote him again to work on receiving.

Obviously, you should wait until Santana is promoted unless you have an extra slot for a catcher. Santana will arrive as early as one week from now. Until then, hold onto Martin. When he comes up, I think he'd be worth the pickup and starting time over Martin. However, I would like to know your league scoring in order to get a better feel.

Jun 02, 2010 13:42 PM
 
friel27

the scoring in my league is 5x5 with TB H2H 10 team league but very active

Jun 02, 2010 19:49 PM
rating: 0
 
friel27

Kurt Suzuki Over Russell Martin for the rest of the year?

Jun 03, 2010 11:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Jong
BP staff

friel27,

Absolutely. Suzuki has similar power (which is to say, not a whole lot), though he's flashed it early this year before the injury. He's likely to slug a bit better than Martin the rest of the way, and with your league's 5x5 including total bases, that power comes at a premium. He'll likely hit for a similar average, though I have him as slightly better (and PECOTA agrees).

The disadvantage of Suzuki versus Martin is his OBP. Suzuki does not walk a lot, while Martin has considerably better plate discipline. However, this should only really affect his run totals, and Martin's runs will be downplayed a bit hitting lower in the lineup. Suzuki, on the other hand, is currently batting cleanup for Oakland and should stay there for the foreseeable future, giving him more PA and more R/RBI opportunities.

If Suzuki is available for you, I'd jump at the opportunity, as he should outplay Martin for you.

Jun 03, 2010 14:04 PM
 
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