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June 8, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop

by Michael Jong

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Value Picks Season PECOTA Games Scoresheet
Reid Brignac TBR 137 2 20 22 2 .299 .350 .441 .252 .304 .396 0 33 15 +33 –99 4.72
Ian Desmond
WAS 199 4 21 30 4 .277 .311 .413 .243 .302 .379 0 0 54 –12 +29 4.75
John Jaso TBR 123 3 17 24 1 .307 .423 .465 .255 .345 .372 29 0 0 +23 –67 .62/.22
Felipe Lopez STL 120 3 15 13 3 .260 .353 .423 .268 .341 .383 0 9 16 –4 +11 4.27
Ronny Paulino FLO 139 3 15 24 0 .308 .331 .436 .263 .319 .392 33 0 0 –23 +48 .67/.28
Jhonny Peralta CLE 226 4 19 29 0 .251 .327 .412 .257 .326 .412 0 0 0 –3 +8 4.69
Carlos Santana CLE 228 11
6 .322 .456 .583 .264 .372 .451 42 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

The Changes

This week, Value Picks opts for the guarantee of playing time over the promise of stardom. Stepping down for now from the list is Indians top prospect Carlos Santana. While his plate prowess is unquestionable, his well-known defensive problems may keep him away from the majors for a little while. Of course, incumbent catcher Lou Marson isn't looking any better (batted just .087/.222/.217 in the last week), so this may be a competition of "who is the lesser evil," Marson's bat or Santana's glove. Expect Santana to be the last of the major top prospect callups.

Replacing him is a man in Cleveland who has less upside but more playing time. Jhonny Peralta is a season and a half removed from a fantastic 2008 campaign, in which he hit .276/.331/.473 with 23 home runs. Since then, however, he has proven that he is not that player anymore. His 2009 season was abysmal, as he his just .254/.316/.375 and hit just 11 home runs. Peralta also made the transition from shortstop to third base last year, making his future fantasy outlook even less relevant. However, for the time being, he remains an option because of his eligibility at shortstop. Peralta has essentially been a league average hitter for most of his career, sporting a career .265/.331/.424 (.264 TAv), and while average hitters come a dime a dozen, they are a rare breed at the shortstop position. While he may never flash the power he did a few years ago, double-digit home run totals are almost a given. Last season, Peralta picked up 11 homers on just a 7.9% HR/FB%, and this year that rate has fallen to 5.8%. He is no slugger anymore, but he is definitely in line for regression back up closer to his career 11.6% rate.

Combine all of that with Peralta's guaranteed playing time (Heater expert Brian La Shier has him getting 90% of the load at third base) makes him an excellent pickup. Peralta is unlikely to be available in your AL-only leagues, but he should still be a shortstop option for mixed leagues. Currently he is owned in just 8.6% of ESPN mixed leagues.

The Incumbents

The remaining five players have remained on Value Picks for three weeks now. Reid Brignac has taken the full-time role at shortstop due to Jason Bartlett's injury. Bartlett is expected to return from his DL stint on Saturday. Meanwhile, Brignac continues to defy the odds for his projection, capping off a decent .292/.292/.417 week and remaining close to a .300 AVG. When Bartlett returns, it will be interesting to see whether Brignac takes on a bigger role at second base.

Bartlett's return from the DL also signals decision time for the Rays and their catching situation. Taking Bartlett's roster spot for now is catcher Kelly Shoppach, who was initially scheduled for a rehab stint. Now the Rays are carrying three catchers, one of which is Value Picks' own John Jaso. Jaso has lost catching time to Shoppach, but is expected to see time at DH, according to Heater expert Ricky Zanker. Jaso also got bumped recently to the top of the lineup, giving him more opportunities to succeed. By the end of the week, we should know whether Jaso will remain on the roster with a prominent role or not.

Ian Desmond's hold on his Value Picks spot was tenuous last week, but he responded with a .391/.391/.478 week, pushing his AVG up to .277. He is still walking that fine line, as his value is primarily tied to AVG and RBI, but for now he holds off other NL middle infielders for the spot. While his plate patience is unlikely to ever be above average, his walk rate (currently at 4.5%) is due for regression. He could help that cause by swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone; his 34.3% swing% out of the zone is well above the league average of 28.0% this year.

Ronny Paulino has been nothing if not consistent, riding a .320/.308/.440 week to his currently impressive .308/.331/.436 line. Paulino is unlikely to continue to bat .300+, but his consistently good contact rates have led to a drop in strikeouts this year, which has contributed to the rise in AVG. Sticking with Paulino in your NL league is advisable until John Baker returns from his rehab stint in the minors. Felipe Lopez had an average week but remains a good option in NL leagues at multiple positions. With David Freese's injury, Lopez has moved to third base; there is no threat for loss of playing time for the versatile infielder.

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,  John Jaso

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

BP Comment Quick Links


Santana will be the last? No Alvarez? Or is Alvarez going to be called up first?

Jun 08, 2010 06:31 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Michael Jong
BP staff


I think Alvarez should get his callup soon. The Pirates are going nowhere and have not received much production at from their infield. Moving Andy LaRoche to give him a last shot at second base seems like a good option, and Alvarez has little to prove in the minors. In general, however, those should be among the latest arrivals. At this point, I think Santana's defensive concerns should push him to at least later in the month, and Alvarez probably has a similar window (though I'm not as versed in his situation).

Jun 08, 2010 14:44 PM
BP staff member Michael Jong
BP staff

Open mouth, insert foot.

Santana was called up. It seems any defensive concerns were used as subterfuge to mask the likely Super-Two issues of calling him up last week. Now that he's guaranteed playing time, he's an obvious pickup. He batted third in his first game in the bigs, so Cleveland must be confident in him. You should be as well.

Jun 11, 2010 12:02 PM

If I am hanging onto Carlos Santana as a keeper going into next season, who would be his top comp for next year?

Jun 08, 2010 08:19 AM
rating: 0

Brigadoon Johnson.

(Sorry, I'm bitter. At least we have Andy Marte back, so we have that going for us, which sucks rocks.)

Jun 08, 2010 08:48 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Michael Jong
BP staff


Top as in "most likely," or top as in "most rosy/best?" I was just thinking about the best one and I thought Russell Martin in his prime (without the steals) was a great high-end comp. In 2007, Martin hit .293/.374/.469, and I think Santana has similar plate discipline numbers with better power. Brian McCann also comes to mind as a top comp.

As far as most likely? Last season Wieters seems like a copout, but I think a league average performance is likely. Either way, if you've got Santana in your keeper league, you should be solid at catcher next season, I would say.

Jun 08, 2010 14:50 PM

buffum cracks me up.

Jun 08, 2010 12:29 PM
rating: 0
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