June 23, 2010
Hot Spots: Outfield
Colvin Nation: Tyler Colvin has started 10 of the Cubs last 18 games, including the last two against lefty starters. While getting to add a DH in an AL park is nice, Lou Piniella is providing significant contrary evidence to his own proclamation that he's “no dummy” when he chooses to use Colvin against hard lefty Jason Vargas in expansive Safeco Field. Games like that won't help your fantasy stats. Colvin is still a great pick-up who is available in almost all leagues. The M's and White Sox have tough pitching, but after these two series, he should be facing somewhat worse-than-average pitching for a while, including trips to Arizona and Colorado in July.
Eric Hinske is being “protected” from lefties and continues to rake. After changing course and recommending Austin Kearns last week, he posted an awful week, and he is starting to resemble the non-hitter whose lengthy track record of failure kept him off this list in the first place. That said, it was warned that his stats should be expected to resemble a luck-neutral .255/.340/.445, and until yesterday, he wasn't striking out a lot so some of the blame for the cold week is just random fluctuation in BABIP. He's still batting in the heart of the lineup, which can't be due entirely to Manny Acta's sentimental memories of him in Washington, as he was bad in Washington (.242/.346/.376 in 1503 PA over 4 seasons). Jose Tabata's stats are ugly, but as long as his batting average is twice that of Pedro Alvarez (.200 to .100 now), he shouldn't worry too much.
B-Bye Now: Jim Tracy won that Manager of the Year award for a reason, and his “hot hand” approach to Ryan Spilborghs and Seth Smith has resulted in some amazing stats from Spilborghs. It still seems likely that Smith will re-assert himself as the majority side of the platoon situation, but unless he's on a Scoresheet roster (where the game will utilize the bench players if he runs out of at-bats, and where he can be listed only in the “vs righty” lineup), there's too much unpredicability to keep him around any longer as a Value Pick. If he's already on a roster, it might be worth waiting another week, as Spilborghs has collected just 3 singles and a homer in his last 24 plate appearances, while the last time Smith saw the field, he homered, bringing him back into a tie for the team lead in home runs with 10. Ryan Sweeney's run as a Value Pick is going to be terminated, as well. Keep him in mind as a filler player who can help batting average, but with his speed completely drying up in 2010, his dearth of homers and Oakland's overall reluctance to score runs, he won't be much help anywhere besides average.
New Faces: Gerardo Parra is the big winner in the Conor Jackson-to-Oakland trade and can be a moderately useful fantasy addition. While it may be a long shot to happen in 2010, the biggest hope for Parra is that he'll translate his obviously good speed into coveted stolen bases to help a fantasy team. His speed scores at his various minor-league stops were: 7.5 (rookie, 2006), 6.0 (A, 2007), 7.0/7.1 (high-A/AA, 2008). Skipping AAA, he then posted the awful totals of 5 steals against 7 caught stealing in his MLB debut season (2009). He did, however, hit 8 triples though the resulting speed score dropped all the way to 5.1 with the low SB and high CS totals. He's down even further in 2010, approaching the "Molina Line" with a speed score of 3.4, so "long shot" may even be optimistic for his chances to add steals this year. He's hit a robust .297/.335/.439 against righty pitching so far in his brief career (519 PA against RHP), and he should be able to help a team in batting average, runs, and RBI in most formats. He's being rested against tough lefties.
“Pat The Bat” Burrell is back. The management team in Tampa Bay must be pulling their hair out over this guy. Certainly, if he'd been able to go 3-for-10 with a homer and 2 walks against Toronto in a Rays uniform (as he recently did as a member of the Giants), they wouldn't have considered letting him go. [For the record, he hit .241/.313/.362 against the Jays in 2009, and was 0-for-2 with 2 K's against them while with Tampa in 2010, though Toronto is just being used as an example to illustrate that Burrell isn't merely clobbering NL pitching.] The stats in the chart have been conveniently scrubbed of the offensive AL stats, indicating the new beginning he's received in San Francisco. Expect wild fluctuations in his stats, with cold streaks that can drive a team crazy punctuated by multi-homer weeks. Hopefully, for fantasy purposes, he won't have another year-plus cold streak, as he did in Tampa Bay. And helping him avoid that will be eight (8) games at Colorado and Milwaukee to start the month of July. After that run, expect him to return to his low-average ways and to show as much power as a consistent 30-homers-in-Philadelphia hitter would normally show when moving to San Francisco at age 33 (i.e. a low-to-mid-20's home run pace in keeping with the PECOTA projection).