August 1, 2011
First, Third, and DH for 8/1/11
In fantasy baseball as in life, timing is everything. Sometimes we make fantasy moves a bit too soon, and sometimes we make them a bit too late. This week, I’ll look at both kinds of mistakes, although if either player means everything to your fantasy team, you may be beyond the help of even our crack Value Picks staff.
I’ll blame my own timing for adding Nolan Reimold (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 3%) to the list days before Vladimir Guerrero returned from the disabled list. The fantasy impact to Reimold isn’t too terrible as he’ll still get time in the outfield, but he won’t DH very often, pushing him off the VP list but not off AL-only fantasy rosters.
Guzman has shifted from shortstop to less demanding positions as he’s matured but has retained or improved his core skills. He drew attention as a 20-year-old in High-A, where he hit .310/.393/.443 with a 20.5 percent strikeout and an 11.1 percent walk rate. As he rose through the minors, a more aggressive approach eroded his walk rate to around seven-to-eight percent, while his improved contact is reflected in strikeout rates that dropped as low as 13.8 percent last season. At the same time, his power blossomed, taking his ISO from .133 to an average of .187 in three Triple-A seasons—not elite for his position but still very good.
This combination of power and contact has led to excellent MLB results this season as Guzman has ripped up the league to the tune of a .325/.372/.600 line in 86 plate appearances with a 7.0 percent walk rate and a 15.1 percent strikeout rate. His .349 BABIP suggests some luck, but a 21 percent line drive rate shows that this may be residue of solid contact. PECOTA expects some slippage and doesn’t quite believe his power, giving him a .287/.334/.439 line in his 50th percentile, but the .275 TAv shows the solid offensive package that this creates. His power is already above his .324/.373/.494 90th percentile, so he’s going to give some of that .375 ISO back. Still, Guzman’s a great pickup for owners looking to stabilize batting average while providing a dash of much-needed power—a scarce commodity at this point in the season.
Timing was good for Chris Davis (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 0.5%, CBS 14%), who will get another chance to prove himself after Texas traded him to Baltimore; he will immediately slide into a starting role after the departure of Derrek Lee to the Pirates. Davis has proven himself abundantly in the minors but has yet to do so in the majors, as you can see below:
While his primary stats show improvement in the minors, his underlying ratios show he was swinging at more pitches while hitting fewer of them. His rising BABIP doesn’t suggest a leprechaun hidden in Davis’s locker; it shows how hard he hits the ball when he does make contact, explaining his improving primary stats.
In the majors, Davis has yet to make consistent contact, creating strikeout rates that will damage his batting average, even as he tries to find a more patient approach. Since neither of those has improved in the minors, PECOTA acknowledges the wide disparity of outcomes with a slightly subpar .271/.320/.464 line in Davis’ 50th percentile, though his .303/.354/.519 90th percentile (with a home run every 22.7 plate appearances) would make him valuable, indeed. The potential fantasy impact of the latter projection creates an excellent opportunity for power speculation despite the move to a less hitter-friendly atmosphere at Camden Yards. He’s worth an add in AL-only leagues and for owners trying to make a move in mixed leagues.
Jim Thome (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 9%, CBS 7%) went into Sunday’s game with a six-game hit streak, during which he’s maintained a .429/.455/.619 line. None of those nine hits were home runs—that strong SLG comes from four doubles—but he did manage one on Sunday night, and more will come in time.
I expressed some concern last week over the relative weak line put up by Casey Kotchman (Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 8.4%, CBS 29%) since the break, and he rebounded for a .304/.304/.348 week. A weak week in power is what we expect from Kotch, but he continues to surprise in the batting average department. He could slide further, but his .299/.358/.414 line over the past month is enough to make him fungible for owners needing batting average in deeper mixed leagues.
Brandon Allen (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0.1%, CBS 12%) picked up his first hit that stayed in the yard on Saturday night, also walking twice for the second straight game. His power and patience made him a target for Oakland, who traded for him just before the deadline. He should start there over Conor Jackson, though his power may not play well in Oakland’s more spacious park. I’ll keep him on the list for now, but sapping Allen’s main strength isn’t the way to bring value.
Along with other writers, I expect Kyle Blanks (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 9%) to produce at some point, but he may not get much playing time until he improves on his .095/.208/.095 line unless the Padres decide to play him in Ryan Ludwick’s vacated spot.
Paul Goldschmidt (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 0%) is Arizona’s starting first baseman of the present and future as a result of the Allen trade.