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April 25, 2012
First, Third, and DH for 4/25/12
The deep pool of early draft oversights and lesser-known players is drying up, as evidenced by rising ownership rates among nearly all of the VPs. As your fellow owners start giving up on some of their early gambles and as the injuries keep piling up, that pool will get even shallower. Grab your bargains while you can, before the mad rush for players begins.
Carpenter is by trade a third-baseman—he played first base just once in his minor-league career—and that eligibility enhances his fantasy value. But even at the hot corner, where power expectations are diminished, he doesn’t offer much pop, so he’ll never be a fantasy superstar. His ISO in the minors was just .151, coming largely from doubles and triples (he hit one home run every 52 plate appearances). Still, his 11 three-baggers represent a strong 0.03 triples per hit rate, though that speed on the basepaths hasn’t translated into steals (just 19 in 27 attempts over 333 games).
Carpenter made his mark with his excellent plate approach, one of the reasons he’s zoomed through the minors to the top of the world, reaching the bigs in just his third professional season. On the way up, his walk rate rose from 10.7 to 15.7 percent, improving at each level, while his strikeout rate peaked in 2010 at 17.0 percent before improving to 12.7 in Triple-A last season. That’s given him a .300 minor-league batting average and a .408 OBP, both strong enough to balance out his tepid .451 SLG.
This all suggests that he won’t keep slugging .513, but the rest of his triple-slash (.282 BA and .318 OBP) are a little closer to what we can expect from him in the majors. PECOTA gives him a .249/.341/.361 in his 50th percentile, reflecting his excellent OBP skills, while his batting average becomes strong in his 80th percentile. But even in his 90th percentile, a .432 SLG with just nine home runs in 517 plate appearances isn’t enough for a corner infielder. And since Berkman isn’t expected to stay on the disabled list much longer than the minimum, he’ll be a temporary roster fix with somewhat limited appeal. Before you say goodbye to this Red Bird, owners in deeper leagues or those in leagues that count OBP, keep Carpenter close to you until Berkman returns.
While continuing to share time at first base with Casey McGehee to go with a few games in right field, Garrett Jones (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 1%, CBS 10%) also picked up his second home run and second double last week, both in the same game. This improves his overall line to .242/.242/.485. Expect that OBP to rise; Jones owned a career 9.3 percent walk rate entering this season, and he has yet to draw a free pass in 33 plate appearances. Playing part-time makes him best suited to deep and NL-only leagues, but he’ll help you with a dinger now and again without killing your batting average.
Remember how I warned you about Luke Scott’s ownership rates? The rates for Chris Davis (Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 9%, CBS 38%) are undergoing a similar spike, rising sharply from last week’s levels (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 6%, CBS 27%). The only warning sign for him is his 28.3 percent strikeout rate in the early season. His next power surge could spell the end of his tenure on the VP list, if the lack of contact doesn’t undermine his production first.
Ownership numbers for Travis Hafner (Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 2%, CBS 24%) also rose a bit after a .444/.630 /.556 week that brought his overall line to .357/.509/.571. He picked up a walk in five of his six starts; playing every day is another sign that Manny Acta is confident about Hafner’s health. This means increased playing time unless and until Hafner breaks down. Since he will only hurt you in batting average, Hafner should maintain solid value.
Owners sometimes grab Placido Polanco (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 4%, CBS 26%) due to sheer name recognition, but he’s not the player he once was. That said, he’s not as bad as his .192/.222/.212 line suggests either; reaching his .281/.325/.360 weighted-mean PECOTA would make him a decent option in the deepest of leagues.
Much like the Bryan LaHair/Anthony Rizzo situation discussed in last week’s Playing Pepper, Lonnie Chisenhall (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 0%, CBS 18%) is tearing up Triple-A (.319/.342/.583), but he won’t get the call until (not unless—it’ll happen) Jack Hannahan (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 1%, CBS 8%) cools down from his hot .341/.429/.488 start.