Memorial Day is a good time to reflect on the relative unimportance of fantasy sports, where injuries are rarely life-threatening, the battles are (mostly) metaphorical, and hitting a bomb is considered a good thing. My deepest thanks to the uniformed men and women who allow (among many other freedoms) these players in a different sort of uniform to play a kids’ game while we fans to watch, before spending inordinate amounts of time dissecting their exploits for the sole purpose of bragging rights in our fantasy leagues. Play ball!
Injuries were always a concern for Travis Hafner(Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 3%, CBS 32%), and an irritation in the meniscus of his right knee has kept him out of action since last Wednesday. He’s had a good season thus far, and Hafner owners should wait and see what the prognosis is after he tests the knee this week, but until he’s active again, he won’t be a Value Pick.
Although hot for a spell, John Mayberry, Jr.(Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 3%, CBS 19%) has cooled off with just one hit in his last 18 plate appearances. Charlie Manuel has been starting Ty Wigginton at first base and Juan Pierre in left, with Mayberry replacing Pierre against some lefties. Pierre will regress from his current .303/.345/.341 triple-slash (nearly a perfect match for PECOTA’s 90th percentile projection), but until that happens, Mayberry isn’t bringing enough playing time or production to merit a VP spot.
About a month ago, I wrote thatPlacido Polanco(Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 4%, CBS 26%) wasn’t “as bad as his .192/.222/.212 line suggests” and that a return to his weighted mean would bring value in deeper leagues. Since I wrote that, Polanco has hit .330/.356/.440 to bring his overall line to .282/.313/.359, a near-match for that .280/.323/.359 weighted mean. His 106 plate appearances since that article have included 10 multi-hit games in 23 starts and a .352 BABIP, so his luck has truly rebounded (his BABIP was .224 before then).
With an excellent career 6.8 percent strikeout rate and a measly 5.4 percent walk rate, Polanco puts tons of pitches into play, making him more of a victim to the whims of the BABIP Fairy. And, as might be expected from a 36 year old, some of those secondary skills have been slipping. Polanco’s strikeout rate has held steady or risen each year since 2007, when his walk rate also reached 7.5 percent—a peak from which he also slid steadily downward before last season’s sudden 8 percent spike. This year, he’s walking at a 3.6 percent clip, on pace for his worst rate since 2006’s career-low 3.4 percent; he’s walked just twice in 89 plate appearances this month.
Unsurprisingly, this lower walk rate is fueled by greater aggressiveness outside the zone, a trend to which pitchers have responded by throwing him fewer strikes in recent years.
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