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June 18, 2012
Second, Short, and Catcher for 6/18/12
Rehab is going well for Salvador Perez (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 1%, CBS 22%), but Royals manager Ned Yost doesn't anticipate him joining the club for their upcoming series in Houston. He's catching on consecutive days now, though, as he did on Saturday and Sunday, and he's hitting for average (.310 in 45 plate appearances for Triple-A Omaha). The power isn't there, but a healthy Perez will be worth rostering for his average alone in large two-catcher mixed leagues and AL-only leagues.
Hanging on by a Thread
For the first time since suffering a spiral fracture last July, Stephen Drew (Yahoo! 23%, ESPN 15%, CBS 42%) played in three consecutive games at shortstop while rehabbing with Reno. Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson hasn't released a timetable for Drew's return, but he's optimistic that it will be soon. Drew is sizzling for the Aces, hitting .292/.346/.542 with one double, one triple, and one home run in 26 plate appearances. He may have some rust to shake off in the majors, and the club may choose to handle him with kid gloves initially given the severity of the injury he suffered, but Drew's ownership levels will skyrocket when he's activated from the disabled list; now is the time to get him.
Brian Roberts (Yahoo! 15%, ESPN 22%, CBS 45%) has graduated from the AL-only VP designation. With a 21 percent ownership increase at ESPN in the last week, it's clear people haven't forgotten about this name-brand second baseman. Roberts is now 34 years old and coming off two seasons that were mostly lost to concussion issues, so caution should be exercised. The Orioles have inserted him into the leadoff spot, and he's held his own by hitting .318/.304/.318. He'll need to improve on those numbers, but considering the circumstances, it's a good start. He's worth taking the plunge on in AL-only leagues and large mixed leagues starting a middle infielder, but beyond that, take a wait-and-see approach.
The surface stats say one thing, but the underlying stats say Yunel Escobar (Yahoo! 45%, ESPN 51%, 63%) is approximately the same player this year as he was last. Escobar rarely lofts the ball, instead hitting with a line drive and groundball approach. He has hit more groundballs this year than in any previous season, but he still isn't popping the ball up much, and his line drive rate is a carbon copy of each of the last two seasons. His groundball rate has dropped in consecutive months, and his line drive rate has hovered in the 19-20 percent range over the last month and a half. With a contact rate seven percent better than the league average, expect him to make the most of his healthy line drive rate and find more holes. He's a career .286 hitter, and I'd guess he hits closer to that average than his currently dreadful .250 mark the remainder of the year. The Jays have been slotting Escobar sixth in the lineup of late behind a trio of hitters that are capable of getting on base at a high clip: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Kelly Johnson. He should have ample opportunities to drive in runs and add a handful of home runs to further provide reason for his ownership.
Pennington has seen the field a ton each of the last two seasons; more specifically, he played in 148 games last year and 156 in 2010. This year is no different than the past two years in that regard; he is second on the A's in games played, trailing only Josh Reddick, who has played in two more games. More importantly, he is impacting fantasy games by efficiently swiping bases. Last season, he inefficiently finished the year with 14 stolen bases in 23 chances. This year, he has 11 stolen bases in 13 chances and is on pace to threaten his career high of 29 stolen bases (in 2010). In the last 30 days, he is tied with a handful of others for eleventh in stolen bases amongst middle infielders. He's not a game changer, but he doesn't need to be in order to have value in AL-only leagues.