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July 16, 2012

Value Picks

Second, Short, and Catcher for 7/16/12

by Josh Shepardson

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Departures
As the weather warms up in July, so does Erick Aybar (Yahoo! 39%, ESPN 41%, CBS 53%). He hit a home run in his final game before the All-Star break and has hit one in two-of-three games after the break. The power has been an unexpected addition to his juicy batting average. Gamers across all three major fantasy baseball providers have taken notice, with his ownership going up in all. Expect his homer binge to push his ownership above levels that are Value Pick friendly soon.

After a solid start to his big league career, Derek Norris (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 13%) has cooled off substantially. He has no hits in his last 19 at-bats, including six strikeouts. Until he turns things around, he's not rosterable in re-draft leagues.

The return of a healthy Lorenzo Cain crowds the Royals outfield, meaning Wil Myers (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%, CBS 36%) is likely stuck biding his time in Triple-A. Kevin Goldstein has repeatedly noted that Myers' long-term defensive home is in an outfield corner, not center field. That didn't prevent fantasy owners from getting excited when Myers started to see time in center in the minors, however. It appeared a door could be opening to Myers getting a look in the bigs by faking it in center, but with Cain back in the fold, that door is closed for now. Wishful thinkers hoping that the team may deal Jeff Francoeur to clear room for Myers should note that MLB Trade Rumors recently had quotes from Royals General Manager Dayton Moore mentioning that the club was looking to acquire major league talent at the trade deadline, not trade it away. Myers remains a stash option in large mixed leagues and AL-only formats where bench space is plentiful, but temper expectations to a late summer or September call-up.

Sticking Around
Shedding the NL-only VP label, Yasmani Grandal (Yahoo! 16%, ESPN 9%, CBS 43%) remains in the column thanks to his continued ability to hit. He's yet to show off the patience that allowed him to walk at a 16 percent rate in Triple-A—he has zero walks in the majors—but he sure has hit. As a Padre, he is batting .295/.295/.614 in 44 plate appearances. He's not going to maintain his insanely high 27 percent HR/FB rate, but he should continue to hit well enough to be a fantasy asset behind the plate.

Nothing is imminent in regards to a call-up of Grant Green (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 3%), but the surprisingly successful A's continue to fail to get production from second base, shortstop, and third base. Green continues to hit, slashing .319/.360/.447 in his last 10 games, and has played one game at second, seven games at short, and another seven at third. After having struggled to get production at first base, the promotions of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter injected life into the position. Perhaps they'll hope for the same by giving Green a look. His offensive ceiling isn't high enough to make him worthy of a stash in most leagues, but owners desperate for infield help in AL-only leagues with bench flexibility can gamble on Green getting a look in the near future.

A healthy Stephen Drew (Yahoo! 21%, ESPN 15%, CBS 38%) has started all three of the Diamondbacks’ games coming out of the All-Star break… and he is hitting well too. Drew has gone 3-for-11 in those games, smacking two doubles, and manager Kirk Gibson has taken notice, slotting Drew in the clean-up spot for Sunday’s game. Unfortunately, Drew responded by going 0-for-4. Regularly hitting clean-up would definitely boost Drew's value, but as it stands, he should be owned in all but shallow mixed leagues.

Ryan Doumit (Yahoo! 29%, ESPN 8%, CBS 59%) has recorded two hits in five of his last six games, and the only game in which he didn't, he went 0-for-1 appearing as a pinch hitter. In fact, in the month of July, Doumit has recorded multiple hits in six of eight starts. Suffice it to say, he is swinging a hot bat. The home runs haven't been there, but he has hit a healthy number of doubles, so there is power present. As long as Doumit is able to stay healthy, he'll be a top-flight second catcher in two-catcher mixed leagues.

Arrivals
Welcome back, Gordon Beckham (Yahoo! 14%, ESPN 21%, CBS 58%). A slow start to July has prompted fickle fantasy owners to cast Beckham back to the waiver wire. Those owners’ impatience could come back to kick them in the behind. Beckham's home run power has dried up a bit—just one home run in the last 30 days—but man is he squaring up baseballs. In that same time span, he is hitting line drives at a 28 percent clip. He's also hitting flies at a 47 percent rate but hasn't quite muscled up enough, reflected by his 3.2 percent HR/FB rate. His career HR/FB rate is 8.7 percent, so expect more of his fly balls to begin finding the seats. In July, he has taken his line drive and fly ball approach to an even crazier level; in 33 plate appearances, he has a 42 percent line drive rate and a 47 percent fly ball rate. With batted ball data like that, it wouldn't surprise me to see Beckham go on a tear.

Jedd Gyorko (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 7%) is what the nightmares of Pacific Coast League pitchers are made of. He is hitting .351/.393/.626 with 16 doubles and 15 home runs in 242 plate appearances with Tuscon, seeing time at second and third base. The Padres have gotten production at both of those positions of late, but the team is a seller heading into the trade deadline and could use third baseman Chase Headley as a trade chip; Ken Rosenthal reports that as many as 10 teams have expressed interest in Headley. Gyorko is only third-base-eligible in Yahoo! leagues and is only second-base-eligible in ESPN leagues. Owners in large mixed leagues and NL-only leagues in need of help at those respective positions should consider adding Gyorko in anticipation of a deadline deal clearing the way to regular playing time.

AL-only VP
In his second game after the All-Star break, Brian Dozier (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 7%) cracked his fourth home run of the season. Dozier has quietly gone about his business and put together a .324/.375/.459 line with one home run and three stolen bases in July. He has a passable 7 percent walk rate this month and a 14 percent strikeout rate as well. Dozier is already a solid option in AL-only leagues and is playing his way into mainstay status at the middle infield position in larger mixed leagues.

NL-only VP
As mentioned above, the Padres have gotten stellar play at second base of late, and Logan Forsythe (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 2%) has played a big part in stabilizing the position. Forsythe didn't put up special numbers throughout his minor league career, but a big season in the PCL last year earned him 169 plate appearances with the Padres. He finished with a paltry slash line of .213/.281/.287 with zero home runs and three stolen bases, but he has been a completely different player this year, hitting .303/.361/.444 with two home runs and three steals over 108 plate appearances. Forsythe rarely expands his zone, with a chase rate of 25 percent (5 percentage points below the league average), but he makes contact with the pitches he does go after, and that contact has been solid thus far. His line drive rate is an outstanding 33 percent. He doesn't project to hit for much power, and his stolen base output isn't game-changing, but his ability to hit for a high average makes him a useful NL-only option.

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Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (07/16)
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