July 24, 2012
First, Third, and DH for 7/24/12
We try to have at least five players on our VP lists, though at times I’ve had as many as seven. Things are a bit leaner now, so I’m cutting back to five again, but there are plenty of gambles to be found in Playing Pepper for owners more desperate for an immediate fix. If you want to talk about some of these players, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Asian players (all specialties of mine), or really anything fantasy-related, be sure to come to my first BP chat this Thursday at 2 PM EST (11 AM PT).
Ownership levels for Luis Valbuena (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 2%) remain low despite his everyday role and occasional bursts of power. Playing time is the most valuable fantasy commodity, especially in deep leagues, and Valbuena has a lock on the Cubs’ third-base spot for now, but he’s only hit .209/.242/.337 in 91 plate appearances as a VP. His .227 BABIP suggests he could get hot, but he’s a known commodity by now, and I offer a higher-ceiling option for NL-only owners below.
Though his batting average has been over .300 far more often than not this month, Jordan Pacheco (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 2%, CBS 13%) has failed to deliver counting numbers, even for a club that’s fifth in the majors in scoring. But Colorado’s 4.85 runs per game average on the season dipped to 3.56 in July, which hasn’t helped Pacheco to catch up. His three-hit effort in Saturday’s 12-inning battle against the Padres brought him two runs and four RBI; the former is tied for his season high, while the latter is his best performance so far in 2012. He also hasn’t struck out since July 7, bolstering his solid 11 percent K%. How a .300 hitter at the hot corner can go unnoticed in so many leagues remains a mystery for better minds than mine.
Since their peak on June 22, when they were in first place by a game and a half, Cleveland has gone 10-15, sliding back into third place, but that hasn’t been due to offense; they’re scoring 4.44 runs per game while giving up 4.94 over that span. That offense has not come courtesy of Travis Hafner (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%, CBS 11%), though, who has been skidding of late, hitting .179/.289/.333 in 45 July plate appearances whilst slicing 11 points off his batting average and 18 points off his SLG. Nobody expected Cleveland to stick in first place, and nobody expects Pronk to keep hitting this poorly either. He showed some signs of life this week with a two-hit performance on Wednesday, and his July line has more to do with his .179 BABIP than his 20 percent K% or 9 percent BB%, both solid ratios. Expect more turnaround from Pronk, though the platoon he’s in will erode his counting stats.