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August 20, 2012
Second, Short, and Catcher for 8/20/12
He remains healthy, and he continues to do his thing, so Chris Iannetta (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%, CBS 15%) remains a Value Pick. He has started six of the Angels’ last seven games and smacked his sixth home run of the season on Wednesday.
A sizzling August has continued Zack Cozart's (Yahoo! 23%, ESPN 27%, CBS 57%) run of alternating good months with bad ones. In 77 plate appearances in the month of August, Cozart is slashing a scintillating .301/.338/.534 with three home runs. Since striking out in 28 of 110 plate appearances (26 percent strikeout rate) in May, Cozart has shaved a bit off of his strikeout rate each month, and he is striking out in just under 13 percent of his plate appearances in August. He seems to be settling in nicely at the major league level and, barring an injury, should be a solid middle infield option the rest of the season.
The Mets and fantasy owners have gotten reliable, steady work from Ruben Tejada (Yahoo! 17%, ESPN 27%, CBS 33%). He offers fantasy owners almost nothing beyond his batting average, but he has consistently hit for average against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers, at home and on the road, and from month-to-month. Tejada finds himself slotted in either the leadoff spot or the two-hole for the Mets when he starts, which allows him to pile up at-bats and make the most of his standout fantasy category. It's tough to move the needle in batting average at this point in the season, but owners that are in a tight battle for points in that category should look to Tejada to help get them over the hump.
His ownership has risen to the point where he can no longer be considered for the AL-only VP spot, but Jeff Keppinger (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 11%, CBS 17%) is playing well enough to warrant large mixed league ownership as a middle infielder while remaining underowned in such leagues. Keppinger has sat in two of the Rays’ last five games, but he looks to be in little danger of losing regular playing time, at least as long as he keeps raking at the plate. The Rays lineup as a whole has been hot in August, ranking ninth in the majors in runs scored, and Keppinger has been no exception, hitting .327/.333/.473 in 57 plate appearances. Like the Rays seem to be doing, fantasy teams should be riding Keppinger's hot hand until he cools off.
He's 0-for-6 since being activated from the disabled list on August 16, but Yasmani Grandal (Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 2%, CBS 34%) showed too much promise prior to his injury to leave on the waiver wire in two-catcher formats or NL-only leagues if he was tossed aside due to injury. It's unlikely that Grandal will continue to post an 18 percent HR/FB rate, and he'll need to improve upon his 14 percent line drive rate if he wants to continue to hit for average, but Grandal is a strong second catcher in two-catcher mixed leagues and a good backstop in NL-only leagues.
The third of this week's Arrivals is yet another catcher, John Jaso (Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 2%, CBS 23%). He is long overdue for inclusion, and I'll admit, I've slept a bit on how good Jaso has been for the Mariners. In 252 plate appearances he is slashing .289/.402/.495 with a juicy .206 ISO, more walks (39) than strikeouts (37), and eight home runs. A patient approach has always been a part of Jaso's game, but the spike in power is the pleasant surprise of 2012. His 17 percent HR/FB rate is 11 percent higher than his previous high of 6 percent, which was his mark last year.
He is making a lot of hard contact, with a 25 percent line drive rate, and as one would expect with his high walk rate, he's waiting for his pitches; he is chasing only 20 percent of pitches out of the strike zone. The Mariners have wisely limited his exposure to southpaws (he is a career .174 hitter against them) and allowed him to feast on right-handed pitching. Jaso has a career line of .270/.365/.424 against right-handed pitching, but he has blown that line out of the water this year by hitting .318/.429/.561 with all eight of his home runs and, in fact, all 24 of his extra base hits too. Owners in larger single-catcher mixed leagues with a bench spot to toy with (and a non-elite starting catcher) could do worse than platooning Jaso themselves. Given his stellar play, Jaso should be owned in far more leagues than he is.