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August 10, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop

by Michael Jong

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Value Picks Season PECOTA Games Scoresheet
C/2B/SS Team PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG BA OBP SLG C 2B SS vRH vLH Rng
J.P. Arencibia TOR 5 2 3 3 0 .800 .800 2.200 .250 .291 .442 1 0 0 –16 +40 .62/.22
Mark Ellis OAK 285 2 27 27 3 .258 .333 .323 .252 .320 .364 0 65 0 +2 –6 4.33
Bill Hall BOS 233 11 30 29 4 .235 .323 .446 .212 .281 .385 0 28 5 –33 +68 --
Felipe Lopez STL 330 6 43 30 6 .259 .337 .382 .275 .359 .391 0 16 20 –4 +11 4.27
Adam Kennedy WAS 266 3 32 21 12 .260 .332 .345 .280 .340 .366 0 61 0 +28 –86 4.30
Cliff Pennington OAK 401 3 46 31 17 .259 .332 .373 .262 .335 .402 0 0 105 +7 –16 4.71
Chris Snyder PIT 258 11 24 37 0 .231 .350 .421 .220 .333 .424 67 0 0 –21 +47 .52/.20
  Avg for Catcher .256 .324 .397   vRH = OPS v RH
  Avg for Second Base .274 .337 .409   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Shortstop .272 .329 .396   Rng = RangeTh

The Changes

To make up for last week's additional removal from the list, this week's list has two additions and one removal. One of the additions is a returning veteran of VP, Boston's Bill Hall. With the return of Jed Lowrie, it appeared as if Hall would lose some playing time to the better defensive player. However, Hall still picked up 19 PA last week, and those PA went fairly well, as Hall batted .316/.316/.632 with two home runs. Hall missed two potential starts, but it was encouraging to see the Red Sox start him in left field once last week; he could be an option to spell starter Ryan Kalish once a week. He'll be heading to Toronto and Texas this week before coming home to Fenway Park for a nine-game homestand, so he should be facing offense-friendly run environments throughout the next two weeks. Hall is receiving enough PT and playing well enough to remain worth a look in AL-only leagues. 

The other newcomer is new not only to Value Picks, but also to the majors as well. Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia made a much-anticipated debut on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and the debut could not have gone any better. Arencibia took the first pitch of his major league career out of the park, knocked another home run out later in the game, and went 4-for-5 overall. While the debut was quite impressive, it obviously is not something we can expect to see too often going forward this season. Arencibia spent 2010 repeating in Triple-A Las Vegas after a horrid first attempt at the level in 2009. He hit just .236/.284/.444 last year, walking in just 5.2% of PA while striking out in 22.8% of appearances. Arencibia's plate discipline numbers have looked poor his entire minor league career, as he has walked just 92 times in 1706 PA (5.2%) and struck out a passable 348 times (20.3%). However, he has decent power, hitting 82 home runs in that time span, including 31 this season for Las Vegas. Overall. this year's .303/.360/.639 line in the minors is quite impressive, and remains decent even after adjustment for league and park (Davenport Translation line of .253/.302/.521). Arencibia will get a decent amount of playing time with Toronto well out of contention and typical starter John Buck on the DL with a lacerated thumb. PECOTA's projected .236/.274/.424 weighted average line would be acceptable in AL-leagues for the catcher position.

Leaving Value Picks this week is Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis, who simply has not performed in his time here. Ellis had another mediocre week (.200/.261/.250), providing little in any category. In addition to his offensive struggles this season, his team will be on the road to Seattle and Minnesota before heading home for seven straight games, meaning Ellis and the rest of the A's lineup will not be facing favorable run environments for the next two weeks. With Ellis' batting and running performances down and an unfavorable schedule ahead, he will depart from the VP portfolio for now.

The Incumbents

Felipe Lopez batted poorly, just .200/.368/.267, but still got on base enough to score four runs in the process. Lopez has been a mainstay at the top of St. Louis' lineup and should remain so for the foreseeable future. Adam Kennedy hit .222/.300.444, including his third home run of the season. Kennedy will not typically flash much power, but he should show a league average AVG/OBP and collect enough playing time for NL-league consideration, especially considering his decent speed value.

Chris Snyder had an passable first week for his new team in Pittsburgh, punching a home run and five RBI despite a below average line of .238/.333/.381. Snyder has above average power, especially for the catcher position, provided you can withstand his AVG. As with many of these Three True Outcomes-heavy players, he would be better served in a points league or leagues emphasizing OBP/OPS rather than traditional 5x5 roto setups. Cliff Pennington had a solid .300/.300/.400 week, highlighted by a 2-for-3 performance on Thursday which also brought in his 16th and 17th steals of the season. Pennington remains one of the few decent stolen base options available according to Value Pick standards. 

Michael Jong is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Michael's other articles. You can contact Michael by clicking here

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Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Jordan... (08/10)
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