August 31, 2010
Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop
Of the incumbents from last week's list, Adam Kennedy remains the weakest option after another mediocre week padded with excellent counting stats. His run and RBI totals jumped despite a mediocre .261/..308/.348 showing this past week. Without much power, all Kennedy can really provide in roto leagues is his legs, but he has remained on 12 stolen bases since entering the VP portfolio. As a result, he gets the axe in this last week of Value Picks.
While Rodriguez is not earning the full amount of playing time for the Rays, he compensates with one of the more interesting games in the majors. In the minors, he has flashed a lot of power, and the .150 ISO in just 318 PA shows that he has the capability of producing above average power for a major league middle infielder. In addition, Rodriguez has been able to get on base via the walk more often than he has shown so far in the majors; his low 2010 walk rate seems to be a product of a high swing rate (31.0% swing percentage on out-of-zone pitches) and a perennially low contact rate. Fantasy owners will have to iive with the high strikeout rate and the corresponding difficult batting average, but a decently high BABIP does seem sustainable given Rodriguez' speed and ability to make hard contact (when he makes contact).
However, what is ultimately most appealing about Rodriguez is his position as a part-time starter with the Rays, a potent offensive team. PECOTA had him pegged this season for 23 homers in 480 PA for his weighted mean projection, yielding a home run every 20.86 PA. Giving Rodriguez about 80 more PA for the season puts him at around four more homers. Given the Rays offense, runs and RBI totals may be passable even with part-time playing time. Finally, Rodriguez has shown a penchant for stealing as well, having taken off on 9.0% of stolen base opportunities but converted on 76% of those attempts. Already this season Rodriguez has been more aggressive on the bases, stealing 10 bags in 13 attempts and running 11.2% of the time. A couple more steals for the remainder of the year could be in order.
The other player on the bubble was Felipe Lopez, but despite a forgettable .111/.304/.333 week, he too adequately filled up the counting stats with 3 RBI, 2 R, and one homer. With his playing time secure and a spot in the order in front of some very good St. Louis hitters, I would expect a bit of a bounceback and continued counting stats if anything, but if you are in need of other categories, do not look his way.
The other three VP candidates, however, proved their worth once more. Cliff Pennington did not hit well this week, going just .190/.261/.190, but he made the most of his opportunities on base by nabbing three more bases (with one caught stealing). He continues to be one of the best options for steals still widely available in mixed leagues, but he has been eclipsed in usefulness in that department by Eric Young Jr. Young was taking off again this week, swiping four bags. With Young's speed and control of the plate that he displayed in the minors, a higher AVG can be expected, which should yield more opportunities on base to take advantage of his basesetealing prowess. Chris Snyder finally justified my faith in him the past few weeks, hitting two home runs (his only two hits of the week) and driving in four in the process.