July 11, 2011
First, Third, and DH for 7/11/11
The All-Star break begins today, marking the traditional—if not the actual—midway point in the season. Cutting against this equilibrial grain, Value Picks looks this week at some extremes, both in performance and in owner reactions to those performances.
Except for a few productive bursts, Hideki Matsui (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 8%, CBS 13%) has been extremely bad since returning to the Value Picks list, hitting just .197/.333/.324 as a VP. I’d thought that he was affected by which position he was playing, and perhaps affection for Japanese imports has been clouding my judgment, but whatever the reason, Matsui just isn’t VP-worthy right now.
Owners have been extremely tepid on Scott Sizemore (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 1%, CBS 10%), who hit .150/.261/.450 last week but has hit .314/.379/.512 since arriving in Oakland, but his ownership numbers haven’t moved. His BABIP was .400 with the Athletics before this week (when he posted a .125 mark), so I’m not overreacting to a down week, especially since he has remained patient and powerful throughout. I have a more interesting AL-only option this week, though, and I figure the word’s out on Sizemore among VP readers; he’ll still bring you good value despite leaving the list.
LaPorta has hit in three of four games since returning from the DL, so some measure of consistency may be returning: it was only his fifth hit streak of three or more games this season and his second such streak since May 4. He has been on the list enough that I don’t need to extol his virtues again here, but I encourage you to give him another shot in deeper leagues. You won’t be disappointed.
Anthony Rizzo (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 4%, CBS 38%) has looked extremely bad at the major league level thus far, something I pointed out when adding him to the VP list. He hasn’t done much better since then, hitting .167/.333/.250 last week, even sitting in favor of Jesus Guzman against some tough lefties. It may seem like extreme generosity, but I’m going to see if he can turn it around after the All-Star break. He’ll have a few days off to clear his head before returning home—a place that has been very kind to him thus far.
Jim Thome (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 10%, CBS 8%) represents the fantasy extremes of strong OBP (.352 in 2011) and SLG with typically weak batting average (.219 in 2011), although his .446 SLG has been pretty pedestrian this season. He has also been dealing with a sprained big toe, which should benefit from a few days off. I’ll keep an eye on him to see if that affects him, but he remains a VP for now.
Seager was promoted to Double-A to begin this season, hitting .312/.381/.459 in 299 plate appearances, and then hit .455/.500/.673 in 60 plate appearances with Triple-A Tacoma. That’s not a lot of time above Single-A ball, but it was enough for the Mariners, who were using the no-longer-ready-for-prime-time players Adam Kennedy and Chone Figgins at third base. Seager’s greenness will work against him (as of this writing, he is still waiting for his first big-league hit), but he should hit well eventually, even if he delivers little in the way of power or speed. His 10.4 percent walk rate and excellent 13.4 percent strikeout rate in the minors support this scouting report, as does his cumulative .145 ISO and 26 steals in 46 attempts in 267 games down on the farm. All of this adds up to single-league value, although he could creep into deeper mixed leagues if he follows the lead of his college teammate Dustin Ackley.
Edwin Encarnacion (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 20%, CBS 22%) might personify the extremes of streakiness and indifferent defense, but shifting him to DH seems to have solved both; he has hit .319/.336/.496 when the only glove he wears is a batting glove. He is also at the edges of VP ownership, but he merits a heads-up here.
Assuming A-Rod goes under the knife for his torn meniscus, Eduardo Nunez(Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 9%) would be the primary beneficiary, but Nunez would have to push his 80th PECOTA percentile (.299/.324/.403) to be fungible in mixed leagues at the hot corner.
Who’da thunk that Pittsburgh would be doing so well that they’d prefer to keep über prospect Pedro Alvarez (Yahoo! 43%, ESPN 22%, CBS 52%) in Triple-A now that he is healthy, lest he blow their current hot streak? Extremely unexpected.