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July 18, 2011
First, Third, and DH for 7/18/11
With baseball’s midsummer classic now safely in the rearview mirror, players look to improve on their first-half performances as the specters of the trade deadline and late-season call-ups loom ahead. It’s hard to judge players based on a few post-break games, but difficult assignments are what motivate us at Value Picks.
In 2009, he changed teams and rose a level, mandating a shift in his approach, and he drew fewer walks while making better contact. After making the adjustment, he regained his patience, attacking hittable pitches for ever-improving results. This year’s Triple-A line is buoyed by a .373 BABIP that points to luck combined with the hard-hitting results of Allen’s improved approach.
Allen hasn’t shown extreme platoon splits in the minors, but that hasn’t yet translated to the majors.
Since those 176 major-league plate appearances are scattered across three seasons (with just 30 coming against portsiders), Allen hasn’t had a chance to get into a groove. For now, he’ll have Xavier Nady to protect him against fellow southpaws, but Nady’s .257/.296/.371 overall line actually diminishes to .259/.304/.412 against righties—X-Man protection that even a happy Magneto on a good-hair day wouldn’t have trouble with.
Marginal improvement against lefties could lead to more playing time for Allen, especially if he brings his minor-league .220 ISO to the bigs. PECOTA recognizes this pop potential with a respectable .253/.341/.471 (.277 TAv) weighted mean projection, giving him 15 homers in 350 plate appearances; he’d push a .500 SLG above his 70th percentile. Strikeouts will depress Allen’s batting average, but the power he offers is always a premium, particularly this deep into the season. Allen should be an instant add in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues or for any owner needing a boost to power or OBP.
Matt LaPorta (Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 3%, CBS 27%) picked up three hits in his first nine plate appearances after the break, part of a .280/.269/.400 triple-slash line since returning from the DL. He didn’t play Saturday to rest his ankle, eroding his counting stats until he is fully healthy. Still, only LaPorta’s lack of walks show any warning signs in his small-sample post-break (and post-DL) numbers, so I’ll keep pushing LaPorta’s stock.
As expected, Lonnie Chisenhall (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 2%, CBS 27%) returned to the lineup Thursday despite suffering a maxillary sinus fracture on July 7. He had a two-hit game on Friday and maintains a decent .244/.279/.415 overall line despite picking up the oh-fer on Thursday and Saturday. His sweet southpaw swing will keep him productive despite these rookie ups-and-downs; stick with him in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues.
Jim Thome (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 9%, CBS 7%) missed the first post-break game with turf toe, then picked up a single in Friday’s game before sitting on Saturday against Jeff Francis. He’ll continue to ride the pine against lefties, especially after Jason Kubel returns. If Thome’s toe problems linger and diminish his calling-card power, he could find himself an ex-VP. After all, a platoon player needs to produce more than full-timers to provide enough value.
Nolan Reimold (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 3%) will be the Orioles’ main designated hitter as Vladimir Guerrero recovers from a broken hand. Reimold’s .253/.352/.467 (.310 TAv) season line is around his 70th PECOTA percentile, indicating that his performance is sustainable. His .222/.349/.333 line against fellow righties (more dramatic than his career 62-point OPS platoon differential) makes him a risk in those situations, but he should be a good short-term, AL-only addition.
Jerry Hairston, Jr. (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 2%) should return from injury this week, though he is more valuable as a multi-position fill-in thanks to a .249/.300/.365 50th percentile PECOTA projection that rises to just .289/.342/.423 in his 90th percentile.
Houston manager Brad Mills again suggested that Matt Downs (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0.2%, CBS 1%) could get more playing time at third base, but Downs will miss the next several days for paternity leave, making any change that much further away.