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August 31, 2011

Value Picks

Second, Short, and Catcher for 8/31/11

by Michael Jong

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Departures
Jason Bartlett, San Diego Padres (Yahoo! 16%, ESPN 12%, CBS 47%)

Bartlett is not leaving because of any particular problems over the past week; his .250/.286/.350 line with one stolen base was most becoming of his skills. He is taking his leave because, at this point, he is a very well known commodity and has spent enough time here at Value Picks, so he will move on in favor of some additional AL- and NL-only selections.

Jesus Montero, New York Yankees, (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%, CBS, 34%)
The latest on Montero is...that he is still in Triple-A Scranton, waiting to receive his call to the majors. Initially, what prompted Montero's inclusion on this list was that Jorge Posada was being removed as the primary DH, signaling a possible early promotion for Montero. With September almost here, Montero will almost assuredly be coming up, but by the time he arrives, his ownership will skyrocket because of his recent play in Triple-A and his legendary prospect hitting status. Call this departure a preemptive strike.
 

Arrivals
No new arrivals on the mixed-league front, but Value Picks has an AL- and NL-only option ready for you to ponder this week.
 

Incumbents
Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh Pirates (Yahoo! 10%, CBS 18%, ESPN 1%)

Doumit had a .167/.167/.333 week that included a homer and four RBI. A bad BABIP week should not preclude fantasy owners from continuing to go after the Pirate catcher in both formats. He also picked up five of the eight starts in the week, meaning he continues to be the primary catcher. The book on Doumit remains the same, so owners should hold or buy on the catcher.

Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 10%)
Flowers did not have the greatest week, but a .211/.238/.421 line with one grand slam home run is nothing to frown about, though the 10 strikeouts in 21 plate appearances were pretty ugly. Unfortunately, A.J. Pierzynski is on a rehab assignment in Triple-A and could return to the team on Friday, which would cut down on the available catcher plate appearances. With the logjam of players the White Sox have at other positions like first base and DH, it seems like Flowers's playing time is almost at an end in terms of fantasy production. Daily league owners can take a look at him for the next few days before dropping him, though he’ll at least share time with Pierzynski.

Johnny Giavotella, Kansas City Royals (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 6%, CBS 18%)
Giavotella hit .222/.276/.296 on the week, though he did provide five runs and five RBI. He is getting fewer infield singles, which has dropped his BABIP to .292. While that may be a bit low for him, it does point to more of a true talent mark than his high-water levels to begin his major league career. As I’ve said before, his baserunning is going to determine whether he is an interesting enough player for more than AL-only contention, and he may be on his way out of the list soon.

Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 2%, CBS 29%)
Ramos's up-and-down season hit another up this week as he hit .263/.263/.632 with two homers. Ramos remains alive on the list, but there is little more that can be said about his progression as a player that has not already been mentioned in this space. It is likely he finds himself off of VP by next week, not due to bad play but rather to typically expected performance; since the “bottom fell out” of his storybook start to the year (down to .242/.320/.394 by June 4), Ramos has hit an astonishingly consistent .247/.301/.423 in the following 212 PA. The power that PECOTA projected has started to show up, while the supposed early season plate discipline vanished, as evidenced by an unintentional walk rate of 5.7 percent.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox (Yahoo! 19%, ESPN 7%, CBS 46%)
Saltalamacchia has also continued to hit consistently well over the past few weeks, posting a .333/.367/.667 slash line with two homers over the past week. Since things are going so well for Salty, he will remain on the VP list for another few weeks as his hot streak continues. It is important to continue to note that Salty's .319 BABIP is still high, as is his 28.5 percent strikeout rate. His August line of .219/.254/.500 with a .263 BABIP is more indicative of the sort of player into whom he may develop if the plate problems persist and his power sticks in Boston. Expect a low average and plenty of power and RBI for a catcher.
 

AL-only VP
Cliff Pennington, Oakland Athletics (Yahoo! 11%, ESPN 8%, CBS 26%)
Pennington was a regular in the VP list last season because he hit for a respectable average and stole 29 bases in almost a full season at shortstop for the A's. This year, he has finally battled back to hit a respectable average with similar strikeout and walk numbers and a believable BABIP, but his steals are way down. After attempting steals in 16.6 percent of stolen base opportunities last season, he has only attempted on 9.7 percent of chances this season, and he has been caught as many times as he has been successful. Because of playing time, Pennington will be a low-end choice in AL-only leagues just for counting stats, but if his steals capabilities return to something akin to his minor league track record (83.6 percent success rate) or last season's 85.3 percent rate, owners should be well rewarded.
 

NL-only VP
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 8%, CBS 22%)

Altuve continues to see his batting average fall, but this is all simple regression from his extremely hot start. His BABIP now stands at .349, which is still high but beginning to fall into the range of believable and sustainable. Look for his average to land in the .270 to .290 range, which would be good enough for a playing time pickup in NL-only leagues. If his speed picks up as well, he may once again become a lower tier option in mixed leagues.

Justin Sellers, Los Angeles Dodgers (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 3%, CBS 2%)
Sellers has been filling in for the injured Dee Gordon as he makes his way back to the starting lineup. In doing so, he has been excellent, batting a very believable .263/.333/.404. The most intriguing aspect about Sellers is his potential power. After 2009, his power output skyrocketed as he batted .294/.385/.516 in two seasons in Triple-A despite never slugging over .400 in the minors before then. Part of that may have been the influence of the Pacific Coast League, but the possibility of a glove-first shortstop with utility-man skills and potential power on a team with infield openings to spare (the Dodgers are starting Aaron Miles and Jamey Carroll, who are both at worst comparable to Sellers) should have NL-only league owners interested. Even if Sellers is out of an official starting spot with Gordon's return, he should still see play if he continues to hit this well.

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

Related Content:  Sellers,  Espn

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