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September 24, 2012

Value Picks

Second, Short, and Catcher Review

by Josh Shepardson

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With just over a week left in the season, BP’s Value Picks writers will be taking a look back on the season.  They’ll be looking at the players they hit on, the players they missed on, and what went right or wrong.  Thank you, readers, for your support throughout another great season here at BP. —Derek Carty, Fantasy Manager

I was late to the Baseball Prospectus Value Pick party, joining the staff in early June. During my abridged tenure, I’ve had my share of hits and misses. In an attempt to keep things organized, I'll break my season highlights down into “Duds,” “Contributors,” and “Studs.”

Duds
On July 9, I suggested adding Wil Myers and keeping tabs on Grant Green. Seeing as how neither player has taken a hack in the bigs this year, it's safe to say I whiffed on both players. One week later I jumped on the Jedd Gyorko bandwagon. Having read the rumors that teams were inquiring about the availability of Padres third baseman Chase Headley and seeing Gyorko tear-up the Pacific Coast League proved too enticing a combination to pass up suggesting a stash. Sticking with the theme of being scorned by love for young players, Devin Mesoraco was an arrival on June 18, and Ryan Lavarnway joined the fold on August 27; both catchers, however, failed to get their footing. On the season, the two young backstops have combined for a pitiful seven home runs and a batting average around the Mendoza-line. That's no bueno.

My biggest flubs were Gordon Beckham and Stephen Drew. Drew was initially mentioned as a disabled list stash option on June 14, and he wouldn't depart the column until August 27. Beckham had a solid week after his inclusion on June 4, and he was pushed off the list the following week because of a jump in his ownership rate. His ownership would eventually drop as he cooled off, allowing me to include him amongst the Value Picks again on July 16, where he would stay until getting the boot on July 30. Always a glutton for punishment, I gave Beckham one last look last week. He responded by hitting .250, but at least he found the seats with one of his four hits. The line drive rates of each player were an intoxicating elixir that impaired my fantasy judgment and drove me to preach patience with both players. Neither proved worth waiting on.

Contributors
The Reds insisted on using Zack Cozart as their leadoff hitter, and that was enough to encourage me to keep including him in the column week-after-week since he first appeared on June 4. It was a roller coaster ride with some ups-and-downs, but on the whole, he was a capable middle infield option in large mixed leagues.

Originally appearing as an NL-only VP on June 11, Everth Cabrera would reappear in the mixed league section on August 27. He has lived up to his one trick-pony billing as a stolen base option, and that is good enough to qualify as a “Contributor” here.

Studs
In terms of paying immediate dividends, no one did a better job than Trevor Plouffe. I wrote about him on June 6, when his ownership was below 10 percent in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. One week later, he was over 90 percent owned in ESPN and near 60 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. The spike came on the heels of a nine-hit week in which Plouffe smacked five home runs.

Stephen Drew wasn't the only disabled list stash suggestion I made this year; thankfully, Salvador Perez got a recommendation in the same column on June 4. Owners that stashed Perez have been rewarded with a .300 batting average, 36 runs, 36 RBI, and 11 home runs in 271 plate appearances.

Another catcher was featured in my inaugural Value Picks article. That man was Wilin Rosario, and boy has he been good. He entered play on June 4 with a slash of .238/.275/.545 with eight home runs. He now owns a slash line of .274/.314/.537 and has added 18 more home runs, bringing his season total to 26 round-trippers.

Another trio of catchers were hits, albeit to a lesser extent than Perez and Rosario. Yasmani Grandal and Ryan Doumit were first written about here on July 2, and Chris Iannetta was first highlighted on July 30. Five of Grandal's home runs came after I wrote about him, and he has hit .280/.387/.463 overall on the year in 194 plate appearances. He's been no slouch in runs or RBI either, with 27 and 29 respectively. Doumit has been even better, tallying 28 runs, nine home runs, 33 RBI, and a .271 batting average in 251 at-bats since the start of July. After the calendar flipped to August, Iannetta has received 130 at-bats, scoring 15 runs, hitting five home runs with 16 RBI and a .277 average.

Looking back at my middle infield prognostications, Erick Aybar, Josh Rutledge, and Jeff Keppinger all earn tallies on the positive side of the ledger. Aybar went on the disabled list in July, but beyond that hiccup, he has been an outstanding source of average while hitting six of his seven home runs and stealing 13 bases since virtual ink was spilled on canvas touting him. My reluctance to buy into Rutledge's hot start prevented owners from enjoying the full effect of his solid rookie season, but a big August hopefully earned me forgiveness from readers. On August 6, I talked up Keppinger's ability to hit for a hollow average. Since then, he has hit .349 in 149 at-bats, adding 18 runs, three home runs, and 14 RBI as gravy.

I hope you all enjoyed the fantasy season and found my suggestions to be helpful. I got a great deal of pleasure from interacting with readers, and I look forward to doing more of that in the future. Feel free to reach out via e-mail with keeper questions and other fantasy inquiries throughout the offseason.

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