A look at some of the less obvious rookie successes of 2010, in order to gauge their 2011 value.
As mentioned last time around, we want to cover some 2010 rookies for you in-depth so you can properly gauge their 2011 value before you need to make any decisions regarding them. Not all of them require as much of a look as Austin Jackson did though, so this time we'll bunch a few players into one piece. We'll switch focus to the NL for now, as there are loads of rookies worth your attention thanks to their 2010 numbers. These are not the only rookies we will be covering, but consider this and the Jackson piece the kicking off of a series.
The Washington Nationals have had a disappointing season in terms of the standings, but they have introduced some worthwhile players into the mix. One of these is shortstop Ian Desmond, who hasn't impressed in terms of his plate discipline—he's walked in under five percent of his plate appearances, and struck out over 100 times already despite a lack of power. His line sits at .276/.314/.406 with 10 homers, 62 RBI and 16 steals in 21 attempts (76 percent success), which is solid for a shortstop—his TAv is .266, 11 points above the average for a shortstop.
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Looking at undervalued DH and corner infield options, Michael Street welcomes two former Value Picks back to the fold.
The Value Picks list is looking into changing how its players celebrate, since Mark Teahen pulled a Kendry Morales, breaking his finger the same day he was named a VP. He’ll be out for the next six weeks, and certainly off the list. Though Jim Thome is healthy and has a long history of mashing and walking, another lackluster .250/.357/.333 week with diminished playing time and interleague play just around the corner means we wave bye-bye to him, too.
In their places, we welcome back two VP alumni who have turned it around. I often find that cold batters seem to miraculously heat up as soon as I bench them on my fantasy team, and Kouzmanoff pulled this same trick by homering in three straight games last week after the A’s (and the VP list) gave him some time off. He returns to the list so quickly in part because of his own streakiness over the past month, following a 2-23 stretch with a six-game hit streak where he clubbed those three dingers and hit .333/.364/.810 overall. Despite that streakiness, he’s maintained his improved contact skills, beating his career 80% contact rate with an 84% rate overall and 86% in the past two weeks. He also doubled his walk rate to 10% over that same span. In 2009, he increased his OPS each month from May to August, so I’m going to be a bit more patient with Kouz this time around on the VP list.
Michael Street swaps out third basemen in his Value Picks list, and looks back on his first month's choices.
This week’s Value Picks list graduates one third baseman from the top, drops another from the bottom, and adds in two hot-corner denizens to replace them.
I told you last week to grab David Freese quickly, and his ownership shot up by 70% in ESPN leagues, thanks to his .333/.419/.556 week. This produced the tastee Freese line in the table, though a 891 OPS ain’t exactly soft-serve. Freese will certainly melt back to earth at some point, but you won’t find him on your league’s waiver wire until he does.
In this week's analysis of undervalued CIFs and DHs, Michael Street looks at the value of a fragile Russell Branyan and a suddenly hot Ty Wigginton.
Prospects Justin Smoak and Ike Davis were called up this week, but the accompanying fanfare makes Smoak a poor under-the-radar “Value Pick,” while Davis would have to blow through his 90thPECOTA projection to produce rosterable values at 1B. Two other callups spelled the end for one Value Pick, however, as other VPs struggled through tough weeks.
The usual small-sample qualifiers accompany one-week performances, but for David Freese, the season-long sample space has been long enough to drop him off the list, after a week when he hit .125/.222/.125 to produce the ugly totals you see above. With Felipe Lopez behind him and a strikeout rate pushing 30%, Freese’s leash is getting shorter, despite hitting .500 with RISP. He should come around if he’s given the chance, but that’s a big “if,” and a trade might be the only thing to help Freese thaw out.
In this week's analysis of undervalued corner infielders and DHs, Michael Street discusses the unlikely fantasy additions Andruw Jones and Brandon Inge.
Several Value Picks continued to shine this week, but two are worthy of replacement: Brandon Wood and Fernando Tatis. Wood has continued to struggle, shortening his leash considerably with the last-place Angels, though he’s still someone to follow in case he can turn it around. Fernando Tatis went 1-12 on the week, an admittedly small sample, but there are also rumors the Mets will call up 1B prospect Ike Davis, buzz lent credence by their designation of Mike Jacobs for assignment. A struggling part-timer whose replacement is looming, Tatis can’t be called a value pick anymore.
Andruw Jones, however, has worked his way into more playing time—and my Value Picks—with his hot bat, driving up his ownership in some leagues, though he still remains available in 97 percent of ESPN and 77 percent of CBS leagues. Jones seemed poised for a rebound in his first year in the AL, when he hit .231/.332/.538 in the first half with the 2009 Rangers. But then a hamstring strain shut him down in August, a month where he’d hit just .167/.259/.208, raising doubts about whether his comeback was for real.
Michael Street covers some undervalued players, including the Marlins' Gaby Sanchez, the Angels' Brandon Wood, and the Cardinals' David Freese.
Fantasy owners can find roster value in overlooked younger players and continuing position battles, and this week’s Portfolio shows a little of both. I covered Daric Barton (less than 1% ownership in ESPN leagues) a few weeks back and, despite his line thus far, he doesn’t have a first baseman’s pop. If you’ve got power elsewhere, however, his BA value and lack of competition make him a good mixed-league CIF play and a decent AL-only 1B play.
Gaby Sanchez (owned in 3% of ESPN leagues), on the other hand, brings both patience and power, and he has a chance to cement himself in the bigs as Logan Morrison continues developing in AAA. Sanchez had a 14% strikeout rate and 12% walk rate in the minors, while averaging 12 HRs and 25 doubles to produce a tidy .485 SLG. He needs to reach his 80thPECOTA percentile to deliver good power for his position, but his BA brings value in just his 60th percentile. He’s been hitting lower in the Marlins’ order, suppressing his counting numbers, but continued production will certainly move Sanchez up.
Some of the choices involved are generating noise, while others are merely noisome.
It's now time to turn to the National League's camp battles-and to perhaps also turn a Nelsonian blind eye to a good argument for why some of these combats are less significant than others-starting with the NL East. What's really at stake as opposed to effectively already set in stone?
Our fantasy expert kicks off his position-by-position at players around the major leagues.
I asked you, and you told me what you wanted to see, and here it is: the first position in my revamped fantasy rankings. We will kick things off with first base soon enough, but I have some things I want to go over first.