Jim Thome’s return to the American League leads the new VPs this week as the All-Star break looms ahead.
We’re almost to the traditional midway point of the season, and Value Picks has already alerted you to early-season bargains like Adam LaRoche, Chris Davis, Will Middlebrooks, Matt Carpenter, and Todd Frazier. As the teams meet their own midway points and decide on their near- and long-term futures, we could see more high-profile call-ups like the departing Anthony Rizzo or trades like the one that brought Jim Thome back to the American League. Stay tuned to Value Picks for all the latest developments to keep your fantasy team ahead of the pack!
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With solid replacement options dwindling, most of Michael’s Value Picks stick around, but several are in their final weeks on the list.
June is a tough month for waiver-wire pickups; all the early bargains are long gone, starting positions have largely solidified, and most of this season’s call-ups haven’t yet begun to arrive. That means even more patience is required from fantasy players, a virtue that paid off for owners of one VP this week and a lesson to those who are ready to drop a talented hitter after a prolonged cold spell. Patience can make for some nail-biting weeks and short-term statistical swoons, but it’s always good to remember the baseball cliché that the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Michael Jong covers the catchers in Boston and St. Louis, along with the second basemen competing in Cleveland.
It seems the plight of Mike Lowell is affecting more than just the third base position. The inability to trade Lowell has forced the Red Sox to play him as a backup corner infielder. This saps the playing time that generally would go to starting catcher Victor Martinez, who usually backs up first base on his catching off-days. This practice has helped keep Martinez healthy and playing; Martinez has gathered 600+ PA in four out of the last five seasons. Heater expert Evan Brunell expects Martinez to pick up that slack playing more behind the plate at the expense of the husk of Jason Varitek. However, there is a risk with this move: Will Carroll mentioned in Boston's Team Health Report that Martinez' injury risk (he stands at "yellow" as of the report) is tied to his playing time behind the plate. Increased catching time may haunt the Red Sox, Martinez, and his fantasy owners.
While a big part of Martinez's appeal is his longevity, another major aspect is that he's just a good hitter. Outside of an injury-riddled 2008 season, Martinez has been consistently among the best offensive options at catcher. You can pretty much count on him posting an average around .300 because he is excellent at avoiding strikeouts; since 2004, Martinez boasts a superb 88.9 percent contact rate. PECOTA's 50th percentile projection of .286 is fair, but don't be surprised if he once again tops .300, as the 60th percentile on up has him hitting that mark. Martinez does not boast the best power, as his "Bash" (TB/H) are about average for a catcher. However, hitting cleanup OBP machines like Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia should generate excellent RBI numbers. Martinez has reached 20+ homers four times in his career, but he is more of a ground ball hitter and will only reach that mark if he gets his maximum playing time as shown here. Varitek has shown little appeal for two seasons now, and PECOTA does not expect much change. Unless he begins starting regularly, you should avoid him.