As Dayan Viciedo slips off the VP list, he's replaced by the best of several bubble candidates.
The first fringe VP candidate reaches the list this week, and we’ll offer a rundown of the other bubble options, who haven’t yet shown the skills or the playing time to add. Making room for our latest addition means releasing Dayan Viciedo, due to his own diminishing skills and playing time.
As Ozzie Guillen tries to keep his Sox atop the AL Central, he’s given most of the playing time at third base to Omar Vizquel, not Viciedo. With Mark Teahen returning soon, Viciedo will see even less time, assuming he’s not demoted. And when he has started, Viciedo has shown a love for the longball but an utter disdain for the walk (0 in 71 PA). His 85% contact rate balances that lack of patience, as does his .211 ISO, but without the playing time to swing the lumber, develop his eye, and deliver counting numbers to fantasy owners, he’s not valuable enough to keep.
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Michael Street continues his quest for a good VP 3B option.
The Value Picks list looks solid as the second half begins, needing just one change to help your counting numbers at third base. Although fantasy owners have found few serviceable hot-corner options, Minnesota has a glut: the light-hitting Nick Punto, the defensively challenged Michael Cuddyer, and the prospect Danny Valencia. Among this trio, Ron Gardenhire has leaned heavily on Punto and Cuddyer, giving Valencia about two starts a week. Even after Justin Morneau’s concussion shifted Cuddyer to first, Gardy has relied mostly on Punto, who’s hit .148/.179/.148 this month.
This choice is even more puzzling because Valencia needs more development than two games a week provides. Given a chance, the rookie could even step up in the heat of a pennant race to give the Twins their first solid third baseman since Corey Koskie. This situation bears watching, as Gardy could lose patience with the punchless Punto, or Morneau’s concussion could linger. But for now, his playing time doesn’t merit a VP slot, so we “see ya later to Valencia until his circumstances change.
Michael Street swaps Indians teammates on the VP list and looks at some undervalued options for the season's second half.
Heading into the All-Star Break, we'll split our attention between the VP list and some undervalued second-half possibilities. The VPs had an underwhelming week overall, and in the World Cup spirit, a few players receive yellow cards, warning them to improve their play or find themselves on the sidelines.
Travis Hafner gets the only red card, since his BA and OBP haven't balanced his low-power ways. Last week was his strongest performance in a while, picking up four singles in 19 PAs. But he also whiffed 7 times and walked twice; those two walks represent half of his free passes in the past four weeks. He's struck out 20 times over the same 62-PA span, for a limp .236/.323/.345 slash line, not strong enough to hold onto a VP spot.
Matt LaPorta has had a polarizing season, but there are reasons for his early struggles and recent successes.
It's very easy to get caught up in a short-term performance by a player, especially if you thought they were capable of playing well. Matt LaPorta began his season with struggles, hitting .214/.285/.277 in his first 112 at-bats for the Indians—the Indians sent him packing to the minors for a bit, and recently recalled him. Since then, he's hit .324/.405/.676, but in just 37 at-bats, as a follow-up to hitting .362/.457/.638 at Triple-A Columbus.
LaPorta was sent down in part because of the presence of Russell Branyan—I ranked him as a two-star first baseman heading into the season, not so much because of his forecast (.272/.343/.490 isn't bad by any means, but it's not enough from a first baseman if he's also splitting time)—but now that Branyan has been dealt back west, LaPorta has the gig that was supposedly his in the spring back. The question posed to me multiple times, via e-mail and Twitter, was whether or not LaPorta's recent performance was for real.
With Opening Day a little more than a week away, here is a look at the projected rosters for each of the 14 American League clubs following conversations with club executives and media members. National League lineups are here. You can also look at the fantasy depth charts at any time to see our latest updated projections.