As the season (and Value Picks) draws to a close, I’ll look at what my VPs are likely to deliver in the next week, as well as their future for keeper leagues. Every year, one of my league championships has gone down to the final day, so there’s every reason to keep your roster current with fresh blood, even in redraft leagues. If you’re out of the money, keep the leaders honest by playing spoiler, scrapping for one more steal, one more homer, one more point of batting average. Because after Wednesday, it’s six months before fantasy baseball comes around again. Make this last week count!

I knew that a big name like Mike Moustakas (Yahoo! 19%, ESPN 23%, CBS 47%) wouldn’t last long under Value Picks ownership thresholds. Moose started the month cold, but he’s got a ten-game hit streak going, including three straight games of three hits apiece plus three dingers in four games. Over that stretch, he’s hit .415/.442/.707—adding 54 points to his SLG—and owners have responded by grabbing him up. One of the Royals’ top young hitters, the Moose is loose again, and he’s only going to get better in the years to come.

Nick Evans (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 4%, CBS 5%) is playing for a bench role next year, and his production shows it. He hasn’t delivered a corner infielder’s power, and his skills have slipped in a full-time role. He’s had exactly 81 plate appearances both before and after September 1. Before then, his K% stood at 25.9 percent and his BB% at 14.8 percent; since September 1, his strikeouts have improved a bit to 22.2 percent, but he’s walked just twice for a tiny 2.5 BB%. As a result, his batting line has fallen from .279/.383/.485 before this month to .247/.272/.364 during it. His full-time role is assured for this season, which could help you with counting numbers (especially since he’s moved up in the batting order), but his poor full-time production slots him for a backup role in 2012—and an ex-VP role in 2011.

Juan Francisco (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 4%) will run hot and cold, and he was a bit chilly this week, picking up just 3 hits in 14 plate appearances and whiffing five times while picking up just his fourth walk of the season (in 76 total plate appearances). His role with the Reds—who have Scott Rolen signed through next season—will be the subject of much offseason discussion, diminishing any keeper value, but he ought to be on your fantasy roster in case he brings you the dinger that takes you over the top.

Brandon Allen (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 2%, CBS 14%) lost a start to Chris Carter when facing lefty Derek Holland, but Allen will remain as Oakland’s first baseman this season—especially given Carter’s performance (see Playing Pepper, below). Allen hasn’t done all that much better this season, maintaining the 34.8 K% that’s typified his MLB career, becoming less patient in the process. His 10.1 overall BB% comes more from the 18.9 percent he logged with Arizona, not the 7.8 percent he’s accumulated in Oakland. He’s hit .274/.349/.411 at home with the A’s—not bad except for the lack of homers, the value that’s meant to offset that titanic whiff rate. Until he establishes himself as a big-league power hitter, he’s not worth a keeper slot, and hitting in Anaheim and Seattle during the season’s final week could keep him from homering.

There’s no better VP candidate for short- and long-term value than Paul Goldschmidt (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 8%, CBS 36%), who has risen from Double-A to seize Arizona’s first-base job on the strength of a .254/.329/.486 batting line with 8 homers in 136 plate appearances and a maturity that belies his years. His .232 ISO, 29.7 percent strikeout rate, and 10.3 percent walk rate are all hallmarks of a power hitter, though that strikeout rate needs to come down a bit, helping Goldie to keep raking for Arizona this season and beyond.

Seattle has shifted Kyle Seager (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 2%, CBS 11%) off of third base to accommodate Alex Liddi, a harbinger of things to come for both players. Liddi may need more seasoning in 2012, but Seager has hit everywhere on the diamond in 2012, picking up at least a hit and an RBI in each of four starts last week. Seager’s 84.4 percent contact rate this season (91.2 percent on strikes), minor-league ISO of .146, and .284/.346/.407 PECOTA projection for 2012 are all good reasons to keep him for the future—as a middle infielder.

Like Seager, Scott Sizemore (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 8%, CBS 11%) would make a better fantasy middle infielder, but Sizemore has leveraged his playing time with Oakland to a solid but unspectacular .241/.335/.420 line. His overall .238/.334/.387 batting production (including his time in Detroit) is close to PECOTA’s 50th percentile .258/.326/.392 projection, with the loss in batting average offset by the power to produce a .279 TAv that matches his 80th percentile. PECOTA’s .262/.333/.411 projection for next season also foretells a middling performance for a corner infielder, and Oakland has other 3B talent in the lower minors. All of this makes Sizemore a decent deep-league third baseman this season, but not a keeper.

Jimmy Paredes (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 2%, CBS 9%) was a surprise call-up for Houston, even though Chris Johnson’s collapse surprised nobody. Paredes brings an unconventional third-base package of skill, since he lacks power (his .127 ISO this season eclipses his .104 minor-league ISO) but brings steals (he picked up his fifth this week in 42 games played). Making the leap from Double-A eroded his K% from 17.0 percent to 24.4 percent, but he boosted his BB% from 3.8 to 4.9 percent; the former isn’t a huge dropoff, and both suit his contact-oriented approach. Houston has no competition for him in their high minors, but I’d wait on Paredes to show he can maintain his performance next season. His unconventional third-base skills could allow him to slip in next year’s draft, dropping his keeper value even more. In the meantime, he’s worth playing for batting average (he’s been at or near .300 most of this month) and those precious steals.

The keeper prospects and seven-hit week of Lonnie Chisenhall (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 8%, CBS 19%) pushed his ownership levels to deep mixed-league status. His 3.0 percent walk rate is exactly half of PECOTA’s 50th percentile projection for him while his batting average is below his 40th percentile, but his .407 SLG has been right in line with PECOTA’s expectations. He should develop into a hitter in the .270/.330/.450 range with around 20 home runs—a nice keeper commodity in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues— and is worth keeping next week to see if he keeps up his .292/.292/.500 line over the past two weeks.

AL-only VP

Baltimore has already announced that Chris Davis (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 10%) will be their starting third baseman for the rest of this season, with an eye towards keeping him there in the future, too. Since that announcement last Tuesday, Davis has hit .313/.313/.500 with three doubles and a homer in 32 plate appearances. His walk rate (5.5 percent this season, 5.0 percent with Baltimore) and strikeout rate (32.4 percent this season, 34.7 percent with Baltimore) are weak for his performance thus far, though both are consistent with his MLB history. His Orioles line is boosted by a .390 BABIP (.441 in September), his shoulder problems are a red flag, and Ryan Adams will be breathing down his neck in Spring Training. Still, Davis’s career .199 ISO (.145 in 2011) shows you the power he can bring, making him a good AL-only and deep mixed-league VP for those looking for a championship-winning dinger.

NL-only VP

Florida may look to Matt Dominguez (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 5%) to man their hot corner in the future, but his skills are more relevant to leather than wood. He showed this by picking up just one hit in three starts last week, as Jack McKeon has run out Greg Dobbs and Jose Lopez as often as Dominguez in the past eight games. Trader Jack doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “building for the future,” but I’m not gonna’ argue with the oldest manager in baseball, mostly because he still looks like he could take me in a bar brawl. Dominguez’s owners can feel secure that they have the Marlins’ third baseman of the future, but they may want to take a gander at PECOTA’s .243/.301/.398 projection for Dominguez next season. Good for leagues that count defense, Dominguez will mostly deliver the value of playing time in this season and beyond.

Playing Pepper
The season-ending injury to Brett Lawrie should give more time this season to David Cooper (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 1%) at designated hitter. PECOTA’s pessimism on Cooper (.254/.315/.401 in 2012) and the crowd in Toronto make Cooper scarcely worth a flyer for this season, let alone in the future.

Kevin Youkilis’ lingering injuries may keep him out until the playoffs, but late-season acquisition Mike Aviles (Yahoo! 20%, ESPN 17%, CBS 14%) has mashed in his absence, hitting .389/.405/.667 this month and .414/.433/.724 in the past two weeks. Because he qualifies at middle infielder in most leagues, the red-hot Aviles makes a fine late-season roster addition.

Chris Parmelee (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 2%) must have read my pessimistic writeup last week, as he’s boosted his overall line to .413/.491/.630 with five straight multi-hit games. Get him while he’s hot, but don’t expect anywhere near this level of performance next season.

Oakland called up Chris Carter (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 6%) and has started him just twice in four games since—small wonder, given his .111/.158/.111 line in 38 plate appearances this season. He and Allen should battle for the high-strikeout, high-powered first-base spot in Spring Training; either would be a one-dimensional fantasy contributor.

Italians everywhere celebrated Alex Liddi (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 2%), who tied Reno Bertoia for the home run lead among Italian-born MLB hitters. It was Liddi’s first, but he’ll get a chance to break that tie down the stretch. His .264/.316/.432 PECOTA projection for 2012—and a long-term projection similar to Lonnie Chisenhall’s—makes him a keeper possibility for those in deeper leagues.

Colorado has said that the future for Jordan Pacheco (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 5%) lies in the infield corners and not behind the plate. His catcher qualification, if retained next season, will make him an interesting 2012 draft choice in deeper leagues, but he’ll need a full-time gig to have broader fantasy relevance.

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