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Friday, April 13, 2012
Surprise, surprise. Injuries have ruled the headlines for the first two weeks of the season. Whether it be David Wright's nagging hand injury or Michael Morse's uncooperative lat; Lance Berkman's torn calf or Drew Storen's fragmented elbow (and my fragmented dreams)—the story lines and roster shakeups are hard to keep track of. So what are we waiting for? Let's see what awaits on the Waiver Wire.
J.D. Martinez | Astros | OF | 37 percent Yahoo ownership | 31 percent ESPN ownership
Oliver ROS: .289/.342/.462
Hyped as the Astros' savior—if you wan't to call it that—by yours truly, Martinez has delivered in his first small-sample taste of April baseball. He impressed last year on both sides of the ball and is viewed as one of the few valuable pieces of the lowly 'Stros roster, so Martinez should get as much burn as he can provide.
Martinez brings to the table batting average and power, supported by impressive minor league numbers and all. He's a line-drive hitter whose small sample size mark of 27.6 percent would've rivaled and bested, should he have qualified, the likes of Joey Votto (27.5 percent), Michael Bourn (26.6 percent), Michael Young (26.2 percent), Placido Polanco (25.7 percent), and Andre Ethier (25.3 percent). The simple physics of baseball tell you that if you hit the ball hard on a line, it'll give the fielder less time to position himself under the ball for an our. Simple, huh? Suffice it to say that his line-drive tendencies are for real, and could have him challenging for a .290+ batting average despite his high strikeout ways.
Minute Maid Park ain't so bad for home-run hitters, too. It rated as the seventh best hitter's park for home runs last year, clocking in behind only the launching pads in Arlington, Cincinnati, New York, Colorado, Toronto, and South Side Chicago. Martinez, as such, should sneak a few line drives over the tall-wall in left field at Minute Maid.
Recommendation: Run, don't walk, to pick up Martinez in all leagues (especially if you own Michael Morse).
Allen Craig | Cardinals | OF/2B | 25 percent Yahoo ownership | 13 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: No stats accrued
Oliver ROS: .281/.334/.464
The multi-eligible, ultra-talented Craig was a bit late to the party last May at 26 years old, but carried with him into his breakout month a history of mashing at Triple-A (a .320/.379/.545 triple-slash). He bookmarked a long DL stint with a pre-All Star average of .336 and a post-All Star average of .290, and added 11 long balls in a mere 200 at-bats. So why isn't this guy owned?
He's a massive, massive injury question mark. Craig characteristically missed time last season with a knee injury, and opened the 2012 year on the disabled list with another knee injury—the norm for the guy who has played in no more than 129 games in any single season, minors or majors. And the Cardinals outfield is awfully crowded with Jon Jay, Matt Holliday, and Carlos Beltran.
Beltran, however, is susceptible to injury, as is shortstop Rafael Furcal. Even though Craig's defensive returns at second base were ugly (to say the least: he would've cost the Cardinals 26+ runs over 150 games at second base last year), Tyler Greene would be forced to slide over to shortstop in the case of a Furcal injury, leaving Craig as the (most) logical replacement.
Regardless, Craig should spell Greene and whoever the most tired outfielder is at least a few times a week in order to get his potent bat in the lineup. He can certainly help in the batting average department and may provide good power returns, should he ever see the field.
Recommendation: Craig should be owned in all NL only formats and closely monitored or acquired as a bench player in mixed leagues.
Lance Lynn | Cardinals | SP | 31 percent Yahoo ownership | 8 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 1.35 ERA, 0.45 WHIP, 10.80 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.46 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.9 K/9
So Oliver and I disagree on Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter's rotation fill-in for an indefinite amount of time. This despite Lynn's 10.38 K/9 last season in 34+ innings of mostly bullpen duty and his squeaky clean 2.70 xFIP, and this also despite his extensive Triple-A seasoning and pedigree (rated the number six prospect in the Cardinals' system by Baseball America this very season).
I say trust me on this one. Lynn, in his debut outing, threw five different pitches effectively through six and two-thirds innings (I'm counting his two-seamer and change-up, the former of which he barely threw in his 2012 debut and the latter of which he barely threw last year but was valued as above-average according to FanGraphs).
Per BrooksBaseball.net, he generated six whiffs at his four-seamer in his debut outing this year (April 8 against Milwaukee's potent offense) and four more on his curveball. He hit 95 miles per hour on his four-seamer and threw five change-ups, on average, about 10 miles per hour slower.
The repertoire is a recipe for success, and the home park and injury-laden rotation should only be aids in getting Lynn 25+ starts. I like him as a toned-down version of Brandon Beachy last year—under the radar 'til the last minute, slow to draw people in but surprising in his immediate success.
Recommendation: Worth an add in all NL-only leagues and deeper mixed league squads—particularly those who roster Chris Carpenter.
Casey McGehee | Pirates | 3B | 4 percent Yahoo ownership | 2 percent ESPN ownership
Oliver ROS: .260/.312/.398
Early returns on Pedro Alvarez versus lefties: ugly. His OBP is .291, his strikeout rate is an alarming 42 percent, and he's hit a mere three home runs in 152 at-bats. Lest you forget, that's his game. So we know Casey McGehee, he of a lifetime .260/.322/.422 triple-slash against southpaws—merely respectable—, will vulture those at-bats.
The good news for McGehee watchers, owners, and fans is that Alvarez has shown almost equal ineptitude against righties, putting together a passable but ugly .723 OPS and a 31 percent strikeout rate. Early, and I mean very early, readings from the 2012 Alvarez Job Pressure Barometer tell me that he's pressing because the pressure's on, and his 1-for-9 showing with four strikeouts in three games isn't winning him any more playing time.
McGehee was barely above the replacement level last year, but is a league-average hitter and at incredibly weak position, and can be an able fill-in for David Wright in his absence. In his heyday, which was 2010, McGehee did stuff: stuff being, of course, 23 home runs, 104 runs batted in, and a .285 average. The out-of-nowhere breakout start of 2009 followed up his half-season cameo with an even better showing. It looked like a classic case of a prospect that crawled through the cracks.
Say it ain't so, Pedro. McGehee got 600 plate appearances for the Brewers in 2011, but did nothing with them offensively: he was 32 points below league average with the bat, putting together a .223/.280/.346 triple-slash that you would think belongs to a Paul Janish. Bad luck, however, was the main culprit, and McGehee has a change of scenery, (by all accounts weak, yet) healthy competition for a job, and a clear-cut path to a split-time at-bats...at worst. You, too, could do worse finding a replacement third baseman.
Recommendation: Worth an add in most NL-only leagues.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 3:28am
Brett Anderson| Oakland A's| SP| 0.1 percent ESPN ownership, 4 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 60-day DL
Oliver ROS: 3.69 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 6.6 K/9
Anderson is a forgotten man in many leagues, it would appear. He shouldn't be. When he is healthy he pounds the strike zone and piles up worm burners. He calls a pitcher's paradise home, and the lone knock against him is a below league average strikeout rate. He was primarily a fastball/slider pitcher prior to his injury, using his four-seam fastball, sinker, and slider 86 percent of the time in 2011 according to his Brooks Baseball player card. He'll occasionally mix in a change-up or curveball when he's not leaning on his bread and butter fastball/slider combo.
The reason Anderson is available in so many leagues is that he is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery he underwent last July. Will Carroll discussed Anderson a bit in his March 20, Under The Knife. Carroll speculated that Anderson could be ready to return by May or June. That would be less than a year after undergoing surgery, and would delight fantasy owners.
Reports of his rehab are positive of late. He threw a Bob Melvin, mixing all of his pitches.">45-pitch bullpen session for A's manager Bob Melvin, mixing all of his pitches. The next step will be live batting practice. The time is now to add and stash Anderson. As he gets closer to returning to the majors, the competition for securing his services will increase. He may have some struggles in the early going, as every pitchers recovery is different from Tommy John surgery, but he may not. This is a rare low risk, high reward gamble.
Recommendation: Should be stashed on the DL in leagues of all sizes and scoring types.
Glen Perkins| Minnesota Twins| RP| 0.4 percent ESPN ownership, 4 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 0.00 BB/9, 14.73 K/9, 50.0 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.19 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 6.9 K/9
One bad appearance from Matt Capps, a game he actually successfully saved on Thursday, isn't reason to depose him from his closer role. That said, he is following up an ugly 2011 and may not have the longest of leashes. Perkins emerged as a dynamic setup man after years of serving as a starter. His conversion to the bullpen began in 2010. He spent most of that season starting for Triple-A Rochester, but ended up appearing in 12 of 13 games as a reliever for the Twins. His results in the pen that year didn't even begin to foreshadow his breakout in 2011.
His strikeout rate skyrocketed to better than a batter per-inning, and he continued to coax ground balls roughly half the time the ball was put in play. The most likely reason he was able to strike more batters out in the pen than as a starter was improved stuff, and dramatically improved stuff at that. His four-seam fastball averaged 90.49 MPH, and his sinker averaged 89.3 mph, in 2009 as a full-time starting pitcher. Both fastballs failed to miss bats, and none of his secondary pitches generated empty swings at an above average rate.
In 2011, his first year as a full-time reliever, his four-seam fastball average velocity spiked to 95.61 mph while his sinker average velocity jumped to 94.11. Those gains paid huge dividends. He got many more empty swings with his now mid-90s fastballs, and his slider also became a swing-and-miss weapon.
Perkins is a southpaw, and the first thought of many is probably that he has a noticeable platoon split when facing right-handed pitching. However, that isn't the case. Perkins actually exhibited a reverse platoon split last year, dominating right-handed batters, 11.36 K/9 and 2.57 xFIP, while merely successfully retiring left-handed batters, 6.92 K/9 and 3.41 xFIP. Should Capps cough up the closer role, look for Perkins to take over and do just fine.
Recommendation: Should be owned in large mixed-leagues where non-closing relievers have value, and should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Danny Duffy| Kansas City Royals| SP| 1.4 percent ESPN ownership, 6 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6.0 BB/9, 12.0 K/9, 33.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 5.02 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
Duffy's first start of the year against the A's, in very wet conditions, was impressive. I was fortunate enough to be home for the game, watched the vast majority of the pitches he threw that night, and came away impressed. His fastball was routinely hitting 94-96 mph, and he leaned on it heavily. This should come as no surprise, as Harry Pavlidis took an in depth look at Duffy's PITCHf/x data from last year for a March 16 Dispatch post, and noted that he used his premium velocity heater often.
What did surprise me was how effective his secondary pitchers were. He used a curveball that he froze hitters with in the zone, and was able to get them to chase out of the zone on occasion. His change-up was also quite good, earning one called strike, and three swinging strikes on eight change-ups thrown.
His play against the A's showcased why Duffy has an intriguing arm. He struck out eight batters in six innings, and could be a good source of Ks if he isn't undone by poor control. His poor control was also on display in that start, as he walked four batters and started with more 1-0 counts than 0-1 counts (he threw a first pitch strike just 47.6 percent of the time).
There is some risk in starting him until he strings together a few solid starts, but there is little risk in stashing him on benches and watching how he does. Not everyone has the luxury of stashing him, and those owners would be wise to add him to their watch list and keep tabs on how he does from a distance. This southpaw has proven he can dominate in the minors, and it's only a matter of time before he becomes a reliable starter in the majors.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some large mixed-leagues as well as most AL-only leagues.
Jake Arrieta| Baltimore Orioles| SP| 8.7 percent ESPN ownership, 14.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.63 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 1.98 BB/9, 5.93 K/9, 35.1 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 5.01 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 6.4 K/9
It wasn't that long ago that Arrieta was one of a handful of prospect pitchers in the Orioles organization who were supposed to help lift them out of the American League East basement. Unfortunately for the O's, things didn't come to fruition. Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz have struggled mightily, and Arrieta hasn't been much better.
Last August, Arrieta underwent surgery to remove a bone spur, ending a season in which he was not much better than a replacement level pitcher. This year, manager Buck Showalter tabbed him the Opening Day starter. He took the ball on April 6, at Camden Yards, and was sharp against the Twins. He pitched seven scoreless innings allowing two hits and two walks while striking out four and inducing more groundballs, eight, than flyballs, six. His second start was a greater challenge, facing the Yankees at Camden Yards. The results weren't as good, but were promising nonetheless.
Historically, Arrieta has struggled with his control. His walk rate in 233.1 innings in the majors is 4.24 BB/9, and he hasn't struck out enough batters, 5.94 K/9, to offset his below average control. While it is early, his control has been pristine. His strikeout rate remains low, but there are reasons to think that can improve. In 2009-2010 he had no problem piling up strikeouts at the High-A and Double-A levels. His rate dropped significantly in Triple-A, but remained acceptable in the mid-to-high-7 K/9 range.
Perhaps more important than his past minor league performance is a notable change in the present. His four-seam fastball velocity is up a tick. As we know, thanks to the hard work of Matt Swartz, more velocity is, well, a good thing.
Pitching in the American League East is a challenge. With that in mind, it is probably best to exercise caution with Arrieta. For now, he looks like a solid stream/matchup play in large mixed leagues, and rosterable in AL-only leagues. If he's able to sustain his gain in velocity and control, he should find himself on more mixed-league rosters.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some large mixed-leagues as well as most AL-only leagues.
Addison Reed| Chicago White Sox| RP| 1.9 percent ESPN ownership, 16.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, 0.00 BB/9, 3.86 K/9, 14.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.3 K/9
First-time manager Robin Ventura shocked many when he named Hector Santiago the White Sox closer. Coming into spring training, most speculated that the competition was limited to Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, and Reed. None of the candidates pitched poorly, but Santiago seized the opportunity, and won over Ventura.
Santiago has been a non-prospect for the bulk of his minor league career, but became a modest prospect (he ranked as the White Sox' 11th-best prospect in the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook) after adding a screwball to his repertoire in the 2010 Puerto Rican Winter League. All of his minor league appearances came as a starter in 2011, but he made two relief appearances for the White Sox in July. His underwhelming minor league career, his ho-hum prospect ranking in what is widely considered the worst farm system in baseball, and the presence of a superior prospect with more minor league success makes me skeptical Santiago will retain the job all year.
Who is the superior prospect nipping at his heels? That would be Reed, who most reputable outlets ranked as the White Sox top prospect coming into the season. All he did last year was dominate at four levels of the minors last year, and reach the majors for a September cup of coffee. Though he appeared in only six games last year for the Pale Hose, he showed off the goods that make him the team's long term answer at closer. He sported a robust 14.73 K/9 in seven and one-third innings pitched, devastating hitters with three swing-and-miss offerings. He threw a four-seam fastball that averaged 95.60 mph, a low-80s slider, and sprinkled in a mid-80s change-up.
Scouting reports gush about his fastball and slider, and both are consider plus pitches. He doesn't throw his change-up as often as the other two pitches, but it is at least an average offering to keep hitters off balance. I'd be shocked if he didn't snatch the closer gig away from Santiago by the early summer. In the interim, he is worth owning to help in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. The saves will come.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Greg Holland| Kansas City Royals| RP| 1.8 percent ESPN ownership, 32.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.45 BB/9, 12.27 K/9, 60.0 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.60 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, 9.7 K/9
Like Reed, Holland was in a competition for the closer gig in the spring. Unlike Reed, the closer opening was the result of an injury, in this case, to former All-Star closer Joakim Soria. The Royals opted to turn to a reliever with previous closing experience, Jonathan Broxton.
Broxton was mostly lights-out as the Dodgers closer in 2008-2010. Prior to that, he was filthy in a setup role for the Dodgers in 2006-2007. He overpowered hitters with a fastball that routinely hit the upper-90s, and sat regularly in the mid-90s. The wheels fell off in 2011, and the reason for his struggles was a bone spur and bone chips that required surgery. He signed with the Royals as a free agent in the offseason, and showed off a fastball in the spring that resembled his pre-injury version.
He has made three appearances for the Royals thus far this year. The first two were clean appearance, but his most recent was far from. He fell apart, blowing a one run lead in the 12th inning in truly epic fashion. He started off the save opportunity with a strikeout, but it was all downhill after that. The next batter reached by error, and Broxton followed that up with consecutive walks. He recorded a ground out next, but the out resulted in the tying run scoring. What happened next was nearly unthinkable. He plunked consecutive batters, forcing home the winning run. It's possible the ugly appearance is nothing more than a blip on the radar for Broxton, though, it probably shortens his leash substantially.
Holland was electric in a setup role last year. He's already ownable in large mixed-leagues thanks to his stellar contributions in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. He, like Broxton, has a bad relief appearance under his belt. Holland's came in the Royals' opener, but wasn't nearly as ugly as Broxton's. A few well-placed hits did Holland in during that outing, and he has since responded with two scoreless appearances, one of which was of the two-inning variety.
The closing situation could be fluid in Kansas City, and Holland has had the most recent success. Because of that, it likely won't take much for him to unseat Broxton. In competitive leagues, saves are always at a premium. Avoid the hassle of racing to a computer to add Holland should Broxton falter in the near future. Add him now, and wait for Broxton to implode once again.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues, and snatched up immediately in those leagues should he end up closing.
Luke Hochevar| Kansas City Royals| SP| 3.2 percent ESPN ownership, 18.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2.84 BB/9, 5.68 K/9, 23.5 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.56 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 6.1 K/9
My man crush on Hochevar is well documented. I first discussed why I buy into Hochevar's strong finish after last year's All-Star break at Fantasy Baseball 365 in November. I have since expanded on why I'm so crazy about Hochevar for Fantasy Pros. If you look at his player card at Fantasy Pros, you'll notice that I ranked him as the 41st best fantasy starting pitcher for 2012. That ranking is the highest of any expert, but I'm not the only one here at The Hardball Times who believes in Hochevar more than the masses. You'll see that both Nick Fleder and Ben Pritchett ranked him higher than the expert consensus.
As opposed to rehashing what I've already discussed in depth previously, I'll suggest checking out the links above. In short, Hochevar changed his repertoire dramatically, and his strikeout rate saw a bump because of it. He already was capable of besting the league average in walk rate while getting hitters to pound the ball into the ground at a high clip. The missing piece of the puzzle was striking batters out, and now that he is using his slider and cutter to do so, expect him to continue his breakout that began in July last year. This isn't the same pitcher of years past. This is a pitcher who should be rostered nearly universally.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Michael Taylor| Oakland A's| OF| 0 percent ESPN ownership, 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .244/.313/.376
It's going to be difficult for Taylor to crack the A's outfield, but he's doing everything in his power to. He's swinging a hot stick in Sacramento. In 37 plate appearances he is slashing .429/.462/.686. He has clubbed six doubles and one home run. He also hasn't sold out for power, having struck out in just 10.8 percent of his plate appearances. He has long been considered a threat to hit for power and steal bases, and he has repeatedly come up short of lofty expectations. Perhaps the light bulb has come on. It may take a change of scenery to find that out though.
The old saying goes that a player is playing for all 30 clubs. While the A's may not have a use for him, another team may decide he is worth trading for. It's not hard to envision Taylor being dealt sincer he's already been dealt from the Phillies to the Blue Jays, and then from the Blue Jays to the A's in his young career. It's not necessary to add Taylor at the moment, but he warrants keeping tabs on. Forward thinking managers in large mixed-leagues and AL-only leagues should check in on Taylor, and keep abreast of any possible trade rumors that crop up.
Recommendation: Should be on watch lists in large mixed-leagues and AL-only leagues.
Travis Snider| Toronto Blue Jays| OF| 0 percent ESPN ownership, 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .251/.308/.421
Speaking of prospects who have failed to live up to expectations, it is that time of year that I recommend keeping an eye on Snider. Snider lost out on the left-field competition in spring training to Eric Thames. Thames has since scuffled in the early going. In fact, the entire Blue Jays outfield has struggled.
Jose Bautista isn't going anywhere, and one would have to assume the Blue Jays won't be quick to pull the plug on Colby Rasmus in center field. That leaves open the possibility of them injecting some life into the outfield by swapping Snider in for Thames.
Of course, making that change would require promoting Snider from Triple-A. As expected, Snider is showing he has little to learn in the minors. In 29 plate appearances he is hitting a blistering .370/.414/.704 with two home runs and just five strikeouts. Strikeouts have been a big source of Snider's struggles in the majors, but his current 18.5 percent strikeout rate with Las Vegas is excellent for a slugger.
Can he maintain his improvement in the bigs? There is only one way to find out.
While it seems like Snider has been around forever, he is only 24 years old, and played all of last year at 23. If gamers need a reminder of a player breaking out of prospect bust status in recent years, look no further than Alex Gordon and Cameron Maybin last year. Both had lofty expectations, like Snider, and were jerked around. In the case of Gordon, injuries may have also been a factor in his slow ascent to blue chip fantasy asset status. With Maybin, it was a case of being in a vicious cycle of being called up and then sent down repeatedly. Sounds pretty similar to the handling of Snider to me.
If Snider is given the chance to sink or swim for an extended period of time in Toronto, he has a chance to be a source of plentiful home run contributions. Add him to watch lists now, and if you are in need of power in large mixed-leagues or AL-only formats, feel free to add him upon promotion.
Recommendation: Should be on watch lists in large mixed-leagues and AL-only leagues.
Ryan Lavarnway| Boston Red Sox| C| 0.1 percent ESPN ownership, 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .259/.335/.475
All you need to know about my feelings on Lavarnway's fantasy potential can be found in his prospect write-up as part of my Top-100 fantasy prospect list. His bats ready, and he hit in spring training. He isn't currently crushing the ball in Triple-A, but he is using his discerning eye to work walks and reach base at a high rate.
The Red Sox are struggling, and one position that has been an eyesore in particular has been catcher. Starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is striking out often, which is the norm, but has only one hit in 13 at-bats. Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach hasn't been much better with one hit in seven at-bats.
If manager Bobby Valentine gets sick of having a free out in his lineup, he may turn to Lavarnway and tolerate his defensive deficiencies. Lavarnway has enough batting prowess that he could become relevant in one catcher leagues later in the season. Owners in two catcher leagues, where the dregs of the position are rostered, would be wise to take the plunge and stash Lavarnway now in anticipation of his eventual promotion.
Recommendation: Should be stashed on benches in large-mixed leagues that use two catchers. Should also be stashed in AL-only leagues.
Dayan Viciedo| Chicago White Sox| OF| 1.0 percent ESPN ownership, 12 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .267/.315/.435
The portly Cuban is getting his first opportunity to hold down a regular starting job for the White Sox. While he'll never get rave reviews for his defense, it's the bat that brings home the bacon in fantasy land anyways. Viciedo has plus power, and is a threat to hit 25 plus home runs annually. Last year in the Triple-A International League he hit 20 home runs in 505 plate appearances. It was his second straight season of hitting 20 home runs in the International League. His greatest gains came in controlling the strike zone and making contact.
Viciedo had a paltry three percent walk rate in 2010 in Triple-A. In 2011 he nearly tripled that rate walking in just under nine percent of his plate appearances. He simultaneously reduced his strikeout rate reducing it from 21.5 percent in 2010 to 16.4 percent in 2011. His new found patience lead to hope that he can be more than a one dimensional slugger. In 16 plate appearances this year he has struck out twice. He has walked only one time, but is showing enough that I feel comfortable penciling him in for an average north of .270.
The next step is ramping up the power production. Since his power has never come into question, expecting 20 plus home runs this year, with the potential for more, is fair. With home run power at a premium, it's hard to believe Viciedo is so readily available. If he's available in your league, you should scoop him up.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Alejandro De Aza| Chicago White Sox| OF| 9.7 percent ESPN ownership, 46.0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .269/.325/.412
De Aza is the most owned player Yahoo! leagues featured this week. I'm not as bullish on De Aza as others, but recognize he is a threat to reach double digits in home runs while also stealing 25-30 bases. He has been a bit old while hitting .300 or better in Triple-A, and the fact he hasn't gotten a full-time look until now makes me question why that is. Regardless, he's starting for the White Sox, and will now have an opportunity to prove he's more than an older player taking advantage of minor league pitching.
His strikeout rate is a bit high for a none power threat. Don't be fooled by his two home runs on the season—he is more of a 12-15 home run threat than a threat to challenge 20 taters. He made up for his strikeout rate last year in his 171 plate appearance trial by walking at an above league average rate.
When on base, he is a threat to use his wheels to steal a bag. His biggest problem is that he has been inefficient. Because it is Ventura's first year as a manager, it is unclear what his tolerance level will be for base runners getting caught stealing, and how often he'll send runners as well. Just know this: De Aza is fast, and with stolen base chances, he'll swipe some.
His power and speed combination is great enough that he should be owned nearly universally. Don't expect him to post a batting average of .300 or better like he has each of the last three seasons in Triple-A, but he won't need to if he provides in home runs and stolen bases like I've suggested he will above.
Recommendation: He should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 2:06am
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