American League by Rob McQuown
David Aardsma | Seattle | RP
YTD: 8.0 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 4.40 ERA
True Talent: 8.2 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.20 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 saves, 4.45 ERA
In the grand tradition of Don “Full Pack” Stanhouse and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, David Aardsma will need a nickname if he keeps closing. “BB-rdsma” doesn’t quite cut it, but at least it’s truth-in-advertising, as Aardsma has walked 98 men in 157 career innings. With Morrow returning this weekend, the window for Aardsma closing appears to be closing, in spite of Shawn Kelley’s injury. However, Morrow’s diabetes and injury concerns could easily net Aardsma another 5-10 saves this season. OK if you can stand the hit to your WHIP.
Rod Barajas | Toronto | C
True Talent: .255/.309/.416
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .254, 0.0 SB
Barajas’ season is a BABIP fluke—it’s more than 100 points over his career mark, and that’s despite his turning 34 in September. Barajas is a great example of the value of knowing the True Talent of a player. Sure, getting anything out of a catcher is useful, but if you have this guy in a league, it’s time to trade him to someone who believes in “hot streaks” and “momentum.”
Dallas Braden | Oakland | SP
YTD: 6.0 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 2.50 ERA
True Talent: 6.2 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 4.06 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.1 IP, 0.4 wins, 4 K, 4.06 ERA
Braden’s ERA is artificially low due to his 3.6% HR/FB. However, he has the supporting stuff that may help him to out-pitch his xERA. For one thing, his flyball ways (36.9% career GB%) won’t hurt him so much since the A’s have a big ballpark and good defenders, especially in the outfield. For another thing, he puts the clamps on the running game (just three SB allowed in 180 career innings), which helps to keep the double plays in order.
Melky Cabrera | New York | OF
True Talent: .279/.341/.403
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .279, 0.6 SB
Grab some bench, Brett! This past week’s switch-hitting hero in New York is … Melky! Melky’s HR/FB is 36.4%, which is astonishing especially since he has put 56.1% of his hit balls on the ground. Not only are his balls “out of play” doing better than expected, but his BABIP is also high, at .340 (versus a career mark of .297). Don’t expect him to surpass his True Talent by much.
Alberto Callaspo | Kansas City | 2B
True Talent: .295/.354/.405
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, .296, 0.2 SB
Callaspo has struck out just 5 times in 92 AB this year, and he has a .365 BABIP. Being a ground-ball hitter with a phenomenal 92% Ct% for his career, his hits come inside the park, not out of it, so his BA is heavily dependent on his BABIP… and that BABIP will come down. In fact, he could hit .300 the rest of the way and still not help a Roto team, as he doesn’t homer or steal, and he could lose PT down the road due to his shaky defense.
Brett Cecil | Toronto | SP
YTD: 9.00 K/9, 0 BB, 1.50 ERA
True Talent: 7.8 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 4.01 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Young pitchers are inherently risky for present-season performance. But Toronto has been fantastic about developing and nurturing pitching talent of all ages in recent years, and an investment in Cecil is, in many ways, an investment in his teammates: Cito Gaston has turned around the Jays’ offense (up from 4.00 R/G in 2007 to 4.75 R/G last year, and 6.30 R/G so far this year), and the defense remains splendid. Combine those with a bullpen that’s very likely to leave runners stranded, and Cecil is a great long-term pick and a good 2009 pick-up.
Brendan Harris | Minnesota | SS/2B/3B
True Talent: .273/.332/.406
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .270, 0.1 SB
The word from Ron Gardenhire is that Tolbert and Harris will platoon, now that Alexi Casilla is gone. But, see, Tolbert can’t hit (though he might steal a base for you in an AL-only league). And Crede’s back acts up frequently. And Punto is Punto. You get the idea… So Brendan Harris should get a lot of playing time. Full-time in 2007, he hit .286 with 12 HR. Nothing special here, but useful.
Kendry Morales | Los Angeles | 1B/OF
True Talent: .272/.317/.437
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, .274, 0.1 SB
We’ve seen over the years that it’s hard for hitters to translate success in the Angels’ minor-league parks into major-league success. Exhibit K: Kendry Morales, who has hit over .330 the past three years combined in Triple-A and slugged over .500. Still, we look for a little more slugging this season than his True Talent indicates, as nothing seems fluky about his current stats. Expect his decent run production to continue, as Vlad’s return should improve the team’s scoring overall.
National League by Michael Street
Doug Davis | Arizona | SP
YTD: 6.8 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 3.52 ERA
True Talent: 6.7 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.49 ERA
Next Week’s Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 wins, 4 K, 4.54 ERA
Davis has tossed two shut-outs layered between two starts in which he gave up nine ER in 10.1 IP. That’s typical of Davis, an unspectacular inning-muncher. His walk rate may be improving; then again, he has allowed three or more walks in half his starts. As his True Talent shows, Davis is fairly marginal, except for slightly above-average strikeout numbers. If you need those K’s, be prepared to occasionally get shelled.
Barry Zito | San Francisco | SP
YTD: 5.8 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 3.99 ERA
True Talent: 6.2 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 4.74 ERA
Next Week’s Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 wins, 4 K, 4.78 ERA
San Francisco’s big contract bust has been good lately, surrendering just three ER over his last three starts (two of them shutouts) and putting up an 11:4 K/BB ratio. Since Zito is no longer striking out guys, those walks are key. His K/BB ratio so far is his best in four years, but that’s only 1.9 K/BB, and True Talent can’t help but see a correction coming. Zito looks better than he has in a while, but even granting him all the benefit of the doubt, that still makes him only a bit above average.
LaTroy Hawkins | Houston | RP
YTD: 8.5 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 2.84 ERA
True Talent: 6.4 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 3.78 ERA
Next Week’s Forecast: 1.0 Saves, 4.02 ERA
Hawkins has filled in for Jose Valverde with some of his best numbers in years. Typically, Hawk has been good everywhere in relief EXCEPT at the end of the game, wilting when pressed into the closer position—in 249 career save situations, he has closed the door only 79 times. We think that Hawk will hold his own until Valverde returns in mid-May, but the risk of regression is very real, so listen to offers if you own him.
Carlos Marmol | Chicago | RP
YTD: 9.7 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 4.85 ERA
True Talent: 10.5 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 3.69 ERA
Next Week’s Forecast: 0.4 Saves, 3.40 ERA
Everyone expected Marmol to take over for Kevin Gregg, but Marmol has faltered this year when called upon to close, whereas Gregg has nailed down four straight saves. Marmol’s control this season has clearly slipped, with uncharacteristic 19.7 BB% and 23.0 K%. But True Talent looks for Marmol to take the lead (Gregg has a True ERA of only 4.26), and as long as Lou Piniella is willing to swap roles when Marmol passes Gregg, you’ll want Marmol stashed away while he’s cheap.
Pedro Feliz | Philadelphia | 3B
True Talent: .265/.314/.428
Next Week’s Forecast: 0.9 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, .268, 0.0 SB
After coming to Philly last season, Feliz’s BB% shot up from 4.9% to 7.1%, and his K% continued dropping to 11.7% from its 21.3% 2003 peak. This year, those trends are continuing, as he has a 9.3 BB% and 10.3 K%. But his 2009 success stems even moreso from a .329 BABIP, well above his career .267 average. True Talent also tells you that he’s coming down to earth; note that he’s hitting .261/.292/.304 over his past six games.
Khalil Greene | St. Louis | SS
True Talent: .243/.305/.411
Next Week’s Forecast: 0.7 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .244, 0.2 SB
Greene’s Spring Training line of .406/.434/.536 got a lot of fantasy owners excited. And then he started the season batting .246/.358/.386, a performance more in line with his True Talent. A strained forearm on April 27 took him off the diamond (and many fantasy rosters). But an improved batting eye (0.9 BB/K) means that he could improve on that BA and OBP prediction, and possibly also boost his power numbers. Keep your expectations low, but there is upside here.
Emilio Bonifacio | Florida | 3B
True Talent: .259/.310/.342
Next Week’s Forecast: 0.1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, .254, 0.9 SB
Bonifacio started 2009 on Opening Day with an inside-the-park homer and three SB, and he had multi-hit games in six of his first seven games. Fantasy owners snatched him up—and when he hit .161/.223/.172 with two SB since then, owners dropped him just as quickly. The steals are tempting, but he doesn’t have the power for a corner spot, and until he develops patience (0.3 BB/K), he’s liable to kill your BA. Don’t look for a rebound anytime soon.
Jeremy Hermida | Florida | OF
True Talent: .264/.357/.437
Next Week’s Forecast: 0.8 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .259, 0.3 SB
The perennial prospect has suffered from injuries (40-plus games in ’06 and ’07) and impatience (0.35 BB/K in 2008). This year, he has been healthy, and an impressive 0.8 BB/K ratio has led to that gaudy OBP. However, since a 2-HR, 5-RBI performance on April 18, he has hit only .204/.368/.241, and so he’s back on the waiver wire. Pick him up if you have room—he’s going to get better, and he could even beat that True Talent projection if that batting eye holds.
True Talent and Next Week Forecast are taken from Heater Magazine.