Chris Davis | Texas | 1B
True Talent: .243/.296/.476
Next Week Forecast: 1.3 HR, 3 Runs, 4 RBI, .241 BA, 0.1 SB
Chris Davis has made even the pessimistic comparisons to Mike Jacobs seem rosy, and the legend of Rudy Jaramillo gets a tiny bit of tarnish. Sure, Davis was selected in every format, but shallow leaguers have already cut him, and he’s a viable trade target in larger leagues. He has some crazy numbers right now, with a 48% FB% of which 21% leave the yard, and a Ct% of just 55%. Something has to give, and while there’s a chance all those Ks will sink him, his past suggests it’s a fluke. And when the contact rebounds, the power will be top-notch.
Alfredo Figaro | Detroit | SP
YTD: 12.9 K/9, 3.5 K/BB, 3.60 ERA
True Talent: 4.2 K/9, 0.9 K/BB, 6.83 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 4.2 IP, 0.2 Wins, 2 K, 6.65 ERA
The first aria was nice, but we’re not sure how the rest of Figaro’s opera will be. The Tigers have made huge strides in team defense this year, with a league-leading .851 team RZR, and a good .701 DER. So, consider bidding $3 in 12-team AL leagues for the rotation slot, the ability to throw 98, and being Fernando Rodney’s cousin. But even with a quick hook, he could do some serious ratio damage in less-deep leagues.
Tyler Flowers | Chicago | C
YTD: .281/.433/.522 (AA)
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
For deep leagues which use two catchers, the mere mention of the “C” position in a prospect is exciting. Since no other catcher is “interesting” this week, the idea of grabbing Flowers and just playing him as a zero until he’s promoted is worth considering in deep AL leagues. The White Sox are right around .500 as predicted pre-season in Heater, and could be sellers this year (clearing a spot for Flowers) unless Quentin goes nuts. Catcher or not, he’s a great hitting prospect for keeper leagues.
Gio Gonzalez | Oakland | SP
YTD: 9.5 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 8.03 ERA
True Talent: 7.5 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 5.35 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.1 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 5.41 ERA
Unscientific advice suggests avoiding any pitcher Kenny Williams ships out. Gonzalez has twice had that “honor” already at age 23. He’s lost his control and looks nervous on the mound in Oakland. Gio does have great stuff and blew away AAA. He will have a good home park and defense backing him up. With Outman out, now is his time to lay claim to a rotation spot, but he won’t get much “leash” before a return to Sacramento is contemplated.
J.P. Howell | Tampa Bay | RP
YTD: 10.9 K/9, 3.2 K/BB, 1.82 ERA
True Talent: 9.9 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 2.92 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 Saves, 2.95 ERA
Masterful in the lefty setup role since the start of 2008, Howell has now collected three of the last four Rays saves, picking up a “W” in the other game. It’s difficult for a lefty to earn a closing role, especially when his “fastball” comes in at an average of 86 mph and his ground balls ways are nice for situational duties. But Howell has shown almost no platoon split in his career, and he has “inertia” on his side now.
Ricky Romero | Toronto | SP
YTD: 7.3 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 3.59 ERA
True Talent: 5.4 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 5.57 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 6.05 ERA
The injuries keep mounting in Toronto, but oft-injured Ricky Romero hasn’t been stricken … yet. TT predicts him to revert to minor-league levels despite an enormous “unlucky” 18% HR/FB rate, and a normal .306 BABIP. We’re going to suggest instead that he’s very “high risk.” He has shown no fear of throwing strikes in the bigs, even with batters teeing off for nine HR in just 57.2 IP. And with that nice Toronto defense backing him up, he’s a good role of the dice if spotted against the non-powerhouse offenses.
Marcus Thames | Detroit | OF
True Talent: .254/.314/.520
Next Week Forecast: 1.6 HR, 3 Runs, 4 RBI, .254 BA, 0.1 SB
Heh, longtime bench/AAAA type Marcus Thames is suddenly batting cleanup for the Tigers. We’ve seen this before with Clete Thomas, right? Well, the difference here is that Thames has legitimate jaw-dropping power. All the advance fielding metrics indicate he’s “adequate” as a fielder. Leyland tries to play “streaks,” so there’s always the chance of another benching, but in any league where OBP doesn’t matter, the great power stats (5 HR/12 RBI already in just 71 AB) more than make up for the low batting average.
Luis Valbuena | Cleveland | INF
True Talent: .246/.315/.375
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, .247 BA, 0.5 SB
Luis Valbuena had one homer entering the Cubs series but quadrupled that total in just two games. With the Tribe’s bullpen laying the season to waste, the much-rumored DeRosa trade could free up full-time work for Valbuena even after Asdrubal returns. Still very young, this year’s TT of about .250 and half a homer and steal per week could just be the first glimpses of a fine offensive player for years. Seattle could certainly use him and/or Asdrubal back.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.