American League by Rob McQuown
Josh Anderson | Detroit | OF
True Talent: .283/.332/.380
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .288 BA, 1.0 SB
Anderson’s True Talent isn’t so much different from Jacoby Ellsbury’s, and Anderson has a ton of speed. Leyland wants Anderson’s glove in the lineup, so he should keep getting substantial playing time even when Thames returns, which could be two more months. Being unestablished, Anderson could play his way back to the bench, but it seems unlikely. He’s no .350 hitter, but he could keep stealing 2 bases per week.
Russ Branyan | Seattle | 1B/3B
True Talent: .243/.339/.485
Next Week Forecast: 1.0 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, .252 BA, 0.2 SB
Seattle used to have “Big Richie” Sexson, now they have Russell “Paul Bunyan” Branyan. There has never been much difference (other than batting side) between the two. Branyan’s five-hit game against Danks should maintain him in the lineup against LHP, so it’s safe to count on more than the projected stats. Just don’t panic when Branyan goes into an 0-for-25-with-12-strikeouts slump. Because he will.
Asdrubal Cabrera | Cleveland | 2B/SS
True Talent: .268/.343/.388
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 4 R, 3 RBI, .265 BA, 0.5 SB
A personal fave, Cabrera is no longer a secret, but be careful about assuming that he’ll steal bases! Of his 4 SB thus far, one was the back of a double-steal, another was against ailing Mike Redmond, and one was a sneaky steal of third base. Cabrera now has a total of 8 SB in 688 PA. His rate stats should end up somewhat better than his projection, and he has “filler” value as a tolerable middle infielder.
Scott Downs | Toronto | RP
YTD: 11.8 K/9, 14:0 K/BB, 0.84 ERA
True Talent: 8.3 K/9, 2.7 K/BB, 3.03 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 1.4 Saves, 3.01 ERA
Since 2007, Scott Downs has been an outstanding reliever, and one of the scarce “2-way lefties” (.243/.321/.364 vs. RHB). His True Talent suggests not only that he can handle the closer job but also that he should be very good. Expect Downs to push Frasor out of the picture if he continues handling the pressure of closing well. And Downs is better than even odds to keep the role after Ryan returns.
Jose Morales | Minnesota | C
True Talent: .253/.302/.353
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, .252 BA, 0.0 SB
Although he’s worth considering only in AL-only leagues, Morales has hit every year in the minors in which he was healthy, and he batted over .310 the past two years in Triple-A. Between Redmond’s shoulder and Mauer’s back, expect Morales to keep his spot and keep getting AB. He won’t homer or steal, but his very low K rate (5 K in 49 career PA, with a similar rate in the minors) augurs a decent BA.
Scott Richmond | Toronto | SP
YTD: 7.7 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 2.70 ERA
True Talent: 6.7 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 4.56 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 wins, 4 K, 4.51 ERA
Although the Jays seem to have found a Magic Pitching Formula, don’t follow the lemmings who are chasing Scott Richmond! Okay, it’s not quite that bad. The big Canadian is a great story, escaping the Indy leagues and striking out more than 7 batters per 9 IP. His fly-ball tendencies (39%+) will be okay in some parks, especially with Wells and Rios tracking balls. Unfortunately, the big offenses in the East are going to treat him rudely.
Kurt Suzuki | Oakland | C
True Talent: .267/.335/.377
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .270 BA, 0.1 SB
Kurt Suzuki is the mad rage in fantasy leagues lately, though it’s hard to see why. For AL-only leagues, he is already long gone, and will probably maintain about the same value. The A’s offense will heat up some, and he’ll add more R/RBI, but his AVG will drop from .328. For mixed leagues, he’s just “filler”—nice to have for a weekend in Texas or the like. He does earn props for being durable.
Joel Zumaya | Detroit | RP
YTD: 3.0 K/9, 1:0 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
True Talent: 8.3 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 3.94 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.91 ERA
When healthy, Zumaya is an exceptional pitcher. He is throwing 100 MPH still (again), and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s the best closer candidate on the Tigers. Current closer Fernando Rodney’s True Talent (8.6 K/9, 2.0 K/BB) is good, but an ERA over 5.00 may point to a lack of focus. Especially if you own Rodney—but even if not—now is the time to pick up Zumaya.
National League by Michael Street
Joe Beimel | Washington | RP
YTD: 3.7 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 1.23 ERA
True Talent: 5.3 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 3.66 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a
When Beimel returns from the DL, he’ll be the Nats’ closer, but the stuff’s just not there. He doesn’t strike out guys (career 5.0 K/9) or display great control (3.8 BB/9), and on top of that, he’s a lefty. In Beimel’s favor, he tends not to give up home runs (career 0.7 HR/9, only 1 HR since 2007), and he’s in a scrambled bullpen situation. For those, he’s worth a gamble, but don’t be surprised if you get burned.
Jesus Flores | Washington | C
True Talent: .248/.306/.397
Next Week Forecast: 0.7 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, .249 BA, 0.1 SB
The ceiling for Flores is high, but it’s not stratospheric, and for good reason: He has some pop, but he struggles against RHP (.639 OPS) and strikes out a ton (career 4.0 PA/K). Even with a .267 BA, his BABIP is an unsustainable .359. So either sell him high or ride his hot start, but don’t be fooled. Flores will be pretty good someday, but not just yet.
Dexter Fowler | Colorado | OF
True Talent: .275/.350/.419
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .275 BA, 0.5 SB
Fowler’s numbers look strong, but his OPS away from Coors (.682) is 250 points lower than at home (.936), and he’s splitting time with Ryan Spilborghs. Eventually, Fowler will be the guy to own, but expect streaky part-time performance for now, providing steals, BA, and decent power. A clear must-own in keeper leagues or for those with roster room; everyone else can wait until he’s a full-timer.
Braden Looper | Milwaukee | SP
YTD: 6.5 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 2.45 ERA
True Talent: 4.8 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.32 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.1 IP, 0.4 Wins, 3 K, 4.19 ERA
The Brewers score runs behind Looper—he’s averaging 7 runs of support. But a sharp correction in ERA is in order, particularly with a 4.5 BB/9. Looper has benefited from pitching at the back end of the rotation, but he’ll eventually return to the #3 spot. He would benefit only the back end of a fantasy rotation, too, giving slightly above-average innings with few K and some extra Wins from MIL’s bats.
Joel Piniero | St. Louis | SP
YTD: 2.1 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 3.76 ERA
True Talent: 4.9 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.78 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 3 K, 4.44 ERA
4-0 Piniero demonstrates the arbitrariness of Wins. His expected ERA exceeds his real ERA by almost a full run, and those peripherals are awful. He’s a moderate ground-ball pitcher (1.65 GB/FB in 2008), so he’ll succeed if he keeps the ball down and the Cards play ‘D’ and hit behind him. Just don’t expect much more than a few extra luck-inspired wins, very few K, and a sub-par ERA.
Edgar Renteria | San Francisco | SS
True Talent: .277/.335/.395
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, .277 BA, 0.4 SB
With the way Renteria started this year (.138/.194/.172 through his first seven games), he had nowhere to go but up. Since then, he has hit .375/.457/.625. True Talent says the reality is in between. At age 33, Renteria will still show a bit of power, but he’s not going to steal bases, and if he exceeds his True Talent, it won’t be by much. Not a bad SS option, particularly in NL-only leagues, but not a great option, either.
David Ross | Atlanta | C
True Talent: .240/.334/.427
Next Week Forecast: 1.1 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, .238 BA, 0.1 SB
Brian McCann goes down, and opportunity knocks—will Ross answer? Ross has always flashed power, but he just recently started taking walks (5.7 PA/BB in 2008, vs. 10.9 PA/BB in the prior five years). That trend has continued in the small sample of 2009, making him a decent bet to beat his True Talent. However, when McCann returns from the DL, Ross returns to backup duties, so he’s suitable only as a short-term pickup.
Rafael Soriano | Atlanta | RP
YTD: 12.6 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 0.90 ERA
True Talent: 9.2 K/9, 2.7 K/BB, 3.22 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 Saves, 3.37 ERA
Either Soriano or Mike Gonzalez could close for Atlanta, if either could stay healthy and consistent. If both could do it at the same time, Atlanta would have an awesome end game. Until then, Soriano will pick up the pieces for Gonzalez, as he has done twice already this season. With his strong peripherals, Soriano will be offered—and will earn—the occasional Save, but keep a DL spot free if you grab him.
True Talent and Next Week Forecast are taken from Heater Magazine.