By: Jack Moore
Each week we’ll be providing you with insight into the best (and worst) baseball players to play in your fantasy baseball league.
This week should see a bunch of DL spots open up across the league. Mike Morse is back, and Desmond Jennings and Carlos Santana are among players making their return on Tuesday. As such, the waiver wire could be flush with talent – here are a few names to keep in mind as you make your adds and drops for the coming week.
1. A.J. Burnett, SP, PIT: Burnett gave up 12 runs in one start this year. He has a 3.60 ERA. That should give you an indication of how well he’s pitched every other time out. If not, consider the following: he hasn’t given up more than two runs in any other start this year. Pittsburgh is a nice place to pitch even if it might not bring tons of wins, and he’s always had excellent strikeout stuff. People still aren’t catching on, but his ERA is dropping fast enough that now is the time to act.
2. Wilin Rosario, C, COL: Ramon Hernandez is on the disabled list now, meaning it’s Rosario’s chance to take a firm hold of Colorado’s catching job. Rosario has already displayed massive power, hitting eight homers and seven doubles in 106 plate appearances. The problem? He only has seven singles, leading to just a .235 average. He strikes out a ton (28.3% of plate appearances), so that won’t come up too far, but he could find a way to hit about .260 with 15-20 home runs the rest of the way, and that’s huge value at catcher.
3. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, CLE: Chisenhall has made the most of his callup, going 6-for-18 with two home runs in his first week back. With Jack Hannahan and Travis Hafner both on the disabled list, Chisenhall should get his fair share of opportunities. He started four of the last six games for the Indians, thrice at third base and once at DH. He killed the ball in the minor leagues, slugging .541 behind four homers and 12 doubles, so he should provide a decent bat at third base. He might be a bit of a reach in 12-team mixed leagues, but keeper and deep league players need to take a look.
4. Rajai Davis, OF, TOR: Everybody needs steals. Davis might be the man for the job in your league, as he’s rarely owned anywhere and looks to be in line for more playing time with Eric Thames shipped out to Triple-A Las Vegas. Davis already has 10 steals and should be able to swipe 20 to 30 more with reliable playing time. He won’t kill you in batting average – he has a career .272 mark and is at .250 this season – and he should score some runs in the solid Blue Jays lineup, so unlike many stolen base fiends (think Juan Pierre) he’s not a total loss in the other categories.
5. Carlos Quentin, OF, SD: Quentin came back from the disabled list last week and looked great, hitting .474/.545/1.105 in five games. He should have a chance to get to 20 home runs despite the truncated season – he’s hit at least 20 each of the past four years. He should be owned in most leagues – certainly more than the 55% of Yahoo leagues he’s currently owned in.
1. Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS: LaRoche went 2-for-18 last week to bring his overall line down to .282/.378/.518. At 32, that would still be his best mark in all three triple-slash marks since 2006. You can read that two ways – either he’s still been really good despite the slump, or there’s more slumps coming. I choose to read the latter, and so does the ZiPS projection system – it only expects him to hit .246/.329/.438 the rest of the way, a mediocre performance from a first baseman.
2. Omar Infante, 2B, MIA: Infante is more than capable of hitting for average – his .314 mark isn’t much higher than his three-year average of .301. It’s the power that definitely won’t continue – Infante has six home runs on the year, which is usually a whole season for him. He hasn’t hit double digit home runs since 2004 with Detroit, and although he might get there this year, he’ll probably need all season to do it. He homered just once in May, and don’t be surprised if that’s his new norm for the year.
3. Kyle Lohse, SP, STL: Lohse opened the season with four starts of one run or less. Since then? Just one quality start and 22 runs allowed in 39.2 innings (a 4.99 ERA). He never struck batters out, so without the crazy run prevention he had to start the year he’s now a two-category pitcher at best. He still has a shiny 3.36 ERA, so now’s the time to get out while the value is still there.
4. Mark Buehrle, SP, MIA: Buehrle seems to have a decent amount of ownership based on reputation, and while it’s true that Buehrle has been a very good pitcher over his career, it hasn’t really translated to fantasy. He has a career 5.05 K/9 and 1.28 WHIP, so at best he’s only really contributing in two of the four main starting pitcher categories, and it’s difficult to rely on wins for production out of a pitcher. He’s an asset for the Marlins, but his pitch-to-contact ways just don’t work in standard five-category fantasy baseball.
5. Justin Masterson, SP, CLE: Lefties continue to be a huge issue for Masterson, as they’re hitting .326/.425/.455 against him on the season. Teams have caught on and are taking advantage – Masterson has actually faced more lefties (163) than righties (140) this season. With his low arm angle, Masterson is easier to see out of the hand against lefties, and as such we shouldn’t be surprised if this trend continues. He just can’t get them to swing and miss at anything – lefties have 14 walks against just 13 strikeouts versus Masterson this season, the key culprit behind his 5.14 ERA.
Jack Moore is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Mathematics and Economics. His work can also be found at FanGraphs.com, DisciplesOfUecker.com, RotoWire.com, AdvancedNFLStats.com and ESPN. Follow him on twitter at @jh_moore.