A line-up consisting of barely owned players who can help you fill gaps
C: Josh Thole would have been my guy but he just took a ball off the hand – not so good.
Salvador Perez – On August 29, the plucky Perez came a triple short of the cycle and smacked his first major league dinger against Max Scherzer. Perez, just 21-years-old, decided to run roughshod over AAA in his limited time there: 49 plate appearances with a .333/.347/.500 line. His promotion to AAA was a little odd, given that he looked good at AA but not otherworldly (.283/.329/.427). Still, he had 10 homers across 358 plate appearances in the minors this season. While he doesn’t strike out a lot, he also doesn’t walk a lot, so he relies heavily on the balls he puts in play. So far, his line drive rate (22%) is impeccable and his swinging strike rate (9.2%) is serviceable. I think Perez is capable of three more homers and a .270 rest of the way.
Honorable Mention: Tyler Flowers
1b: Juan Rivera – Since July 30, Rivera has 108 plate appearances and a .281/.343/.406 line. Without striking out more or walking more, Rivera has improved considerably since joining the weaker league even though his line drive, ground ball and fly ball percentages remain similar. What has changed then? Well he’s making a lot more contact – his swinging strikes have gone down and his contact rate has jumped four percent. He is likely not a .285 hitter, but .270 with three or so more homers? Yeah, I’d bank on that and I am in some deep leagues.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Blanks, Paul Goldschmidt, Brandon Allen who I’ve covered a ton and are probably owned in competitive leagues
2b: Ryan Raburn – Raburn must really love dogs (who doesn’t?) as he is crushing it in the dog days: .317/.348/.492 since the calendar flipped to August. He’s never been a poor hitter, yet this year he is mired in the .230s despite hitting more line drives and less ground balls than typical. His swinging strike percentage is up slightly over last season and his K-rate increased about 5%. Still, that should have no affect on his BABIP, yet it sits a bit below where it should. That’s the long of it; the short of it is that Raburn will hit .260+ with good pop the rest of the way.
Honorable Mention: Johnny Giavotella, Jose Lopez
3b: Jose Lopez – On August 24, I wrote that “by the end of the day, the name Jose Lopez will be ringing throughout twitter, blogs and RSS feeds.” Still, he hasn’t been great for the Marlins with a .246/.284/.478 line, but he is thumping the ball with authority (something he did once upon a time (2008-2009)). With news that McKeon is going to give him more starts (and the Marlins infield already devoid of talent), Lopez is someone of incredible interest to NL-only players. It’s hard to believe in the man, given his horrid play the last few seasons, however he’s not that far removed from a 25 HR-campaign. You have to have room for him in your NL-only league, I know I do and wouldn’t be shocked with a mediocre average (.250-.260) but a few more jacks – wholly reasonable from a third baseman in 2011 (god that position is wretched).
Honorable mention: Scott Sizemore
SS: Justin Sellers – Back to a lesser known prospect like Salvador Perez, Sellers, who was part of the Michael Wuertz trade of 2009 and then purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers, has posted admirable OBPs over AAA the last two seasons (.371 in 2010 and .400 this year). It has come with 14 homers each year and very nice ISOs (.212 in 2010 and .233 this year). While he hasn’t caught fire at the Major League level yet, he isn’t striking out and is walking 11.1% of the time – certainly holding his own. He has been hitting a lot of fly balls which isn’t great for someone playing a lot of games in the NL West, but he is connecting on his fair share of line drives (26.4%). I like Sellers down the stretch to hit for a real decent average and get on base a good bit. He should score some runs and could catch fire and smack some dingers. He’ll be better than Hanley Ramirez at any rate (low blow?).
Honorable Mention: Jeff Keppinger
OF: Will Venable – While a platoon player, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it keeps him from ruining his average against lefties. Venable, since June 17, in his last 198 plate appearances has a .281/.343/.449 line with just 37 Ks. His intoxicating athleticism should result in a handful of round trippers and thefts the rest of the way. I’ve been all over the map on Venable for the last couple of years but it appears he has given up trying to jack the ball and is hitting more line drives this season. I’m buying him for a non-death ray average to finish the year, paired with some homers and steals.
Honorable Mention: Eric Thames, Nolan Reimold, Jordan Schafer,
SP: Henderson Alvarez – Henderson Alvarez has a ridiculous 4.20 K:BB rate. He isn’t striking out a ton of guys (6.16) but isn’t walking anyone. Sure he is benefiting from a nice BABIP (.247) and strand rate (79.3%), so his 3.52 ERA doesn’t much resemble his FIP (4.54). However, if you normalize his seemingly unfair HR/FB rate (17.2%), his xFIP (which does just that) is 3.59. Alvarez isn’t getting hit hard (14.3% line drive rate) and is getting a ton of ground balls (56.1%). I’d like to see his swinging strike percentage higher, but Alvarez could be a doppelganger of Tim Hudson rest of the way or what you hoped Trevor Cahill would be.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Miller, Luke Hochevar, Henry Sosa