NAMES TO KNOW
Two veteran ballplayers might be done for the 2012 season, an if that is the case there are two younger players that will become immediate adds in virtually all fantasy leagues of at least 12 team depth.
Lance Berkman crumbled to the field the last time he saw game action do to an injured knee. He kept a brave face on after the injury saying that it didn’t feel the same way it did when he tore his ACL in a flag football game years ago. Turns out his memory might be a bit foggy on that one. Jose Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that Berkman did in fact blow out his ACL though team verification is still forthcoming (and MRI will be run Monday to confirm the diagnosis). Obviously such an injury would end the season of Berkman, and Lance went even further saying that if his ACL is indeed torn that he may hang up his cleats. “If I’ve re-torn my ACL or something like that, I’d certainly get it fixed but you don’t know how psychologically you’re going to come back from something like that,” Berkman said. Might we have seen the last of the 36 year old switch hitter in a big league uniform?
Let’s operate under the assumption that Berkman’s 2012 season is done. What do the Cardinals do? Well, Matt Carpenter would likely see some more playing time here and there, but the player you need to concern yourself with is Matt Adams. A powerful built slugger who hasn’t met a ballpark that can contain his blasts, he could very easily take off immediately as a power bat. After hitting .300 with 32 homers and 101 RBI last season at Double-A on his way to league MVP honors, Adams has continued to mash pitching at Triple-A this year batting a robust .340 with nine homers and 27 RBI in 37 games. Rare for a slugger is the fact that he strikes out in less than a fifth of his at-bats. He has not speed, and really can’t play defense, so while David Ortiz might be the best comparison, he should be able to handle first base duties well enough to get his power bat in the lineup on a daily basis. A word of caution though â€“ he has only 153 career games above A-ball, so growing pains are very likely to be on the way.
Scott Rolen was on his way to the HOF before injuries crushed him. He’ll still likely get some consideration when his time is up, and is sounds like the end of his career might be closer than many assumed it would be. Jon Heyman of CBS has reported that the shoulder issue of Rolen’s is so severe that he may not be able to play again this year (as a 37 year old, this also raises the question of whether or not Rolen’s career might be at an end). With Juan Francisco dealt to the Braves, the Reds are likely to lean on Todd Frazier at the hot corner. In 168 big league at bats the results don’t exactly bring a smile to anyoneâ€™s face as he’s posted a slash line of .244/.298/.476, but at least that last number is something. With nine homers that’s roughly a 30 homer pace for a full season. A strikeout machine at this point, roughly a quarter of his at bats, Frazier has a short stroke that should allow him to reign in the whiffs a bit. Frazier uses the field pretty well an as a result he should be able to avoid long slumps. A review of his minor league numbers doesn’t exactly scream out ‘superstar in the making’ but players with far worse skills have had themselves long and productive big league careers. Also could steal a few bases to help the cause as he swiped 31 in 220 minor league games in 2010-11.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Melky Cabrera had four more hits Sunday to boost his average up to .563 since Thursday of last week leading him to push his season long mark up to .353, the fourth best mark in the NL. Cabrera, who has only 13 walks on the year, also leads the Senior Circuit with 59 hits which is tied with Derek Jeter for the major league lead. Don’t forget that last season Cabrera had 201 hits for the Royals. He still has only two homers this season, but with six steals and 24 runs scored the Giants have gotten everything they could have possibly hoped for when the added Melky in the offseason.
David Freese is on pace for about 30 homers and 115 RBI, so no one has any right to complain about his early season production. But remember how I’ve written before about perception becoming reality? Is that the case of what is going on here with Freese? Is Freese a 30-115 guy? No one thinks he is that guy but his hot start may have caused some to think he is. Has his hot start also blinded you to the fact that his batting average is down to .259? After crushing the ball to the tune of a .333 average in April he has gone ice cold in May hitting .176 through 19 games. Is he a .259 hitter? He’s no more a .259 hitter than he is a 30 homer bat. The truth is in the mist for both. Look for his power to slow as the season progresses while his average rebounds. Freese is a solid third baseman but he just doesn’t appear to be the type to lead a team to fantasy greatness.
The White Sox are sure to sign Orlando Hudson for some infield depth and leadership. Turns out that he’ll not only give some relief to Gordon Beckham at second, but he’ll also be deployed as a third baseman. With Brent MorelÂ headed to the DL with a bulging disk in his back, Hudson seems primed to pick up enough work to be an option in AL-only leagues. At the same time, let’s keep it real here. First off, Hudson is hitting .211 with one homer an a .577 OPS this season. Second, he hit .246 with a .681 OPS last year only saving his season because of his 19 thefts. Third, as much as they might want O-Dog to play third base, he’s appeared in 1,294 big league games and never played a single inning at any position other than second base. Hey, I’m just trying to keep it real.
Speaking of Beckham, how is the perpetually underachieving second sacker doing this year? Shockingly, he’s underachieving yet again hitting .207 with a .621 OPS through 40 games. Surprisingly though he’s flashed some power with four homers, but his SLG is .348, and let’s be honest here, that should be his OBP. Through nearly 1,500 at-bats he has hit .245 with a .314 OBP and .383 SLG. I’m not calling his career a total bust, but face it, he’s been a total bust after an impressive 378 at-bats as a rookie in 2009. Looks like those scouts that had concerns about his approach and swing path at the dish were right.
Albert Pujols has hits in eight of his last nine games but his average has only gone from .195 to .211. Where is the breakout?
David Wright has been fantastic this season hitting .412 with a .513 OBP, both marks the best in baseball. So let’s quibble about what he hasn’t done. Wright hasn’t displayed a ton of power with four homers in 37 games, and his total of four steals is solid without standing out. Amidst all the good though perhaps people have overlooked that he has been woeful on the base paths. Wright has stolen four bags while being nabbed five times. How long before the Mets put the stop sign up for Wright if he continues to show such awful results on the bases? Just something to consider, though like I stated, we’re quibbling with what has been a spectacular start to the year.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
Tags: Fantasy, Fantasy Baseball, Lance Berkman, MLB