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Fantasy Notes: Are You Sure You Want A.J. Going Yard?

September 2, 2006 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
  • Yes, it’s a strange question, but do you really want more home runs out of your fantasy catcher? In the case of Chisox backstop A.J. Pierzynski, it’s definitely a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Consider that after his career-high output of 18 dingers last season, Pierzynski managed just six in 284 at-bats prior to the All-Star game this year. His average in the first half was a robust .320. Since then, A.J. has reverted to his 2005 power rates, blasting seven shots in only 152 at-bats, but he’s hit just .257, the exact same average he had for the entire 2005 season. In his previous AL campaign in 2003 (remember that he spent 2004 in San Francisco playing in a tough power park for lefties not named Barry Bonds), Pierzynski had a modest 11-homer season (a similar pace he seemed to be on in the first-half this year), but hit .312. Are you seeing the trend here? So the question becomes, who would you rather have: (a) a near-20 HR catcher that hits in the .250 range; or (b) a low-double digit HR catcher who bats .310 or higher? If you chose (a), you better visit every day, because you’ve got a lot to learn about fantasy baseball.
  • If the White Sox are going to hang on to their playoff spot, they really need to rejig things so the top of the order is getting on base more often. Scott Podsednik is coming off a month where he managed just 20 hits (.217 BA) and walked just nine times. That’s a .284 OBP for those of you keeping score at home, and that ain’t gunna cut it for anyone, never mind your lead-off hitter. He continues to swipe bases, which is nice from a fantasy perspective, but if I owned him (and I used to), I’d be worried about his long-term viability as a major leaguer. For those of you with short-term memory loss (and there are many, many reasons why you may suffer from this…no judgment), I present to you a few names of players who ranked in the top 10 in steals at least once over the last 10 years, yet none would be considered for any fantasy hall of fame: Al Martin, Lance Johnson, Pokey Reese (Pokey? Where are you, Pokey?), Brian Hunter (that’s Brian L. Hunter, the one that played for Houston and Detroit, etc., not Brian R. Hunter, who toiled for the Braves among others), Tony Womack, Roger Cedeno, Alex Sanchez and Endy Chavez. Does this list inspire you to tears? It should if you own Scotty P., who could easily find himself associated with these other lengendary speed flameouts if he doesn’t learn how to get on base more often.
  • Mark Teahen deserves a nod. He smoked a two-run homer last night, part of a two-hit, three-RBI game to snap a 4-for-29 skid. Before this week’s slump, however, Teahen had been absolutely unconscious of late. Since the break, he’s batting .324 with 11 homers, 24 walks, an OBP over .400 and a .611 SLG. Teahen is finally providing the Royals with some concrete payback from the Carlos Beltran deal (remember, he was the key component that headed to KC in that multi-team swap) and I can see him being massively undervalued at drafts next year. Teahen is going to have a serious breakout in 2007 and he needs to be targeted.
  • Is Joe Nelson’s bubble about to burst? He held on for a very shaky save last night, his fifth in as many chances. But over his last three appearances, covering 2 2/3 innings, Nelson has been tagged for five hits, six runs, a homer and four walks. Jimmy Gobble hasn’t been much better lately, but he’d probably be next in line for save chances should Nelson implode.
  • Did you know that Aaron Boone was still a major leaguer? I forgive you for not knowing any better, especially considering he’s had all of 54 at-bats since the All-Star break, and has performed so admirably (.204 since then). In August, Boone got all of 18 at-bats. I believe there is an ice floe that will be gliding by shortly with his name on it. What’s even more mind blowing is that he’s just 33 years old. Yes, I too would have assumed he’s pushing 40 by now. Here’s an even scarier thought — Boone is actually having a better year in 2006 than he did in 2005.
  • Make a claim for Kevin Kouzmanoff, especially in keeper leagues. He’s been called by the Indians because Travis Hafner may be unavailable this weekend. Kouzmanoff has made a mockery of both Double-A and Triple-A this season. First, at Double-A, he hit .389 for 244 at-bats with 46 runs, 55 RBI, 19 doubles, a triple, 15 homers and just 34 strikeouts. How about a .449 OBP and .660 SLG? Finally, the Tribe promoted him to Triple-A, and he has taken it in stride, batting over .350 with 36 hits in 27 games, including nine doubles and seven homers good for 20 RBI. He’s showing patience (20 walks, .409 OBP) and is absolutely murdering lefties (.484 BA). The 25-year-old third baseman, a sixth rounder in 2003, kind of fell under the prospect radar with injuries last year after a huge 2004. But he is back big time, and word is that Cleveland will find a way to get this guy in the lineup a lot down the stretch, meaning he could try his hand at a few spots on the diamond.
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