We continue to march along in the season as we are already nearing the completion of a second full week of games. As we look around the baseball world, small sample sizes continue to get mentioned everywhere as a way to calm owners down who think that Albert Pujols has now become a .198 hitter or that Asdrubal Cabrera has become a 30 HR hitter. With the weekend upon us, it’s time to determine who are the best pickups for the upcoming week and the season going forward so let’s take a look at some of the popular free agents at the moment.
Chris Naverson (SP, MIL) – After starting off with two scoreless starts and more than a strikeout per inning, Naverson is garnering attention in the fantasy world. While he had a 4.99 ERA last year that will scare some people off, his xFIP was 4.15 which would leave us to believe that bad luck played a factor in his high ERA. He’s worth a pickup as someone who can get you a fair ERA with good strikeout numbers. His walk rate may end up hurting you in the WHIP department but it’s not so bad that you should dismiss him completely.
Justin Masterson (SP, CLE) – I endorsed Masterson prior to the season. What I specifically said was that he “should be on your radar towards the end of drafts or on early season waiver wires”. Well, now we’re in the early season and he’s started off nicely so it’s time to make a move on him. Between him and Naverson, I’d lean towards Naverson because he could have slightly better strikeout numbers and pitches in the NL. Masterson should have an ERA around 4.00 but a high walk rate will inflate his WHIP as well.
Esmil Rogers (SP, COL) – First things first, Mr. Rogers had a 6.13 ERA in 2010. That likely scares a lot of people. But, the crazy thing is that his xFIP was 3.59 which is a mammoth difference from his ERA. A .385 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) will do that as that’s a ridiculously high number and a sign of poor luck. This year, his BABIP has returned to normal and his ERA is 2.77 thus far. As with Masterson and Naverson, he is a good bet for a decent ERA with a questionable WHIP due to a high walk rate. His strikeout rate is along the lines of Masterson’s with about 7 K/9. He’s a notch below Naverson and comparable to Masterson if you’re deciding who to pick up of the three.
Travis Hafner (DH, CLE) – If we travel way back to 2006, Hafner smashed 42 HR in only 129 games and Pronkville rejoiced. Then, in 2007, a dose of reality swooped in as he finished with 24 HR and 100 RBI instead of his Ruthian numbers (24/100 is nothing to scoff at, mind you). His HR rate and slugging numbers really haven’t changed since 2007 but he’s struggled to stay healthy. I wouldn’t bet any money on him getting over 500 AB but he will certainly match those 2007 numbers again if he does. I’d pick him up and ride him while he’s hot then cut him once the injuries come.
Could Be Good Pickups
Sam Fuld (OF, TB) – The whole post-Manny experience has the Rays doing some juggling in the outfield. Sam Fuld is stealing bases and hitting for a nice average and there’s no reason to think he shouldn’t continue to do so as long as they give him the opportunity. He’s not going to burst out with 60 SB or anything but 30 SB is a realistic possibility. He’s worth a look if you have a weakness at SB in your roto league.
Maicer Izturis (2B/SS/3B, ANA) – He’s got some nice positional eligibility so that makes him an interesting option for your team. He’s had one HR and two SB with a nice batting average over a week’s time, which isn’t necessarily anything to write home about. Itzuris is 30 years old so likely won’t become something other than a decent utility player at this point. If he somehow gets 500 AB, he’s a good bet to get about 5 HR and 15 SB with a .290 average. Those are somewhat boring numbers but they’re close to league average and his versatility is helpful. He’s worth some consideration in deeper leagues.
Alex Avila (C, DET) – Getting bargains at the catcher position is always a good thing. Avila will be the starting catcher throughout the season so will get a good amount of plate appearances. He jumped out of the gate with 3 HR and has certainly shown an ability to get hot at times in his career (a .590 SLG over his 29 games in 2009). Last year, he only hit 7 HR in 104 games but his past history shows a player who could hit closer to 20 HR in a full season. He won’t contribute in much other than HR but that’s enough to warrant consideration in deeper leagues where you punted the catcher position.
Let Someone Else Pick Them Up
Angel Sanchez (SS, HOU) – He’s a starting shortstop with a pulse so that’s a good thing. He doesn’t bring power or speed to the table. He’s hitting .353 at the moment but a high BABIP is likely the reason behind that. Once luck evens out, he should be a .270 hitter with nothing else to offer. Ignore him.
Brennan Boesch (OF, DET) – Boesch is a streaky player. He can hit .180 for months then hit .330 for months. It appears he’s at the end of a hot streak now. If he starts to catch fire again, he may be worth a look. But, secretly, I’m hoping that a slow stretch will open the door for the more capable Ryan Raburn.