Fantasy Baseball 2012: Travis Ishikawa's New Impact in the Corner-Infield Market
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On the heels of Prince Fielder's big-money exodus to Detroit and Mat Gamel's season-ending injury (torn ACL), an unlikely hero has emerged for the Brewers at first base—Travis Ishikawa.
On Tuesday night, Ishikawa belted two homers at the Mets' cavernous Citi Field, a power display that didn't really sync up with his track record of 17 homers in 649 previous major league at-bats, nor did it run in concert with Citi Field's 27th ranking in MLB for home runs allowed per game (0.595).
But none of that matters to the quick-fix-seeking fantasy owner in desperate need for corner-infield assets. The only relevant questions are these: Can Ishikawa be a three- or four-category source for respectable numbers this season? Is there any hope of him becoming an out-of-nowhere gem like Casey McGehee or Carlos Pena?
In 2009, McGehee tallied 16 homers, 66 RBI and a .301 average for the Brewers, with zero fanfare leading up to the breakout season (maybe because he was an original Cubs farmhand). He then followed that up with 23 homers and 104 RBI in 2010.
In 2007, after combining for 19 homers and 47 RBI with the Tigers and Red Sox for the 2005 and '06 seasons, Pena had a monster campaign with the up-and-coming Rays, racking up 46 homers, 121 RBI, 99 runs and a .282 batting average (all career highs, by the way). That life-changing season may have been even more enjoyable for Pena...because no one saw it coming.
Fast forward to Ishikawa, once a premium prospect with the Giants who's now trying to cut it with the Brewers. He flashed 23-homer/.290 batting potential in the minors, but that proficiency didn't seamlessly carry over to the majors.
To be fair, Ishikawa never garnered regular at-bats for a full season with San Francisco, but out of injury necessity with Milwaukee, Ishikawa may have walked into the opportunity of a lifetime—not unlike Carlos Pena once did...long before he became an All-Star and prominent storyline in the Oscar-nominated movie, Moneyball.
The verdict: There's absolutely no harm in grabbing Ishikawa off waivers right now. But don't do the deed unless you're willing to let him grow into the role of being an everyday starter in the real world.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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