Fantasy Baseball 2011: Covering Up Holes at Every Position
As you review your fantasy team's first half and plan your second-half playoff run, you might notice some glaring holes on your squad. Do you still own Adam Dunn, Dan Uggla, Derek Jeter or Francisco Liriano? If you know you have one of these glaring holes, let me offer you a few alternatives.
For each position, I have compiled a list of two or three players whom you should consider. A number of the options I suggest could form a fantastic platoon. For example, the two catchers I suggest (J.P. Arencibia, Jonathan Lucroy), if played right, can be more productive than Brian McCann.
Each player in this article is listed with his 2011 stat line and his best split. For example, if I listed the players' batting stats at home, I am saying that you should start the player when he plays at home. The availability that I mention for each player is for a 10-team ESPN standard league.
There are many hidden gems on your waiver wire; if you are looking to fill some holes, look no further than this article.
Catcher: J.P. Arencibia, Jonathan Lucroy
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J.P. Arencibia (available in 51.6 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .216/25/12/0/36
2011 vs. Lefties: .302/11/5/0/15 (53 at-bats)
There are a number of reasons for which I promote Arencibia. First is his incredible splits against lefties. With five home runs in 53 at-bats, he is worth a pickup even if you will only start him against lefties. However, Arencibia ranks fourth among catchers in home runs and has hit four in each month this season, showing no signs of slowing down his power. Sure, you could pick up a Yadier Molina and get a .280-plus batting average with an occasional home run or stolen base, but Arencibia gives you an advantage in the HR/RBI department almost every matchup.
Jonathan Lucroy (available in 50.8 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .288/26/7/0/36
2011 at Home: .360/19/5/0/22 (100 at-bats)
An Arecibia-Lucroy tandem will outproduce nearly every catcher in the majors in the second half. If you start Lucroy regularly and play Arencibia against lefties, a .290 batting average with elite (relative to catchers) power awaits you. Lucroy's splits are self-explanatory; he can be relied on as a full-time starter, but if you have the flexibility to only start him at home, you are in for a treat.
First Base: Mark Trumbo, Edwin Encarnacion
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Before I begin, these are truly last resort options; barring injury or Adam Dunn ownership, move to the next slide.
Mark Trumbo (available in 45.6 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .256/31/13/8/36
2011 Away: .289/18/9/5/24 (142 at-bats)
Currently ranked 19th on the ESPN Player Rater for first basemen, Trumbo is an acceptable starter in general, especially as a corner infielder. However, Trumbo can actually be a valuable asset depending on the structure of your team; Trumbo ranks first in stolen bases at his position, and his power on the road is above average. With nine home runs in just 142 road at-bats, Trumbo shows 30-plus home run potential.
Edwin Encarnacion (available in 80.8 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .245/23/6/1/19
2011 at Home: .243/12/5/0/16 (111 at-bats)
Encarnacion is essentially a last resort option if you are stuffed at first base. At home, Encarnacion has provided owners with moderate power. He has hit five home runs since June 1st, another sign that his second half should be solid. Finally, Encarnacion has hit .017 points higher in the second half than the first in the past three seasons.
Second Base: Gordon Beckham, Chris Getz
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Gordon Beckham (available in 46.8 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .236/34/7/2/23
2011 vs. Right: .265/30/6/1/19 (200 at-bats)
While Beckham's overall numbers might not be attractive, he is a strong option at second base when facing righties. He is a career slow starter, so he may be a bounce-back candidate after the All-Star break. There are many worse options owned in more leagues than Beckham, notably Dan Uggla and Aaron Hill, so get Beckham before he starts heating up.
Chris Getz (available in 91.2 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .259/39/0/14/20
2011 in June: .292/11/0/6/5 (89 at-bats)
Getz has been a longtime favorite of mine; he is always undervalued for his cheap speed. In his career, he has averaged 34.8 stolen bases per 162 games. He has demonstrated his consistency this season, stealing no fewer than three bases in any month this year. Coming off a great June, Getz can be counted on for a .260 batting average with 15 steals the rest of the way.
Third Base: Danny Valencia, Chase Headley
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Danny Valencia (available in 82.8 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .237/31/10/2/45
2011 vs. Lefties: .350/10/4/0/16 (80 at-bats)
While Valencia only gets so many at-bats against lefties, he makes the most out of the ones he gets. Unless you have a top-five third basemen, an elite corner infielder and phenomenal utilities, Valencia should be a spot-start in any format. If you aren't so fortunate, he is a potential starter, though his 20-plus home run potential does come at the expense of your batting average.
Chase Headley (available in 30.2 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .306/33/2/8/30
2011 Away: .355/23/1/5/19 (155 at-bats)
Headley is not particularly valuable in any category except for batting average. However, his .355 average on the road warrants attention, especially if you are in need of a corner infielder. Also, Headley has hit .336 overall since May 1st, an incredibly impressive number for someone so widely available.
Shortstop: Jason Bartlett, Chase D'Arnaud
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Jason Bartlett (available in 93.1 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .239/31/1/16/21
2011 Away: .262/18/1/8/17 (157 at-bats)
While Bartlett's batting average will never revert back to its .320 2009 form, he still has valuable speed. He is on pace to steal 29 bases, sixth among shortstops. His road stats are notable, though I would consider him a starter in all games if you are pressed for options.
Chase D'Arnaud (available in 98.6 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .231/7/0/4/1 (54 at-bats)
D'Arnaud has played too few games to take note of any significant splits, but his overall numbers are worth a second glance. In just 12 games, D'Arnaud has stolen four bases and has been caught zero times. If he continues his upward trend in batting average (.250 in July), D'Arnaud could be a serious base-stealing threat in the second half. I would wait it out to see the rookie adjust a little bit more, but a .250 average and 15 stolen bases the rest of the way are within reach.
Outfield: Cameron Maybin, Laynce Nix, Peter Bourjos
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Cameron Maybin (available in 80 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .268/37/5/12/21
2011 Away: .302/26/4/5/16 (126 at-bats)
After years of taunting fantasy owners, Maybin may finally be showing signs of life. Because he plays in a pitcher's park, he is much more valuable on the road, as he has surprisingly decent power to couple his 25-plus stolen-base potential. His numbers don't really warrant a starting spot, but if you're in a sticky situation, there are much worse options.
Laynce Nix (available in 81.8 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .279/30/12/2/33
2011 vs. Righties: .301/29/12/2/32 (183 at-bats)
Against righties, Nix should be started in any format. His batting average is well above average, and his power is better than most players you will find on the waiver wire. It shocks me that Nix is owned in only 19.2 percent of leagues. He ranks 20th in home runs among outfielders and won't hurt you in any category. Most 10-team leagues have at least 30 total outfield starters; Nix should be one of them.
Peter Bourjos (available in 95.3 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: .265/33/3/11/16
2011 at Home: .283/23/1/8/9 (138 at-bats)
There are a few things that appeal to me about Bourjos. First is that he is consistently stealing bases this year and has not been caught since April; another 10 stolen bases the rest of the way is pretty much a lock.
Second, he was dominant at the plate in June and so far in July, hitting .333 during that span. Finally, Bourjos can be counted on as a last resort full-time starter because he has relatively even splits across the board. He is more favorable at home, but if you are out of options, Bourjos is not a huge liability even when he plays on the road.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Masterson, Jason Vargas, Aaron Harang
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Justin Masterson (available in 32.5 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: 6-6, 2.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 80 Ks
2011 vs. All teams except TB: 6-4. 2.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 74 Ks (103 IP)
It confuses me as to why Masterson is not 100 percent owned. As you can see, if you were to take out his two poor starts against Tampa Bay, Masterson has been a top-20 starter this season. He has let up more than four earned runs only twice this season! Please pick Masterson up, he is a superstar in the making.
Jason Vargas (available in 65.9 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: 6-5, 3.57 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 75 Ks
2011 in June/July: 3-2, 2.29 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 31 Ks, (47.1 IP)
Vargas has all the momentum on his side right now. He has thrown three complete shutout games since June 3rd, including one against Philadelphia and one against Tampa Bay. There are currently 26 starting pitchers who are owned at a higher rate than Vargas with a higher ERA than he has. He can only go unnoticed for so long, so do not hesitate to drop a Roy Oswalt, AJ Burnett or even Chad Billingsley for this gem.
Aaron Harang (available in 88.7 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: 7-2, 3.71 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 55 Ks
2011 at Home: 5-2, 3.28 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 34 Ks (57.2 IP)
Aaron Harang is not a good pitcher. He is fortunate enough to pitch at Petco Park, where it is practically impossible to pitch poorly. Yes, he is on the DL, but it is a foot injury, and Harang was doing very well before getting injured. If you are struggling for pitching, Harang is a good choice but only when he is pitching at home.
Relief Pitcher: Joe Nathan
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Joe Nathan (available in 61.3 percent of leagues):
2011 Statline: 1-1, 6.20 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 20 Ks, 3 SVs
2011 at Home: 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 15 Ks, 1 SV (10.2 IP)
Although Nathan has crazy splits, I am going to advocate him for the rest of the season regardless of the venue.
After his miserable start and return from the DL, Nathan has pitched four straight scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five in those four appearances.
If he keeps this up, he should be closing for the Twins no later than August, given how mediocre Matt Capps has been.