by Ryan Butler
Better late than never. Right? Here are my very favorite players to write about: the ones of the week.
Cameron Maybin (8 R/1 HR/6 RBI/8 SB/.538 BA) 14-for-26: The Padres have been looking for a center fielder since Mike Cameron left as a free agent after the 2007 season. It appears they have found one in Maybin. He has succeeded in each of his last 17 stolen base attempts, having not been caught since April 29th. He’s been on fire since the All-Star break, and fantasy owners seem to be taking notice, as he’s now owned at a respectable 45% clip in Y! public leagues. He’s been the most dynamic component of a pitiful Padres’ offense, at times looking spectacular. He is a player to watch closely, especially if he develops the 20 HR power many expect he will.
Justin Upton (6/2/11/1/.514) 14-for-27: Not yet 24 years old, but in the midst of his fifth Major League season, the younger Upton has finally put it all together. The reasons are pretty obvious when you look at some advanced stats. First and foremost, his K% (18.2) is considerably down from his career rate of 24.3%. Take a gander at his exceptional BABIP of .337 and you may see it as evidence that his success involves a good deal of luck. But his 2011 BABIP is actually below his career mark of .343. So his breakout season, it seems, is a direct result of his putting the ball in play with greater regularity. If the trend continues, there’s no telling what he is capable of.
Jhonny Peralta (5/2/9/0/.435) 10-for-23: A career .268 hitter, Peralta is hitting .322 in what is shaping up to be his best season ever. Coming off back-to-back mediocre years, he was little more than a late-round SS option in deeper leagues, despite the overall lack of depth at the position. A so-so April (.270, one HR, 11 RBI) did little to entice anyone, as he was available in about 60% of Y! public leagues. In May he caught fire (seven HR, 20 RBI), rediscovering the power stroke that had apparently abandoned him from 2009-10, when he hit a total of 26 homers. Interest in Peralta grew immensely, and he is now owned in 88% of Y! public leagues. With both third base and shortstop production below par, Peralta, with his dual-position eligibility, is one of the more surprisingly valuable players of 2011.
Madison Bumgarner (15.2 IP/2 W/15 K/2.30 ERA/0.77 WHIP): On the surface, Bumgarner looks like a hard-luck guy whose 6-10 record is owed mainly to a lack of run support. And that’s partly true. With a very good K/BB rate of 3.83 and a major league best 0.3 HR/9, one would think his record should be the reverse of what it is. But along the way, he’s also had some very poor outings: 3 IP, 2.2 IP, 4.0 IP, 5.0 IP (five ER), and a 0.1 IP debacle in which he allowed eight ER. So don’t cry for him. Unless you own him.
Josh Collmenter (15.0/2/11/1.80/0.60): Literally and metaphorically speaking, I’ve never seen a pitcher with a more over-the-top delivery in my life. Not even close. Whether or not the novelty and inherent deception that come with such oddball mechanics will eventually wear off, well, that’s for NL hitters to decide. But for the time being, Collmenter, relying heavily on his fastball (67.4% of the time), is inducing a lot of fly balls (47.2%). Potentially that’s a risky way to operate in the launching pad that is Chase Field, but his HR/9 is a solid 0.8, and he’s holding the league to a .218 BAA.
Alexi Ogando (14.2/1/1/11/1.84/1.09): He had a rough three-start stretch from June 14-25, allowing 10 ER while only managing a total of 9.2 IP. It looked like the magic had run out for Ogando, who up until that point had gone 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA. He’s rebounded, going 3-2 in five starts since. The real concern for owners of Ogando (count yours truly among them) is twofold: First, the fatigue factor, pitching his home games in the heat of Arlington; and two, the innings-pitched cap that will (almost) inevitably be placed upon him in this, his first season as starting pitcher. However, with Texas in the thick of the AL West hunt, the Rangers may extend Ogando beyond, say, 150 innings. Unless Brandon Webb comes back to fill his spot in the rotation. Oh wait, just kidding, Brandon Webb is never coming back. Beware Mat Latos Syndrome with Ogando, both for the month of September and next season.
Craig Kimbrel (0-0/7 K/3 SV/0.00 ERA/0.67 WHIP): I am thinking making him a permanent fixture here, since he seems to be on this list more often than not. He has 84 K’s in 53 IP, and the league is hitting .176 against him. He has converted 13 straight saves since last blowing one on June 8. Only injury can derail this kid, because the stuff and makeup are there.
Brian Wilson (0-0/2/3/0.00/0.33): His numbers aren’t eye-popping like they were last season (1.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 11.2 K/ in ’10), but Wilson still has converted 33-of-37 chances. When you look at his career stats, this year actually represents a normalization, with last season’s dominance appearing to be the anomaly, and not the other way around. His 2011 ERA (2.88), WHIP (1.40), and BAA (.230) all are in line with his career numbers (3.13, 1.31, .234). Just sayin’ is all.
Jason Isringhausen (1-0/5/2/0.00/0.50): I love this guy, and I love the fact that he is closing again. I mean, what’s not to like about a guy who’s had thirteen Tommy John surgeries and just keeps coming back? I remember back in the day when Isringhausen, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher were the hot shot, can’t miss trio of starting pitchers that were going to lead the Mets starting rotation for the next decade. It didn’t work out that way, and Isringhausen has had far and away the best career of the three. Both Wilson and Pulsipher were done after the 2005 season, each retiring with career ERAs near 5.00. But Izzy is still around and it is very cool to see him having success this late in a role that he was so good in for nearly a decade.