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Lowrie and Ransom: Shortstop Waiver Wire

This week we’re going to take a look at two National League shortstop eligible players who have increased their value dramatically over the past two weeks. One is far less of a surprise than the other.

Jed Lowrie:

He’s always had the potential to be a productive fantasy shortstop but hasn’t been given a full time opportunity. His time in Boston was checkered with injuries and up and down performance. Here are his OPS and games played numbers each of the past four season

2008: 81G, .739

2009: 32G, .475

2010: 55G, .907

2011: 88G, .685

As of his first 22 games of 2012 his line .321/.412/512 for a .924 OPS. It’s no coincidence that his highest OPS seasons have come when his walk rate has been over 10 percent – he’s currently sitting at 13.4%. He’s also already hit four home runs which is just two off his season total last season in ¼ the games. It’s entirely possible that he hits 15 home runs over a full season with an average in the .290-.300 range. Even though he doesn’t run, and I mean at all, that type of production has value in nearly every type of league.

Some of his early season success can be attributed to his increase in line drive percentage. Currently he’s at 23.9%, which is roughly six percent higher than last season and is his highest since 2008. Batted ball data is tricky to predict, but less balls on the ground for Lowrie, or virtually evey player, the better. He’s currently owned in just 50 percent of Yahoo! Leagues despite being the ninth rated shortstop. He’s an injury risk, but is a worthy gamble if you have the roster space.

Cody Ransom:

Remember him, baseball fans? The 36-year-old journeyman infielder has been hitting the cover off the ball since his call up from Triple-A. He’s started 10 games at third base in the place of the slumping Ryan Roberts. Though, slumping may be an understatement. After hitting 19 home runs and stealing 18 bases with a respectable .768 OPS last season, Roberts has just six extra base hits and a .583 OPS in 90 plate appearances. Last season Roberts was buoyed by a 24.3 percent line drive rate, the seventh highest in baseball.

This season that number has dipped to just 12.1. That number, coupled with a .203 batting average on balls in play(BABIP), is a recipe for a bad luck bounce back. There’s little chance each of those figures remain as low as they currently are. There’s also little chance that Ransom continues to hit as well as he has. Through the 10 games I mentioned he has a 1.185 OPS, 24% line drive rate and a .429 BABIP. He’s the polar opposite of Roberts. Someone that owns a career line of .233/.317/.420 doesn’t turn into Barry Bonds overnight. He’s owned in just five percent of leagues and unless you’re in a deep mixed league or have a glaring hole at shortstop or third base, I’d pass on him. He’ll come falling back to earth at some point.