Casey McGehee (ESPN: 4 percent owned; Yahoo!: 5 percent owned)
After scoring the fewest runs in baseball in both April and May, the Pirates’ offense seems to have come to life a bit in June. They’re one of the 10 highest scoring offenses in baseball so far this month and while that’s not the highest bar imaginable, the fact that their offense has become more than just Andrew McCutchen and the Pips is a big part of the reason that the Jolly Roger has been raised so many times this month. While Pedro Alvarez may lead the team with four home runs this month, no Pirate has a higher OPS than Casey McGehee, whose .366/.458/.659 month so far leads the team in all three slash categories (min 3 PAs).
McGehee is raking right now. If he were to finish the month with an OPS within two hundred points of where he presently sits, it would be his best month since August 2010; if he were to finish the month exactly where he is now, it would narrowly beat out June of 2009 as his best month ever. For the team in about 0.2 percent of ESPN leagues that owned McGehee when the month started, McGehee’s sudden star turn is an undeserved reward for the relatively terrible decision to roster him through a month of May when he hit .104/.214/.125 and struck out 13 times to more than double his five hits during the month.
Over the last six weeks, McGehee has been both a complete goat and a world-beater, so which is he going to be over the next six weeks? I just don’t see anything in his present performance that makes me think he’ll still be hot at the All-Star break, let alone in the weeks following. So much of what’s happening right now for McGehee is simply a correction from his abnormally awful May. Case in point: McGehee’s BABIP in May was a shockingly low .139, which would be odd under normal circumstances, but was even stranger considering his line drive percentage was an enviable 22 percent. This month, the line drive rate has regressed down to 15 percent, but his BABIP had risen to .400 in direct contrast to what we normally expect.
McGehee has a 25 percent HR/FB rate to go with his inflated BABIP, another sign that his success won’t stick around. He’ll hit a few more home runs, that much is fairly certain — ZiPS expects him to hit 11 for the season — but that strikes me as a bit on the optimistic side. Once the dust of regression settles and the pendulum isn’t swinging quite so wildly, McGehee will likely settle back to an OPS in the .700-.720 range, and that just isn’t particularly useful in most leagues. Regression doesn’t happen overnight, so if he fits a need, McGehee can be rostered for the short term, but he isn’t a long-term option in mixed leagues and should only be considered in deep NL-only.
Wilson Betemit (ESPN: 0.8 percent owned; Yahoo!: 4 percent owned)
The third base situation is a bit dire right now with even stalwarts like Kevin Youkilis and Ryan Zimmerman giving owners very little in the way of production. Neither of those two is worth ditching just yet, but with Evan Longoria’s rehab suspended indefinitely, there is a decent set of owners who might just be in the market for some new blood at third base. The best option to fill a gap at third base is Trevor Plouffe, who, this time last week, was rostered in about 13 percent of leagues. Unfortunately for those whose need at third base is recent, Plouffe’s ownership went up an astonishing 81 percent in the last week on ESPN, making him available in just over 5 percent of leagues. Assuming Plouffe isn’t an option for most people, Wilson Betemit is an intriguing player who is available in over 95 percent of all leagues.
So far this season, Betemit has been good for three or four home runs a month and a relatively low batting average, and while the power has been relatively in line with career so far, the low average is something of a contravention of his normal performance. His BABIP is a little on the low side and could come up to bring him more in line with his career averages, but it certainly isn’t so low as to make regression a virtual certainty. Another aberration from the norm is that Betemit is on pace for his highest number of games since his 2007 campaign with the Dodgers and Yankees. He hasn’t been — and still isn’t really — a plug and play player, but he’s at least getting enough of a runout to be useful in weekly leagues, which simply wasn’t true in previous seasons.
I have trouble seeing Betemit as a great option, but with so many third basemen injured or really scuffling, he may not be a bad short-term play. For daily league players, Betemit should be used in a platoon to maximize his value. He’s hitting .154/.250/.231 with a single home run against lefties, but .271/.333/.481 with seven home runs off of righties in far more playing time. With Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis, the Orioles have the bodies necessary to keep Betemit on the bench against lefties and they may increasingly choose to do just that. Irrespective of whether the Orioles choose to let him face a specific southpaw, fantasy owners should look elsewhere for production on those days.
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