Trevor Plouffe (Yahoo: 3 percent owned, ESPN: 5 percent owned)
Though there are leagues out there that do factor in defense in one way or another, fantasy is by and large an offensive game, yet for the majority of the season, Plouffe was untouched in fantasy specifically because of his defense. To clarify, Plouffe had solid numbers in Triple-A this year — .313/.384/.635 with 15 HR in 51 games — yet languished behind Tsuyoshi Nishioka because of extremely inconsistent defensive play. Even when he was recalled, his playing time was sporadic at best, but injuries have forced the Twins into some odd defensive arrangements and opened the door for Plouffe to finally get consistent PAs.
Over the last three weeks, Plouffe has made the most of this new chance, hitting .292/.344/.461 with a pair of home runs even after taking an 0-for-6 in Monday’s doubleheader. His power is showing up more as gap power, rather than over-the-fence power, at the moment but his ISO is still above average thanks to a rising line drive rate, and his SS/2B eligibility make that power all the more appealing. He’s pulling the ball well, so while Target Field has a reputation for keeping home runs in the park, Plouffe shouldn’t suffer too badly; it’s easier to hit a ball out to left field there than it is to right.
Plouffe’s future is still a little hazy, though he has shown improvements on defense, which may give him a leg up in camp next year. AL-Only keeper league players might find it worth their time to keep an eye on him for this month, but unless he sets the world on fire, he’s not going to be handed the 2012 starting job until he wins it next spring. In the short term, he’ll be in the lineup close to every day for the rest of this season, which makes him a viable play if you’re in need of a middle infielder.
David Freese (Yahoo: 43 percent owned, ESPN: 65 percent owned)
A hot month of April had Freese flying off the wire early in the season, but a two-month layoff due to a broken hand has him available once again in many leagues. Since returning from the DL on June 28, Freese has hit a solid .276/.327/.422 with 7 HR from third base, and he’s driving in nearly 20 percent of the runners on base ahead of him, which has given him a good RBI rate.
While he’s producing well enough to be worth adding now, potential owners should take special note of the Cardinals’ weeklong road trip to Pennsylvania that starts next Monday. Freese hits a passable, if reduced, .269/.324/.415 at Busch, but excels on the road by hitting .329/.369/.456 with a fairly even split of his home runs.
If you’ve grabbed him for your bench and really want to pick and choose the games for which you start him, Freese has hit .369/.411/.554 in 73 PAs against lefties so far, while hitting .280/.328/.402 against righties. Generally speaking, playing Freese only against left handed pitching seems like overmanaging; his line against right-handers may be lower, but it isn’t objectively bad. Better to take both sides of the coin than to lose out on some of Freese’s production.
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