Plug-n-Play Candidates

Every week, every team gets a day off, usually on Monday or Thursday. On those days, it is nice for a fantasy owner to be able to put a player into a lineup that may add a few counting stats without hurting the team’s batting average. Zach Sanders coined these players: Plug-n-Play. These are players that have full-time jobs, but don’t have much power and don’t accumulate a ton of Runs and RBIs. Usually they hit lower in the lineup and their only fantasy attribute is batting average. I decided to look at some Plug-n-Play candidates for 2012.

To get a list of possible players, I used the Oliver Projections from the Hardball Times. I looked for players projected to have over 500 plate appearances with an average greater than .275, less than 10 home runs and less than 20 stolen bases. I am basically looking for players that their main attribute is batting average. Here is the list of 10 players that made the criteria and their projected stats:

Castro, Starlin 41 SS CHN 623 78 6 62 18 0.304 0.340 0.420
Infante, Omar 371 2B FLO 513 57 6 51 5 0.289 0.326 0.389
Jay, Jon 416 LF STL 537 61 9 56 9 0.283 0.330 0.403
Headley, Chase 257 3B SDN 553 66 9 58 12 0.283 0.353 0.408
Jeter, Derek 124 SS NYA 635 73 8 60 14 0.282 0.341 0.377
Parra, Gerardo ND OF ARI 578 68 7 55 12 0.280 0.333 0.391
Schumaker, Skip ND 2B STL 506 52 4 46 3 0.278 0.334 0.358
Escobar, Yunel 219 SS TOR 571 63 8 55 4 0.277 0.351 0.376
Callaspo, Alberto ND 3B ANA 617 67 8 62 5 0.276 0.333 0.384
Seager, Kyle 459 3B SEA 577 65 9 59 7 0.275 0.332 0.396

Here are some quick thoughts on the players:

Starlin Castro, Derek Jeter and Yunel Escobar – None of these three are going to fly under the radar. They will be forced into everyday duty at shortstop in all but the shallowest of leagues.

Omar Infante – An almost perfect candidate for Plug-n-Play. A near .300 batting average and is off of everyone’s radar. The only way he would be a better candidate is if he was qualified at more than one position.

Jon Jay – Jon looks for now to be the starting center fielder for the Cards. He is also one of the few outfielders on this list. If OF help is needed, he is one of the few players to pick up.

Chase Headley – Like the initial group of SS, Headley will probably end up getting drafted in order for teams to fill their third base position. Chase is a better hitter than his stats show because PetCo suppresses his stats quite a bit as seen here:

Career Splits
Home 0.229/0.319/0.336
Away 0.303/0.364/0.441

With Headley, he may only be useful for Plug-n-Play in away games. He is probably better suited to be platooned with another 3B that hits in a batter friendly park like Brent Morel.

Gerardo Parra and Skip Schumaker – Both of these two don’t have a guaranteed full-time starting position. If either is able to secure a starting position, they will fill the Plug-n-Play role nicely. Schumaker also has the added advantage of being qualified at second base and the OF.

Alberto Callaspo – Callaspo’s hold on the Angels 3B job is a little shaky at the current time. The Angels are thinking of moving Mark Trumbo to 3B. These plans have been put on hold for a while since Trumbo has injured his foot and may miss all of spring training. If I was to make a guess, I bet Trumbo starts in the minors working at 3B. If he is able to field the position, look for him to take over Callaspo’s job. If not, expect one of Trumbo or Morales to be traded.

Kyle Seager – A prospect that has no power from a corner position usually means that the team is looking to fill the position with a player with power. While he may not be able to keep the job in the future, he has it for now.

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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I rode Omar Infante to a championship last year