FYI: The stats in this post do not include yesterday’s games. It’s late and we haven’t updated yet.
After two games back in the starting lineup, the Cardinals placed Lance Berkman on the DL yesterday with a slightly torn calf muscle. It kept him on the bench for four games last weekend, but Puma re-aggravated the injury running after a foul ball on Wednesday. Our consensus rankings had Berkman as the 12th best fantasy first baseman coming into the season, and he did nothing to make us look foolish by posting a .437 wOBA in 30 plate appearances before hitting the DL.
Here are three potential fill-in first baseman to help you weather the storm while Berkman recovers…
Matt Carpenter | Cardinals | Owned: 10% Yahoo! and 5.4% ESPN
I suppose the most logical place to start is with the guy who will be replacing Fat Elvis in St. Louis’ lineup. Carpenter, 26, has already been generating fantasy buzz because he’s driven in eleven runs in the last week or so. His minor league power production isn’t anything special — just 27 homers and a .151 ISO in over 1,400 PA — but he’s always hit for a very good average and drawn more than enough walks (14.6% in the minors) to post high OBPs. The walks haven’t shown up yet this year, but it’s still very early. Carpenter isn’t going to give you much power production, but he’ll help your rate stats and chip in a healthy amount of RBI given the lineup around him. As an added bonus, he also has third base eligibility.
Mat Gamel | Brewers | Owned: 15% Yahoo! and 64.8% ESPN
Replacing Prince Fielder in real life is hard enough, but replacing Berkman in fantasy is another matter entirely. We already know that Gamel has stolen a surprising amount of bases this season, a trend that may or may not continue. It’s still early but we have yet to see the power stroke that allowed the 26-year-old lefty hitter to hit 23 balls out of the park in Triple-A last season, but his home park is a good one for offense. Gamel has been stuck hitting sixth or seventh behind the really big bats, which is why there have only been 21 men on base in his 46 PA. That’s not exactly conducive to RBI. Because he doesn’t hit for the highest average, Gamel is going to have to rediscover his power stroke sometime soon to have real fantasy impact.
Luke Scott | Rays | Owned: 13% Yahoo! and 5.0% ESPN
Eric Hahmann wrote about Scott as a waiver wire target earlier this week, so I’m going to keep this relatively short. The sometimes controversial Rays’ DH has shown that his surgically repaired right shoulder is sound in the early going, hitting three balls out of the park in the team’s first dozen games of the season. Scott has also been hitting in a premium lineup spot lately, behind Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria and ahead of Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce. The only problem is that he sits against lefties, so you have to watch your lineup carefully and make sure you have another viable first baseman to fill in a few times a week. Scott is the best bet to replace Berkman in this post, but his playing time concerns do limit his potential value.