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Roto Riteup: June 22, 2012

Today being June 22, 2012 means several things. I’m sure important things have happened on this date. I’m also sure that it is called “my birthday” by many people. Most importantly, today marks the 8th Anniversary of JoJo’s self titled debut album. I only bring this up because one of my friends was (and quite possibly still is) a massive JoJo fan. And yes, I am laughing as I type these words. Of course, I was just a senior in high school at the time and he was just a junior, but still, JoJo? Everyone has embarrassing things from their high school days, but few are on the same level as thinking JoJo was a supremely talented artist. This one’s for you Michael L. I know you just shipped out to Liberia in service of the Peace Corps, but I hope you read this somehow and laugh. Love you buddy! Tangents aside, here is today’s Roto Riteup:

Will Middlebrooks‘ BABIP is now up to .380 after a 3-for-4 day at the plate yesterday. With the Red Sox actively pushing the “Trade Kevin Youkilis” angle, it appears as though Middlebrooks will be eventually be the guy to own. I’m not too crazy about Middlebrooks’ skill set of lots of K’s and not many walks, but if he is the starter in Boston, he has to be owned. ZiPS isn’t especially fond of him either, predicting a .255 average the rest of the way. On the bright side, he is only owned in 33% of Yahoo! and 32% of ESPN leagues, so maybe you can pick him up and flip him while his value is still high. I’m guessing here, but I’m going to say that his value will never be higher than it is right now. I’d see if I can do a little dealing.

• If you’re looking for power from the catcher position, look no further than Wilin Rosario. Last night he powered his 11 home run of the year in just 157 plate appearances. For all intents and purposes, Rosario is basically J.P. Arencibia with a touch more power. Ramon Hernandez is still on the DL, but with the power that Rosario has shown I can’t imagine that he would get the majority of the catcher time-share when he does come back. For a fuller roto Rosario and JPA comparison, I direct your attention to this table:

 BB%  K% RBI  Runs   AVG   OBP  HR Yahoo!%  ESPN%
Rosario   4.5%  26.8%   32    23   .238   .274    11        15%      7%
Arencibia   4.1%  28.8%   33    25   .224   .261     9        62%      30%

Rosario and JPA are either tied or essentially tied in almost every category, except ownership. The home ballpark factor is basically a push and although it is still brutal, Rosario’s triple slash isn’t as bad as Arencibia’s. I could defend a straight swap of Rosario for JPA, assuming that Rosario does indeed get the majority of the PA’s in Colorado.

• If that isn’t enough deep catcher help, then what about rookie Derek Norris? The Oakland A’s called up their potential catcher of the future yesterday. Norris went hit less in his debut, but many A’s fans are looking to Norris to spell Kurt Suzuki of some (or perhaps most) playing time. Suzuki is currently having hands down his worst offensive year. A 45 wRC+ just won’t get it done at the big league level, even at catcher. Well, it won’t unless your name is Jeff Mathis. Norris’ minor league plate discipline track record is excellent and curious at the same time. This year in Triple-A he posted the lowest walk rate of his life by 5%, but had one of his lowest strikeout rates too. He chalked up 24 extra-base hits and even stole five bases this year in Sacramento. He has above average power for a catcher, blasting 20 homers in Double-A last year and crushing 23 in Single-A in 2009. With Suzuki flailing, it is quite possible that Norris catches more than twice a week. The A’s are 8-2 in their last 10 games and now only four games behind the Angels. I don’t expect them to stay this competitive all year though, and I figure A’s will try unload the remaining year and a half Suzuki has on his deal. That probably equates to A’s brass hoping that Suzuki can hit his way out of this slump. I forsee Norris starting at catcher twice a week going forward. If he hits well enough, he could even see action at the DH position. With a 0% ESPN and 0% Yahoo! ownership rate, it isn’t like Norris is a hot commodity. If you have room to stash him then go ahead, if not, add him to your watch list and see if his power shines through at the big league level.

For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here are a couple matchups you may be able to exploit.

A Pitcher for Today: Clayton Richard at SEA
Don’t expect too much from Richard, but conversely, don’t expect much out of the Mariners offense. For someone owned in less than 10% of Yahoo! leagues, you could do worse. The Mariners hit .242/.292/.366 vs left-handed pitching. I don’t usually love Richard, but against that kind of lineup in that park, I do.

A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Alex Cobb at PHI
Cobb might not strikeout 10 batters like he did in his last start, but he is going to his change-eup more and his fastball less. His SwStr% hasn’t reflected that style change yet, but perhaps his last outing is a sign of things to come. A 6% Yahoo! ownership rate and 2% ESPN rate makes Cobb an ideal stream candidate.

A Hitter for Today: Hideki Matsui at PHI (Cliff Lee)
Matsui has always hit lefties well, despite he himself being left-handed. He has started in the outfield during interleague play against the Nationals already, so I assume that he could get the start in right field tomorrow too. If Matsui doesn’t start, go with Michael Bourn vs Boston. No one has allowed more stolen bases as a catcher than Jarrod Saltalamacchia.