Erik Kratz, Pirates (Owned in 0% of Yahoo leagues)
With Ryan Doumit looking lost behind the plate and the since-demoted Jason Jaramillo trotting down the first base line less often than Jalapeno Hannah, the Pirates decided to call up the 30-year-old Kratz.
A monster of a man at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Kratz is a former 29th-round pick from the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization who latched on with the Pirates as a minor league free agent prior to the 2009 season. The right-handed hitter posted a .273/.337/.470 line in 353 Triple-A PA last season, and he batted .296/.396/.550 in 225 trips to the plate in 2010 before getting the big league promotion.
It’s hard to say how much the organizational soldier will play, but he’s expected to garner more starts than Jaramillo did and caddy for the switch-hitting Doumit against lefties. During his career, Doumit has a .342 wOBA as a lefty versus RHP and a .309 wOBA against left-handers as a RHB. Using the method outlined here for estimating platoon skill, I get a .346 estimated wOBA for Doumit vs. RHP and a .322 estimated wOBA against lefties. Can Kratz match that? Overall, CHONE projects Kratz as a slightly below-average MLB hitter (.253/.318/.443, roughly a .322 wOBA). Assuming he shows a typical platoon split for a RHB (better against LHP), Kratz should be a bit of an upgrade over Doumit against lefties.
Depending upon the Pirates’ level of disgust in Doumit’s D, Kratz could get penciled into the lineup more frequently. He’s got some power, and that could make him an option in NL-only leagues.
Drew Stubbs, Reds (34%)
Cincy’s first-round pick in the 2006 draft is easing concerns that his bat won’t play well at the big league level. A 6-4, 205 pound center fielder known for wheels allowing him to cover lots of ground and swipe bases at a high percentage clip (77.1% in the minors), Stubbs never really stand out at the plate as a prospect. He hit a collective .269/.364/.401 in 1,847 plate appearances, with a good eye (11.9 BB%) but little in the way of pop (.132 ISO). Stubbs also whiffed 27.3% of the time, raising questions about his contact ability.
The former Longhorn’s defensive chops figured to make him an acceptable starter even if his offense was below-average, but happily, he’s holding his own with the lumber. In 546 major league PA over the past two years, Stubbs has a .257/.322/.434 line and a .337 wOBA. Sure, he’s coming up empty more than most — his contact rate is 73.4% (81% MLB average) and his K rate is 29.3% — but that hasn’t precluded him from succeeding. Stubbs has walked an acceptable 8.4% of the time, and he’s hitting with the authority that once led Baseball America to claim he possessed “plus raw power.” Stubbs has a .177 ISO in the majors, with 21 homers. He’s also contributing plenty on the base paths. After going 10-for-14 in SB attempts last season, Stubbs has been successful in 18 of 21 tries in 2010.
Given Stubbs’ mild numbers in the minors, both ZiPS (.240/.311/.378 rest-of-season projection) and CHONE (.246/.323/.379) are skeptical that the 25-year-old can keep up the pace. Personally, I think he’s capable of hitting at a level closer to his current mark. He’s not a hacker, he’s tapping into his power potential and he’s taking his home swings in a park that increases HR production by 35 percent for righty batters.
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