We’re down to about the last seven weeks of regular season baseball and entering into a period where managers start to tweak their teams in reaction to categorical standings (thinking rotisserie style, that is). Due to any combination of injury, ineffectiveness, or incompetence, you may be looking for a little lightning in a bottle off the waiver wire to boost a category here or there. What follows are more deeper-league options, but a couple of these guys even might provide value in standard league formats depending on where you need a shot in the arm.
Casey Kotchman (12% Yahoo; 15% ESPN)
The guy that Don Wakamatsu still probably mutters obscenities about, Kotchman has had one of the more unlikely performances in 2011 after he had the worst performance of his career for one of the worst offenses of all time, reaffirming that misery loves company. Kotchman, signed in large part to be a defensive substitute for Dan Johnson, fairly rapidly emerged as the preferred first baseman for the Rays and while most around fantasy land waited for him to turn into a pumpkin, he has steadily produced quite nicely.
His triple slash stands at .341/.400/.479 and while he won’t do much for your power numbers, he has already hit 3 round-trippers in August, so to the 10-15% of you that have him in your lineup, you’re getting pretty terrific production out of a scrap-heap first baseman over the last week. He’s not likely to keep that up, but he has been slotted into the middle of the order, hitting behind the likes of Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, which is going to provide a good number of RBI opportunities going forward. For those concerned that his BABIP of .372 is not sustainable, you’re probably right — although his expected BABIP is .335, which should still be able to produce a batting average that will help you.
Mike Carp (4% Yahoo; 12% ESPN)
Carp has yo-yoed between the minors and majors so much that he probably knows every speed-trap on Interstate-5 between Seattle and Tacoma quite well. But with the season lost in Seattle, they’ve committed to Carp a no-strings-attached demo for the foreseeable future in order to get a grasp on who is going to fill the lineup card in 2012.
When you look at Carp’s minor league numbers, it’s easy to get excited as he’s demonstrated pretty impressive power — hitting 29 HR’s in 110 games in 2010 and another 21 HR’s in just 66 games at AAA this year. His .343/.411/.649 line at AAA produced an OPS up among league leaders Brett Lawrie and Cody Ransom and just too much for Seattle to ignore considering their inability to score runs. Since his recall in mid July, Carp is hitting .361 with 3 HR’s, 5 doubles, and 15 RBI.
He has always been tabbed with the “Quad-A” label as his make-up never projected stardom and his minor league success has never translated well in the majors, but he’s hitting behind Ichiro Suzuki and Dustin Ackley, providing him with at least some RBI opportunity, and he appears to be motivated to remove any question marks the team might have about his future in Seattle. Yes, his BABIP is quite inflated at over .400 but his xBABIP is .352 as he’s hitting nearly 30% of his balls as line drives to date. He will likely experience some regression, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable that he will hit .280 for the rest of the season, provide another five to six home runs and drive in close to 20.
Kyle Blanks (2% Yahoo; 0% ESPN)
I’ll admit that I have a dream where Kyle Blanks and Michael Pineda form a Wrestle Mania tag team of destruction should their baseball careers go south, but until then, Blanks just might be useful at first base for the remainder of 2011. The Padres decided to give Anthony Rizzo a little more seasoning in the minors and they bagged up Ryan Ludwick and sent him to Pittsburgh, creating a couple of holes for Blanks to fill — and at this point in the season, opportunity and playing time are paramount because you can’t have your rookies playing in 4 games a week when you’re sprinting for the finish.
As Rizzo faded on the big stage, Blanks was at AAA hitting .351/.421/.716 with 11 home runs, 12 doubles and 35 RBI over 35 games, so the Friar’s proverbial hand was practically forced to see what Blanks could do in the bigs as they plan for 2012. It appears that Blanks is going to be given plenty of at-bats to find out just that, as he’s started 13 of the 16 games since being recalled. In that timespan, Blanks has done pretty much what you would expect – he has struck out a ton, hit for low average, and provided some power. But if he’s going to be trotted out there everyday, there’s a decent chance that Blanks could provide your squad with some plus power if you’re in need of home runs. He is probably more of a desperation play at this point, but there aren’t many guys with his power potential just sitting around, and if you want your evidence in ridiculously small sample sizes, he’s at least red-hot in August, going .375/.444/.833 with 2 home runs, 3 doubles, and 6 RBI.