The great thing about playing in a league deeper than 12-team mixed for a change is I can now simply check out the week’s pickups in the 15-team LABR league for inspiration. Both the players highlighted today were won with FAAB this past Monday.
Tony Gwynn | LAN OF | 5% Owned
The son of the Hall of Famer by the same name, the younger Gwynn has rarely had the opportunity for every day at-bats. Matt Kemp’s return trip to the disabled list now provides this. Gwynn’s fantasy value starts and stops with his speed. He is a career 76% base stealer, which is just above the breakeven point, so he isn’t exactly a great thief, but good enough to avoid getting the red light. Prorating his current at-bat total to 600 would give him a solid 36 steals for the season, and since he is now leading off, he would also be a slight positive in runs scored.
Of course, there is a downside, and quite a significant one. For all the help he provides in steals, he then takes points away in the RBI and home run categories. With only seven career homers and a .076 ISO, he’s not going to be contributing there whatsoever. And for someone with as little power as he possesses, he doesn’t make quite enough contact to produce a useful batting average either. So he’s best left to deep and NL-Only leaguers, though it’s likely he has been on a team for weeks in NL-Onlys. When Kemp does come back, he won’t completely lose his value though as he should garner the occasional start and pinch run for some cheap steals.
Brett Wallace | HOU 1B | 4% Owned
The 25-year old Wallace is dangerously close to being a forgotten man and officially being labeled a bust if it hasn’t happened already. With Carlos Lee now on the DL, he gets another chance to show the promise he once displayed as a Cardinals and Blue Jays farmhand. The good news is that his power, which had gone dormant upon his debut with the Astros in 2010 and never returned through 2011, has reemerged. With 10 home runs in 185 Triple-A at-bats this season and a .211 ISO, this is more like the Wallace the Astros thought they were getting.
The bad news is…well, there’s lots of it. First off, this was his fifth stint in Triple-A! So his numbers can’t be taken completely seriously. Next, one of the factors that has kept Wallace’s power in check has been his penchant for ground balls. Unfortunately, that has not changed as he once again posted a 50% ground ball rate in the minors this year. Furthermore, his contact rate was rather poor and he continued his refusal to take a walk. One of the primary reasons Wallace has been able to maintain respectable batting averages despite no power and a below average strikeout rate is because he typically posted a strong BABIP. Well, suddenly even that skill didn’t show up during his time at Triple-A this year.
So yeah, there seems to be a whole lot more red flags here than positive signs. Why the heck did I pick him up in LABR then? Well, in a relatively deep league, any every day player with some semblance of power potential is worth taking a gamble on. And Wallace was a top prospect at some point, so who knows. Feeling lucky?