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June 26, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

The Ascension of Mark Derosa
Buck Showalter declared Mark Derosa a starter before last weekend, hardly earth-shattering news regarding a player who had already played twenty consecutive games. On the other hand, the announcement does provide some certainty for potential mixed-league owners. Derosa’s best quality is his .342 batting average, but as I wrote a few days ago, his .406 average on balls in play is historically aberrant and won’t hold up. Since he doesn’t hit many homers or run much, his fantasy value is limited even with the high average. Without it, he’s garden variety. Still, batting second or fifth for Texas makes almost anyone respectable, and many owners could benefit by trying to ride his hot streak. He’s available in 86% of ESPN’s mixed leagues.

Teixeira Heats Up
Mark Teixeira is heating up. Enjoy.

OF/DH Carousel
Jerry Hairston has seven starts in the last sixteen games, almost enough to make him a worthwhile player in AL-only leagues. The problem is, he’s not very good, so don’t bother playing him. Why you and I know this but the manager doesn’t is a mystery. Giving seven outfield-corner starts to a guy with a career line of .259/.331/.366 might make sense in some eldritch Lovecraftian universe, but not this one.

Meanwhile, Jason Botts has only four starts over those same sixteen games and won’t accrue more than a few pinch at-bats while in San Francisco. I really didn’t expect Texas to call him up just to let him watch other boys play, yet there he is. As I mentioned last week, he can’t expect many starts as long as Mark Derosa plays every day, because he then forces either Brad Wilkerson or Kevin Mench to the bench (a too common occurrence without Botts’s help). Those in larger AL-only leagues might wait for the upcoming homestand to see if he earns enough playing time to help a fantasy squad. Otherwise, it’s time to move on. I’d like to say that he’ll start more often if Texas falls out of contention, but I’m at a loss to explain the recent decision-making of the powers that be.

Brad Wilkerson spent three of his last four games chatting with Botts from the safety of the dugout. He rebounded well from his awful April but has again struggled in June, batting .200/.243/.431. When he’s played, he has at least offered decent counting stats despite his weak average. History suggests he’ll improve, so don’t cut him except in smaller mixed leagues.

Likewise, Kevin Mench is floundering his way through June (.206/.306/.302) and sitting about 25% of the time. Treat him as you would Wilkerson. He tends to hit better after the All-Star Break.

Kinsler Settles Down
Ian Kinsler is batting .259/.333/.493 in 25 games since returning from his thumb injury. I expected the so-so average and OBP; the power is a pleasant surprise. I’ll tediously reiterate my claim that true rookies rarely make for good fantasy players. Kinsler may slip to the fringes of worthiness in mixed leagues depending on their sizes, so keep an eye on him and potential replacements.

The Ballpark
Typically, The Ballpark achieves maximum hitter-friendliness during July and August. In fact, to date, the Rangers and their opponents have scored more runs per games on the road (10.54) than in Arlington (10.17). Something to keep in mind when predicting future performances of Ranger players.

Pitchers
Five consecutive quality starts have dropped Kevin Millwod’s ERA to 4.29. His strikeout rate has fallen in the process – a modest 5.7 per nine innings during that span. During the previous three years, he has a 4.11 ERA before the All-Star Break and .343 afterwards, so perhaps he stands to improve a little more. I think that if he finishes the season with his current ERA and 1.31 WHIP, owners should be satisfied.

Adam Eaton could return within a month. Here’s my preseason prediction with the injury caveats deleted: “10 wins, 4.90 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 130 Ks, 170 innings. Eaton has a career ERA of 4.34 in the best pitching environment in the National League. You don’t need a computer or even an abacus to understand how his flyball tendencies should translate to the AL and Arlington. His wins and strikeouts can help AL-only owners, and he is pitching for his next contract.? So, I’m not very high on him. Depending on how John Rheinecker and John Koronka hold up, Eaton’s arrival could demote currently DL’ed Kameron Loe to the bullpen role at which he excelled in 2005. Loe has negligible fantasy value.

Vicente Padilla: acceptable in AL-only leagues. Rheinecker and Koronka: acceptable in larger AL-only leagues. Robinson Tejeda: unacceptable.

The Ballpark
Typically, The Ballpark achieves maximum hitter-friendliness during July and August. In fact, to date, the Rangers and their opponents have scored more runs per games on the road (10.54) than in Arlington (10.17). Something to keep in mind when predicting future performances of Ranger players.

Texas completes its run through NL parks on Thursday.

Posted by Lucas at June 26, 2006 11:58 PM