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NL Player Notes - May 17th

Schuyler Dombroske

Justin Upton - Upton hit his 8th homer of the season last night against the Padres in an 8-4 loss. His ISO is just about back to 2009 levels, and his AVG is being hampered more by a BABIP 30 points under expectations than his perpetually mediocre contact rate. It's easy to forget that Upton is merely 23 years old, and we also should factor into his performance that pitchers have thrown him fewer strikes in each of his five years in the majors, culminating in a 43.1% zone rate thus far in 2011. He's chasing quite a few more pitches out of the zone this season, which is understandable as he has become the focal point of the offense while still just a kid. I expected to see more growth from Upton by this point despite his age.....maybe it's a family thing. Still, he's a very solid OF bat....just not a star. Yet.

Jon Garland - Garland tossed his fifth straight quality start yesterday, but with a substantially lower GB rate, a very fortunate BABIP and HR/FB rate, a two MPH drop in velocity, and typically mediocre control, I fully expect regression to occur soon. His FIP ERA of 4.32 illustrates what sort of a gap there has been between his expected performance and his actual thus far.

Jonathan Herrera - After a couple more hits yesterday, Herrera now has multi-hit games in three of his last five and is dragging his AVG back up close to .300. With a contact rate just under 91%, a career-best walk rate, and decent speed to go along with a career-high ISO, Herrera is looking like not only a solid NL-only option in the middle infield, but possibly a decent choice as a low-end mixed league selection as well. His speed and EYE appear sustainable given his minor league track record, even if his AVG and ISO appear to be a bit out of line.

Carlos Zambrano - As it turns out, that mid-April start against San Diego was an aberration rather than a return to form. Since then Zambrano has failed to fan more than four batters in any of his five starts, and only has improved control to show for his 2011 thus far, as his velocity, K rate, and GB rate have all continued to deteriorate. Even with a FIP ERA of 3.58, I can't find it in me to recommend Big Z right now in any mixed league format, and the disturbing lack of K's has me wondering if I'd even be brave enough to start him in an NL-only league right now.

Jonathan Lucroy - A 7-game hitting streak has pushed Lucroy's line up to 329/383/494 for the year, and people are sort of starting to take notice. Lucroy is still owned in just 34% of CBS leagues, despite the fact that he's a borderline top-5 catcher in the NL. The 24 year old is definitely due some AVG regression, but an improving contact rate and more power than people seem to think is there make him a very valuable backstop.

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