Jose Altuve - Altuve had another pair of singles and a steal yesterday, and I'm beginning to think that hitting in the #8 slot benefits Altuve and his natural selectiveness. Altuve pressed a bit upon coming to the bigs last season, but at still just 21 years of age he is back to his typically patient ways thus far in 2012, swinging at just under a 40% clip. His contact rate is above 90% thus far, and he's showing a bit of power growth in the small sample size as well. I'm surprised at how many people seem to be down on a 21 year old with gap power, 30+ steal speed, and a .324 career minor league average simply because he only hit .276 with 7 SB in his first 221 major league ABs. Altuve has improved dramatically in his second exposure at every single level, and there's really no reason to expect something different now. One small caveat: a very high BABIP and a very low LD% are outliers in the early going here.....I would expect a touch of AVG regression, but likely not enough to drop him below .300 very far, and I expect continued progress in the power categories for Altuve over the next few seasons.
Jonathan Lucroy - Another pair of singles and a walk for Lucroy yesterday, as the early power surge has faded back into singles and walks for the past week-plus. Lucroy is a pretty interesting projection case, as at age 23 in his second full pro season he commanded the strike zone well and hit for a decent average with some gap power (as a catcher no less) at AA, and he's basically been in the majors since. That's a pretty aggressive track for a catcher, and it's the primary reason that I've been more optimistic about his prospects than most over the past season or two. We're still a bit early for drawing too many conclusions from this year's stats, but we're seeing continued incremental improvements in contact rate with more flyballs hit, which is definitely a favorable set of changes. Time will tell if Lucroy is more than a bottom-tier #1 catcher, but I definitely think the potential is there.
John Mayberry - Mayberry did manage a single and double yesterday, but unless Hunter Pence's shoulder is worse than expected he's going to continue to have a difficult time finding the field. Mayberry's rookie campaign was a classic case of the flaws (major contact issues) being papered over by a nearly 30/15 pace in close to 300 plate appearances, so let's keep in mind that his K rate and ISO last year were both the 2nd-best that he's ever posted at any level (that's seven seasons worth of data by the way). The power/speed combo makes it easy to be optimistic, but this year's problems with contact are making it easy for the omnipresent Juan Pierre to once again weasel his way into playing time that ought not belong to him. I'd virtually guarantee that Mayberry would outperform Pierre if you gave them each 600 PA's this year, but I'd also feel good about saying that Domonic Brown could offer more WARP than the other two combined. I don't run the Phillies, but this is rapidly becoming a situation to stay away from: when your starting corner OF can't possibly slug over .375 and your best two hitters are on the shelf with half-assed solutions in place (how is Wigginton/Galvis/Polanco/Pierre better than Thome/Polanco/Wigginton/anyone?), you're going nowhere in a hurry. Mayberry remains rosterable only in the deepest of leagues, and should not be starting in any at present.
Ty Wigginton - That's another pair of singles for Wigginton, who has now hit in eight straight for the slumping Phils, and thereby has likely ensured himself quite a bit of PT in the near future. I was sure Wigginton was done after last season's poor showing in Colorado, and for him to be posting a career-best contact rate at age 34 would be, well, unprecedented. This can't last and likely won't end well.....Wigginton's value has always been tied up in his power as he has no speed, no glove, and little ability to hit for average, and has power has been slipping away in various increments since his 2006-2008 peak. I would sell high if possible.
Schierholtz had a monster series in New York, going 7-14 with a pair of triples and a homer as the Giants took three of four. He also swiped a bag and walked twice, but is this anything more than a random hot streak for the 28 year old? I'm going to guess the answer is no, although I have been expecting a bit more power here for a few years now and the stats in this year's small sample size are a bit ambiguous. The K rate is abnormally low based on his swinging strike% this year, but there have been enough gains in contact rate the past few seasons to make you think he could have a chance to hit .280-.300 in a good season. In all, Schierholtz is one of those guys that seems to help you a bit everywhere when he's going well, and hurt you a bit everywhere when he isn't. I could see him hitting .285 with 15 homers and 10 steals if everything keeps going in a similar vein here this year, but I don't think there's much more upside than that, and is that really very exciting?
Nate Schierholtz -