Devin Mesoraco (C-CIN)- Mesoraco went 1-for-3 with a walk and a grand slam on Thursday night. The home run was his second of the season, and he improved his slash line to .213/.310/.344 for the season. Mesoraco has not gotten the playing time I thought he would receive, as he has appeared in 21 games with 71 plate appearances compared with Ryan Hanigan who has appeared in 27 games with 91 plate appearances. A .220 BABIP can be blamed for Mesoraco's slow start, and his 11.3 percent walk rate and 14.1 percent strikeout rate indicates the rookie has a strong grasp of the strike zone. His 10.5 percent HR/FB ratio is still strong, and he should reach collect 10-13 home runs if he can get more than 350 plate appearances this season. Mesoraco has the talent, but Baker's reliance on Hanigan looks like it will continue to be a problem.
Eric Stults (SP-SD)- Stults earned his first win since 2009 after holding the Mets to just one run (unearned) on four hits and one walk in five innings of work. He struck out just two, but could have gone longer if it were not for a rain delay and a line drive off of his triceps in the fourth. He now has a 1.96 ERA in 18.2 innings for both the Padres and White Sox this season, and could be a decent option in NL-only leagues. His 3.96 K/9 might not look like much, but his 6.4 percent swinging strikeout rate should not translate into that low of a strikeout rate. His 51.8 percent ground ball rate would be a career best, and pitching in the friendly confines of Petco Park will only help his ERA. Owners should not be afraid to start the veteran left-hander in daily leagues especially against the NL West.
Jason Heyward (RF-ATL)- Heyward's recent struggles at the plate continued as he went hitless in four plate appearances with a walk and a strikeout. He now has a .237/.329/.414 slash line to go along with his five home runs and nine stolen bases. A career worst 24.1 percent strikeout rate continues to hurt his batting average, and his career worst 13.1 percent swinging strike rate and 32.9 percent chase rate indentify that this will be an ongoing problem. When it comes to his batted ball rates, Heyward is much improved posting a career best 21.3 percent line drive rate and 39.8 percent fly ball rate. Unlike last season when his shoulder hurt his overall numbers, his line looks like it can be corrected with some improved patience. I think he can get to 20 home runs with line similar to his rookie season. At least his improved stolen base numbers have eased the pain of his ongoing slump.
Ryan Vogelsong (SP-SFG)- Vogelsong earned his third win of the season on Thursday night against the Marlins. He allowed three runs on seven hits (one home run) and three walks with four strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched. Despite a 2.50 ERA, owners should continue to see his ERA to rise over the coming weeks considering his 3.87 FIP and 4.55 xFIP. Vogelsong has continued to benefit from stranding an unusual amount of runners (83.1 percent), and an extremely low BABIP (.248). His 14.9 percent line drive rate and 14.1 percent infield fly rate suggest he might be earning his low BABIP, but his walk rate of 3.83 BB/9 should continue to be a problem. His 38.6 percent zone rate is the fourth worst among qualified starters, and his career low 6.2 percent swinging strike rate indicates there might be some regression in his strikeout rate. Owners should sell high on Vogelsong now to maximize their value.
Gincarlo Stanton (RF-MIA)- Stanton went 3-for-5 with a strikeout, a double, a home run and three RBI in the Marlins 14-7 loss to the Giants on Thursday. The home run was his ninth home run this month (tenth of the season), and he improved his slash line to .284/.348/.537. His 21.7 percent HR/FB ratio is now in line with his career rate of 23.7 percent, and I expect more home runs to follow considering he is not likely to continue line drives at a 27.1 percent rate. Miami's new ballpark still presents a problem in terms of home runs (16.8 percent HR/FB there compared to 32.2 percent on road), but the increase in his fly ball rate that I envision should counteract the affect of his home park. His .284 batting average should drop to the .270's, but his 36-40 home runs should make 2012 a career year.
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