Manny Machado - In his second career game, Manny Machado batted eighth and clubbed 2 HRs with 4 RBI. He's now 4-for-8 in his first two games at the major league level. With a .266/.352/.438 slash line at AA this season, and considering he just turned 20 in early July, it's hard to expect a lot from Machado as a fantasy option (Friday's showing aside). He showed good patience and had solid power in the minors to go along with an ability to swipe a bag every once in awhile. But adjusting from AA to the majors is an astronomical jump (just ask Mike Trout), so I don't see much value in Machado for the next couple months, aside from potentially a bench bat in very deep AL-only and mixed leagues. He looked the part of a major leaguer last evening, but I'm not confident he'll be able to be productive on a consistent basis this year.
Max Scherzer - Detroit's Max Scherzer took on the Rangers on Friday and gave up 2 ER while striking out 8 in 6 innings. Scherzer's 11.31 whiff rate is truly elite, but his 4.65 ERA is certainly not. That said, Scherzer's been pretty darn unfortunate. He's dealing with a .358 BABIP and 72% strand rate while also owning a 3.33 xFIP. The right hander isn't helping himself by allowing 1.41 HRs per game or a 22% LD rate, but he still shouldn't have an ERA that's 1.3 runs above his xFIP. This is the third straight season Scherzer has posted an xFIP in the 3.50-3.75 range and I believe he'll eventually see the fruits of that performance translate into a good ERA. For now, he's still a must start thanks to the incredible strikeout rate and he should experience positive regression sooner than later.
Eric Hosmer - One of the numbers I've been watching in regards to Eric Hosmer this season is the number of balls he hits on the ground. Last season, Hosmer hit 19 HRs but hit 50% of all balls in play on the ground. This obviously meant he had zero chance of driving the ball on half of his balls in play. He still managed a .172 ISO in 2011, so I expected him to continue to mature at the plate and begin to elevate the ball. Unfortunately, he's now hitting grounders 55% of the time and his ISO sits at just .127 after going 0-for-3 versus the Orioles on Friday. There's so much potential in Hosmer's bat, but until he learns to hit more balls in the air, his power will drag behind his expectations.
John Jaso - At 28-years old, John Jaso is starting to show some solid power numbers with Seattle. On Friday, he crushed a 3-run HR and now owns a more than respectable .187 ISO. Like always, Jaso continues to show good patience at the dish, walking in 15% of his ABs while striking out in just 16%. He's also posting a career-high SLG% of .472 and has smashed 6 HRs in just 228 plate appearances. Add in a batting average of .283 and Jaso has all the makings of a playable catcher in many league formats. Looking ahead to next year, Jaso should be the primary catcher for the Mariners (with Jesus Montero shifting to full-time DH) and if he can continue his current power production, he should be a very nice option behind the dish in 2013.
Alex Rios - After missing Wednesday's series finale against Kansas City, Alex Rios was back in the White Sox lineup on Friday and went 0-for-4 versus the Athletics. Rios has had a resurgence this season by posting a .224 ISO to go along with a .315 BA and .538 SLG%. He's posting a career-high LD% and HR/FB rate and has stolen 16 bases. Last season, Rios was extremely unlucky on balls in play, recording just a .237 BABIP. This season, in part thanks to more line drives, the outfielder has a .325 BABIP. That may not be entirely sustainable, but his career mark is .308, so he's not that far over his head. There's no reason to believe that Rios will slow down during the next couple months.
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