“Round Robinson”: The Importance of a Backup Plan
If it weren’t for bad timing, I swear I would have no timing at all.
Had this been published yesterday, you would have been reading all about Prince Fielder’s potential for a turnaround. I’ll admit, I wasn’t raving about Prince, but I also looked optimistically at the fact that the source of his power drain had been found. I figured if there was ever a chance for him to get right in 2014, getting this herniated disk taken care of was the key. He was already putting up much better numbers in May than he had over the first month of the season, and this had the potential to be another step in the right direction.
Boy was I wrong. After playing 547 consecutive games (25th longest streak in ML history), Fielder is now expected to miss the rest of the season. He’ll get a second opinion, but all indications are that Prince will need cervical fusion surgery with a recovery time of three to four months. If that ends up being the case, I hope he returns next season and is much more like the mashing Prince Fielder we were accustomed to a couple of years back, but at this point in his career (he just turned 30 this month), that might be more wishful thinking than anything else.
If you were wondering about how to handle Fielder on your roster, that concern just went in a whole different direction. You’ve now got a glaring hole in your lineup that you didn’t expect would be there when you acquired his services. Part of the challenge of this game is adapting to the circumstances with which you are presented, so after you’ve thrown your mini-tantrum about yet another one of your players being hurt, it’s time to get back to work. You’re not going to replace the production you banked on from Prince, but one of these names could tie you over adequately in the mean time.
Mitch Moreland, TEX: It only makes sense to look to Texas for a replacement not just in the Rangers’ lineup, but also for your squad. Moreland will be the man at 1B now and if you’re having a hard time getting excited about that, I don’t blame you. The Rangers certainly weren’t that excited about it either as evidenced by their trade for Fielder over the winter. But motivation can do funny things, and now Moreland finds himself with one more chance to prove his worth.
In fairness, Moreland was already getting the bulk of the AB as the Rangers’ DH and had produced some serviceable numbers (.286/.330/.429, 2 HR, 15 RBI in 117 PA). He has been slotting into the six hole in the order recently as Choo has been moved to third followed by Beltre and Rios. That’s a pretty good spot in the lineup to occupy as the RBI potential should be plentiful. The AVG will undoubtedly come down as Moreland is currently striking out a career-high 23.9% while only walking 6.0% and sporting a BABIP of .364, but he could net you 15-18 HR and 60+ RBI the rest of the season. It’s not what you expected from the 1B of the Rangers in 2014, but at this point you’d take it.
Ike Davis, PIT: Davis looked lost in 2013 in New York and disappointed many a fantasy owner. This year was off to a similarly shaky start before Davis was dealt April 19 to the Pirates who were in desperate need of some production from their first basemen. As has been the case with others coming to Pittsburgh, Davis has undergone a career resurgence (as much of a resurgence as one can have in just 28 games with a new team). In 98 PA with Pittsburgh, he’s batting .286/.388/.429 with 2 HR and 10 RBI.
We know he won’t be batting .300+ this season, but I don’t think he’ll regress to the .205 or .227 that he posted the last two years respectively. His does sport a career high 29% line-drive percentage as well as a career low 0.53 GB/FB rate. Both of these are contributing to a BABIP of .344 and perhaps that’s not as fluky as it seems. I doubt we’ll ever see him returning to the 32-HR level he put up in 2012, but Davis could be turning into a more consistent, well-rounded hitter right before our eyes. There’s something to be said for a fresh start and I expect Davis to continue to flourish for his new team.
Garrett Jones, MIA:I neglected Jones in my discussion of Marlins hitters, but Fielder’s injury allows me a second chance to look at the Pittsburgh’s former 1B/OF. The 32-year old Jones has an .828 OPS and 23 RBI in 185 PA with the Marlins and has been one of the few hitters that doesn’t carry the extreme home/road splits that many in Miami’s lineup boast (4 of his 6 HR have been on the road). He’s been pushed up to fifth in the order as of late behind Stanton and McGehee and has been a stabilizing force for a Marlins squad that just won’t go away.
You’ll want to get the left-handed batting Jones out of your lineup if at all possible when he’s facing southpaws. He’s posted a .205/.262./231 triple slash with 0 HR and just 2 RBI in 42 AB against lefties (.304/.371/.560 versus RHP), which is pretty typical of his career numbers. But Jones, like many of his Marlin teammates, has been an underappreciated fantasy contributor and might still be lurking on the wire in your league while other owners continue to doubt.