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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coping With Soriano's Calf Injury: OPS Replacements

Seriously, who hops around while catching a fly ball? For those who did not witness Alfonso Soriano straining his calf muscle on Tuesday night in Chicago firsthand, it looked as though he was readying himself to turn a double play at second base. We’ve witnessed his unorthodox sidearm/sub-marine throwing motion in left field, but the whole dancing around an imaginary second base is unacceptable. All Lou Pinella can say is: "It seems like a natural move for him." No way, Lou… maybe that’s because people have been fooling themselves thinking he belongs in the outfield. Now before anyone busts out his outfield assist numbers over the past few years, answer this: Would you not try to run on a converted second baseman? Of course you would! Soriano surprised some people and raked up the stats in the process. There’s no way he and superior defenders like Jose Guillen, Ichiro, and Melky Cabrera should be in the same category.

However, that rant is for another day. By now, I’m sure you can tell that Alfonso Soriano is on my fantasy team and I’m quite ‘miffed’ about his potential DL stint. For anyone who’s looking for a potential replacement for Sori, I’ve come up with a few names who you may be able to trade for or pick up off waivers in the meanwhile. For regular readers of this blog, you know I’m working with Johnny Damon and Andruw Jones on my roster. I also have Rick Ankiel and Grady Sizemore to cycle through as well, so I’m not in the worst shape in the OF, but I’m still on the prowl for a hot bat to insert in my active lineup over hot/cold players like Jones and Damon.

For OPS fiends (like my main man Mike Plugh), I’ve looked back at Soriano’s three year average OPS (2005-07) .874 and compared it to other similar OPS’ over that span. Here are a couple names that jumped out at me:

Luke Scott, BAL: This kid is off to a hot start with the AL East leading O’s so far. He’s hitting .386(BA)-.449(OBP)-.614(SLG) which is entirely respectable for a stopgap player. In his last six games, four of his seven hits have been doubles, which explains the slugging percentage being this high. Could those doubles eventually become home runs? Well, he does play in Camden Yards, so anything is possible. For as good as he’s been playing, you’re not going to get any stolen bases from Scott. He has less than 50 in five years in the minor leagues, so any SBs that come from him are going to be a freak accident.

Bill Hall, MIL: Obviously, this guy is not going to be available in your league, but he may be worth trading for in this instance. Soriano was probably an early pick for you this year and your team is going to struggle without him. So far, Hall his hitting to a tune of .204-.218-.519 and was extremely undervalued entering 2008. So what does this tell us? Well, he’s not taking pitches enough to walk, BUT when he makes contact, it’s usually for more than a single. It looks like he’d be murdering your Roto team, but points leagues may want to take a flyer on him. If his 3-year average is in line with Sori’s, there’s a potential for these numbers to rise as the year rolls along.

Chris Duncan (and Ryan Ludwick), StL: Dear Lord they’re so streaky. Duncan is the player who came up when I ran a 3-year average of OPS, but Ludwick has been just plan crazy for the first two and a half weeks. Staying with Duncan for the time being, his OPS is at .900 for 2008 and, like his brother Shelley, he can go nuts with the long ball for weeks at a time. The whole question with Duncan, though, is health. Well… right now, he’s healthier than Soriano… and that’s all you need to know at the moment. Back to Ludwick, he’s definitely going to be available, but I wouldn’t dive all over him unless you’re in a really, really deep league (I’m thinking 14-16 teams).

So those are three players (technically 4…) who jumped out at me in the 3-year OPS search. Below are a few waiver-wire hotshots who did not show up on that search who you should take a look at in your league:

Nate McLouth, Pit: His OPS is over 1.000 right now, which is Big Papi-esque. He’s a great fill-in for Soriano… but he’s probably already been picked up in your league. I slept on him because he’s a Buck-O, so I’m not going to completely tear you apart for letting him slip through the cracks.

Carlos Quentin, ChW: The anti-Nate McLouth. His OPS is hovering around .750, which is respectable, especially hitting in White Sox potent line up. However, he’s not getting regular ABs, which frustrates me. I was one of the people who thought Quentin was going to explode with the D-Backs last year… and I guess I am still optimistic that this may occur with the ChiSox. Don’t dive on him now… but please monitor him.

Moises Alou, NYM: Every year he’s underrated because of injury and every year he goes nuts when he’s healthy. Unless you’re playing with multiple Met fans in your league, Alou’s probably buried in waivers right now. He’s not going to be a fill-in for Soriano because he’ll be starting up his rehab assignment this weekend. But don’t let another owner in your league pick up a guy who’s OPS has been over .900 over the past four years… I don’t want to see that happen to you.

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