Setting the Trends: Injuries creating unlikely scenarios

Senior Fantasy Writer

If the sight of Fantasy players virtually running out and grabbing Matt Adams seems familiar, it's because it is.

Just a few weeks ago, hordes of owners were adding Matt Carpenter, then quickly turning around and asking if he'd continue to play when Lance Berkman came back.

If that scenario seems familiar, it's because it also happened recently in Boston, with Fantasy owners wondering if Will Middlebrooks would continue to play when Kevin Youkilis returned.

Carpenter, Adams, and Middlebrooks, on any other teams, would likely be early candidates for Rookie of the Year. Instead, we're left to practice fox/chicken/chicken feed-style logic games that map out every possible, wild scenario, all ending with the hope that the players we own can retain at-bats when the inevitable too-many-players-for-too-few-positions crunch comes.

In the case of Carpenter, injuries to both Allen Craig and Lance Berkman helped alleviate both the initial and the latest crunch. For Adams, it's essentially the same scenario, with, ironically, an imagined future Carpenter injury helping his personal crunch. And for Middlebrooks, whose ticket was seemingly punched for Pawtucket, a Cody Ross broken foot amazingly bought him more time, sending Adrian Gonzalez to the outfield, and putting an end -- at least temporarily -- to "The Great Boston Crunch."

On to the Roster Trends!

Most Added Players (as of 5/23)
Player % increase
1. Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox 42
2. Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals 42
3. Felipe Paulino, SP, Royals 27
4. Raul Ibanez, OF, Yankees 26
5. James McDonald, SP, Pirates 22
6. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers 20
7. Andy Dirks, OF, Tigers 20
8. Dale Thayer, RP, Padres 20
9. Jerome Williams, SP, Angels 19
10. Mitch Moreland, 1B, Rangers 18

Most Added Highlights

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox
Jump in ownership: 42 percent (from 24 percent to 66)
Reason for the jump: Viciedo is riding a seven-game hitting streak, with four home runs and 10 RBI in that span.
Why you should join the crowd: Viciedo, 23, is as hot as any player in baseball right now, batting .295 in May after a lackluster .206 April. The Cuba native, nicknamed "The Tank," had two 20 home-run campaigns in a couple of somewhat-truncated (for call-ups) seasons in the minor leagues (with 343 and 452 at-bats, respectively). He also had a .284 average over three seasons between Double-and- Triple A.
Devil's Advocate: Viciedo doesn't have a lot of speed (only eight career steals in the minors) and he followed up a promising 2010 stint with the White Sox (.308 average, .840 OPS) with a somewhat-disappointing 2011 (.255 average, .641 OPS). As recently as May 13, he was batting .196 and looked to be headed towards a sub-par season. Viciedo has three walks on the season and his current BB/K ratio is 1:11.

Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals
Not to be confused with: Mike Adams, RP, Rangers
Jump in ownership: 42 percent (from eight percent to 50)
Reason for the jump: With Lance Berkman going down, Adams was recalled and is expected to get most of the starts at first base.
Why you should join the crowd: Adams hit 32 home runs in 463 at-bats in 2011 for St. Louis' Double-A affiliate in Springfield. The previous year, in High-A, he had 22 home runs, but 41 doubles; he seems to have developed the power as he moved up a level. Adams also has a career .318 minor league batting average across 1,313 at-bats. So far this season, he had nine home runs and 27 RBI in just 37 games. And his hitting coach is Mark McGwire.
Devil's Advocate: Before his recall, Adams had zero major league at-bats. While he managed a .278 average and two home runs in spring training, he struck out 10 times in 36 at-bats. But the major issue here may be at-bats. The Cardinals have no shortage of players they can slot at first base -- most notably Matt Carpenter (up 15 percent himself in ownership, although he injured himself Tuesday night), who filled in for Berkman during his earlier DL stint and has played 25 games at first so far this year.

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Dale Thayer, RP, Padres 49
2. Brian Fuentes, RP, Athletics 45
3. Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays 45
4. Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks 43
5. Justin Smoak, 1B, Mariners 37

Felipe Paulino, RP, Royals
Jump in ownership: 22 percent (from 16 percent to 38)
Reason for the jump: Paulino has a two-start week in the midst of a red-hot start to his season.
Why you should join the crowd: For this week, Paulino, a starter, has two major things going for him: he has relief pitcher eligibility and he has a two-start week. The relief eligibility comes at a point in the season where Fantasy owners have been dizzied by closers being injured and yanked from their roles; being able to slot in a strikeout-heavy pitcher for an injured Huston Street is a sly strategic move (which I personally tend to oppose, but it is what it is) in head-to-head points leagues. for everyone else, Paulino seems to have finally hit a stride of sorts. Owner of a 5.02 career ERA, he showed flashes of brilliance after being acquired by Kansas City last year, posting career lows in ERA (4.11) and WHIP (1.37) in 124 2/3 innings with the Royals. This year, Paulino -- who always came tantalizingly close to achieving a 9.0 K/9 ratio, has blown past the benchmark, striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings this year, while sporting a 1.42 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
Devil's Advocate: For as encouraging as Paulino's start is, it remains just that: a start. For his career, Paulino is a much better first-half pitcher, with a 4.68 ERA in the first half and a 5.56 in the second.

Kicking them while they're down
The most traded injured players
1. Neftali Feliz, RP, Rangers
2. Emilio Bonifacio, SS, Marlins
3. Lance Berkman, OF, Cardinals
4. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
5. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics

Freddy Galvis, SS, Phillies
Jump in ownership: 15 percent (from four percent to 19)
Reason for the jump: Of Galvis' three home runs on the season, two have come in his last four games.
Why you should join the crowd: Galvis is batting .279 in the month of May, with 14 RBI and seven doubles. His 11 doubles on the season are more than Derek Jeter, Paul Konerko, Ichiro Suzuki, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion ... you get the point. He's fifth in doubles and ranks second in the National League in that category. His 19 RBI on the season rank him sixth in baseball and behind only Dan Uggla and Omar Infante in the NL.
Devil's Advocate: Galvis hit .246 over five minor league seasons. His season high for RBI was 48, in 2010, while playing at the Double-A level, while his season high in doubles was 2011, when he hit 28 in 543 at-bats. One thing he hasn't been doing this season is stealing bases, which is where much of his value coming into the season -- when he was pressed into duty thanks to Chase Utley's injury -- was thought to lie. He stole 23 bases in 2011 and 15 in 2010. He even stole a base in spring training. So when his hot streak cools down (or when Chase Utley comes back), Galvis will likely see a decrease in value, with the double whammy of having a decrease in playing time as well.

Hello again
Familiar faces currently in the minors
Player % owned
1. Manny Ramirez, DH, Athletics 16
2. Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Blue Jays 4
3. Hideki Matsui, OF, Rays 1
4. Miguel Tejada, 3B, Orioles 0

Sean Rodriguez, SS, Rays
Jump in ownership: 15 percent (from 20 percent to 35)
Reason for the jump: Rodriguez has two home runs in his last seven games.
Why you should join the crowd: Rodriguez showed a ton of power coming up in the minor leagues with the Angels (before being sent to Tampa Bay as part of the Scott Kazmir deal); he had seasons of 30, 29, 24, and 21 home runs across seven seasons in the minors. He also managed 104 career steals and a .281 average. In the majors, Rodriguez has failed to really find the power stroke with a career-high of only nine home runs. But he also hasn't been given too many chances to get into grooves at the plate -- he's topped out at 373 at-bats, hitting 20 doubles and eight home runs in that campaign. Over the last two weeks, seeing full-time at-bats thanks to Evan Longoria's injury, Rodriguez has hit .318 with two home runs and six runs batted in. He is also eligible at second base, shortstop, and third base.
Devil's Advocate: In 1,037 career at-bats, Rodriguez has a .231 batting average, and has hit just 26 home runs.

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