At the time, there was an idea that Martin could join the Rangers by the end of the 2011 season. He actually saw that through, appearing in eight late-season games and producing a .375 average. Last season, Martin saw action in 24 games, hitting just .174 in spot duty (13 starts and frequently sitting for several games at a time).
This year, Martin started the season in a platoon with Craig Gentry. Slowly but surely, he began to nudge Gentry (currently on the DL) out of the picture. Martin started 12 games in April, 18 in May and has already started 19 games in June. With the increased playing time, Martin's stats improved. By the end of April, Martin was hitting .250 with no steals and one home run. Since then, he's hit .304 with 12 steals, four home runs and three triples. His minor league results -- a .323 average over 533 at-bats and a 12-homer 2012 campaign (in just 55 games) -- not only suggest Martin can sustain his gains, but that there's room to improve. Owned in 56 percent of leagues, Martin should see a significant bump in ownership as he continues to dazzle for the Rangers.
The Big Leaps
Koji Uehara, RP, Red Sox (44 percent ownership, up from 10 percent)
Let's go back in time to September 2010. Barack Obama was in the White House. Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Rihanna topped the Billboard charts. And 35-year-old Uehara was closing games for the Baltimore Orioles.
For whatever reason, I thought Uehara had saved more than 13 games for the Orioles in 2010. I'm not sure if Baseball Reference is missing some saves, if I've gone crazy or Uehara just maybe got those saves in crunch time for a team on which I had owned him [Note: for some reason, I do the same thing with Grant Balfour and his four saves in 2009]. But foggy memories aside, Uehara has the closer reins once again, this time as a 38-year-old for the Red Sox.
You can't argue with the success of a pitcher who has a career 2.79 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, coupled with his 10.2 career K/9. The question with Uehara is how long he'll be in the role. There are two ways this can go, and both have nothing to do with Uehara:
1. Andrew Bailey will straighten out whatever is wrong and return to the closer role right after the All-Star Break. This would leave Uehara out of a job and back in middle relief.
2. Andrew Bailey will go back on the DL, admit he hasn't been feeling great since his activation from biceps tendinitis in late May (his velocity has been in the 93-ish area, as opposed to 94/95 in April, and he has a 7.48 ERA since his activation), and be lost for another chunk of the season, giving Uehara even more value
Depending on which way you lean with a situation that is almost wholly guesswork, Uehara is either a tremendous steal or a short-term filler. Personally, I'm guessing more on the "steal" side right now.
Over/under on ERA (season): 2.25
Over/under on saves (season): 12
Roy Oswalt, SP, Rockies (43 percent ownership, up from 22 percent)
I won't torture you with another "Let's go back in time ..." joke. But I will give you this: in 2010 Oswalt had a 2.76 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He pitched 211 2/3 innings, his seventh season in a row with 180-plus innings pitched, and sixth out of those seven hitting the 200 IP mark.
Oswalt still has a 3.29 career ERA and 1.20 WHIP. His K/9 is a decent 7.4. He pitched just 59 innings in the majors last year -- a disastrous stint with the Rangers that ended in Oswalt sporting an ERA over 3.69 for just the second time in a 12-year career. He made eight relief appearances, the most since his rookie season. Nothing went right for Oswalt in 2012. But 2013 may be a different story.
Some would-be owners may fear the thin air of Denver. But Oswalt actually has good career numbers at Coors Field -- 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 26 innings there. Granted, Oswalt is 35, but I think there is something to be said for knowing he will remain in the rotation and taking advantage of a career 1.46 GB/FB ratio in a park that is unkind to flyball pitchers.
Don't expect his strikeouts to stay up, but Oswalt should be more like the pitcher we saw for the first decade of his career, and not the mess he was in Texas in 2012. A Wednesday thumping by the Red Sox wasn't exactly the best of signs, but give Oswalt a few starts to acclimate and he could return somewhat close to old form.
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.85
Over/under on WHIP (season): 1.27
Over/under on K/9 (season): 6.5
The Flavor of Next Week
Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals (Owned in 46 percent of leagues)
There have been a few false starts with Moustakas this year. First and foremost was his status as a "Breakout" in the 2013 draft kit. Gaze upon the words of your preseason soothsayer:
It took Moustakas about 1,000 at-bats in the minors to get to his 36 home run season (2010), which was the same year he followed his lowest batting average (.250) with his highest (.322). Also, Moustakas is just 24 years old and has room to grow. With 1,000 major league at-bats likely under his belt by April, Moustakas will have enough seasoning and experience to take that next step in power and average. He will do more than repay his current ADP, which has him 13th among third basemen.
|1.||Zoilo Almonte, OF, Yankees||37|
|2.||Koji Uehara, RP, Red Sox||35|
|3.||Joaquin Benoit, RP, Tigers||29|
|4.||Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers||25|
|5.||Esmil Rogers, RP, Blue Jays||22|
|6.||Gregor Blanco, OF, Giants||18|
|7.||Roy Oswalt, SP, Rockies||17|
|8.||Brian Dozier, SS, Twins||17|
|9.||Kevin Correia, SP, Twins||15|
|10.||Chien-Ming Wang, SP, Blue Jays||14|
It didn't end there. A little over a month ago, I noted that Moustakas' BABIP was very low, while his walk and strikeout rates were the best of his career. "In short," the genius said, "Moustakas has been very unlucky." Phrases like "inevitable turnaround" were thrown around. Over the following 15 games, Moustakas hit .196 with one walk and one extra base hit.
Even though I'm starting to feel like that mouse in the little maze who keeps hitting the button that shocks him, I'm going to pump up Moustakas one more time. And I'm using this article in the Kansas City Star to back it up:
"They’ve scrapped everything. We had a talk, and we talked about what got me here. Who am I as a player? I'm Mike Moustakas, and I hit the ball to right field and right center. I'm not a singles guy who hits balls to left. I drive the baseball, and that's what I'm trying to get back to doing."
From George Brett: "When we got here and watched Moose hit, he couldn't hit a home run — even in BP. And (the other day), he hit about 10. So progress is being made. Fans don’t know that. They look at the box score and see oh-for-three. They don't see an eight-pitch at-bat and fouling off tough pitches."
Since Brett took over, Moustakas is hitting .270 with three doubles. But over his last 10 games (imagining it's taking some time for Brett to do his work), Moustakas has a .343 average and .807 OPS. It may just be baby steps, but it looks like Moustakas has the hitting thing turning itself around, meaning the power can't be too far behind.
Over/under on average (season): .265
Over/under on home runs (season): 18
Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins (16 percent ownership)
In 144 at-bats this season, Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia has a .278 average, with six home runs, 10 doubles and 21 RBI. But Arcia has really come alive in the 13 games since his mid-June recall from the minors (he was optioned May 25). In 46 at-bats, Arcia has a .326 average, .957 OPS, two home runs and five doubles.
In the minors, Arcia hit .313 in 399 games, with double-digit home runs in his last three seasons. He was a top 50 prospect with solid batting average and decent, developing power. And because he can play left or right field, Arcia's bat has remained in the lineup alongside Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit and Chris Parmelee.
Owned in just 16 percent of leagues, Arcia can offer value in average, power and counting categories because of his regular at-bats. He's AL-only because of his ownership percentage, but Arcia, who is developing into a solid Fantasy option, can be rostered in leagues as shallow as 14 teams.
Over/under on at-bats (season): 415
Over/under on average (season): .279
Over/under on home runs (season): 16
Eric Young, OF, Mets (15 percent ownership)
Eric Young has never really gotten the chance to show off what he can do in a full-time role. In five major league seasons, Young has never gotten 200 at-bats in one campaign. In fact, with nine more at-bats this year, the 28-year-old will have set a new career high.
The 2003 30th round pick did get regular playing time across eight minor league seasons, though. He stole 80 bases in 2006, 73 in 2007 and had two other seasons of 40 or more steals. Those four years were the only ones which Young got 400 or more at-bats, shuttling between the minors and majors in most of the others. There's not a lot of power here, but Young did compile a .297 average and .388 OPS in 2,562 career at-bats.
The more you dive into Young's stats, the more difficult it is to figure out why he isn't more widely owned. He can hit for average, he can steal a lot of bases and he appears to be the starter in left field for the Mets, who can shift him to center when Ike Davis is recalled, sending Lucas Duda back to left.
Like Arcia, Young could have an impact in shallower leagues, but still has ownership numbers low enough to be available in NL-only formats.
Over/under on steals (season): 32
Over/under on batting average (season): .272