Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influences.
Although his name conjures thoughts of a certain deceased thoroughbred, Barbaro Canizares(notes), Atlanta's brawny 6-foot-3, 240-pound rookie first baseman, is more of the beer-toting variety of equine.
The Cuban defector, who's playing in just his first full season in U.S. baseball after experiencing previous immigration problems, has been one of the minor league's best kept secrets. Prior to his promotion late this past week, the perceived 29-year-old -- some insiders dispute he's really 31 -- compiled an eye-opening .344 BA with eight homers and 37 RBIs in 227 at-bats at Triple-A Gwinnett. Farm compadre and cancer curer Tommy Hanson(notes) believes Canizares possesses beastly dish qualities:
"He just goes up there and rakes. That's what he does. He's a hitter. When I was there [Gwinnett] he was on a tear."
Per Talking Chop's fantastically detailed scouting report from April, his statistical upside compares favorably to fellow Castro castaway and teammate Yunel Escobar(notes).
Offensively, he's an ultra-aggressive contact hitter. While hacking away in the International League, he coaxed a free pass just 10.6 percent of the time. Despite his attacking approach, he's hit above .300 at every stop in professional U.S. baseball. From a power perspective, his 56.5 groundball percentage this year in the minors suggests he's equipped with marginal 15-20 pop.
Defensively, he's a sloth-footed liability similar to Chicago's Jake Fox(notes). His glove shortcomings will limit his at-bats, but with the Braves slated to begin a three-game set in Boston Friday, he'll undoubtedly serve as Bobby Cox's primary DH. He may also earn a sport start or two against Cincinnati early in the week pending the return of Casey Kotchman(notes).
So far 3-for-9 with a double in two contests, he should continue to see adequate action even when Kotchman returns. More importantly, Cox's confidence in his bat means he'll earn steady appearances in the RBI-friendly 4-6 spots.
Obviously, first is an overloaded position in fantasy, but deep league or stream conscious managers hoping to unearth a short-term BA behemoth from the wire depths should employ the one-percent owned Clydesdale's services.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of the season): 210 at-bats, .291 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 19 R, 0 SB
• Tragic bust Howie Kendrick(notes) has finally been put out of his misery. Though it looked like he was starting to turn the corner going with six hits in his past 23 at-bats, the maligned middle infielder, who made a critical base-running gaffe earlier this week, was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake late Friday night. Per Mike Scioscia, it appears Angels management is aiming for a short-term farm stint to help rebuild the 25-year-old's fading confidence. From MLB.com:
"We feel it is time for Howie to go down to take a little bit of pressure off and exhale a little bit and get some at-bats. We want him to find his swing and then get back up here and hopefully be a quick turnaround once he begins to feel it in the batter's box. I know he is pressing and he just needs to go down and get some at-bats. He will be back."
Kendrick is expendable in 14-team and shallower mixed formats, but for owners with questionable options at second in wire-exhausted leagues, don't kick him to the curb just yet. As discussed in this week's Noise, his peripheral numbers display several resurgent signs. If he can rediscover his stroke, he could storm back with a vengeance. He's always possessed the pedigree to be successful.
Detailed by Grizzly Behrens June 1, Sean Rodriguez(notes), who was ripping up Triple-A, fills Kendrick's vacated roster spot. However, with fly-swatter Macier Izturis expected to earn a bulk of the workload at second, the top prospect could be relegated to Brandon Wood(notes) duty, which frankly is silly. Scioscia's hard veteran lean continues to be maddening. Still, based on his terrific PCL numbers (202 at-bats, .277 BA, 20 HR, 60 RBI), Rodriguez is worth a speculative add in 14-team and deeper mixed leagues. Even if he nets 2-3 starts per week, he could provide lethal power yields.
• The greatest Floyd show since Montreal '77 is once again strumming a rockin' tune.
Absolutely repulsive earlier this season, Gavin Floyd(notes) has suddenly and spectacularly changed direction. Over his past five starts, the Sox hurler has transitioned from fly-ball deadweight to groundball first mate. Check out the saber splits below:
First eight starts: 44.1 IP, 0 W, 7.75 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, 7.14 K/9, 4.69 BB/9, 1.22 HR/9, 38.8 GB%
Last five starts: 42.2 IP, 2 W, 2.74 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 8.71 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, 0.48 HR/9, 46.9 GB%
Looking at the glass half full, Floyd credits his slump for forcing him to be more focused. From MLB.com:
"I just felt like I would make a good pitch and they would get a bloop hit," Floyd said. I'd make a mistake and they'd crush it. That's how I felt. When I struggled a couple games, one game it would be something and then the next game would be completely different from that. I've just been trying to learn as much as possible and get ahead of guys with whatever pitch I throw."
In most competitive leagues, the buy-low window has already slammed shut. Over the past month, Floyd has posted the 11th-best line among starters in Yahoo! leagues. But based on the names he's attracted in one-for-one Plus league deals this week -- John Danks(notes), Derrek Lee(notes) and Todd Helton(notes) -- he can still be acquired at a reasonable price. If the current trend continues, don't be shocked if he maintains a top 30 ranking among starters going forward.
*Battered, bruised or should not be used: Jake Peavy(notes) (ankle, out 12 weeks), Roy Halladay(notes) (groin, day-to-day), Jeremy Bonderman(notes) (shoulder, placed back on DL), Joey Votto(notes) (stress/dizziness, is expected to start a rehab assignment this week), Kaz Matsui (hamstring, will be activated Tuesday), Frank Francisco(notes) (shoulder, played catch Friday but is still several days away from suiting up), Jake Westbrook(notes) (elbow, rehabbing in minors, roughly two weeks away from return), Edinson Volquez(notes) (elbow, questionable for Wednesday), John Smoltz(notes) (shoulder, 6 IP, 4 ER, 6 K in last rehab start), Jim Thome(notes) (limited action, interleague road games at Cincy and Wrigley), Willy Taveras(notes) (donut syndrome)
For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.
Other AL Double Dippers: None
FEAST OR FAMINE?
Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Rick Porcello is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through June 12:
Image courtesy of AP