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Yuniesky Betancourt, SS, Brewers
There’s been talk of the Brewers looking to upgrade at shortstop, but those plans may be on hold now that Betancourt is starting to show some life at the plate. The 29-year-old had a fine 2010 campaign with the Royals, blasting 16 home runs with 78 RBI, despite a .288 on base percentage. That on base percentage is just .265 this season, but with two home runs and four RBI over the last three games, he may be on the rebound.
Josh Reddick, OF, Red Sox
There have been bigger prospects to play in the Red Sox outfield in recent years, but few have had the impact of Josh Reddick. The 17th round pick out of Middle Georgia Junior College has been en fuego all season. He has 3 home runs over the last 10 games and now boasts a .378 average. He has also been patient at the plate and has been hitting the ball with power. Look for the Red Sox to continue to give Reddick at bats as long as he sustains the production.
Javier Vazquez, SP, Marlins
On June 11, there were some questions as to whether the Marlins would simply cut Javier Vazquez loose considering his ERA had ballooned up to 7.09 through 13 starts this season after enduring a 5.32 ERA in the Bronx last season. The Marlins stuck with the soon to be 35-year-old, and it has paid off handsomely. Vazquez has surrendered seven earned runs over the last six starts. In his last start he handled the Cubs with 10 K’s in 7 innings. Considering his high strikeout potential and past dominance, it’s not a bad idea to take a flyer on the veteran hurler.
Emilio Bonifacio, SS/3B/OF/2B, Marlins
One of the bigger success stories on the Marlins this season has been 26-year-old speedster Emilio Bonifacio. The story here is of a player who has all the speed in the world, but has historically struggled to reach base. That’s not the credit this season. His on base percentage has soared from 30% to 32% and finally 37% over the last three seasons. Bonifacio currently boasts 18 steals with 42 runs scored. He’s something of a one-dimensional weapon, but Bonifacio will get you steals.
Michael Martinez, OF/2B/SS/3B, Phillies
The 28-year-old rookie has already manned five of the nine positions this season. I know Mets fans would love to know who Michael Martinez is after he belted a key home run again them last series. It’s a little bit of a tough question to answer because of his limited playing time. We can say that last season he blasted 11 home runs with 56 RBI and 23 steals while splitting time between AA and AAA. So, there is a nice blend of pop and speed there, but in the Phillies lineup and in the favorable ballpark some damage can be done. Fantasy managers should pay attention considering the position eligibility.
By Eno Sarris //
Sometimes, fantasy managers have to do things that make them feel dirty. They’ll pick up a lousy pitcher who has happened upon the closer role, or grab a streaky player in the middle of a nice stretch. It happens, and it can lead to championships.
That brings us to Emilio Bonifacio and his role on the Florida Marlins this year. With the underwhelming Wes Helms the other option at third base, the speedy infielder has received ample playing time at the hot corner, while also backing up the starting outfielders. He has produced for fantasy owners too, hitting .283 with nine stolen bases in just 166 plate appearances (with three of those steals coming in September). Managers in leagues of any kind could easily get a speed boost from him right now, and they’d be forgiven.
But they’d have to be forgiven nonetheless, because there is a litany of reasons why Bonifacio is not a good long-term option. The most obvious is the fact that he’s not in the team’s long-term plans at any position: last year’s rookie of the year Chris Coghlan is said to be slated for third base next year, and most of the rest of the positions around the diamond are filled with promising young players, like the recently profiled Logan Morrison.
The rest of the reasons might be less obvious but are more damning. For example, Bonifacio doesn’t walk enough for a man with his skill set – his 7.1% career walk rate is below average (usually the league average is around 9%). He also strikes out a tad too much (21.8% career strikeout rate, average is around 20%) for a guy with absolutely no power (.069 ISO, average is usually around .150). In fact, his career strikeout rate would be the worst among batting average qualifiers with ISOs below .100 this year. He’d also be the only player to combine a below-average walk rate with a strikeout rate over 20% and an ISO under .100.
None of this even mentions his unsustainable .352 batting average on balls in play – he is speedy, and might have a higher BABIP than most, but that’s not a number that’s likely to hold. Lastly, Bonifacio rates as a negative defender at all of the infield positions he’s played, which is yet another reason why he probably won’t figure prominently in the Marlins’ plans next year.
Sometimes you have to pick up flawed players on the way to a fantasy title. The important thing is to remember to not drop a player of consequence, and to not keep flawed players from year to year. Even in a deep keeper league, there’s no point in stashing Bonifacio, despite his 30 combined steals in the past two seasons. He is just the kind of player who can give you a few stolen bases in the season’s final weeks, then get discarded in the off-season.