There are several players that have been out of the picture for five weeks or more that could have an impact at the end of this season. The other day we discussed Stephen Strasburg and today I will look at a couple other candidates that can make an impact.
Shin-Soo Choo - He was dubbed by many in the preseason as a top 30 pick. Choo hasn’t played a game since June 24th and wasn’t doing much up until that point. Still he was a preseason top 30 guy for a reason. In 2009 and 2010, Choo contributed in every category. His walk rate and strikeout rate were slightly off this season, but not drastically compared to the prior two. Where Choo was noticeably off is in his HR:FB rate and BABIP. Given that his line drive rate had been higher this year than the two prior, this seems to be a case of poor luck more than anything else. Teams that are in need of total offensive remodeling to make a final push to the playoffs or to solidify their hold at the top of the league should make a strong push for this guy. He could be back as soon as Monday.
Justin Morneau – Morneau is 11 for 26 in 6 rehab games with Triple-A Rochester and also has five extra base hits in that time. We know that Triple-A numbers are never a guarantee to get transferred to the Major Leagues, but for another player that was showing no signs of life before he hurt his wrist and neck in June, this is a positive sign. Morneau’s walk rate was a huge concern before he got hurt, but it can likely be attributed to his overall struggles. He was trying to hit two home runs with every at-bat, but with time to refocus maybe his season can be somewhat salvaged in the same way as David Wright.
Josh Johnson – If he plays, there is nobody that is expected to play better, but Johnson is less likely to play than Strasburg. Like the Nationals, the Marlins won’t be playing for much of anything in September, but Johnson says he wants to pitch for “peace of mind.” At this point though, he has only played catch. He hasn’t even gotten on a rubber. Considering that he would probably need to throw a simulated game or a bullpen session and three rehab starts just to feel confident, the odds favor him not pitching for the Marlins again.
Alex Rodriguez - Despite the fact that he’s been in the news as much as any player in the game, A-Rod hasn’t played in exactly five weeks. Here’s how he has done after his disabled list stints the last couple of seasons:
2010 – 8 for his first 18
2009 – He homered in 7 of his first 15 games
2008 – Homered in his first 2 games back
It might be lost somewhere in the drama or in the process of his skills gradually declining, but he is still one of the most talented players this game has ever seen. That shows by the way he bounces back from long lay-offs.
- One guy that is not on this list is Johan Santana. Unlike the division rival Marlins and Nationals, there have been zero glass half full reports on Santana’s September status.
- Rickie Weeks hasn’t been out five weeks, but by the time he’s ready to come back it sounds like he will have been out for longer than that. Don’t expect Weeks back until September.
- Dee Gordon will be heading to the disabled list with a shoulder injury and Hanley Ramirez was finally placed on the disabled list with his ailing shoulder. Hard times at shortstop.
- Erik Bedard looked really good in his start for the Red Sox the other night – although the numbers wouldn’t show it. He gave up four walks in the first inning, but the replays showed that a few of his pitches were located really well and he didn’t get the call. He didn’t have any problems in innings 2 through 5.
- The Braves have two impressive streaks going right now. Dan Uggla’s 31-game hitting streak is fairly well-known, but Craig Kimbrel has also been on fire. Kimbrel has struck out 41 hitters in his last 25.2 innings and hasn’t given up a run in that stretch (25 appearances). Keep in mind almost all of these appearances are in close and late situations in which he never faces the opposing pitcher.
- Manny Acta was comparing Jason Kipnis to Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley after he scored 4 runs in the Indians win over the Tigers yesterday. Kipnis is the fifth highest ranked player over the last two weeks on Yahoo.
- Kipnis isn’t the only recent second base call-up making noise. Brett Lawrie bashed home run number two last night and drove in four. Based on his average stats (I know it doesn’t mean much with sample size), Lawrie is the number one player in fantasy baseball.
- Mike Stanton had 3 walks yesterday and has walked 9 times in his last 4 games. Stanton set a new career best 11 walks in a month in July and should easily beat that this month. Jack McKeon thinks this will help boost his batting average – hard to argue.
- Bobby Parnell appears to be the leading candidate for saves in 2012 for the Mets, but not so fast my friend.
- Speaking earlier of A-Rod and all that drama, is Bryce Harper the best A-Rod comparison in the minor leagues? Harper was tossed from a game yesterday in Double-A. Typically if a player gets tossed, it’s no big deal. There have only been two players in the last decade that have been featured on the cover Sports Illustrated before they could vote that I can recall. One is Harper and the other is LeBron James. It’s going to be impossible for him to get out of the spotlight.
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