As we approach the end of May there are a lot of interesting facts and trends in baseball. The Baltimore Orioles are in first place in the AL East as they hold a one game lead over the Rays entering Sunday. They have just recently signed their young star Adam Jones to a 6 year deal worth 85.5 million dollars. Although the future looks bright in Baltimore, the chances of them holding the top spot in the division are slim. The New York Yankees have won 4 straight and look to make it 5 in a row later today in Oakland. The Red Sox and Rays had a benches clearing brawl this past weekend with both managers jawing back and forth via twitter and interviews. The Red Sox got sweet revenge on Saturday as their catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a game winning 2 run homer off, the then perfect, Fernando Rodney. As things heat up in the AL East here is a look at some of the injuries and trends that will affect your fantasy players.
Late May AL East Fantasy Update
Mark Reynolds BAL 3B
Reynolds is currently playing rehab games and should return some point this next week. If your in a weekly league I would shy away from him unless your in desperate need of a corner infielder. Reynolds is exactly who we thought he was entering the year with a .191 average and 36 strikeouts in 27 games this year.
Brian Roberts BAL 2B
At age 34, Roberts is still recovering from his concussion which seems like it happened 2 years ago (over a calender year since he's played in a game). He is leading off for Double A Bowie and may return within a month. Once he does return he won't be the every day second baseman as Robert Andino will still get his share of at bats.
Nolan Reimold BAL OF
Having a second epidural (neck) will push the timetable back on his return to mid June but should help Reimold stay healthy in the long run. Prior to going down Nolan was hitting .313 with 5 bombs and 1 steal.
Jacoby Ellsbury BOS OF
Ellsbury has been out for most of this season but the hope is that he will return in early July. Entering the year I was down on him, just because of the projected power numbers. Don't expect last season production but rather more along the lines of his 2009 numbers. In 2009 Ellsbury played in 153 games and had 60 RBI's, 94 runs, 70 steals and a .301 average. Translate that production into the final 90 games of this season and 12 homers, 35 RBI's, 50 runs and 30 steals isn't out of the question.
Carl Crawford BOS OF
Crawford, like Ellsbury, has missed a majority of the season but was recently cleared to swing a bat. That may sound great; however, he has yet to begin throwing. I'm expecting a mid July return for Crawford.
Mariano Rivera NYY RP
The best closer to ever take the mound may miss the rest of the regular season. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back in the playoffs but if you owned MO here are some replacements.
David Robertson NYY RP
Rivera's initial replacement went down about one week after he did. That opened the door for Rafael Soriano to be the new closer.
Brett Gardner NYY OF
Garnder's muscle in his injured elbow has healed according to his MRI results but he is still far from returning. He'll rehab down in Tampa Bay as an early/mid June return is likely.
Evan Longoria TB 3B
Longoria's torn hamstring will set him back another 4 weeks plus, but on the bright side he is already running on it.
Desmond Jennings TB OF
Knee issues will keep Jennings out until the 2nd week in June. We'll see how the injury affects him on the base paths, I'm not too worried about it though.
Sergio Santos TOR RP
He has began throwing long toss to build up the strength in his shoulder but I expect a return, at the earliest, towards the end of June.
Sleeper Pickups and Trends
Chris Davis BAL 1B/3B
With 3 bombs in his last 6 games Davis is dominating opposing pitchers this year. His .305 average entering Sunday probably won't hold up due to his current .369 BABIP. I'd say sell high.
Entering Sunday the O's, Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays had a +17 run differential. The Red Sox had a +14 differential... Losers.
Adam Jones BAL OF
I'm all in on Jones as are the Orioles. This year a .309 average with 14 long balls and 8 steals has him in the MVP discussion although Hamilton is still light years ahead of the field. Jones, at this pace, will have a 30/30 season.
Wei-Yin Chen BAL SP
With a 4-1 record, Chen has shocked the fantasy world this year but despite his 3.31 ERA and 1.31 WHIP he's only owned in 28% of leagues. In all of his starts this year, with the exception of 2, he has not allowed more than 2 runs and has struck out at least 4 batters in each game. There is some concerns with Chen moving forward due to his fly ball tendencies (110 fly balls to 62 ground ball outs) but he is a great spot starter on your fantasy team and he should be owned in AL only leagues as well as deep leagues.
Chen's contract is worth a little over 3 million per year.
Yu Darvish's contract is worth 5.5 million per year. Not including the 50 million dollar negotiating fee.
Nick Markakis BAL OF
Having a solid season with 8 home runs and a .265 average. Markakis has always been right on the edge of stardom, maybe 2012 is his year. His 16.6 strikeout rate is a bit of a concern but I think he'll challenge 25 long balls and 100 runs batted in.
Xavier Avery BAL OF
Owned in 1% of leagues but offers top end speed. 4 stolen bases in his last 7 games.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia BOS C
Salty has 3 home runs in his last 7 games (including a walk off against the Rays) and is now hitting .274 on the season. If your looking for help at your catcher spot grab Jarrod now. He hits at the bottom of one of the best offenses in all of baseball.
Josh Beckett BOS SP
I was never really concerned with Golf Gate as Beckett is a veteran who will figure it out. Since his blow up on May 10th he has thrown 21.2 innings allowing 3 runs and racking up 19 K's (2-0).
Alfredo Aceves BOS RP
Converting 11 of his 13 chances this year, Alfredo looks to be the guy in Beantown until Bailey returns. He has 24 strikeouts in 22.2 innings this year. There's no doubt in my mind he'll climb in my relief rankings.
Will Middlebrooks BOS 3B
Here's what Bobby V. thinks of Middlebrooks, he sent Adrian Gonzalez (all 6'2" 225 pounds of him) to play right field to keep Will at the hot corner. This year Middlebrooks has a .306 average and 5 dirty birds. Middlebrooks looks to be the long term option at third but if he begins to struggle I wouldn't be shocked to see him sent back to the minors to allow Youkilis to play third and to get AGon back to first. I picked up Middlebrooks in every league he was available, I'm a believer.
Adrian Gonzalez BOS 1B/OF
He has the second most extra base hits in the AL so if your concerned about his power numbers just relax. Home run hitters are streaky, he could hit 6 next week and be back on track for a regular year.
Jon Lester BOS SP
His season struggles have continued into late May to the tune of a 4.72 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP (3-4 record). I'm not concerned long term with Lester but it doesn't get any easier in his next start Wednesday at Detroit. I own him in a shallow league and I'm probably going to bench him.
Scott Podsednik BOS OF
If your in a deep league or need speed, Scotty Pods is 5 for 11 with a homer and a steal in his first 5 games with the Sox.
Derek Jeter NYY SS
There's no way Jeter continues to hit over .340 right? Well, he has a career low strikeout rate (12%) and is swinging at a career high number of pitches (51.3%). Now his .372 BABIP would suggest that he'll regress a bit here in the summer but his career BABIP is .355 so even if he does fall I think a .328, or better, average is possible.
On Sunday Jeter passed George Brett for 14th on the all time hits list. George Brett is an El Segundo, California native. I've actually spent time in the house he used to own there because my father's friend bought the place. I played Pop Warner football in El Segundo as a kid.
Robinson Cano NYY 2B
Don'tcha know Roby Cano is heating up. With 3 bombs in his last 4 games entering Sunday, Cano is getting back on track and may surpass Pedroia as my top 2nd baseman in my next hitter ranks.
I should release the next hitter ranks late next week.
Mark Teixeira NYY 1B
About 10 days ago sports radio was fed up with Mark. Since May 14th he is 12 for 35 and has 4 long balls. Teixeira is historically a slow starter, this year he was a bit slower due to an illness he had in mid May. I have no concerns with him moving forward, I'm still thinking 40 long ones are possible again this year.
CC Sabathia NYY SP
It's CC!!! Expect another top 10 performance this year from the Vallejo California native.
Hiroki Kuroda NYY SP
Listen to the May 26th show to find out my thoughts on Kuroda having a big second half this year.
Andy Pettitte NYY SP
Somehow the old guy has come out and dominated proving once again that location is more important than velocity. Pettitte through his first 3 starts has a 2-1 record, 2.53 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 19 strikeouts. Go pick him up, he'll most likely creep into my top 50 starters next week.
Matt Joyce TB OF
A .282 average, 9 home runs and 2 steals doesn't sound like someone who was drafted in the 21st round this year. Joyce is off to a tremendous start and I'm one writer that believes in him long term. It will be a career year for Joyce in 2013 as 20 plus long balls are possible.
B.J. Upton TB OF
He's hitting over .300 and has double digit steals with 4 home runs. His .356 BABIP screams regression but he is still in line to challenge last year's numbers.
Alex Cobb TB SP
Here's a sneaky pitcher to pick up. In his first 2 starts Cobb has thrown 12 innings and has only allowed 3 runs while striking out 8. He has 2 wins to show for his efforts. He's owned in 1% of leagues so if your looking for help go after him.
Side Note: Rays Rotation by age is as follows
James Shields age 30
David Price age 26
Jeremy Hellickson age 25
Alex Cobb age 24
Matt Moore age 22
Matt Moore TB SP
I just mentioned his age which could be the reason why he is struggling this year. My advice: hold/bench in keeper leagues and drop in one year leagues. His 66.9 left on base percentage does not bode well with his 1.45 HR/9 rate. It's a sophomore slump people, respect it (cut to a picture of Eric Hosmer crying).
Edwin Encarnacion TOR 1B/3B/DH
15 home runs is already 2 shy of last year's total. E5, as he is known by a majority of the fantasy world, is off to a crazy good start adding 6 steals to his power numbers. His .276 average is right in line with his average from 2011 but with a .252 BABIP he may actually get a little more lucky as the season grinds on and challenge .290 plus. Maybe 40 HR's is possible?
Jose Bautista TOR 3B/OF
Joey Bats is heating up with 4 home runs in his last 11 games. Despite hitting under .240 on the year he now has 12 bombs. I'm sticking with my recent twitter prediction of .260 and 40 HR.
Find me on twitter @Awies28 I try to be very interactive with a lot of retweets and replies.
Kelly Johnson TOR 2B
The third best fantasy hitter on the Blue Jays was a 19th round selection entering the year. Johnson has 8 bombs and 5 steals this year with a .251 average. He's currently dealing with a hamstring injury but that shouldn't keep him out for more than a few days.
Brett Lawrie TOR 3B
I've been doing blind resumes for fantasy hockey so here's one for baseball.
Player A: 150 at bats, 9 HR's, 25 RBI's, .293 average
Player B: 169 at bats, 3 HR's, 17 RBI's, .276 average
Player A is Lawrie in 2011 and player B is his numbers this year. He still offers solid production but it just doesn't seem like he should have been a top 50 draft pick. Looks like Matthew Berry got one right.
Yunel Escobar TOR SS
Currently riding a 6 game hit streak and has at least one hit in 9 of his last 10 games (5 games with more than one hit). He's a quick fix for your middle infield slot.
Thanks for reading my Late May AL East Fantasy Update. Feel free to comment or hit me on twitter if you want to discuss any of these trends or someone else who didn't make the list. @Awies28