Jesus Montero isn’t trying to break your heart. Since arriving on the godforsaken Seattle Mariners, Jesus performed the miracle of allowing King Felix to dominate while throwing pitches as fast as Jamie Moyer, who he resurrected from the dead. He also tried to turn Chone Figgins into a useful player, but realized that was never his destiny. The 22-year-old top prospect has treaded near a .700 OPS in 2012 and there are a few factors to monitor. Jesus may be able to walk on water, but he hasn’t been able to walk to first base this season, with a BB% under 3%. Also, his HR/FB of 13% looks sustainable, but I wouldn’t count on a substantial improvement due to his home park. Potentially the strongest determinant of his success is that he hasn’t been treating all pitchers equally, evidenced by a career 1.200 OPS against lefties and a .660 OPS against righties. So what will Jesus do? I think his BB% and HR/FB improves, and a .330/.440/.770 line is within reach for the rest of the season. He isn’t one of the top five catchers, but I think he will compare well against Alex Avila and Miguel Montero.
David Wright is somebody that I hurt myself again from owning annually. This year, Mets doctors aside, I’m optimistic. Yes his BABIP will decrease, but Wright is walking more and striking out less relative to his career norms. One significant change this year is his batted ball profile, as he is hitting far more line drives and far less fly balls, in addition to a noticeable increase in ground balls. Since line drives and ground balls are less likely to lead to an out, compared to fly balls, I expect this to improve his OPS. He may hit a few less home runs than he otherwise would, but he should still increase his total bases through an increase in hits overall. A rebound near .370/.480/.850 should be attainable for the rest of the season. Of course, I feel like Wright needs the caveat that anything seems like it can go wrong at any point, as it has in years past. Still, with a spike in walk rate and line drives, I’m hopeful for a rebound. I’ll admit that I’m a fool for you, David. Because you’re mine, and you hit the line drives.
Josh Willingham is for real. He hit 29 homers while playing for the A’s last season. His HR/FB has been above 20% since last August and I think that he will be able to maintain this uptick in power, which is great news in OPS leagues. This season, he’s posted a walk rate and strikeout rate that are reasonable for him. One negative factor is that he’s been hitting more of his fly balls in the infield, leading to an automatic out, but I expect this to improve as the season progresses. I’ll give him his career line of .360/.480/.840 for the rest of the season. If you find a Willingham owner who thinks he’s selling high, I’d make an offer because he can easily reach 25 homers and could even hit 30+ with a little luck.
Joey Votto is awesome. Everybody knows that he’s a top player in OPS fantasy leagues, but he’s actually getting better as a baseball player. His walk rate has literally increased every year that he’s been in the majors: 12.9% in 2009, 14.0% in 2010, 15.3% in 2011, and 21.1% in 2012. His current OBP of .445 is ridiculous and is a key factor in allowing him to produce a .940 OPS, despite having a slugging below .500 (last year’s .531 slugging was a career low). His increased line drive rate and decreased fly ball rate are likely to lead to an increase in doubles at the expense of homers. However, his two homers to date are not indicative of what to expect going forward. I believe that he will hit somewhere in the high 20s of home runs, while increasing his HR/FB above 15% from his current 9% level. Votto just keeps getting better and I see his 2011 line of .420/.530/.950 for the rest of the season.
Brandon Belt proves that there’s still gold in them California mines. He’s always clobbered minor league pitching, but he failed to live up to expectations last year, amid sporadic playing time. Somewhere, Jason Heyward sympathizes. This year, Belt initially dealt with the same lack of confidence from the Giants, but over the past week it looks like he’s finally getting regular playing time. If the team continues to give him a shot, he has a lot of upside. No, I’m not going to buy into Bill James’ 2012 projection of an .840 OPS just yet, but I think he reaches an .800 OPS going forward. With him not being owned in many leagues, I would keep an eye on him and take a flier if you have space. Brandon versus the Giants is just like David and Goliath, only this time David wins.