The season isn't even halfway over, and already the Rays have looked like two completely different teams -- at least on offense. Through April, they were one of the worst-hitting teams in the league, going just .239/.309/.392 as a whole. They have since turned it around, and through Saturday, the team has a .259/.329/.425 slash line to go along with 330 runs, the sixth-best total in the majors. And much of that resurgence is thanks to the criminally under-owned Matt Joyce.
Joyce (available in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues, 18 percent of CBS leagues and one percent of ESPN leagues) was actually one of the few Rays who did hit a bit in April. While he hit just .225 with a .286 OBP, he rode five homers to a .451 slugging percentage. Since then, the power has remained consistent, but he's connected with the ball more, upping his slash to .270/.354/.535 with 14 homers and 31 RBI.
His advanced stats give off some mixed signals. His 11.4 percent walk rate is right in line with his career numbers, and he's not striking out nearly as much as he has in the past; his current 17 percent strikeout rate is about four percent less than his career average. He has a .268 BABIP, which would usually suggest that his numbers might actually improve over the rest of the season. However, his line-drive rate is 16.8 percent and his fly-ball rate is 46 percent, so he's earning that low BABIP to a certain degree.
The key number here, though, is his career-high 18.9 percent HR/FB rate -- if he can come close to sustaining that, he could push 30 homers. The ridiculously helpful Home Run Tracker at ESPN tells us that Joyce's homers have averaged 386.5 feet and that four of his jacks have had "just enough" to get out of the park. Based on all this, we should expect his home-run pace to slow a bit. Still, he can help in all mixed leagues.
And now for the rest of this week's wire:
• 2B/3B Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals (Yahoo: 73 percent, CBS: 31 percent, ESPN: 89 percent): We saw Rendon briefly a littler earlier in the season, but now it appears he's up with the Nats to stay. When they sent him back to Triple-A Syracuse, they made sure to get him some seasoning at second base, and he now has eligibility at both third and second (depending on league parameters). He's hitting .333/.406/.491 with a homer and six RBI in 64 plate appearances and had another big day Sunday, going 3-for-4 with a double. He immediately becomes a starter in mixed leagues at second base, and that roster flexibility he gives your team will come in handy for the rest of the year.
• SS Mike Aviles, Cleveland Indians (87, 77, 93): Grieving Troy Tulowitzki owners, you won't be able to replace likely the best player on your team. But you need to throw someone in there, so allow me to present Aviles for your consideration. Granted, he's not that exciting of a player, but he's readily available and can contribute in both homers and steals. He's hitting .278/.299/.417 with four homers and five steals for the season. He's not perfect, but no one you're not going to find perfection at this stage of the game. He's an adequate option to bridge the gap until Tulo returns.
• OF Mike Carp, Boston Red Sox (81, 67, 63): Carp has essentially forced his way into manager John Farrell's everyday lineup, accumulating a .320/.372/.680 slash in 113 plate appearances this season. He has five homers in his last 10 games, bringing his season total up to eight. But the bottom line is that Carp will not hit like this all year. He still has a way-too-high 28.3 percent strikeout rate, and his .391 BABIP is certain to come back to earth. But he's shown streaky tendencies, so grab him while he's in one of his good grooves right now. He can be an asset in mixed leagues until this streak runs its course.
• SP/RP Hector Santiago, Chicago White Sox (84, 69, 84): Despite Santiago's strong run in the rotation, the White Sox moved him to the bullpen once John Danks came off the DL. With Jake Peavy now on the shelf, Santiago is back in the rotation and back among the fantasy relevant. In two starts since rejoining the rotation, he has struck out 14 in 11.2 innings while allowing four earned runs on nine hits. He'll probably head back to the bullpen when Peavy returns, but he could make a case for unseating Dylan Axelrod. At the very least, Santiago has a nice matchup against the Royals on Friday.
• 1B Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees: Those of you who added Teixeira a few weeks ago hoping he could provide a jolt to your offense can go ahead and admit defeat now. He left Saturday's game after aggravating the wrist injury that had him on the DL for the first two months of the season. He got a cortisone shot that may help him avoid another stay on the DL, but even if it does, do you really want him? He's just 8-for-53 on the year.
• C Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves: I know it's hard to drop a guy with 14 homers on the year, but Gattis simply doesn't get enough playing time to justify rostering at this point. He's a great weapon for the Braves to be able to bring off the bench, but that doesn't do you any good. Without a regular starting spot, there's no way to afford stashing him on your bench. Time to let him go.