In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
At the beginning of the season, one of the biggest fantasy debates was which catcher would be better: Carlos Santana or Joe Mauer. We're almost midway through the season, and both players have been dreadful in their own unique ways.
Santana has been awful in the traditional manner. The Indians' slugger missed a decent chunk of the season and is hitting only .191, and for a while, that average was even in the .270's. Mauer, on the other hand, has been healthy this year and has been in the Twins' lineup almost every night, which is a handy perk for a fantasy catcher. The problem with Mauer has been two-fold though. Yes, he's in the lineup a lot, and yes he has a lot of runs. But with a .258 average, Mauer is having an equally disappointing season.
It's when you look at both players' recent numbers though that it becomes clear that Santana is the significantly more valuable fantasy catcher. Santana is on a roll, having hit safely in nine of his last 11 games, and has three homers and nine RBI in that span. Mauer, on the other hand, hasn't produced a single RBI in his last 18 games, and has only two in his last 29 games -- and for a .319 lifetime hitter hitting at the top of the order, that's stunning.
Sure, both of these players are inconsistent, and Mauer won't always be so fantasy anemic, the same way Santana will eventually go on yet another of his prolonged slumps. Still, Santana has all the upside. As great as Mauer's average can be, and as many runs as he can score, he offers almost no power anymore, whereas Santana has pop in a position where there's hardly any at all, outside of Miguel Montero and Evan Gattis. Even when Mauer is rolling, his lack of power makes it easy to duplicate his numbers; the hot-waiver-wire-catcher-of-the-week is likely the better play at this point than him. Santana on the other hand, though he seems incapable of stringing together a full season of excellent play, has the ability to go on surges like the one he's on now where he can seriously help anyone who owns him -- and that type of irreplaceable production is what owners should want out of their backstop, even at the sacrifice of batting average and runs.
Game, set and match to Santana.
For your consideration
• Justin Verlander got blasted yet again, allowing seven runs and 12 hits in six innings against the Royals. He's been knocked for at least five runs in six of his last seven games, with the lone exception being a three-run outing to the Mariners, who have the fourth-worst batting average in baseball. Verlander isn't just in a slump: he's a liability, and his owners need to do some serious soul-searching with him. If nothing else, owners probably shouldn't start him against the Indians next week.
• The recently called-up Jake Marisnick went 2-for-6 and produced a pair of steals for the Marlins. With Christian Yelich out with back issues, Marisnick stepped right in as the Fish's leadoff hitter, to good results. It's a small sample size to be sure, and in 109 at-bats last season, the 23-year-old prospect only tallied three steals. But he displayed above-average speed in the minors and could be effective in his limited stint atop the Marlins' order. He's worth taking a flier on if you need help in steals.
• Casey McGehee drove in a run yesterday, bringing him up to 44 RBI on the season. Despite having hit only one home run, he's having a pretty terrific season, and isn't a bad fill-in at all at third and first. McGehee is available in 63 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Juan Carlos Oviedo recorded a ninth inning save against the Orioles. Jake McGee, who got the previous save, was used to get the Rays' last save but made an appearance in the eighth inning here. Between Oviedo, McGee and Balfour, it's hard to tell which pitcher will emerge as the Rays' first option to close out games, although if Oviedo records a second straight save, it'll be time to invest in him everywhere.
• Playing in the Mariners lineup for the second time in three days, Jesus Montero went a modest 1-for-4 at the plate. If you've forgotten about Montero, you're not alone. The former top prospect was ineffective in his short stint in the majors, and then gained so much weight in the offseason that the Mariners GM even said, "I have zero expectations for Jesus Montero. Any expectations I had are gone." Despite that, Montero is only 24, and what's intriguing with him is that he has eligibility at catcher, even though he's resigned to play first and DH from here on out. If he could actually rake in the big leagues, if he could fulfill on his expectations and be just a so-so power hitter, he could be a viable option at catcher. For now, there's not enough there for him to be added in anything but extremely deep leagues.