May 12, 2011

We're getting to the point of the season where we have a large enough sample to make strong inferences about what players really are. Sure, there are still your usual job battle/role change adds to make, but a few of the names on this week's list are guys who have proven themselves over the first five-and-a-half weeks of the season. Let's take a look.

Justin Smoak, Mariners -- This is not Smoak's first appearance in this space. He's somehow still owned in just about 50 percent of fantasy leagues, which is insane considering there's no way he isn't one of the 12 best fantasy first basemen in the league. Scouts were dubious of Smoak's power in the minors, and Safeco Field isn't doing him any favors, but he has a .233 ISO, same as Miguel Cabrera. He's walking more than 15 percent of the time, so his .392 OBP isn't a mirage. With all he can do, he easily projects as a top-10 first baseman. Will the masses listen this week? Only time will tell.

Rick Porcello, Tigers -- The ground-ball wizard has won three consecutive decisions, a span that stretches across five starts. In that time, Porcello has allowed just seven earned runs and 29 hits in 31.2 innings. He's not going to strike a ton of people out, but his ground-ball rate will sit comfortably around 50 percent all season. Thanks to that, he should be able to keep the ball in the park. He has also been a bit unlucky this year, as opposing batters have a .321 BABIP against him, suggesting a disproportionate amount of those ground balls are finding holes. He should be rostered in all 12-team mixed leagues and deeper.

Travis Wood, Reds -- Don't let the 5.28 ERA and 1.47 WHIP fool you. Wood has been one of the unluckiest pitchers in the majors this season. He has a .356 BABIP and his FIP is 2.95, nearly two-and-a-half runs lower than his ERA. He's striking out more than eight batters per nine innings and has the benefit of one of the league's best defenses behind him. This is a guy with major upside moving forward and someone who should be owned in nearly all formats.

Jason Bourgeois, Astros -- Before going to the disabled list with an oblique injury, Bourgeois was on the verge of becoming an everyday starter. In his last game before hitting the DL, manager Brad Mills started him at second base in place of the struggling Bill Hall. He racked up 12 steals with just 54 at-bats, and there's no reason to send him back to the bench once he returns. A few more starts at second, and he all of a sudden becomes a very intriguing player at a shallow position. If you've got a DL spot available and are in need of steals or a second baseman, Bourgeois is your man.

Eric Hosmer, Royals -- The future began its arrival in Kansas City late last week when Hosmer was promoted to the show. The guy hit at every level in the minors, posting a career .312/.393/.493 line. In 118 plate appearances with Triple-A Omaha this season, he had a 1.107 OPS. He should play first every day, bumping Billy Butler to DH. If you have a first base, corner infield or utility spot open, give a long look in Hosmer's direction. He should be owned in all but the most shallow of leagues.

Mark Melancon, Astros -- Melancon has pitched well since taking over as Houston's closer, allowing two hits and no runs in 3.1 innings, converting his only save opportunity. It's not exactly like he's turning a star into Wally Pipp 2011, as Brandon Lyon already had a tenuous grip on the job, at best. Melancon probably won't strike a ton of guys out but we don't discriminate when scrounging for saves. He's a closer. For now. That makes him an immediate add for anyone who needs saves, regardless of league size.

Chat with me 140 characters at a time on Twitter, @MBeller.

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