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MLB Barometer: Stanton's Scary Power

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

Upgrades:

Michael Stanton, OF, FLA - I've made it quite apparent that I have a man-crush on Stanton. First, at 6-5, 235 lbs he's got excellent size which should only develop as he matures. He's got the nice upper-cut swing you typically see in power hitters and has been raking this month. Stanton's batting average for the month is .288 and while he strikes out a ton, the power is there. He's up to eight home runs in May (19 games) and seems to be crushing anything thrown his way. I think it'll be a matter of time before the Marlins move him up to the four or five hole, which should provide more RBI opportunities. If it becomes apparent in your keeper/dynasty league that you aren't going to win this year, this is one of the guys I'd be targeting through trade.

Justin Turner, 2B, NYM - Turner has taken his opportunity to play and run with it, so to speak. He's been tearing the cover off the ball, going 14-for-33 (.424) over his last eight games. Turner maintained a strikeout rate around 15% in the minors so his current 12% K rate in the majors isn't too far off. With David Wright on the disabled list, Turner can play both at second and third, which should make him a fixture in the lineup for the next few weeks.

Andy Dirks, OF, DET - With Magglio Ordonez sidelined with what's being labeled as right ankle weakness, Dirks will have the chance to prove he's ready for the big show. He hit third in the lineup Saturday and was raking at Triple-A before his call-up, batting .328 with six homers and 10 steals. He could step in and be this year's version of teammate Brennan Boesch.

Elliot Johnson, SS, TB - I debated here whether to downgrade Reid Brignac or upgrade Johnson. Obviously, I went with the glass half full and chose the latter. Brignac now has an ISO of .010 (no that's not a misprint) and is batting .170 on the season. This has opened up more playing time for Johnson, the Durham Bulls' reigning MVP. Johnson has two homers and four stolen bases in only 68 plate appearances and should see more starts than Brignac going forward. Brignac is slated to miss the next four games on bereavement leave, so expect to see Johnson's name in the box score over the next week. If you're in need of steals from the shortstop position, Johnson is worth a look.

Chris Heisey, OF, CIN - The slump of Jonny Gomes (.133 batting average in May) has forced Dusty Baker to go to a platoon in left field for the Reds. This has opened more playing time for Heisey, who has not only performed better at the plate (.313 batting average, two homers in May) but a big upgrade defensively. I think it's a matter of time before Heisey gets the lion's share of playing time and offers a sneaky source of powers if that comes to fruition.

Brian Matusz, P, BAL - It looks like Matusz is set to return to the Orioles rotation, returning from a back injury. If he's available on your waiver wire, I'd snag him now. Here's what I wrote about him in preseason before the injury: "... Matusz had a strong finish himself owning a 2.18 ERA over his final 62 innings. During that span he had better control of the strike zone, walking only 2.32 batters per nine innings, an improvement from the 3.72 BB/9 mark he had until that point. I think he's going to become a trendy sleeper as the first game approaches; think of him as last year's Brett Anderson." I haven't wavered from my opinion and think the Orioles will have one of the better rotations in a couple of year with him, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta.

Injuries:

David Wright, 3B, NYM - I'm not a doctor but I typically get pretty concerned about a player whenever I hear about a back injury. There's a lot of speculation as to when Wright will actually return and I'd bank on him missing more than the initial 15-day estimate. Back injuries tend to linger, so you might see if you can shop him to someone with more of an optimistic outlook.

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT - Alvarez hit the DL with a quad injury, something that's plagued him for quite some time. The time off should not only allow the injury to heal but should provide some time for Alvarez to work on his approach at the plate. The Pirates seem fine with him striking out a third of his plate appearances; the problem has been the lack of power. This year Alvarez is hitting more ground balls and fewer fly balls, which has led to only two home runs in 138 plate appearances. If you want to really roll the dice, Brandon Wood will get regular playing time over the next couple of weeks.

Derrek Lee, 1B, BAL - This week Lee landed the disabled list with an oblique injury that should only keep him out the minimum 15 days. In his absence, look for Luke Scott to shift to first base while Felix Pie and  Nolan Reimold get more playing time in left field. Brandon Snyder (.276, five homers at Triple-A) will get some time at first as well when the Orioles are matched up against a lefty.

Check Status:

Matt Garza, P, CHI - Garza has one of the more interesting stat lines you'll find among pitchers. He has a 10.99 K/9 rate (up over four Ks from last year), a .362 BABIP (career-worst), a 3.72 ERA, a 2.4% HR/FB rate and a 1.83 FIP. Those stats show that while he's been unlucky on balls in play, he's done a good job of keeping the ball in the park. The strikeouts have countered the unlucky BABIP to put his ERA in the range it normally has been over the last few years. Garza is now dealing with elbow soreness and along with the shoulder, that's never something you want to hear about with your pitcher. His start will be skipped Sunday and there isn't a definitive answer as to whether or not he hits the DL. I'd err on the side of caution and bench him this week.

Jason Heyward, OF, ATL - A visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum is usually not a good sign, but Heyward was diagnosed with only shoulder inflammation. He's been a mixed bag of results this year; seven homers and three stolen bases is decent production but the .214 batting average is nothing to brag about. Joe Mather and Eric Hinske will fill in while Heyward is out. Look for the Braves to give him some time off and a DL stint probably is being considered at this point.

Downgrades:

Wade Davis, P, TB - Something isn't right with Davis, namely his control. Over his last three outings (18 innings), he's given up five home runs and has a 9:12 K:BB ratio. Overall his 4.11 K/9 rate equals his BB/9 rate which even more alarming. One of his problems is his fastball, which is down 1.5 mph. When he's missed his location, he's catching too much of the plate which explains the recent spike in home runs. I'd bench him until he shows he's turned things around after the recent slump.

Joaquin Benoit, P, DET - This year's poster boy for why you shouldn't give a reliever a long-term deal (three years in this case), Benoit has been awful as of late. Over his last seven outings (five innings) he's given up 12 earned runs for a 21.60 ERA. A few numbers should have been warning flags for the Tigers. First, his 95.1% strand rate was unsustainable for a second year considering his career mark is 70%. Next, Benoit will be turning 34 this season and is only two years removed from rotator cuff surgery. If Benoit pitched the way he did last season, he's worth the $16.5 million he signed for. I just don't see that happening over the next three years.