This article is part of our In Some Depth series.
Happy September everyone! It's the time of year when you remember that Jeff Francis is still an active baseball player and everyone in your league has probably shifted their attention to fantasy football (On that note, thanks RW custom rankings for helping me dominate three drafts with very little prep work). Roster expansion is one of the wackier periods of the MLB calendar, with dozens of players added to rosters, yet many of them only accumulate a few AB's during their month in the big's. With that in mind, we will hold off until next week to examine some of today's transactions. Instead, we do our normal tour of the league's depth charts.
Without any further ado...
Starter: Chris Davis
Next: Steven Pearce, Ryan Flaherty, Matt Wieters
The Orioles not only carry three catchers, but they fielded three catchers Monday, with Tommy Joseph behind the plate, Steve Clevenger at DH, and Matt Wieters at first base. This marked Wieters' third appearance and second start of the year at first base, and Chris Davis shifted to the outfield to accomodate. He could see a few more games at first down the stretch if the Orioles want to feed him more consistent AB's without the physical strain of catching everyday. Or the impending free agent could just see more time on the bench.
Speaking of physical strain, it does not appear Coco Crisp is an everyday player at this point. He has dealt with nagging injuries the past few weeks, and he is stuck in a 1-for-17 slump besides. To supplement his play in left field, the A's have turned to a ragtag bunch, including Jake Smolinski, Sam Fuld, and Mark Canha. Danny Valencia could enter the picture if the A's add some young infielders to their infield rotation this month.
Earlier this season, Christian Bethancourt and A.J. Pierzynski split time behind the plate at nearly a 50/50 share. Then Pierzynski hit, Bethancourt did not, and the latter found himself back at Triple-A Gwinnett. Two-and-a-half months later, and Bethancourt is back in the majors after slashing .327/.359/.480 in 218 Triple-A plate appearances. Not only is he back, but he appears to have the playing time edge over Pierzynski and now-No. 3 Ryan Lavarnway. He should be considered the Braves' starter moving forward.
Scrolling through the Phillies' lineup, Aaron Altherr caught my eye not just because his name starts and ends with repeated letters, but because he has been stealing enough time at both corner outfield slots to accumulate everyday playing time. Altherr slugged .487 between stops at Double-A and Triple-A, and he has a somewhat-misleading .564 slugging percentage through hsi first 40-ish major league plate appearances. His performance has him hitting third in the Phillies' order, and there do not appear to be any outfield reserves emerging from the Phillies' roster expansion. Domonic Brown has been out of the starting lineup for nearly a week.
The Brewers have lacked a center fielder on their roster since trading away Carlos Gomez a month ago. They first rolled with Shane Peterson at the position, which was uninteresting. The past week, however, they have used Domingo Santana on nearly an everyday basis in center (he subbed for Ryan Braun for a few days). He lacks the defensive prowess of a desired center fielder, and he has already struck out 10 times in 31 plate appearances, but there is some power in that bat. That power should be present in the middle third of the Brewers' lineup for the rest of the season.
Red Sox No. 2
Much has been made of Pablo Sandoval's disastrous first season in Boston. More should be made about how he is currently batting second. Sandoval only had hit second only three times in his career prior to this season, but he has now hit there for his past 10 games, sandwiched between Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. The team's logic holds that he will see more fastballs with Betts on base ahead of him. But while Betts has been getting base, Sandoval has not. The latter has a .200 OBP and 10 strikeouts in his 43 at-bats in the spot.
Angels No. 4
For the past 10 days or so, the Angels have used David Murphy as their cleanup batter against right-handed starters. Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun have been the two men to figure most prominently in that spot this season, but Calhon has been needed at leadoff recently and manager Mike Scioscia juggled the upper-third of his lineup accordingly. Hence, Murphy is in the four spot. He has posted a mediocre .713 OPS since coming over from Cleveland, but there are worst places to hit than directly behind Pujols and Mike Trout.
Mets No. 3
I'm not sure if you heard, but the Mets' offense has been on fire of late. Right in the middle of it has been Daniel Murphy. Murphy had been hitting second recently, but he and Yoenis Cespedes swapped places last week in Denver, and Murphy has hit third against every right-handed starter since. Cespedes or David Wright will hit third against lefties.
Reds No. 2
Last week, I talked up how Eugenio Suarez had ascended to the second spot of the Reds lineup. Since then, he has tumbled down to the seventh spot while Jay Bruce has moved to two. I am not entirely sure why he moved up there, as he posted a .429 OPS in august with 24 strikeouts in 101 plate appearances. But there he is… for now. His presence there should avail fewer RBI opportunities for Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto.