This article is part of our In Some Depth series.
Three weeks into the season, and the march of injuries around the league, minor transactions, and the delineation of timeshare patterns should force us to take a second (or third look) at some players.
Without any further ado...
The Angels' outfield took a second hit over the weekend, with Kole Calhoun joining Josh Hamilton on the disabled list for the next month-plus. The club called up former Tiger and Yankee Brennan Boesch from Triple-A Salt Lake City to platoon in right with Collin Cowgill. Boesch fizzled with the Yankees in 2013, and he was ultimately released from that organization in July. However, his exposure should be limited to right-handed pitching, against which he has hit 39 of his career 45 home runs. Cowgill should primarily play against left-handed starters, in addition to subbing in the other two outfield slots. Career minor leaguer Matt Long could be the next outfielder up from Salt Lake if another injury hits.
Manager Joe Maddon was one to use platoons last season, but he has fed a consistent stream of playing time to a core of seven guys this season. The exception is left field, where Maddon has already used six (yes six) different starters in left field through the first 19 games of the season. The lefty-lefty combo of Matt Joyce and David DeJesus has played more than half of the team's innings here so far, while guys like Sean Rodriguez, Logan Forsythe, and Brandon Guyer have come off the bench to play against left-handed starters. Joyce has far out-hit DeJesus to this point (1.024 OPS versus .410 in roughly the same number of at-bats), but he has yet to emerge with more playing time.
The Alex Gonzalez-can-still-play-shortstop-in-Detroit experiment ended Sunday, with the 16-season veteran getting his release. From a fantasy perspective, neither of his potential replacements, Andrew Romine or Danny Worth, are upgrades. Romine, who figures to be the starter, stole a pair of bases against the Angels on Sunday, and while he has never had much speed at the major league level, he frequently stole 20+ bags in the minors. Worth has not hit a home run in the majors since July 2010 .I would expect the "Sign Stephen Drew" drumbeat to increase in the coming days, but I'm not sure it will happen, at least not before June's draft. Is five or six weeks of Drew worth the draft pick/draft money at this point, especially when the Tigers should handedly carry the AL Central with the pieces they already have?
The Ike Davis era in Queens ended over the weekend when the Mets sent him to the Pirates for a minor league reliever and a PTBNL. His departure solidifies Lucas Duda's standing as the team's starting first baseman. Duda does not put the ball in play as much as you would like from your starting first baseman, nor does he put the ball over the fence as much as you would like. But now he only has to contend with Josh Satin for playing time, who should come in against tougher left-handed pitchers. Bobby Abreu will join the team this week to serve as a bench bat, but he could conceivably see some at-bats here.
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Evan Gattis' defense behind the plate has been palatable through the first few weeks of the season (perhaps even above average!), which should come as a surprise to those who do not regularly watch Braves games (myself included). His acceptable play behind the plate should make it more acceptable for the Braves to continue to play him on a regular basis (five starts per week, plus a pinch hit appearance in the games he sits). Gerald Laird has been picking up those other two starts per week, having little effect with the bat. Ryan Doumit has caught two games through three weeks, and that rate does not figure to increase anytime soon.
The Indians entered the season with a true DH-type (as is the custom for most AL clubs nowadays), and they have thus far utilized the spot to house one of their spare third basemen. Through 18 games, Carlos Santana has DH'd six times, Lonnie Chisenhall five, and Ryan Raburn four (and then a few other players have one). Santana's struggles thus far (including his league-leading seven GDP's), have been a disappointment, but Chisenhall has been the complete opposite. Chisenhall's bat has been as hot as anything to start the season, with 13 hits and an OBP close to .500 through his first 31 plate appearances. He will still rarely start against left-handed pitchers (starter or otherwise), and he has yet to show a lick of power, but it is encouraging to see a string of hits from a former prospect who has yet to find much success in the majors. His bat should continue to find a place in the lineup, either in the DH slot or third base.
Here's a fun twist of numbers. Through Sunday, Aaron Hicks had one fewer game played (18) than hits (10), runs scored (5), and RBI (4) combined. He also had 18 strikeouts in 72 plate appearances, and his batting average has not been above .200 since April 9. Still, he has started every Twins game in center, mostly for a lack of other options -- neither Jason Kubel nor Chris Colabello should be allowed to play center for an inning, let alone an entire game. Enter the recently-acquired Sam Fuld, who should join the Twins this week. While Fuld's bat is not exactly legendary, he should at least give the Twins another option in center and push Hicks for a start or two per week.
Sam Fuld's arrival in the Twin Cities may cause ripple effects in the Minnesota outfield, his ouster is already seeing some playing time in Oakland. Craig Gentry returned from the disabled list last week, and he has already made four starts (and three steals!) in place of a hamstrung Coco Crisp. Gentry should serve as the team's go-to man in center when Crisp spends his inevitable chunk of time on the disabled list, and he should play as the team's fourth outfielder/late-game replacement when Crisp is healthy.