Houston 3B Brett Wallace could be a top fantasy performer at his position and provide flexibility for his managers.
To date, my Fantasy Reports have been fairly formulaic. Who did well last week, who might do well next week, who is making their fantasy owners despair? I can't follow the formula this time around because frankly the Astros' roster is completely different than it was the last time I authored one of these articles.
So I thought it would be fun to look ahead at the projected performances of the Astros for the rest of the season and spin that in some way that is relevant to your fantasy rosters. With an assist from Fangraphs, which posts rest-of-year projections using the ZiPS method, here is what you maybe-might-could expect of your Bayou City Babies.
My thoughts after the jump.
USE WITH CONFIDENCE:
Jose Altuve: By WAR, ZiPS projects Altuve to be the most valuable Astros' hitter for the rest of the season. For fantasy owners, this means that he's a safe play going forward, particularly because he mans a position that is weak on overall production. Currently, Altuve is the 8th most valuable fantasy 2B in the game, and should rise on the rankings as a couple over-performers like Aaron Hill (AVG 40 points higher than his career) and Neil Walker (.350 BABIP) regress in the second half.
Brett Wallace: The numbers above are based on beginning-of-year projections, which were not kind to Wallace because of his 2011 performance that wasn't even worthy of a Dundie Award. But 2012 has seen Wallace lose weight, rake at every level (including a stint in the majors), and play a worthy 3B and SS(!!). As the new 3rd-sacker for the Astros, he immediately vaults to the top-half of fantasy 3rd-basemen. If he gains SS eligibility, even better! As is, the positional flexibility will help any fantasy owner without hurting in any category. An average closer to .280 with 6 or 7 home runs seems more likely at this point.
WON'T HURT YA:
Jed Lowrie: When healthy again, he's a top-fifteen shortstop, providing power at a regularly power-dearth position. Sadly though, injuries look like they're the story here. Stash him on DL until he's healthy, then keep an eye on his production.
ON THE FENCE:
Steve Pearce: One could look at Pearce's minor league numbers and project this guy to be a fantasy star 1B/OF. But his major league career has been pedestrian, and that is being kind. On the flip side, an argument can be made that he's never gotten a fair shake. So Pearce will probably be either A) a complete bust, or B) a diamond in the rough fantasy starter. Astros fans are hoping for B, and it looks like he should get plenty of playing time. If you have the room, he might be worth stashing on your bench until the question is answered.
Justin Maxwell: Playing time is the issue here. He will always hurt your teams' batting average. But he has a 22% HR/FB rate to go with a 43% FB rate. So he's hitting home runs in roughly 10% of his batted balls. That's tasty to a fantasy manager. Stash him to see if he gets regular PT.
PROCEED WITH CARE:
J.D. Martinez: As with Wallace, the projection here is based on preseason expectations, not 2012 reality. Martinez is hitting .274 in July, a nice rebound from putridity in May (.192) and June (.232). But that increased average comes with only one HR and seven RBI. Not enough for a fantasy manager. At this point, Martinez looks like a bat to have on the bench in case a starter has an off-day, but fantasy managers would be irresponsible to lock him into their lineups.
Jordan Schafer: Losing playing time. Losing his manager's patience. Losing batting average. But he can run, run, run. If Schafer gets on base and has plenty of playing time, he will help your team win the SB and R categories. But those are pretty big if's at this point. You might be off letting him be someone else's conundrum.
Everybody Else: There's just nobody else on the roster worthy of regular playing time on a fantasy team. In all cases, the drawbacks outweigh any benefit that a manager might gain from their services.