Beast or Bust: Vol. 3
Ian Desmond – Nationals – SS
Stats as of 5/25: .276 Avg, 25 Runs, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 5 SB
Ian Desmond is hitting .297 with 6 homers so far in May. But it’s a hot streak and nothing more. He’s gotten lucky with a HR/FB rate more than double his career norm. Desmond is basically a utility infielder who’s been given the chance to start everyday at shortstop for 3 straight years because… I don’t know why. He has a career .303 OBP, little power, and is even one of the worst fielding shortstops in the majors according to any metric. At some point the Nationals have to realize this, move Espinosa to short, and play Lombardozzi and second.
Verdict: BUST (.255 Avg, 66 Runs, 13 HR, 61 RBI, 19 SB)
A.J. Ellis – Dodgers – C
Stats as of 5/25: .319 Avg, 16 Runs, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 0 SB
The Walk-Man cometh. Everyone’s favorite on-base machine is finally getting the regular playing time that many of us thought was long overdue. Ellis has put up an OBP of over .400 in each of his last 4 seasons in the minors, and hasn’t slowed down any now that he’s a big league regular. He recorded an outstanging .392 OBP in limited time last season, but has stepped it up even more in 2012, being currently fourth in the majors with a .444 OBP, behind only Wright, Votto, and Konerko. Pretty great company. He’s also started hitting more line drives this season, which bodes well for a continuation of his high average. Suffice it to say, Ellis is a monster backstop for points leagues, and is pretty great in categories too. Also expect a jump in his run total when he deservedly moves to the number 2 spot in the batting order, in front of Kemp and Ethier.
Verdict: BEAST (.302 Avg, 70 Runs, 7 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB)
Chris Sale – White Sox – SP/RP
Stats as of 5/25: 5 W, 46 K, 2.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Chris Sale has not disappointed since moving into the rotation this year. The side-arming lefty hasn’t given up more than 3 earned runs in any start this season, maintained a high strikeout rate, and lowered his walk rate. He’s also silenced anyone who worried that a lefty side-armer would struggle against right-handed hitters if given too much exposure. Sale’s held righties to just a .206 average, owing in large part to a change-up that has a lot of movement. Coming into the season, I figured Sale would fare best among the new crop of relievers-turned-starters, because he relies less on an overpowering fastball and more on movement and command. He’s proving me right. Just be wary if the team starts limiting his innings later in the season.
Verdict: BEAST (14 W, 162 K, 3.15 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)
Today’s must-watch game: CLE @ CHW, 4:10pm ET. It’s a battle of veterans undergoing career resurgences, as sinkerballer extraordinaire Derek Lowe faces off against medical marvel Jake Peavy.