Jeff Keppinger flourishing as No. 3 hitter 

July, 18, 2011
I admit I chuckled a bit over the weekend when I saw the Houston Astros were hitting second baseman Jeff Keppinger in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Sure, this isn't a team scoring a ton of runs or winning much, but still, Jeff Keppinger, really? He entered this season a .281 hitter with little power, speed or, let's face it, job security. Now he's hitting third for a big league team ... and he has officially earned a middle-infield spot for me in a head-to-head league.

Look, I have, shall we say, a few doubts that Keppinger can keep producing lofty numbers in the Astros' prime hitting slot at this level, but enjoy it while it lasts, right? Keppinger leads all big leaguers with a minimum 25 at-bats in the No. 3 spot with his .441 batting average -- Buster Posey, Michael Cuddyer and Corey Hart are next -- and this past weekend certainly helped. Keppinger homered Saturday and Sunday, doubled twice, knocked in four runs and scored four times.

[+] EnlargeJeff Keppinger
Jeanine Leech/Icon SMIJeff Keppinger is hitting .314 and is unowned in 97.5 percent of ESPN standard leagues.
I was looking for some batting average help in that league and Keppinger becomes a nice fit. I don't think the power continues, but I've joked for years that you can stick anyone in a team's Nos. 3-4 spots in a batting order and at the least they'd knock in runs. Some might knock in 100 runs. It's not like the Astros are bereft at the top of the order; Michael Bourn has a .351 on-base percentage and a pace for 102 runs. Jason Bourgeois has been terrific when healthy. I could do without Clint Barmes or Angel Sanchez hitting second, but then again, this is a team on its way to 100 losses. Who bats second seems to be the least of their problems.