|ESPN.com: Eric Karabell||[Print without images]|
Johnson is still providing the power/speed combo, and while he's still swinging and missing quite a bit -- he's on pace for 22 home runs, 18 steals and 136 strikeouts -- anyone capable of a 20-homer/20-steal season is worth a look. The well-traveled Johnson might seem eminently capable of dropping 50 batting average points soon, but despite the whiffs, he's making considerably more contact than last season. Remember, this is a player who averaged 21 home runs and 14 steals the past three seasons (and hit .245). Hey, I'd take those numbers in 2013, and he's on pace to better each mark, thanks to the mercurial ways of the Rays. He is and should be attractive in ESPN 10-team standard leagues.
Teammate James Loney is also popular, the No. 2 most-added first baseman over the past week. The No. 1 guy is the Texas Rangers' Mitch Moreland, but Loney is owned in more leagues. Wow, Rays, take a bow! Loney is a mere one base hit away from leading the major leagues in hitting here in mid-May. He homered Sunday, his third of the season, and he's batting .376 with a .989 OPS. Only Miguel Cabrera has a higher batting average. The comparisons end there.
While there's little harm in adding Loney now -- depending on whom you part with, of course -- just be prepared for the batting average to fall, and there's no reason to think he'll hit for enough power to make him a worthy corner infielder for your team. Loney enters the week one of five players being aided by a BABIP of better than .400. All five players (Joe Mauer, Carlos Gomez, Starling Marte, Cabrera and Loney) are hitting considerably better than .300, but I think only Mauer and Cabrera stay there. Loney is taking walks, making more contact and not striking out as much, and considering he has been on the bench against lefty pitchers, I wouldn't be shocked if he batted .300. But I'll say he hits more like .250 the rest of the way, and I'll take the under on 12 home runs and 70 RBIs. The fact we're even discussing him at all after years of underachievement with the Los Angeles Dodgers is a feat in itself.
Box score bits (AL): Michael Bourn owners should have the Cleveland Indians outfielder active this week. Bourn came off the DL over the weekend and stole two bases. He has at least 40 more in him. Indians right-hander Chris Perez wasn't able to save Sunday's game; he suffered shoulder stiffness while warming up. With Vinnie Pestano on the DL and Joe Smith having been used already, that left Rich Hill and Cody Allen to finish off the Detroit Tigers. Pestano could return this week, but Perez is a risky activation until proven healthy. Smith (0.66 ERA) seems like a decent deep-league pickup, just in case. Good luck trying to figure out Blue Jays speedster Emilio Bonifacio. He entered Sunday 1-for-16 in May, but with three stolen bases. On Sunday he homered, doubled, stole a base and scored three runs. I want to buy low, as he's second base-eligible, but it's still tough to tell who he is. Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista batted second in the lineup Saturday and Sunday, and went 4-for-7 with two home runs and two walks in the role. He's owned in all leagues and was on my buy-low list to start with, but if this is what gets him going, so be it. Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino left Sunday's game early (ribs, back) after running into the outfield wall. Victorino is off to a nice start this year -- he's hitting better than .300 -- and is capable of 30 steals. Any longer-term injury could aid Mike Carp, who is hitting .351 in limited action. Perhaps you want no part of Rays right-hander Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona), but he had a decent week, allowing three earned runs in 12 innings in two starts, including Sunday's win. Hernandez has a 1.24 WHIP and better strikeout rate than ever. He's certainly interesting for deeper formats.
Box score bits (NL): Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy stymied the Philadelphia Phillies over eight shutout innings Sunday, allowing seven singles and no walks. It was McCarthy's best outing of the season. He's still too hittable and not missing enough bats for 10-team formats, but he's a fair buy-low option overall. McCarthy should have won, but closer Heath Bell was dreadful, giving up four hits and two runs in the ninth inning. There's little indication David Hernandez will get the next save chance, but it's certainly no surprise that Bell would have problems. We know Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez tends to be all or nothing with home runs and strikeouts, but Sunday's double was his first of the year! He also singled and knocked in a run. Alvarez has another 50 points of batting average growth, and remains worth owning. Miami Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who I might have mentioned I was fond of a few times back in March, hit his seventh home run Sunday. He's hitting only .230, and might not top .250, but he's also on pace for 30 home runs and 21 stolen bases. I think we'd all take those stats.