|ESPN.com: Eric Karabell||[Print without images]|
It's merely the ides of May and no slugger has managed to reach the bleachers more this month than the oft-overlooked Moreland. He has smacked six home runs in 49 at-bats in May, hitting .347 with a .796 slugging percentage, and his next home run will give him double digits on the season. In 2011-12, Moreland averaged 15.5 home runs and 50.5 RBIs with 791 total at-bats. While few would have projected him to emerge for a 30-homer campaign and contribute mightily in batting average (he's a career .268 hitter), he's certainly on that track.
At this point, I'd say a 25-homer season is surely within reach, and he could probably hit .270, so it might actually be time to see what you can get via trade. Those numbers are clearly worth owning in 10- and 12-team leagues, and are why Moreland is ESPN's most added first baseman, finally passing one-trick pony James Loney (who leads the majors in batting), though Moreland remains available in more than half of ESPN's leagues. The case can be made for Moreland over some older, disappointing first basemen like Ryan Howard, Paul Konerko and Adam LaRoche, as well as younger, disappointing Kansas City Royals enigma Eric Hosmer, but I'm not quite there yet. I'd say he's right in that class, but the others will all improve at some point, as well.
The home runs Moreland delivered Tuesday were a really nice sign for another reason: They came on the road. While home/road splits tend to be examined closely with Colorado Rockies hitters, Rangers options should come under more scrutiny. Moreland now has five of his nine home runs on the road, along with eight of his nine doubles, though in nearly double the at-bats. That's good because it means more home playing time is pending. His batting average in home games is more than 100 points higher, but as long as he tempts us with power consistently, we can live with that.
Box score bits (NL): Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto fanned four over five shutout innings for Class A Dayton on Tuesday, and could return to the big league mound this weekend in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, rookie sensation Tony Cingrani had his Thursday start pushed to Friday; he has been dealing with a sore shoulder, which could land him on the DL and allow Mike Leake to keep his starting job. Homer Bailey fanned 10 Marlins in a complete-game win Tuesday. Bailey should be owned in all leagues, but honestly, streaming against Miami is so easy. Leake, Brandon McCarthy and Jonathan Pettibone could help while facing the Marlins over the next week. How bad is this Marlins lineup? Second baseman Derek Dietrich, just in his fourth big league game, hit third. He singled twice and knocked in a run, and does have, say, Neil Walker-type power. San Diego Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner is becoming interesting. He shut down the Baltimore Orioles over 7 1/3 innings Tuesday, allowing two runs (one earned), and lowered his ERA to 2.84. As always with Cashner, it's about health, not performance. San Francisco Giants lefty Barry Zito was torched for 12 hits and eight runs (five earned) in Toronto. Zito has made eight starts; in six of them, he has allowed one or zero runs. In the other two, opponents have 20 hits and 17 runs in 8 1/3 innings. That's why you avoid him.
Box score bits (AL): I'm hardly the biggest Scott Kazmir fan out there, but he didn't look as bad as his line showed Tuesday in Philadelphia. If you spot-started him, stick with him next Monday when he faces the Seattle Mariners. Chicago White Sox right-hander Addison Reed saved Tuesday's game, his 12th of the season. The White Sox have only 16 wins. If you think the White Sox will improve, there's no issue here. If you think they're a last-place team, though, consider selling Reed and his fortunate save rate. You'll see the Josh Hamilton hate in full force in our rankings, but he did homer Tuesday, his fifth. There's just so much upside here if he gets on track. Not the best outing for Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, as four Angels homered off him, and he registered nary a strikeout in seven innings. Still, would an ERA of around 4.25 the rest of the way be a shock? In deep leagues, that's worth owning.