Saturday, June 23, 2007
Challenge Week 13: Spend for Uggla
By Tristan H. Cockcroft
Each week, Tristan H. Cockcroft offers his strategies for the Baseball Challenge game. Look for his best bargains, busts and daily specials every Sunday.
Good team matchups
Chicago White Sox (@TB 4, @KC-3): Catcher A.J. Pierzynski (3.7 price tag) is a .343 hitter with an .849 OPS in 38 career games at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. He's also 4-for-10 (.400) with one homer lifetime against the Royals' Odalis Perez, whom he'll face on Saturday. ... Cincinnati Reds (@PHI-3, STL-3): Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. (5.8) is a .291/.960 hitter against right-handers this season, and the Reds face five of them in six games in Week 13. ... Detroit Tigers (TEX-4, MIN-3): Center fielder Curtis Granderson (6.2) is a .336/1.034 hitter against right-handers this year, and the Tigers see six of them in seven games in Week 13. He's also a combined 4-for-6 (.667) with three triples against the Rangers' Kameron Loe and Kevin Millwood, whom he'll face Monday and Wednesday, respectively. ... Los Angeles Angels (KC-3, @BAL-3): Right fielder Reggie Willits (4.7) is a .400 hitter (18-for-45) with 10 RBIs and five stolen bases in his last 15 games (through Thursday). ... New York Mets (STL-4, @PHI-4): First baseman Carlos Delgado (5.4) is a .378/1.145 hitter in 21 career games at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park. He's also a .255/.890 hitter against right-handers in his Mets career, and the Mets see six (potentially seven depending on the Phillies' Friday spot starter) righties in Week 13.
Matt Diaz, DH, Braves (2.6 price tag): The Braves have faced 32 left-handed starters this season, and Diaz has started every one of those games. He's a .355/.875 hitter against lefties this year, and .322/.839 for his career, which bodes well for him considering the Braves will see three left-handers in their six games in Week 13.
Jonny Gomes, DH, Devil Rays (3.2): He has started each of the Devil Rays' seven games since his promotion on June 14 (through Thursday), six against right-handers, and batted .429 (12-for-28) with four homers in those contests. Now Gomes faces four left-handers in Week 13; he's a .279/.927 career hitter against them.
Corey Hart, RF, Brewers (3.8): It's about time he started hitting; since May 28, Hart is a .345 hitter (30-for-87) with seven homers in 22 games (through Thursday). He's a terror against left-handers, with .313/.985 rates against them this year, .295/.858 for his career, and in Week 13, he'll see three of them in the Brewers' six games.
Mike Lamb, 3B, Astros (2.6): He's hitting .571 (16-for-28) with three homers and 13 RBIs in his last seven games (through Thursday), effectively capturing full-time at-bats. Lamb is also a terror against right-handers, with .343/.927 rates against them since the start of last season. In Week 13, the Astros face six righties in seven games.
Xavier Nady, OF, Pirates (4.9): He's hitting .312 (34-for-109) with seven homers and 27 RBIs in his last 30 games (through Thursday) and, as always, mashing left-handed pitching, to the tune of .362/.987 rates this season, and now .331/.892 for his career. In Week 13, he'll see three lefties in the Pirates' six games.
Matt Stairs, DH, Blue Jays (3.8): Since becoming effectively a full-timer in mid-May, Stairs has batted .306 (26-for-85) with nine homers and 20 RBIs in 28 games (through Thursday). He's especially adept at hitting right-handers (.308/.980 numbers this year), and the Blue Jays see six in seven games in Week 13.
Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins (6.6): It's a steep price to pay, but when the matchups are right, Uggla warrants opening the wallet. He's a .304/.874 career hitter against left-handers, of whom he'll see three in Week 13. He's also a combined 14-for-33 (.424) against righties Kyle Davies and Tim Hudson, whom he'll face this week.
Ty Wigginton, 1B, Devil Rays (5.2): No team faces more left-handers in Week 13 than the Devil Rays, who see four in seven games. Wigginton is a .308/1.054 hitter against lefties this season, and he'll also match up with White Sox righty Javier Vazquez, against whom he's 10-for-28 (.357) with three homers lifetime, on Thursday.
Poor team matchups
Baltimore Orioles (NYY-3, LAA-3): Third baseman Melvin Mora (4.9 price tag) is only a .241 hitter (28-for-116) with five homers and 15 RBIs in his last 31 games (through Thursday). He's also a combined 17-for-74 (.230) with two homers against scheduled Angels opponents Kelvim Escobar (Friday), John Lackey (Saturday) and Bartolo Colon (Sunday). ... Los Angeles Dodgers (@ARI-4, SD-3): Second baseman Jeff Kent (4.8) is a .257/.783 hitter against right-handers this year, .268/.797 since the start of last season: good, but not great numbers. His Dodgers face potentially six right-handers in seven games, depending on the status of the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson. It's not like Kent can hit Johnson, anyway; he's 6-for-34 (.176) with 15 K's lifetime against the lefty. ... Oakland Athletics (@CLE-4, @NYY-3): Shortstop Bobby Crosby (4.4) is hitting .181 (13-for-72) with one homer in 18 games in June (through Thursday). ... San Francisco Giants (SD-3, ARI-3): Left fielder Barry Bonds (5.2) is hitting .240 (23-for-96) with three homers and eight RBIs in his last 36 games (through Thursday), starting only 31 of his team's 39 games during that span. He's also only a .255 hitter against left-handers this year, striking out once per 5.0 at-bats, and the Giants could see three of them in six games. ... Texas Rangers (@DET-4, @BOS-3): Right fielder Sammy Sosa (4.8) has already achieved his career milestone homer No. 600, so his playing time could be at risk in the coming weeks, given his .193 batting average (16-for-83), two homers and 29 strikeouts in his last 22 games (through Thursday). The Rangers face six right-handers in seven games in Week 13, so expect Sosa to sit out occasionally, as he's a .216/.665 hitter against them.
Geoff Jenkins, LF, Brewers (4.1 price tag): Don't use Jenkins in a week heavy on left-handers, like in Week 13 when the Brewers see three of them. He's a .167/.519 hitter against them this season, .242/.716 for his career, and he's hitting only .227 (22-for-97) with 32 strikeouts in his last 30 games (through Thursday).
Julio Lugo, SS, Red Sox (4.6): His slump cost him a demotion to the bottom third of the order, and that hardly inspired a rebound; he's only 2-for-25 (.080) with one extra-base hit, a double, in seven games as a No. 8 or 9 hitter (through Thursday). Plus, he's a .197/.511 hitter against right-handers this season, and the Red Sox face five in Week 13.
Brian McCann, C, Braves (3.7): Like Jenkins, McCann is a player better left to the sidelines in a week heavy on left-handers, like Week 13, when the Braves see three southpaws. He's a .238/.609 hitter against lefties this year, .267/.756 for his career, so expect Jarrod Saltalamacchia to steal a handful of at-bats from him.
Craig Monroe, OF, Tigers (5.0): Though the Tigers offense has been clicking all season, one part that hasn't has been Monroe against right-handed pitchers. He has .200/.611 rates and 53 strikeouts in 175 at-bats against them this year (through Thursday), and the Tigers see six righties in seven games in Week 13.
MONDAY: Though Safeco Field gives Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek (4.4 price tag) trouble (.216/.710 in 31 career games), one pitcher who does not is the Mariners' Jeff Weaver, Monday's scheduled starter. He has reached base safely in each of the 11 career games in which he has seen Weaver, and batted .421 (8-for-19) with two homers total.
TUESDAY: Among Brewers right fielder Corey Hart's (3.8) better righty-on-lefty matchups in Week 13 is this one against the Astros' Wandy Rodriguez. Hart has a hit in each of the six career games in which he has faced Rodriguez, batting .583 (7-for-12) with three RBIs total. He's also a .337/.924 hitter in 27 home games this season.
WEDNESDAY: Twice in the career of Reds left fielder Adam Dunn (6.2), for a total of six at-bats, he has faced the Phillies' Jon Lieber at Citizens Bank Park, and in those, he had two home runs and three strikeouts. Shocking, isn't it? Still, those are rather good odds, and Dunn is 19-for-63 (.302) with six homers in June (through Thursday).
THURSDAY: Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal (5.1) knows the Diamondbacks' Livan Hernandez well from their days as NL East rivals; he's 21-for-61 (.344) with four homers lifetime against the right-hander. In addition, Arizona's Chase Field treats Furcal well; he's a .315/.811 hitter with eight stolen bases in 33 career games there.
FRIDAY: If the Marlins' Dontrelle Willis sticks on schedule and pitches Friday, consider Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur (5.2), 10-for-24 (.417) with four homers lifetime against the lefty. Otherwise, a good fallback option is Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. (5.8) against the Cardinals' Kip Wells. Griffey is 7-for-19 (.368) with four homers lifetime against Wells, and a .308/1.043 hitter in home games this season.
SATURDAY: Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta (5.4) is a lefty killer, with .292/.901 rates against them this year, .281/.841 for his career, and he'll be facing a left-hander in the Devil Rays' J.P. Howell. He's 2-for-4 with a homer lifetime against Howell, and a terror at home, too, with .338/1.043 rates at Jacobs Field this season.
SUNDAY: Orioles designated hitter Aubrey Huff (4.5) remembers the Angels' Bartolo Colon from his Devil Rays days, batting .333 (7-for-21) with two homers lifetime against the right-hander. With Colon not at peak form right now and Huff managing .301/.743 rates in home games this season, it's a good day to pick the lefty slugger.
Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.