Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Chris Johnson, Lorenzo Cain, more

by Tim Heaney on April 22, 2013 @ 12:48:58 PDT


Pages 1 | 2 | all's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait? Are they worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?

Hottest Pickups
Most frequently added in leagues polled

Chris D. Johnson, 1B/3B, Atlanta Braves

Kansas City Royals OF Lorenzo Cain
Drivin' that train ... high on Lo-Cain?

That time of year already with his roller-coaster raking? Johnson's .407 clip leads the NL and has convinced Fredi Gonzalez to hand Johnson the everyday job at the hot corner with Freddie Freeman (oblique) returning. He's earned it, especially by adjusting some dish techniques.

Johnson overcomes low walk and contact rates while relying on lofty in-play success (a ridiculous .468 BABIP so far), fueled by elite line-drive frequencies with plenty of grounders. A run-producing role in Atlanta theoretically aids his counting-stat potential, but Turner Field doesn't aid his modest power. He's a classic mixed-league streak play that will test Gonzalez's patience during a slump; Juan Francisco was hitting well, too, so the rope isn't as long as many believe.

Vernon Wells, OF, New York Yankees

The changes we touched on earlier in the year seem to be sticking. He's clubbed five homers in 63 at-bats. The fact he's not hitting many liners or grounders says the .300 average on in-play connections won't fly for the whole season. He's a much better bet to continue his thump surge as long as he's playing home games in an environment that nurses the category.

Deep mixed leaguers could find utility for him even after Curtis Granderson (forearm) resurfaces from the disabled list, but Wells' fight for reps might become ugly later in the year. Of course, maybe Travis Hafner will be ineffective or hurt. Does someone in your league want to buy Wells at his peak value?

Daniel Nava, OF, Boston Red Sox

Nava takes plenty of walks (ahem, OBP players), and that sound strike-zone judgment seems to be trickling into improving other parts of his game. He's squaring the ball well, which may mean better things for his BA. In his average season, he'll struggle to hit double-digit homers, but he could be a late bloomer in that sense.

The switch-hitter teased then fizzled last year, so be careful not to value him as more than a fifth mixed fly-catcher initially. He might be a sell-high in ALs soon if he keeps this up. Will Boston keep finding at-bats for the 30-year-old now that David Ortiz has returned? Jackie Bradley Jr.'s demotion and Shane Victorino's recent back problems say Nava's window might be increasing. Jonny Gomes may be relegated to his fitting platoon duties against southpaws.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled

Lorenzo Cain, OF, Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals SP Wade Davis
Wade through muck to find Davis

Cain's .455 BABIP won't be sustained. Still, he boasts a history, farm and bigs, of above-average figures. He's showing sparkling restraint toward pitches outside of the zone and might be locking down the fifth spot in the order.

Unlike Johnson, at least Cain can keep his dollar returns afloat with stolen bases. Maybe offseason work on his running style will produce more. The 27-year-old isn't a solidified 20-homer weapon and could stand to improve his batting eye, but he offers upside across four or five categories, which makes him an attractive mixed depth piece with a noticeable, if not top-shelf, ceiling.

Wade Davis, SP, Kansas City Royals

The Royal flush continues: Davis has fanned 15 and walked just three in 16 frames so far. In Davis' return to rotation duty, his velocity has dipped -- a natural, typical side effect -- but his ability to punch out hitters hasn't, at least relatively among SPs, thanks to his cutter. (Remember that the cutter is en vogue when it comes to pitcher breakthroughs.)

He's been hit hard early, but as he establishes his mound pace while honing his diverse repertoire, he may take a significant leap. Deep miners shouldn't let him sit unclaimed, and shallow leaguers must recognize he could become more than a matchup play.

Kyle Kendrick, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

Potential mirages for his 3.28 ERA over four starts lay in his elevated 83.3 left-on-base percentage and below-average 5.6 opponents' swinging-strike rate. Enemies' .303 hit rate reads as an anomaly but may stick if he continues allowing more liners.

In recent campaigns, however, he's frequently outperformed his predictive gauges for ERA. His cutter-sinker-changeup combo, as noted here this draft season, has simply made him a more effective pitcher, and few acknowledge it, even while he's inducing his highest pace of grounders since 2009. His hittable but polished methods will cost you little to test in most setups for his reliable innings.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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