Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Justin Who?

If any of you are still watching the New York Mets play you might notice that their lineup isn't particularly full of household names. Injuries have been the Mets nemesis this season, sidelining their starting first baseman, third baseman, left fielder, center fielder and two of their starting pitchers for most of the season. However, all the injuries have created opportunities for young players to shine. In the month of May, former Baltimore Oriole, Justin Turner has been one to step-up with most of the starting infield missing.

The second baseman has not only played out of position, filling in for an injured David Wright, but he has excelled making just one error in one hundred and eight chances. Turner leads all NL Rookies in batting average this season at a .308 clip. In May alone, Turner hit .325/.378/.458 with 20 RBI. He set a Mets Rookie Record by having an RBI in seven straight games (May 14-21) and followed that up with a six game RBI streak (May 25-30). By driving in runs in 13 games during a 15-game stretch, he became the first rookie to do so since 1930, and the third in major league history.

Turner became the first ever Mets Rookie to win the National League Rookie of the Month Award. The Red Rocket currently leads NL Rookies in hitting and is third in RBIs and Steals. If you have an empty roster spot on your fantasy baseball team be sure to pick up Mr. Turner. He's 2B and 3B eligible, and with both Wright and Davis out until July he will continue to get regular playing time.

Jay in May

After he won the NL Player of the Month award the other day, it is time to reflect on Jay Bruce's unbelievable month of May. The statistics are well documented (.342/.402/.739), as he ranked first in homeruns (12, one more than Jose Bautista), RBIs (33), 3rd in SLG (.739) and OPS (1.140) in the month. Jay Bruce, on the season, now leads the NL in homeruns and is fourth in RBIs.

Though Bruce is producing at a pace far greater than his average major league totals, his success should not be a big surprise to anyone. When Bruce came up in 2008 he was Baseball America's number one prospect, and coveted as a potential five-tool player. Fantasy owners could have also predicted a break-out year from Bruce, as he hit 15 homeruns in his last 35 games of 2010 (equivalent to a 69 homerun pace over 162 games). He has also done a decent job in the majors up until this point, hitting at least 20 homeruns in each of his first three seasons. After he inevitably hits 20 again this year (he is only three away) he will become one of the few major leaguers to do so in their first four seasons in the majors. While Jay Bruce may never be his MVP counterpart, Joey Votto, he is not too far off. I see Bruce matching Votto's power numbers (HR and RBIs), batting in the cleanup spot, but he will never be able to compete with Votto in AVG or OBP. If Bruce is on your fantasy team, do not trade him away because you think you would be trading him at his peak; the fact is that Bruce's production is legitimate, and could have him as an MVP candidate at the end of the year.