StrategyJune 7, 2010

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The Deeper League: Kris Medlen and Jack Cust

By Christopher Olson

Are you struggling to stay afloat in your 12 team league? Has your wire been picked clean by those who salivate at the idea of claiming yesterday’s 4-4 off waivers? If you answered yes to either (or both) of these questions, allow me to present: “The Deeper League.” In this article series, I will examine widely available players who have the potential to meaningfully impact your squad.  This week, I am featuring two players: a young man and a forgotten man.

5-23-2010: Kris Medlen in action during the Pirates vs Braves game in Pittsburgh at PNC Park.

Kris Medlen, P, ATL

Yahoo Ownership: 10%

CBS Ownership:24%

ESPN Ownership:6%

After a disappointing 2009 spent mostly in the  bullpen, Kris Medlen has found his way into the Atlanta Braves starting rotation thanks to an injury to Jair Jurrjens. Medlen is making the most of this opportunity, giving us a glimpse of what made him so overpowering throughout his stint in the minor leagues. In five starts in 2010, Medlen has posted a 3.17K/bb ratio to go along with a 3.03 ERA. The only likely concern a fantasy owner might have at this point is whether or not Medlen stays in the rotation after Jurrjens comes off the DL. Considering that both Jurrjens and Kawakami have both had extremely rough starts to 2010, and that the Braves are riding a winning streak that currently has them sitting atop the NL East, I would say that Medlen is secure, barring any major blowups in his next few starts. My advice would be to pick up Medlen while the rest of your league is waiting for confirmation of his status, and by the time they reach for him you will already be reaping the benefits.

Oakland Athletics #32 Jack Cust smiles as he heads for home plate after hitting a home run that scored three runs in the second inning during their baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Photo via Newscom

Jack Cust, OF, OAK

Yahoo Ownership: 3%

CBS Ownership: 8%

ESPN Ownership: <1%

Now that the Eric Chavez experiment has reached its predictable conclusion, Jack Cust is back with the big club in Oakland. While he certainly isn’t a household name, I sometimes wonder why more isn’t made of Cust’s power and plate discipline. Since his first full year  in 2007, Cust has yet to hit less than 25 homeruns in a season, while posting a very impressive 17.5% career walk rate. Though he is just a .240 career hitter, his lifetime BABIP is 328. The disparity between his batting average and BABIP may well have something to do with his high strikeout rate (39.3% career).  However, one would still expect his average to improve somewhat. While it is true that his BB%, OBP% and SLG% have all decreased in the last two seasons, his numbers have remained respectable.  It is also worth pointing out that no projection system predicted that Cust’s OPS would be lower than .800 coming into 2010. If  you are in need of a bit of power, or looking for a boost in an OBP league, Cust is a definite buy low candidate.

Those are my picks for this week. To get insight on some more untapped value, be sure to check out the next installment of  “The Deeper League.”

Christopher Olson is a huge baseball fan who roots for both the Yankees and the Nationals in a futile attempt to make himself look like less of a front runner than he actually is. You can catch up with Christopher in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of letter18.
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