August 18, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Fantasy Baseball Position Battles: San Francisco Left Field

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Gregor Blanco, OF, San Francisco Giants

The Giants lost an extremely valuable offensive contributor when Melky Cabrera’s suspension was handed down.  Gregor Blanco gets the first opportunity but the Spring Training superstar is not the only option.  With the team in a tight race for the NL West pressure exists to start the best lineup each and every game.


Blanco has two productive months in 2012, the aforementioned March and May when he hit .315/.427/.457.  A 12.6% career walk rate helps keep him OBP up but his average suffers from a near 20% strikeout rate.  That is not a crippling number when a decent amount of home runs leave the yard, but Blanco has little power and almost every batted ball stays in the field of play.  A player’s speed can help produce a high BABIP but through 350 games Blanco has not shown an ability to maintain a high mark.  His .319 BABIP is above normal but does not lift his batting average to an appealing level.  His swinging strike rate is about 1% above his career level, supporting his professional high strikeout rate.  He is hitting .239 this year, Baseball HQ plugs his expected batting average at .234.


Blanco’s speed is his best asset, he has nineteen steals in 355 plate appearances.  With an 86% success rate there is no reason to slow him down.  That is a big improvement from the 23/18 ratio he had in 2007 while playing in the International League.  This reveals that there is more to stealing bases than raw speed, skills must be developed.  Blanco can help any fantasy team gain ground in steals but he projects as a drain in the other categories.


Justin Christian was recalled Friday to give San Francisco a fourth outfielder on the active roster.  He rode a .367 BABIP to a .343/.409/.508 line in Triple-A, but maintained a strong 0.88 BB/K as well.  Do not look for him on any prospect lists as he turned 32 in April.  Hitting from the right side, he is a platoon option.  He started Saturday night’s game as a southpaw opposed the Giants.  His stolen base total decreased from 36 to twelve in a similar number of Pacific Coast League games this year.  There could be factors besides a lost step but it bears watching.


The suddenly hot-hitting Brandon Belt could also move back to the outfield.  He is yet to play there this season but logged 231 innings in left last year.  UZR did not grade him harshly enough to preclude further time.  Gaining outfield eligibility for 2013 would enhance his fantasy value.  Xavier Nady is also in the organization, but he is languishing in Triple-A producing a .283 OBP in eleven games since signing.


The job is Blanco’s to lose but he could find himself sitting if his struggles continue.  Although Christian and Nady are uninspiring either could find a hot streak.


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