Caleb Joseph ... to the rescue?
Fantasy owners are buying up Caleb Joseph stock like it's going out of style after he slugged home runs in five consecutive games last week. Is he the savior your Fantasy team needs?
Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph is in the middle of what may be the best August of his life. Thrust into a regular role with Matt Wieters recovering from a season-ending injury, Joseph owned a .199/.268/.309 line with three home runs and 13 RBI in 136 at-bats over 48 games after going hitless on Aug. 1.
Then came the boom.
Joseph went 2 for 3 with a home run on Aug. 2. After sitting on the bench the next day, he went 2 for 3 with a home run last Monday, following that up with a home run in five at-bats Tuesday. After an off-day Wednesday, Joseph came back Thursday to go 1 for 3 with a home run. After another off-day, he went 2 for 3 with a home run Friday. That's one homer in five straight games, making it just the second time in the past two seasons that a player has racked up home runs in five consecutive games (Devin Mesoraco pulled it off earlier this year).
The prodigious power run caused a stampede in Fantasy leagues, with Joseph going from a player owned in one percent of all leagues to a guy holding down a roster spot in 28 percent of leagues (and counting). Clearly, a good portion of Fantasy owners believe Joseph may be turning a corner in his development after struggling earlier in the season. Are they right?
First, the good news. Joseph, while not a household name in any regard, isn't a player with no background of flashing power. He managed to collect 22 home runs while hitting .299 in 518 at-bats with Double-A Bowie last season. He owns 74 career minor-league home runs.
But that big Double-A season came as a 27-year-old. Players that are that age are supposed to excel against the younger, less-talented competition of the minors. Even with the home-run run, Joseph hasn't exactly carried last year's excellence over to Baltimore. Now 9 for 22 with five home runs in his last six games, the catcher still owns a mediocre .228/.286/.424 line on the season, albeit one that could improve with regression from a .248 BABIP.
For Fantasy owners in two-catcher leagues who have been dealing with the dregs at the position, Joseph certainly deserves a shot, as our own Scott White suggested in this week's Start/Sit column. The odds that he's going to turn into a savior in Fantasy's power categories still look mighty slim. His batting average is due to rise after some unfortunate luck on balls in play, but expecting him to carry the .299 Double-A mark over the rest of the year is asking for trouble.
Have fun with Joseph while the party lasts, but don't be afraid to kick him right back to the curb the second trouble hits. I own Dioner Navarro and A.J. Pierzynski as second catchers in two different leagues, and I'm happier moving forward with them than gambling that the light has come on fully with Joseph.
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