In last week's column, I used a run through the previous night's box scores as a jump off point for some specific player analysis. There was a good response to this format, so we'll see if we can go back to the well and duplicate it for one more week.
So here are my thoughts as I examine the final results from Tuesday night's play:
Adam Jones has a ton of tools but is not taking that Jeff Francoeur career path in his first exposure to the majors, to say the least. He's looking a tad overmatched at the plate right now, but at least his defense has been even better than advertised.
YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 1: We always preach patience with players, especially in the first couple of months of the season. The poster children of this approach for next season will be Markakis and Aaron Hill. I spent a good portion of more than one column in May talking about hanging in there with both of those players when they were hanging around the Mendoza line. Now both are hitting around .300. Imagine their impact on your team if you had picked them both up around that time: all upside and none of the downside. Grabbing players with ability on the cheap when their value can't get any lower goes a long way towards a title.
TIGERS 10, DEVIL RAYS 4: Even on a day where he didn't have his best stuff, Justin Verlander found a way to win. Now the question on everyone's minds is if/when he's going to hit the wall as we get deeper into the season. He threw 153 innings last year, and the team originally said they'd like to keep him around 190, but then backed off that. They also know that he will be asked to throw even more the further they go in the playoffs -- so how much rest the team gives him over the last two months, if any, will have to be watched. My guess is that they'll continue to throw him every fifth day and keep him right around 100 pitches each time.
What to make of Ben Zobrist as the starting shortstop for the Devil Rays? There's a lot of David Eckstein in him, in that he's always posted batting averages above .300 at the minor league level and has double-digit stolen-base potential. He also always walks more than he strikes out, giving him OBPs well into the .400's. However, he has no power to speak of and will find it harder to maintain those OBPs at the major league level, as there is no reason for opposing pitchers to fear throwing him strikes. That said, if he can make enough contact to keep his average respectable, play decent defense and swipe a bag every now and then, he'll have some modest value. That's pretty much Eckstein in a nutshell.
INDIANS 6, RED SOX 3: Joe Inglett and Hector Luna are pretty much interchangeable, with Luna having a tad more upside, but not enough to be worried about. Both are pretty much players you put in the lineup (hopefully on an injury fill-in basis) and hope that their batting average doesn't hurt you and that they can do enough across the board to add up to a positive contribution.
For all of you people that only play mixed leagues, yes, single-league players really need to be worried about these types of players. Sometimes sad, but true.