Free Agent Stock Watch: Rising Position Players

Our 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings only go to ten, so many quality players miss the cut.  Here are some position players in contract years who are on the rise as the season's first month draws to a close:

  • John Buck, C.  The Mets' backstop has eight home runs on the season, but a .279 OBP as well.  If his power has returned, perhaps he can ultimately compile a line similar to his .281/.314/.489 performance in 2010, which led to the three-year, $18MM contract with the Marlins.
  • A.J. Pierzynski, C.  Pierzynski is slugging .474 on the young season, a potential hint that last year's power surge wasn't a fluke.  Or at least that he's taking better advantage of his home parks.
  • Mike Napoli, 1B.  Now a full-time first baseman, Napoli's 108 plate appearances are more than a quarter of what he averaged the past two seasons.  If avoiding catching allows Napoli to reach 600 plate appearances (and 100 RBI) for the first time, perhaps he can reinvent himself as an everyday player, silence concerns about his hip, and snag his first multiyear deal.
  • Mark Reynolds, 1B.  Will Reynolds return to 35 home run heights this year with the Indians?  The former strikeout king has quietly pushed his K rate down under 25%, which would be a career first if it holds up.
  • Omar Infante, 2B.  Infante's bat has come alive for perhaps the first time since he joined the Tigers.
  • Michael Young, 3B.  Young has never walked in 8% of his plate appearances in a season, but so far this year he's at 10.2%.  Another season above .300 wouldn't hurt, either.
  • Nate McLouth, LF.  100+ runs seem possible for the Orioles' leadoff hitter, especially if his career-best 15.7% walk and 9% strikeout rates hold up to some degree.  McLouth currently leads the American League with a .455 OBP.
  • Nelson Cruz, RF.  If Cruz reaches 30 home runs for the first time since 2009, he'll be popular in a free agent class light on proven sluggers.
  • Travis Hafner, DH.  A month into the season, Pronk has a line reminiscent of his 2004-06 heyday with the Tribe.  As always, it will be a question of health.

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