By David Ferris
Will Venable, OF, Padres: We can't promise the batting average will be playable, though Venable has hit .282 in the second half. We're in this story for the category juice (two homers, 10 steals over those 34 games) and the solid run production, especially when the Padres are on the road. He seems to like the No. 2 slot in the order, where he carries a .348/.430/.565 line over 22 starts. Consider Venable as a possible sleeper for 2013 as well, especially if San Diego finally moves in the Petco Park fences.
Scott Podsednik, OF, Red Sox: He's 36 and he didn't even play in the majors last year, but he's shown decent skills in a limited period with Boston (.375/.402/.458 over 96 at-bats, seven steals). While Bobby Valentine's crew is one of the most disappointing teams in the majors, don't blame the offense - the Red Sox are second in runs, trailing only Texas. Podsednik's playing time is secure now that Carl Crawford is down for the year.
Tyler Colvin, 1B/OF, Rockies: It's been a challenge to keep him in the lineup all year - manager Jim Tracy is a serial tinkerer - but Colvin's spot is finally safe with Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer on the DL. Colvin's strikeout rate is a little worrisome, but nonetheless he's given us a .294 average in part-time duty, with decent power (14 homers) and speed (seven steals). And while Coors Field is driving most of the story, Colvin isn't a pumpkin on the road (.272 average, .476 slugging).
Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays: He's fallen into some bad mechanics at the plate, swinging too early in the count and getting himself out against lefties. It adds up to a .176/.228/.280 slash over 32 games in the second half, with a measly three homers. Perhaps the presence of Jose Bautista will help in September - Rasmus was crushing the ball earlier in the year, in front of Joey Bats - though every numerical study about batter protection fails to validate the theory.
Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics: His plate discipline has collapsed in the second half, leading to an ugly .204/.248/.367 line, and he's also shown less aggressiveness on the bases. The A's still love Reddick for his right-field defense and his intensity, but perhaps he'd not best suited for the No. 3 spot in the lineup. An ongoing battle with a troublesome tooth may also play into Reddick's slump - maybe the recent fixing of that problem will go a long way towards fixing the offensive production. But if you can sell the overall stats on face value, you'll likely be overpaid in return.
Pedro Ciriaco, Utility, Red Sox: His minor-league profile is pedestrian and he's walked just two times compared to 23 strikeouts in The Show, but Ciriaco has his plus points, too (.344 average, eight steals, bats leadoff some of the time). And if you're limited in your bench spots or pickups, consider the utility that Ciriaco offers: he covers second, shortstop and third base in Yahoo! standard leagues. And like we discussed with Podsednik above, Ciriaco gets the undertow of Boston's lineup to help him out.
David Murphy, OF, Rangers: He's finally figured out a path against lefties, while he's continuing to crush righties like normal. And Murphy has always been a monster in Arlington: this year he's a .366/.440/.571 overlord in front of the home folks. Being in the most prolific lineup in the majors is another plus point. Enjoy the ride.