|Can Olt Provide a Jolt?|
|Written by Ryan Carey|
|Friday, 03 August 2012 00:09|
As I sat down to write my AL Column last night, my intention was to lead off with my take on the surprising promotion of slugging third baseman Mike Olt by the Texas Rangers. But sometimes when you sit down to type, you head in a different direction, and once I decided to delve into the subject of the prospects of some of my various fantasy leagues it became clear that I wouldn't be able to hit on the Olt situation unless I was willing to tack it on at the end of the article. Instead, I've turned to the Mastersblog to take a little look at what fantasy players can expect from the Rangers' rookie.
Regular readers of the site may remember that back in November, Perry Van Hook gave regular updates of Olt's emergence in last year's AFL in his AFL Blog. I admit that Perry's reports put Olt (as well as others) on my fantasy radar. I even went so far as to draft him in a couple early leagues as my 30th pick (didn't hang onto him this long unfortunately) and even lobbied Jason Martinez over at MLBDepthCharts.com to include Olt on his preseason Rangers page because I couldn't believe that he wasn't at least listed as a possibility to make the team at some point in 2012. At first, Jason stuck to his reasoning that Olt had no chance to crack the Rangers' lineup with Adrian Beltre blocking his way at third. I argued that the MVP of the AFL had to at least be listed, especially after it was reported that the Rangers had him working out at first base in the spring. To his credit, Jason relented and added Olt to the list the next day, perhaps to just get me to stop pestering him.
While Olt didn't make the team this spring, he has been terrorizing Double-A pitching all season. At the time of his callup he was hitting .288 with 28 home runs, 65 runs, 82 RBIs and four stolen bases in 95 games. He also was sporting a .398 OBP thanks to his 14.5 BB%. While he has always shown good patience in the minors, he does strike out a lot, tallying 101 whiffs in 420 plate appearances. So what we have here friends is a patient slugger prone to the strikeout.
Fast forward to today and Olt was in Ron Washington's starting lineup, batting eighth, and playing first base. Washington gave a hint as to his initial plans for the slugging former first round pick when he said that Olt would play every day against lefties either at first base or DH. He will also likely get a start a week at third whenever Washington decides to give Beltre a "day off" at DH. With lefty C.J. Wilson on the mound today, Washington was true to his word, and Olt went out and singled in his first at-bat. The common wisdom says that the Rangers didn't just call up Olt from Double-A to not play him regularly. How much playing time he ultimately gets of course will depend on how much he hits. The player who stands to lose the most playing time to Olt is primary DH Michael Young, who has been mired in the worst season of his illustrious Ranger career.
The Rangers really have nothing to lose here. Olt obviously has tremendous upside, and we have already seen with Will Middlebrooks in Boston what may be coming in Arlington. If Olt hits the ground running, Young will be phased out much like Kevin Youkilis was in Beantown. Worst case is Olt struggles mightily in his first exposure to major league pitching, much like Mike Trout in 2011, but lights a fire under Young's rear-end for the stretch drive. Even if he doesn't hit for average, he should hit for power, which will be more than Young has been able to bring to the table, and that in and of itself may be enough for him to stick. The Rangers could still try and unload Young in a post-deadline trade.
So the big question is should you make a move on Olt? Well, if you are in an AL-only league or a very competitive daily league, you may have already missed your chance. For leagues with FAAB this weekend, if you are in need of power, sure you can take a chance on Olt's upside, but don't count on everyday at-bats. He likely profiles as a bench player in the short term, but one that could potentially pay big dividends. I wouldn't bid too much though as history says he's more likely to be this year's Anthony Rizzo. If he's still somehow available in your AL-only league (Derek Carty from Baseball Prospectus had him stashed in mine), by all means take the plunge and hope for him to start mashing.
|Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2012 06:45|