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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Shortstop replacement options

If there is good news regarding Troy Tulowitzki's wrist injury, it's that the Rockies shortstop might return as soon as six weeks -- in plenty of time for you to have him back for the stretch run of the regular season.

If you're a Jhonny Peralta fan (all three of you), there is another reason to smile, but more on that in a bit.

Let's look at 10 potential replacements for Tulowitzki in deep leagues (all stats are through Monday):

The 50-percent-and-over group

The only player who is owned in more than 50 percent of the leagues on who might be readily available is the Braves' Yunel Escobar. The 2009 standout missed 13 games with a leg injury before returning in mid-May, and many owners gave up on Escobar after a brutal start to 2010 (.215 batting average in April and .207 in May).

Escobar -- who batted .299 with 89 runs, 14 homers, 76 RBI and five steals last season -- has heated up this month. He's batting .328 with two steals and an .847 OPS, but he has scored only seven runs and has no homers and five RBI.

If he's available in your league and you need help at short, he's the best option on this list.

Not a shortstop, but ...

The Tribe's Peralta -- much to our delight -- is no longer playing the marquee defensive position in baseball, but he is eligible at shortstop in some leagues because of 2009 qualifications. That alone makes him relevant in fantasy.

If you can play him at his former position, he's the No. 2 option here, thanks to a June in which he's batted .314 with 11 runs scored and 11 RBI in 70 at-bats. As poor as he can be in the field and on the basepaths, in fantasy what matters is he can hit for power (Peralta averaged 20 homers, 77 RBI and 89 runs from 2005-08) and drive in runs. Peralta is available in more than 79 percent of the ESPN leagues.

Nos. 3-10

3. Mike Aviles, Royals (owned in 18.4 percent of the leagues on Aviles is a second baseman, but he's started seven games at short and is eligible there in many leagues. He won't help you much in homers and RBI, but he's batting .339 in June and he hit .317 in May.

4. Ian Desmond, Nationals (21.1 percent): He's struggled this month (.242, no homers, six RBI, .613 OPS), but has four homers, 33 RBI and four steals on the season. In 309 career at-bats, he's driven in 45 runs.

5. Clint Barmes, Rockies (3.2 percent): He has taken over at short for Tulowitzki, and he had a productive 2009 in the power department (23 homers, 76 RBI). The bad: He hasn't homered since May 28, he's batting .222 on the season and he's hitting .255 this month. Regardless, he has 31 RBI and 20-homer potential, which is better than most candidates you'll find on the waiver wire.

6. Cristian Guzman, Nationals (30.9 percent): He's batting .300 with 31 runs, but is of no help in homers (1) and RBI (20). Guzman -- a second baseman who has started 13 games at short -- batted .380 in May, but has struggled mightily this month (.240, .603 OPS). In 2008 and '09, he batted .301 with averages of eight homers, 54 RBI, 75 runs and five steals.

7. Starlin Castro, Cubs (31.9 percent): The rookie tore up National League pitching in May (.310, two homers, 12 RBI), but he's received a reality check in his second month in the big leagues (.196, no homers, four RBI and a .527 OPS in June).

8. Yuniesky Betancourt, Royals (14.8 percent): He has decent numbers in runs (32), homers (5) and RBI (32), but he's hitting only .246 in June.

9. Jeff Keppinger, Astros (18.0 percent): He's a decent hitter (.284), but isn't much of an asset in the other categories (one homer, 22 RBI, one steal).

10. Alcides Escobar, Brewers (38.2 percent): At least he's consistent. Escobar, amazingly, has batted .250 each month, including June. He's in his third year and can help you in steals (five this season), but isn't very useful in the other categories.

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