If you lost A.J. Pollock, who I recommended in this white space two weeks ago, Span can mend your broken heart. Pollock and Span are completely different players, but -- at the end of the day -- all that matters is how many points they're putting up. Span's 121 points are top-25 in the outfield, better than Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Jones and Carlos Gonzalez. I'm not suggesting Span over those proven studs because I'm not that nuts, but Span's ownership rates (18% ESPN, 13% Yahoo) suggest that owners aren't paying close enough attention. Over the last 30 days, Span is batting .317/.342/.430 with 16 runs, one home run, four RBIs and four steals. While he's a no show in the power department, he owns a .348 OBP in seven major-league seasons and can provide 80 runs and 20 steals in a full year. He won't wow you and you'll probably be tempted to drop him, but his most value comes to those who use him as a fourth or fifth outfielder in points' league. Give me Span over Leonys Martin, Matt Joyce and Rajai Davis.
It's hard to ignore Hughes (no matter how long and hard I tried), who tossed eight strong innings and earned his sixth win of the season against his former team in the Bronx on Sunday. Hughes walked two in that game, breaking a string of seven starts without allowing a free pass. His improved control has him squarely inside the top-25 starters in points' leagues, which was unimaginable in the preseason. Most of us -- including myself -- figured Ricky Nolasco would be the pitcher who benefited the most from Target Field, but it's been Hughes getting all the glory. I'm buying the 27-year-old's breakout, but it might be too late. He's now owned in more than 50% of Yahoo leagues, so check your waiver wires. Hughes' walk rate has improved remarkably from 6.5% to 2.9%, and he's still providing a solid 7+ K/9. The fly-ball pitcher is in the perfect environment for his skillset. He ditched his slider, which he relied heavily on in 2013, and the results have been much better. I think Hughes slips outside the top-30 starters, but he's here to stay. Hold on.
Simmons hasn't shown any signs of offensive growth from 2013, slashing .267/.297/.398 (compared to .248/.296/.396 a year ago). Sure, his batting average is almost 20 points higher, but his strikeout and walk rates are trending in the wrong direction, making the highlight-reel shortstop hard to roster in any format. He's on pace for just 12 home runs, 41 runs, 38 RBIs and three steals, and there are no signs of an offensive turn-around coming. Simmons was an on-base asset in the minors, but he's had no such luck at the major-league level. Almost everything Simmons hits is on the ground, and his 13.8% line drive rate is among the lowest in the league. He's currently the No. 20 shortstop on Yahoo, so hopefully he's playing in a middle infield spot and not at short for your fake teams.
Garza has been extremely ordinary since returning to the National League Central. His 4.84 ERA might be a tad unlucky, but I'm not sure he gets it below 4.00 by the end of the year. Looking at his game log, there are a lot of crooked numbers on the board, and not in the places you want to see. Even his strikeouts have been so-so (56 Ks in 67 innings), and wins have been hard to come by. Garza's 8.3% walk rate is at its highest since 2009, and his velocity is down from 93 to 92. Opposing hitters are making contact on more pitches inside the strike zone against Garza, and we haven't even arrived at his biggest question mark: durability. If we're playing the buy-low game, I'm passing. His results have been all over the place from start to start, even his strand rate is unusually low.