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March 17, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Outfield

by Rob McQuown

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Chicago (NL) PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
Outfield Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng LF CF RF All
Marlon Byrd 32 609 15 73 74 9 .286 .352 .436 16% 7% 1.59 -5 +13 2.13 30 50 10 90
Kosuke Fukudome 33 612 11 79 57 8 .260 .365 .386 18% 14% 1.55 -23 +79 2.12 90 90
Sam Fuld 28 169 2 21 14 4 .255 .333 .373 10% 16% 1.38 +21 -60 2.12 50 50
Xavier Nady 31 188 7 23 26 1 .287 .349 .460 19% 6% 1.68 -4 +10 2.08 10
Alfonso Soriano 34 558 22 73 65 13 .257 .324 .440 21% 7% 1.85 -20 +54 2.08 70
Heater team expert: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440 17% 9% 1.61 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Rob McQuown Avg for Center Field .269 .338 .424 18% 9% 1.58 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Right Field .275 .348 .449 18% 9% 1.63 Rng = Range New downgrade
  Avg for All Outfield .273 .343 .438 18% 9% 1.61    
SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Marlon Byrd 25 7 1 0 1 .280 .308 .440 3/2 0/0
Kosuke Fukudome 20 6 3 0 0 .300 .417 .450 3/4 0/0
Sam Fuld 20 3 1 0 1 .150 .227 .350 3/2 1/0
Xavier Nady 13 4 3 0 0 .308 .357 .538 4/1 0/0
Alfonso Soriano 22 5 2 0 0 .227 .217 .318 6/0 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

 

The big news in the Cubs outfield this spring isn't on the radar (or Heater's Radar Tracker) yet, and that's because former first-round pick Tyler Colvin is still a longshot to make the opening-day roster. PECOTA forecasts him hitting .231/.289/.400 if given playing time, which seems somewhat pessimistic, given his .300/.334/.524 performance at AA last year with a reasonable .328 BABIP. Manager Lou Piniella is tempted, however, since Xavier Nady won't be able to throw well enough to play the outfield until June.

That turns the outfield spotlight on Sam Fuld. Fuld is a good defensive centerfielder. He bats lefty with enough of a platoon advantage that he could probably survive as a platoon leadoff hitter (his career minor-league OBP is .370 and he's hit righties with a typical platoon split) and could almost certainly play frequently as fourth outfielder for a team overloaded with righty bats. Despite his age, he's risen through the minors at a good pace after making his professional debut in 2006 at high-A ball. Obviously, hitting .150 in spring training so far is undermining his chances to grab the available playing time.

Don't expect to see both Fuld and Colvin on the roster, as the winner of the Chad Tracy/Micah Hoffpauir battle will be expected to be the 5th outfielder until Nady returns. Soriano appears to be healthy, but he's averaged just 120 games played the past three years, and either Byrd or Fuld will have to spell him more often than the Cubs would like.

 

Milwaukee PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
Outfield Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng LF CF RF All
Mat Gamel 24 179 5 20 21 1 .242 .318 .404 36% 12% 1.75 +19 -62 2.64* 25
Jody Gerut 32 203 7 25 25 5 .266 .329 .436 15% 7% 1.66 +12 -41 2.16 5 5 5 15
Corey Hart 28 593 19 76 72 17 .266 .335 .454 18% 6% 1.73 -9 +23 2.07 95 95
Heater team expert: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440 17% 9% 1.61 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Michael Street Avg for Center Field .269 .338 .424 18% 9% 1.58 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Right Field .275 .348 .449 18% 9% 1.63 Rng = Range New downgrade
  Avg for All Outfield .273 .343 .438 18% 9% 1.61    

* = Range stats not available, or from alternate position

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Ryan Braun 23 6 1 0 2 .261 .320 .565 3/2 0/0
Mat Gamel 1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0/0 0/0
Jody Gerut 26 7 4 1 1 .269 .296 .615 4/1 1/0
Chris Gomez 31 9 2 0 0 .290 .313 .355 2/1 7/0
Corey Hart 21 4 1 0 2 .190 .190 .524 4/0 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

Mat Gamel's right shoulder injury isn't considered serious, but it's kept him out of the lineup for a few days and has gotten him scratched from the outfield depth chart. Since he throws right-handed, his effectiveness at any fielding position may be in doubt, and he'd be a prime candidate to return to the minors if Casey McGehee wasn't floundering at the plate.

Carlos Gomez was never in a battle for playing time, with the expectation being that he'd play as often as he could stay healthy, but he's worth a note for the fact that he already has seven (7) steals in the spring. Gomez is 59-21 in stealing in his 1102 career plate appearances. While Speed Score takes stolen base percentage into account, he's still managed a 7.5 career mark and is widely regarded as one of the faster players in the game despite the fact that his steal totals aren't overwhelming and he gets caught a lot. Going on age 24 and coming to the easier league, Gomez has a great chance to exceed his PECOTA forecast of .249/.310/.369 with 30 SB.

Both Jim Edmonds and Joe Inglett are in camp for the Brewers, and while there's no indication that either has made the roster, Edmonds is hitting .316/.409/.579 so far. Inglett's value will be determined by whether he can convince Ken Macha that he's able to play the infield still, but with Craig Counsell, Mat Gamel, Jody Gerut, and Jim Edmonds all batting left-handed as well , his chances aren't good.

Cleveland PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
Outfield Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng LF CF RF All
Russell Branyan 34 506 24 57 65 3 .238 .332 .452 30% 12% 2.14 +33 -92 1.84* 5 85
Shelley Duncan 30 372 18 49 56 1 .239 .326 .454 23% 9% 1.88 -18 +39 2.07 20 10 35
Matt LaPorta 25 527 22 68 72 2 .262 .346 .458 19% 6% 1.74 -12 +29 2.06 75 95
Michael Brantley 23 446 5 56 38 22 .276 .350 .368 16% 7% 1.11 +13 -39 2.11
Heater team expert: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440 17% 9% 1.61 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Brian La Shier Avg for Center Field .269 .338 .424 18% 9% 1.58 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Right Field .275 .348 .449 18% 9% 1.63 Rng = Range New downgrade
  Avg for All Outfield .273 .343 .438 18% 9% 1.61    

* = Range stats not available, or from alternate position

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Russell Branyan ––– ––– ––– –/– –/–
Shin-Soo Choo 20 7 1 1 1 .350 .391 .650 3/2 1/0
Shelley Duncan 7 2 0 0 0 .286 .286 .286 0/0 0/0
Matt LaPorta 5 1 0 0 0 .200 .167 .200 5/5 0/1
Grady Sizemore 12 3 1 0 1 .250 .400 .583 1/3 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

Quoting Brian La Shier, the Heater team expert, “Russell Branyan missed his ST debut due to a herniated disc in his lower back. Cleveland still views Branyan’s cranky back as a “manageable” issue, so expect plenty of rest for the 34-year-old slugger this year.” Shelley Duncan, meanwhile has hit just .169/.239/.354 against righties in his almost non-existant career though he's been able to torch minor-league righties as well as lefties. His projection isn't bad at all, and fantasy owners who have Branyan may want to consider “handcuffing” their position with Duncan. His top comparables (from PECOTA) are:

Even the good players on this list declined rapidly, so view him as a very high-risk player.

Added last on the above table, without any playing time projected, and out of alphabetical order, is Michael Brantley. Though he probably won't get the Carte Blanche green light under Manny Acta that he did under Eric Wedge in September, Brantley is going to be a good source of stolen bases when opportunity knocks for him to start in left field. He can be expected to add enough runs with his fielding and his baserunning to make up for his limited slugging percentage. He's taking care of business by getting on base more then 40% of the time in spring training. That will keep him on Acta's mind if LaPorta's injuries act up again, or Branyan can't play full-time.

Rob McQuown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Rob's other articles. You can contact Rob by clicking here

Related Content:  Outfield,  Mat Gamel,  Sam Fuld,  Shelley Duncan

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