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March 24, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Outfield

by Rob McQuown

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Toronto 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
Jose Bautista 29 582 20 72 63 4 .242 .338 .417 19% 11% 1.68 -39 +89 2.09 80 90
Mike McCoy 29 64 0 8 5 2 .246 .330 .298 -16 +39 4.25* 10 10 10 40
Jeremy Reed 29 183 3 18 14 3 .253 .312 .371 15% 6% 1.32 +18 -68 2.13 20 10 10 40
Travis Snider 22 562 25 74 71 4 .253 .335 .463 28% 10% 1.69 +24 -80 2.08
Vernon Wells 31 619 18 77 69 11 .264 .324 .421 12% 7% 1.61 +1 -3 2.14 80 90
Heater team expert: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440 17% 9% 1.61 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Marc Hulet 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
Jose Bautista 27 14 5 0 3 .519 .519 1.037 0/0 1/0
Adam Lind 25 6 2 1 1 .240 .296 .520 4/2 0/0
Mike McCoy 13 8 1 0 0 .615 .688 .692 2/3 0/2
Jeremy Reed 36 14 2 0 0 .389 .421 .444 3/2 2/0
Travis Snider 36 11 2 0 3 .306 .366 .611 10/4 1/0
Vernon Wells 25 9 1 0 1 .360 .407 .520 6/2 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

Mike Street covered the Blue Jays' DH situation on Monday, commenting on most of the outfielders, and the situation remains confused. The latest from Heater team expert Marc Hulet suggests that even after Snider's heroics of late, he's only about 50/50 to make the team; and that coin flip rates to be as popular with fantasy owners as the postseason overtime flip was to NFL fans. Fortunately for Snider and his fantasy owners, manager Cito Gaston has gushed about his ability since he first came up in 2008, and when Cito was asked whether there was any way Snider would fail to make the team, his first reply was, "I wouldn't think so..." (MLB.com). Snider, despite his struggles in 2009, had an ISO of .178 (1.69 TB/H). His top comparables list from PECOTA include Jose Canseco and Juan Gonzalez. That's how rare it is for a player to have his sort of jaw-dropping power against major-league pitching at such a young age. Of course, Jack Cust checks in at #6 on his comparables list, serving as a reminder that not every high-power batter gets a chance right away. PECOTA shows him being worth $83 million over the next decade, and it's possible that GM Alex Anthopoulos is trying to use the strikeouts as a reason to slow down the arrival of the inevitable high arbitration salaries. But, between the possibility that Encarnacion will be unready to start the season (and Bautista will move to 3rd) and the possibility that Randy Ruiz will return to Reality, it seems easy to envision Snider making the team and becoming a fantasy bargain.

For deep AL leagues, the 40% PT estimates for Mike McCoy and Jeremy Reed are of interest. McCoy can play three infield positions and anywhere in the outfield and stole 40 bases in 46 tries in AAA last year. He bats righty, but has actually posted a higher OBP vs righty pitchers in his time in the minors - .373 vs RH, .357 vs LH. One can almost envision Gaston wishing he was just a little bit better, as the team is sorely lacking a true leadoff hitter, and McCoy is like Ryan Freel Lite. But, as it is, he should have the edge over journeyman Reed if one of them gets eliminated by the Snider shuffling. Even if he doesn't end up playing 40% of the time, there are plenty of less-than-fleet runners on the team for whom he can pinch-run.

Cincinnati 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
Wlad Balentien 25 231 8 27 26 2 .243 .317 .414 27% 8% 1.69 -4 +8 2.08 10 10 20
Chris Dickerson 28 455 10 55 43 15 .249 .340 .394 24% 13% 1.55 +25 -81 2.12 50 30 80
Juan Francisco 23 71 3 8 10 0 .235 .272 .412 28% 12% 1.44 +26 -77 2.65* 10 25
Jonny Gomes 29 198 10 25 28 3 .239 .324 .466 29% 9% 1.97 -16 +32 2.04 30 5 35
Drew Stubbs 25 594 9 70 48 26 .239 .315 .353 25% 8% 1.65 -18 +43 2.17 70 70
Heater team expert: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440 17% 9% 1.61 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Shawn Weaver 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
Wladimir Balentien 28 8 1 1 1 .286 .333 .500 6/2 1/1
Jay Bruce 32 10 3 0 2 .313 .353 .594 5/2 3/1
Chris Dickerson 33 12 1 1 1 .364 .400 .545 7/2 2/0
Juan Francisco 29 9 1 0 2 .310 .355 .552 7/2 0/0
Jonny Gomes 36 10 2 0 4 .278 .297 .667 11/1 0/0
Drew Stubbs 34 10 3 1 3 .294 .351 .706 11/3 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

A month ago, it appeared that Dusty's characteristic loyalty would result in Drew Stubbs leading off 160 times for Cincinnati this year, manning center field, and, well, doing his best impression of a right-handed Corey Patterson as a miscast leadoff hitter with enough defensive skill to help a team if he batted deeper in the lineup. Despite Keith Olberman raving about drew Stubbs even before he was called up, the PECOTA line is closer to his real skills than the optimistic expectations of many; but he will hit more like 15 HR if he gets 600 PA, not just 9 as PECOTA forecasts.

Things have gotten confusing on the way to the Drew Stubbs Show, however, and Dusty has a “good problem” - as everyone seems to be hitting, especially in terms of slugging%:

Gomes      36 AB .667 SLG

Stubbs     34 AB .706 SLG

Dickerson  33 AB .545 SLG

Francisco  29 AB .552 SLG

Balentien  28 AB .500 SLG

Nix        24 AB .583 SLG

For now, Heater Reds expert Shawn Weaver notes that Dickerson's stock is rising, and Nix might make the team. Dusty Baker has come out and talked about how inefficient it is for Francisco to swing at pitches outside the zone, and how he'd do better if he was more patient. Considering the source, that's one of the most damning comments about a player's plate discipline possible, and Francisco is likely to find himself taking pitches in AAA full time instead of backing up Rolen and serving as the fifth outfielder. Francisco has drawn 55 unintentional walks so far in 1892 plate appearances in the minors. For perspective, Jeff Francoeur drew 76 in 1558 minor-league PA.

For deep NL-only leaguers, expect Francisco and Balentien to fail to make the team from the above list. Nix and Gomes may not be any better, but the organization will want to get full-time at-bats for the two younger players.

 

New York (AL) 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
Brett Gardner 26 515 7 77 45 38 .265 .351 .384 16% 8% 1.38 +21 -64 2.15 55 10 65
Curtis Granderson 29 612 27 89 70 13 .267 .350 .481 19% 10% 1.80 +50 -142 2.19 5 90 95
Marcus Thames 33 116 6 14 16 0 .229 .298 .438 26% 7% 2.01 -23 +48 2.06 20 20
Randy Winn 36 292 4 32 28 6 .273 .338 .378 14% 8% 1.41 +13 -35 2.11 20 10 30
Heater team expert: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440 17% 9% 1.61 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Lisa Swan 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
Brett Gardner 35 9 0 2 0 .257 .325 .371 2/4 1/0
Curtis Granderson 30 8 1 1 0 .267 .371 .367 5/4 0/0
Jamie Hoffman 23 3 1 0 0 .130 .259 .174 1/3 1/1
Nick Swisher 28 9 3 0 0 .321 .424 .429 4/4 0/0
Marcus Thames 28 3 0 0 0 .107 .167 .107 11/1 0/0
Randy Winn 24 4 0 0 0 .167 .200 .167 7/1 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

In the past decade, there have been 27 seasons where a player has had more than 1 steal per 4 times on base with 250 or more plate appearances (thanks to baseball-reference.com P-I tool). 17 players accounted for all 27 seasons, and Brett Gardner's 2009 was one such player-season. By both scouting reports and advanced stats, his range in the outfield is very good in center field and outstanding in left field. Assuming that the Yankees lineup can support his light offensive contributions, he could easily find himself amassing a full complement of 600+ plate appearances and stealing 50 bases. With his great speed, groundball tendencies (49% so far in his career), and the advantage of batting from the left side, he should improve on his .311 BABIP from 2009. He will need this higher BABIP to keep his batting average from being swallowed up by his low contact percentage - 80% in his minor-league career, which wouldn't be noteworthy if he had anything resembling power.

Jamie Hoffman was the odd man out, leaving Winn and Thames as backups and insurance, if Gardner doesn't perform with full-time duty. They complement each other well, with Winn long being an underrated “Jack of all trades”, and Thames remaining a good option for a home run off the bench and a spot start.

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

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