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June 2, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Outfield

by Rob McQuown

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Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10 Scoresheet
Tyler Colvin CHN 87 5 17 13 1 .293 .360 .600 .246 .297 .412 26 7 11 +20 –71 2.12
Fred Lewis TOR 176 4 29 16 4 .305 .341 .518 .271 .349 .427 26 5 4 +28 –90 2.09
Seth Smith COL 139 8 24 22 0 .270 .333 .548 .281 .365 .476 33 0 0 +26 –87 2.09
Mike Stanton FLA 220 20 36 50 1 .307 .436 .722 .238 .307 .482 5 0 41 –16 +40 2.10
Drew Stubbs CIN 197 6 30 26 11 .237 .320 .416 .247 .321 .375 0 48 0 –18 +43 2.17
Ryan Sweeney OAK 204 1 22 24 0 .309 .353 .399 .290 .355 .424 0 0 49 +29 –88 2.14
Andres Torres SF 159 2 21 13 8 .298 .391 .481 .240 .306 .406 17 15 15 –24 +56 2.12
Delmon Young MIN 165 5 20 27 3 .272 .321 .463 .280 .324 .425 42 0 0 –25 +57 2.04
Subscribe to Heater: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440   vRH = OPS v RH
Heater Magazine Avg for Center Field .269 .338 .424   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Right Field .275 .348 .449   Rng = Range
  Avg for All Outfield .273 .343 .438  


Checking In: Proactive owners read last week's edition and rushed out to sign Drew Stubbs, a move which netted the faithful a monster week of 8 runs and 5 RBI, as the Reds claimed, not only first-place in their division but, first-place in runs-per-game in the National League. Andres Torres, Delmon Young, and Fred Lewis all had very nice weeks, and Ryan Sweeney, well, had another Ryan Sweeney week. For those who didn't catch Stubbs as he ran past, there may still be time, as his ownership percentage is still reasonably low. But he's priced himself out of the “Value Picks”, and so he'll be sent on his way this week.

The two young players still on the list – Mike Stanton and Tyler Colvin – are both still very much in favor. Stanton whacked another 2 homers yesterday, and his stat line reads like hyperbole one would use to describe someone having a great season“oh, he has 50 RBI already and is slugging about .700, you know...” Mike Jong did an excellent piece on Stanton and is a bit more pessimistic about his 2010 chances, which may be more realistic. Butage asideany baseball fan who has seen a powerful hitter with an “all or nothing” approach go on a hot streak knows that batters who can hit mistakes a country mile can rack up imposing power stats in a hurry. He's very high-risk, to be sure, but for teams which are in dire need of power, his upsideeven in 2010is as high as any of the freely available players. And yesterday's game pretty much summed up the dilemma manager Lou Piniella faces with Tyler Colvin, as he batted clean-up in a week during which he was limited to 10 plate appearances (without an injury). Until Lou starts him at first base out of total desperation (perhaps not a terrible long-term move, it would be desperate to do in-season, given his lack of experience there), or until one of the starting 3 falters, Colvin is situated as one of the hardest-hitting 4th outfielders in baseball, much like this guy has been for the past two years...

Arrivals: Some moves are obvious, and when a good hitter gets a more-or-less full-time job in Colorado, well, that's the sort of acquisition which needs to be done at Blackberry speed. And make no mistake, Seth Smith is a quality hitter. He may not have the fantasy upside of his faster teammate Carlos Gonzalez, or his faster ex-teammate Dexter Fowler, but his 10th-percentile PECOTA is .258/.341/.417, which equates to a 1.2 WARP ballplayer in just 375 PA. That is a very high “floor” for such an anonymous player. And if the early returns from 2010 are any indication, his stats will be well above said “floor” by the end of the season. Consider:

Seth Smith tidbits:

  • Career batting line of .286 – 27 – 92, with 102 runs and 5 SB in 656 PA.

  • Career batting line against righties of .299/.377/.530.

  • An “unlucky” BABIP so far in 2010 of .255, compared to .309 lifetime.

  • An 87% Contact percentage so far in 2010 (16 K in 126 AB), improved from 81% career.

  • The Rockies have 4 more home games remaining than road games (57 to 53).

  • Over his career, much worse against lefties, but .259/.368/.500 against them in 2009.

  • Hits ~40% of his balls in play for fly balls.


Taken together, these factoids paint the picture of an incredible fantasy value. If the improvement in contact percentage is retained, he should see career highs in both batting average and homers-per-at-bat. However, it wouldn't do to rave about him without pointing out the obvious fact that he still rests against some tough lefty pitching. With two other lefties in the outfield (Brad Hawpe and Carlos Gonzalez), both of whom hit lefty pitching better than he does, and with a good platoon option to face lefty pitching (Ryan Spilborgs has hit lefties at a very nice .282/.366/.468 clip in his career), Jim Tracy's best tactical move is usually to keep Smith in reserve to face the inevitable righty reliever. Still, he bats first or second when he starts against righties, so he'll get a few extra plate appearances that way. He should also play enough to be on a 550-600 PA pace the rest of the season, so he should contribute mightily to all four non-steal categories.

Odds and Ends: The target is to add two new players for review weekly, but there really isn't another candidate who jumps out, and who hasn't been covered already. Some “alumni” should be very tempting at this point, including Mike Cameron, Will Venable (who is unfortunately slated to see 3 lefty pitchers out of 7 games at Philly and New York, before returning to San Diego), and Carlos Guillen (5 games and counting at second base...) Speedsters Corey Patterson and Trevor Crowe appear to have some semblence of job security, and could contribute steals in bunches (and there are some very weak-armed catchers starting for some AL teams now) while they are able to keep their jobs, but it's unlikely that will be for more than another month or two. Angel Pagan is a career .302/.356/.456 hitter against righty pitching, so in league formats where he can be hidden from lefties, he should be an outstanding option until Beltran returns and perhaps thereafter, given the struggles of Jeff Francoeur. Chris Coghlan should be kept on the fringe of the radar for now – he wasn't very good in the first half of 2009, either, and while it would be folly to count on a similar 2nd-half outburst, he has a history of being a very good hitter, so it would surprise nobody if he made the needed adjustments and began hitting again in a manner closer to his Rookie of the Year season.

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:  Andres Torres

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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I've got Pagan now, but should I expect his playing time to decrease substantially when / if Beltran returns?

Jun 02, 2010 06:47 AM
rating: -1
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

Well, that's clearly a concern, but I can't see how any manager could conclude that Francoeur is the better option against righty pitching than Pagan at this point. And the Mets have talked about playing Beltran in RF to cut down on wear and tear. With the current ETA on Beltran being "after the All-Star Game sometime", I really wouldn't worry about Pagan's competition. That's a long enough period that if he continues to hit righty pitching the way he has in his career, his playing time against righties should be secure by the time Beltran recovers. And if he stops hitting, you'll have cut him by then anyway.

Jun 02, 2010 08:22 AM

Here is my dilema at this point. 14 team, H2H, non keeper.

R, HR, RBI, SB, K's against, AVG, SLG, OBP

Do I drop Adam Jones for Stubbs?

From what I am looking at, Stubbs certainly whiffs only a bit more than Jones but the bags seem to negate that. Baltimore smells like a pile of trash washed up on the inner harbor on a 95 degree day.

Should I exercise patience or good old American ADHD?

Jun 02, 2010 08:31 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

That's a very rough quandry. I do the "Spot Talent" projections for Heater, and show Jones at .272/.322/.452 for the rest of the season, while ZiPS (Rest of Season) has him at .273/.325/.457. Stubbs is a much worse "rate stat" hitter, and his impotence in the minors in 2009 push those same predictors to .231/.318/.385 (Heater) and .234/.306/.360 (ZiPS).

I honestly am more convinced by Stubbs' recent power than the math-based systems are, but there's no denying that he's going to put the hurt on your batting average and K's. I think the OBP/SLG shortages he will have (compared to Jones) will be offset by the R/RBI, so it's really a matter of whether the steals can make up for the K/AVG.

Picking endpoints (which will always lead to a rosier outlook), Adam Jones has been decent since May 8, or even since April 30th. But, pulling up the O's schedule online, I see that he has these two games against NY, then Boston, Yankees, Mets, @SF, @SD, Florida, Washington, then Oakland. Only the Nats series really sounds great, and with Strasburg pushing out the 5th starter, even those games could be rough. The Mets don't have great pitching, but June is essentially devoid of creampuff matchups for the O's hitters.

I've been a firm believer in Jones, and usually come down on the side of "patience" in such cases, but he's swinging at more balls outside the zone, and drawing a dramatically reduced number of walks, isn't stealing bases, and is part of an O's offense which hasn't gotten going yet. Combined with a tough month of June for pitching matchups, and I think I'd go "ADHD" in this case and give Stubbs a chance, even with the high number of categories diluting the value of his speed.

Jun 02, 2010 08:59 AM

Thanks, I would like my cooler head to prevail, but the schedule is just brutal. And their inter-league schedule is enough to anger George, thanks for pointing that out. It's just a tough choice and I don't tend to believe that Stubbs is just a fluke considering his age and pedigree. I will wait for tonight before pulling the trigger.

Jun 02, 2010 09:40 AM
rating: 0

also, as far as picking endpoints:

Stubbs (May stats): .273/.339/.525, 5 HR, 14 R, 18 RBI, 4 SB
Jones (May): .279/.303/.375, 2 HR, 11 R, 10 RBI, 0 SB

Stubbs had a brutal April but was excellent in May.

and as far as deep fringe options, what do you think of Chris Denorfia? Is he going to hold onto a job once Hairston comes back (presumably at the expense of Tony Gwynn Jr.)?

Jun 02, 2010 10:03 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

He's 29 years old this year, and his Weighted-means rate stats are .249/.295/.347, with a steal rate of 6-per-345 PA. I haven't given the possibility of him sticking any thought at all, though stranger - ahem, Garrett Jones - things have happened, so who knows?

A friend who is somewhat of an amateur expert on Latin-American players has been talking about Durango since last year (as a good ballplayer, not just as a fantasy player), and with his 44 SB in <600 PA last year, I think he'd be the fringy SD player I'd consider first. Honestly, I don't see either one doing much of anything, but at least Durango helps in a category.

Jun 02, 2010 12:38 PM
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