June 30, 2010
Hot Spots: Outfield
Pie in the Face: GM Andy MacPhail may be stocking his outfield with talented ex-Cubs outfielders, yet astute readers of this column have certainly noticed that 12-steal Corey Patterson hasn't been selected as a Value Pick yet, Nor will he, despite helping prop up both of this author's AL-only teams so far. Patterson's MLB skills scream “reserve outfielder” at this point, and in that role he could probably help even a contending team—one which doesn't have as many lefty outfield bats as Baltimore. The “other guy”—Felix Pie—is still just 25 years old. His PECOTA is very robust for a good defensive outfielder, and when he says, “I feel good, no pain,” that's a good indicator that he'll be back on schedule for this weekend's games.
For owners seeking speed, Pie is no longer a guy who can provide that. And he's far from a sure-fire impact hitter—his 50th-percentile PECOTA is a modest .269/.333/.433 line with about 20-HR power (given a full season). Additionally worrisome is the fact that he has trouble staying healthy. His 50th-percentile stats are consistent with the .266/.326/.437 line he posted last year for Baltimore (playing almost full-time in the 2nd half), yet his pedigree—both scouting reports and some eye-popping minor-league stats—suggest an upside which is well beyond these pedestrian numbers. For example, his 80th-percentile PECOTA is a .302/.364/.517 batting line. To be able to pick up a player on waivers at this stage in the season who has a very good chance to be acceptably good, and a 20% chance to hit like Carlos Lee (the 2006-2009 version who went a combined .303/.354/.529, not the imposter from 2010) is a great use of a roster spot.
Pie's stats upon returning from the DL were very encouraging for continued success in 2010. His BABIP was .356 during August (see chart), which is high but not so high as to undermine his accomplishments... such as mashing 5 homers in 71 PA for the month. And while spring training stats “don't mean anything”, it can't be a bad sign that Pie hit .342/.419/.658 in spring training this year, somewhat counterbalancing the fact that his September '09 wasn't nearly as good as his August.
More From the Food Network: Coco Crisp is back. It's that time of the season when players with serious injuries return and become intriguing fantasy candidates. Unlike Felix Pie, there's little in the way of debate over how well Coco Crisp will perform if healthy. He has almost 3500 plate appearances in his career. He's hit .278/.332/.411, and his OBP has been trending upward, as is the norm as players gain experience. At age 30, he's not much risk of decline. He stole 33 bases in 624 PA over the past two seasons despite the injuries, and the A's have shown none of the reservations about avoiding stolen base attempts that helped define the club in years past. Crisp won't get much aid from his teammates, as the A's aren't very good at scoring runs, but if a .270+ hitter with double-digit HR power and 25-30 SB speed fits the needs of a fantasy team, here he is on a platter... or in a bowl with milk, perhaps?
“86” This One: It's hoped that readers heeded the tone of the recommendation of Austin Kearns when he was added as a Value Pick and didn't assume he was about to take the league by storm, despite having some positive qualities. Well, he's overstayed his welcome, hitting a paltry .237/.336/.398 over the past 30 days, and “slugging” just .200 this past week. With the “eh” teams ahead on the schedule (Jays, A's, Rays) in addition to the Rangers, his near-term outlook doesn't look any better. That's 3 of the 5 best run-prevention teams in the AL plus Toronto, which is 7th-best in spite of having so many games against the best offenses in the league. This isn't to say that Kearns is terrible, and all the positive aspects which were listed do still apply. But, as expected, the cold streaks outweigh the hot ones for him.
Another Serving: While on the topic of food, the list for next week will be stuffed (keeping seven names instead of the usual six), as extra helpings can't be resisted for anyone else besides Kearns. Jose Tabata and Pat Burrell seem poised to graduate from these ranks in the near future, as Burrell is sizzling and Tabata is learning to hit while teaching opposing teams how well he can run—swiping 5 bases already in just 18 games. Tyler Colvin is hitting lefties better than there was any right to expect so far (.282/.300/.538 in 41 PA), and Lou Piniella will continue to give him chances against them. Consider his playing time against lefties to be a 2-week probationary period, however. If he flounders—looking bad and/or not getting results—expect the Cubs to give those at bats to a righty hitter, at least until one of them is traded. Eric Hinske remains a good asset if he can be spotted against righty pitching, and unless Parra losses his job, his batting average should rebound, at least against righties.