August 11, 2010
Hot Spots: Outfield
Pomp and Circumstance: The list was overloaded last week, with the expectation that several names would be removed this time around. With that in mind, two of these outfielders have enough credits for graduation: Jose Tabata and Tyler Colvin. Tabata is hitting .310 with 12 SB, and people are slowly realizing that he can help a fantasy team. Tyler Colvin had a terrible week, yet his continued power assault makes him quite valuable. He may knock an odd home run against Manny Parra here and there, but fantasy owners will be happier if they just bench him against lefty pitching in daily-move leagues.
Bonus coverage: Recent alumnus Drew Stubbs may be losing playing time, but he has hit the Cubs well this year, going .311/.326/.733 with five (5) home runs and three (3) stolen bases in the ten games he's started. For owners who like to make a lot of moves, it's something to consider August 27-29, when the Reds face the Cubs again
Taking a Wak: Logan Morrison is being removed. He's a good baseball player (or will be in a couple years), but – as noted – his strengths at this point are walking and hitting doubles, and most fantasy formats don't reward such things. As many have commented about the Don Wakamatsu firing, “It's not his fault.” But he has to go.
Wally Pipp and Carlos Gomez: Lorenzo Cain reasserted his prospect value in 2010 after a 2009 season lost to injuries and resultant bad play (.218/.294/.330 combined). While it's never safe to throw out data entirely, his 2008 and 2010 paint the picture of an exciting leadoff prospect with some moderate power potential, to boot. In 2008, he hit .279/.356/.448 and successfully made the jump to AA before getting a taste of AAA at the end of the year. He struck out in 21% of his plate appearances (115 of 550), and swiped 25 bases. Fast forward to 2010, with his sprained knee from April of 2009 a year in the past, and Cain has shown an ability to further leverage his great “tools” into baseball skills. He's lowered his strikeout rate to 18%, and went 26-3 in stolen base attempts before his recall. While his Davenport Translation (DT) from Huntsville is a modest .217/.272/.304, and his PECOTA is uninspiring, that doesn't tell the whole story. His untranslated AA stat line was .317/.402/.432, and his 100 plate appearances in AAA resulted in a DT of .270/.343/.404.
Cain Disclaimers: With any new player, there's always more risk involved, since even though these guys are professionals, there's an adaptation period (see: Brantley, Michael – who has hit .313/.389/.625 over the past week, clearly displeased with his removal from the Value Picks list). Some players shrug it off, some are motivated to spurts of over-performance, but some struggle – the net result is that there is more variance to be expected. It should also be noted that new 4th outfielder Chris Dickerson's Weighted-means PECOTA is even better than Cain's AAA DT, at .264/.354/.426. While Corey Hart is having back issues, Dickerson would be an excellent fantasy fill-in, and should continue to see a reasonable amount of playing time even when Hart returns, as a lefty batter backing up three right-handed outfielders. Cain – a great athlete who is considered a very good defender - was moved to right field when both he and Dickerson were in the lineup, indicating how much Ken Macha respects Dickerson's defense. It can't go without noting that Macha also shows a disdain for attempting steals, and that will serve to reduce the fantasy value of both new Brewers centerfielders.
Peter and the Jay: It's almost de rigueur for rookies added to the Value Picks list of outfielders to start off with struggles, and Peter Bourjos has been struggling. Successfully getting a squeeze bunt down yesterday will win points with his manager, and he stole two bases last week, giving him some fantasy relevance. Statistically, his 31 plate appearances are insignificant, so it's recommended to keep the faith as long as Mike Scioscia does, for fantasy teams in need of speed. On the other side, Jon Jay mocks the suggestion that he's not really a .350 hitter by hitting .412 for the week.
Coco and Pie: Coco Crisp may be one of the easiest players to project for a season, but he has some maddening streaks. This week, it was hot, as he hit .476/.500/.714, with 5 runs, 4 RBI, a home run and a stolen base. Pie started all seven games and hit .345/.345/.655, with two homers and a steal. That's the way to impress the new boss!
Writing on the Wall: Speaking of impressing the boss, Rick Ankiel has not done anything to impress his new manager, but Bobby Cox is well-known for being very patient, so don't expect Ankiel to lose playing time yet. Shelley Duncan didn't have a good week, and with the Indians trying to figure out who will be able to start for them in 2011, expect the younger players to gobble up at bats if he doesn't start hitting home runs again soon.