August 17, 2011
Outfield for 8/17/11
Rebounding from a rough week, the six Value Pick Outfielders hit a combined .299/.358/.557 this past week, led by Eric Thames at .389/.450/.944, and just-removed Nolan Reimold reminded fantasy owners why he was a Value Pick in the first place, hitting .286/.348/.571 for the week. Meanwhile, outfields all around the majors have been shaken up this week. Delmon Young switched allegiances in the AL Central, changing lineups in Detroit and Minnesota. Logan Morrison will be Tweeting from the minors, and two-thirds of the Giants starting outfield (Andres Torres and Carlos Beltran) head to the disabled list, as does Rajai Davis of the Blue Jays. Shin-Soo Choo and Jose Tabata returned to action, and former Value Picks Wily Mo Pena, Brandon Allen, and Brandon Belt all seem to be in line for more playing time. All these changes have created opportunities for shrewd fantasy owners.
The Good: As surprising as Martinez's numbers are, scouts don't think he's a fluke. He has a good approach to go with outstanding hands and a quick, quiet swing that leads to hard contact to all fields and gap power. He's a good defensive outfielder with an average arm.
The Bad: For many, Martinez profiles as no more than a tweener. He's a below-average runner who is limited to a corner, and he lacks the power to project as an everyday player there.
Fantasy Impact: He won't provide much power for his position and little speed, but he should hit for average.
Yours truly recently participated in the final Scoresheet draft of the season and troubled Kevin for some updated thoughts on Martinez in light of his .338/.414/.546 line in his second stint at Corpus Christi (Double-A). Kevin's review was something to the effect of “no tools” when asked why he didn't get more attention.
Still, Martinez has some markers that this author values more than most, potentially as fatal flaws sometimes, but in light of these markers, he appears to be an exciting prospect, assuming that the lack of tools doesn't prove fatal.
- The first marker is a high extra-base-hit to strikeout ratio. For his career in the minors, Martinez has whacked 140 extra-base hits: 89 doubles, eight triples, and 43 home runs. He's struck out 196 times. Some examples of players who have done this is a bit of a mixed bag over the years, but often looking at these stats can help find players who don't hit a lot of singles (which are even more highly luck-dependent in the minors) or walk as much as many would prefer. Both of these numbers are in the context of ratios, and 140 extra-base hits in 1261 minor-league plate appearances is a great ratio.
- The second marker is years of full-season baseball. While a big believer in age-related-to-league adjustments, there's really no substitute for full-season professional experience. Nothing is really like it. Short-season ball is good preparation, and before that, school programs and clubs give players a taste of it. But it's not the same. Obviously, not everyone can be expected to explode like Alex Avila, but he's a recent example of a player this author thought much more highly of than any of the prospect experts, based largely on this marker... he made it to the majors very quickly after his first year of full-season pro baseball. Likewise, Martinez's full-season debut was in 2010.
This guy is going to be a great test of stats vs. scouts, to be honest. He has tuned up minor-league hurlers at a .342/.407/.551 rate, and watching him the other day against Rodrigo Lopez, it doesn't appear he's going to have trouble against sub-standard pitching. The question will be how much offense he can generate against the good pitchers. This is the sort of thing on which scouting clearly has the edge over analysis, since it's a rare skill set that allows a batter to succeed against above-average competition (as opposed to just beating up on the weaklings).
And, as a side note, it's all about the bat with Martinez. He's not in the lineup for his glove or his speed. If he's not able to hit like Magglio Ordonez did (for example), he won't end up contributing much to the the Astros, or any team for that matter—real or fantasy.
Things won't be easy for Robinson. And, as noted last week, the Mariners have a tough schedule the rest of the way, with good-pitching teams and 20 home dates remaining. Still, Trayvon is making a strong case for playing every day. In addition to a .417/.417/.667 week, he added a 2-for-5 game Tuesday with a fourth double and two more RBI. While the doubles may not help much for fantasy purposes, if they keep him in the lineup, that's good news for his owners. He remains high-risk, but the upside is clearly there.
Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 4%, CBS 19%)
Jason Bourgeois, Houston Astros (Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 28%, CBS 32%)
Josh Reddick, Boston Red Sox (Yahoo! 11%, ESPN 20%, CBS 37%)
Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies (Yahoo! 27%, ESPN 37%, CBS 36%)
Eric Thames, Toronto Blue Jays (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 6%, CBS 20%)
The Good: Plouffe's greatest strength is his lack of weaknesses. He tends to make good contact and features gap power at the plate. Defensively, he's a fundamentally sound player who makes the plays he gets to, and has a very strong arm. He's a good baserunner whose speed grades out a tick above average once he gets going.
As with another former shortstop prospect, Brent Lillibridge, Plouffe seems to have found some power in 2011 and is worth a flier in AL leagues to see how much of that .635 Triple-A slugging is a real improvement. Obviously, it's likely that very little of it is real, but it beats taking a chance on Rene Tosoni, who hit .226/.283/.343 in Triple-A and won't get multi-positional flexibility.