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September 6, 2011

Value Picks

Outfield for 9/6/11

by Rob McQuown

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Alex Presley was reluctantly dropped from VP while injured and should be eyed carefully for teams looking for an outfielder this week. Meanwhile, a couple of platoon outfielders have been having hot streaks, and both have a history of hitting in September, making them enticing pickups in deeper leagues.

Arrivals
Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 0%, CBS 12%)

Gerardo Parra was hitting .285/.354/.409 through July 30. Since then—on the strength of a .400 BABIP—he's hit .330/.369/.505 and has stolen three bases with two home runs in 103 plate appearances. Before that high BABIP is dismissed too quickly, it should be noted that Parra has posted a .341 BABIP in 1292 career plate appearances. Parra has amassed that many plate appearances by playing great defense (NL-best 16.6 FRAA so far in 2011) and hitting right-handed pitchers (.767 career OPS vs. righties compared to .597 against southpaws).

In 2011, Parra has continued to struggle against left-handed pitching, though not as badly as before (.241/.310/.367 against them in 2011). Manager Kirk Gibson has been strictly platooning him, but the team has seen a high percentage of righties in recent days, giving Parra more total starts. At age 24, the fact that Parra is showing growth in his offensive skills is to be expected. He's been more patient at the plate, upping his walk rate to almost nine percent, though he'll always derive most of his on-base percentage from his ability to hit for a high average. He's now a pretty useful hitter in deeper mixed leagues. In the area of “random notes”, Parra has hit .320 in his 192 September/October plate appearances in his career.

David Murphy, Texas Rangers (Yahoo! 24%, ESPN 20%, CBS 23%)
As happened last week, the two players being added this week are quite similar to each other, David Murphy has a career .319 batting average in September/October. Like, Parra, he has always hit right-handed pitching much better than lefties (.834 OPS compared to .643). And, of course, he's tearing it up recently, hitting .439/.477/.756 (!) over the past two weeks.

Given the length of Murphy's career, the January review still contains most of the salient facts about him, though he's struggled more this year than expected. His playing time will continue to be based on the health of the other Rangers outfielders, though if Endy Chavez ever returns to Earth (or at least his previous ability level), Murphy could get decent opportunities even when Nelson Cruz returns.
 

Departures
Trayvon Robinson, Seattle Mariners (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 8%)

The promise remains for Trayvon Robinson, but the return of Justin Smoak combined with yet another bad week (.125/.300/.250) pushes Robinson off the VP list for the rest of 2011. Franklin Gutierrez’s season-ending injury should continue to afford him playing time, making him worthwhile in AL-only leagues.

Ben Revere, Minnesota Twins (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 6%, CBS 22%)
With a .251/.298/.288 batting line for the season (in 385 plate appearances) and .214/.267/.214 (with no steals) for the week, Ben Revere has been batting more like his name should be “Reverse” instead. He was considered a bit of a reach in the first round of the 2007 draft but blasted Midwest League pitching in 2008 to the tune of a .379/.433/.497 line, and people figured the Twins were on to something. He's been going backward since then and has never shown the average power he was expected to develop. It's far too early to give up, though, since he doesn't strike out much, has a reputation as being a rangy outfielder (though his FRAA is -1.1), steals bases, and can be expected to improve his batting average as he matures. Of course, timing a breakout is tricky at best, but other than stealing bases, expectations for the rest of 2011 should be kept to a minimum.
 

Incumbents
Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox (Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 14%, CBS 38%)

Dayan Viciedo's total of two walks in 28 PA this season aren't exactly bringing back memories of the best White Sox player of all time, Frank Thomas, but he didn't walk until his 28th game in 2010 and tallied only two over his 106 PA. With even a moderately acceptable walk rate such as that he posted in Triple-A this season (45 in 505 PA—nine percent) would add enough value to his abilities to hit and hit for power.  In 2010, his ISO was .219 in Triple-A and .211 in his major-league stint. This season, these numbers declined slightly to .195 and .160, but it's to be expected that he'll regain his .200+ ISO as he gets used to his new, more-patient approach. With Adam Dunn and Carlos Quentin still missing in action, Viciedo has slid easily into the #5 slot in the White Sox lineup. While he's still raw, it won't be surprising if he racks up another five home runs this year and keeps his batting average high enough to not hurt.

Jordan Schafer, Houston Astros (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 5%, CBS 10%)
Jordan Schafer hasn't quite been on the Jason Bourgeois downward spiral, but a .250/.308/.333 week with no steals or runs scored and one RBI won't do much to dispel the perception that he's a light hitter, and the lack of runs and steals undermine his fantasy value. As long as he keeps his playing time, though, the steals and runs will come around. Given the lack of significant games for the Astros and manager Brad Mills's predilection for stealing bases, he's very likely to keep playing and keep running.

J.D. Martinez, Houston Astros (Yahoo! 14%, ESPN 24%, CBS 36%)
J.D. Martinez hit just .200/.250/.200 on the week, but only Brian Bogusevic (.509) and Matt Downs (.497) have higher slugging percentages among Astros players than Martinez's .480—and this includes the departed Hunter Pence (.471). He should continue to supply batting average, some power, and as many runs and RBI as possible on the Astros.

Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies (Yahoo! 23%, ESPN 24%, CBS 34%)
Dexter Fowler hit .222/.300/.407 for the week with no home runs and just one stolen base. He remains a solid outfield option, though always keep in mind that he hits much better at home. As a reminder, for two weeks starting this past Monday, September 5 through Sunday, September 18, the Rox have 10 home games (and their only two road games are in Milwaukee), making Fowler a good play. His recent struggles should make him more likely to be available.

Eric Thames, Toronto Blue Jays (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 7%, CBS 22%)
Eric Thames has shown less power than anticipated, but at this point that's nitpicking as he's coming off a .375/.412/.563 week wherein he even stole a base and scored four runs despite fighting illness. An 0-for-4 against Beckett and the Boston bullpen on Labor Day will reduce his weekly stat line, but he's still a legitimately good hitter who plays in a good ballpark and is surrounded by a good offense.
 

NL-Only VP
Andrew Parrino, San Diego Padres

Who is Andrew Parrino? He is the pride of Brockport High School in Brockport, NY, near Rochester, and he's the first non-pitcher to play in the major leagues from the area since catcher Ken O'Dea of Lima retired in 1946. He's been primarily a middle-infielder in the minors and was promoted to replace third baseman James Darnell. With Cameron Maybin dinged up, though, Parrino has also started in the outfield a few times. He's not very exciting for traditional fantasy formats as a 25th-man type who set his career high in minor-league home runs this year with a dozen in 357 plate appearances. He is a walker, however, reaching base on a free pass 261 times in 2017 career minor-league plate appearances, which should endear him to the sabermetrically-savvy Padres organization and owners in deep OBP leagues. He's also coming off a combined stat line of .315/.393/.511 between Double-A and Triple-A, so it's not out of the question that he's a late bloomer, as sometimes happens with players from colder environments (as their seasons are shorter and also have more games canceled to make them shorter still).
 

AL-Only VP
Michael Taylor, Oakland Athletics

Michael Taylor was written up—but not recommended—before the season:

At the risk of being dismissive, Michael Taylor's translated stats from the PCL were .230/.289/.317.  Back in September in this column, he was mentioned as someone to watch in the Arizona Fall League, where he got on base (.278/.391/.407) and even stole six bases. But his power remains on the outs, Oakland plays in a very rough park for hitters, his teammates aren't likely to help provide a good offensive environment, and the team paid Conor Jackson over $3 million in addition to bringing in Josh Willingham, David Dejesus, and Hideki Matsui. At this point, many things need to go right–including a rediscovery of his power–in order for Taylor to have fantasy relevance in 2011.

“He's not here to sit, that's for sure,” manager Bob Melvin said of Taylor. He's done a lot of sitting so far, however, starting just one game. He didn't exactly kill the ball at Sacramento (Triple-A), hitting .272/.360/.456, but he is a power/speed threat, and the A's can never seem to decide which outfielders to play or keep them healthy (looking at you, Coco Crisp) when they do, so AL-only owners looking for lightning in a bottle can take a flier on him. Purely a speculative pick, but this is a guy who hit .346/.412/.557 in 2008 and .320/.395/.549 in 2009 across various minor-league levels, so we're not talking Rene Tosoni here.

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:  Gerardo Parra,  Espn,  Michael Taylor

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