September 20, 2011
Outfield for 9/20/11
Value Picks Team Tracker
A .252-3-10-2 week wasn't salvaged by 21 runs scored, and even though Value Picks were culled from “free talent” in most leagues, more was hoped for down the stretch. For owners still in contention for the last few games, updates will be provided on the usual suspects, and—as always—some new blood will be introduced. Anything to give you that 11th-hour edge.
Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 2%, CBS 10%)
Obviously, this late in the season, it's unlikely that any full-time player is going to suddenly jump into the spotlight, but Allen Craig has been raking, and Matt Holliday has been breaking. PECOTA has a robust .281 TAv projected for Mr. Craig, and he's hitting .314/.362/.529 in 2011. With series against the Mets, Cubs, and Astros on the schedule and the still-potent Cardinals lineup around him, don't expect much let up, though he's not quite this good of a hitter. Still, he could be a true diamond in the rough to finish the fantasy season strong.
Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays (Yahoo! 60%, ESPN 60%, CBS 70%)
Normally, players owned in more than half of the public leagues don't get mentioned in Value Picks, but Colby Rasmus's injury and struggles made him a tempting cut in shallow mixed leagues, and he's available in many leagues, even if it's less than 50%. Now he's back, and while facing the Angels, Rays, and White Sox isn't thrilling news for his owners, when he's at his best Rasmus can supply great power, and he looks fully healthy now. The Blue Jays have a good enough lineup that his contributions should be rewarded nicely with runs and RBI. Obviously he's more valuable in an OBP-based league than in an AVG-based league, but it's the homers you're after anyway.
Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox (Yahoo! 47%, ESPN 42%, CBS 54%)
Disappointing to the bitter end, Alex Rios has topped 17 fantasy points (using CBS fantasy points) only three weeks this season. This from a man whose weekly output was expected to average around 20. His .231/.310/.346 batting line with two runs, one home run, and a lone RBI is actually a “good” week for the ex-star who has hit just .221/.260/.331 with 11 home runs and 11 steals. He's unlikely to play both games of today's double header and is in constant danger of being replaced by Alejandro De Aza against a right-handed pitcher. For teams in need of a Hail Mary, the White Sox finish up with this series against Cleveland followed by Kansas City and Toronto at home, so there's a chance that Rios will finish with a flurry.
David Murphy, Texas Rangers (Yahoo! 47%, ESPN 81%, CBS 46%)
This time, we're kicking David Murphy out for real. Assuming nobody was able to cut him last Tuesday (September 13), the advice that his run was nearing an end given last week didn't cause anyone to miss his awesome 4-for-4 game with two home runs. Since then, Murphy has hit an empty .278, Nelson Cruz is back in the lineup (though he's not expected back in the outfield until Friday), and Texas is playing at Oakland, home against Seattle, and at Los Angeles to close out the season—not good news for Texas hitters.
Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies (Yahoo! 33%, ESPN 59%, CBS 55%)
Despite four games at Minute Maid Park against the juicy Astros pitchers, Fowler no longer has great matchups for the season (the team finishes in San Francisco) and can safely be dropped in most mixed formats. A rather disappointing Value Pick given his home ballpark, speed, and (moderate) power potential, he isn't likely to hurt a team, but players like Nyjer Morgan are better plays the rest of the way.
Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee Brewers (Yahoo! 18%, ESPN 19%, CBS 27%)
Owned in an inexplicably low percentage of leagues, Nyjer Morgan has not only outperformed David Murphy in traditional 5x5 fantasy value this season (despite missing a lot of time and being a bench player even longer) but faces the Cubs, Marlins, and Pirates to close out the season. It's about looking forward, not backward. Grab Nyjer and run. He will. And he'll hit .300 and score tons of runs batting in front of the dynamic duo of Braun and Fielder.
Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox (Yahoo! 11%, ESPN 11%, CBS 36%)
Somehow, Dayan Viciedo still has a .292/.370/.361 batting line for 2011. Considering he seemed to completely disappear this past week, that's actually good news, despite the fact that his power really is invisible. He has some of the best natural power in the game, and it's not uncommon for power hitters to have streaks. Still, he’s a decent play for the last few games given the soft schedule the White Sox face. Quentin has been activated from the disabled list but has yet to bump Viciedo from the lineup. The team wants as much empirical evidence as possible about Viciedo's major-league readiness before the offseason, so expect him to keep starting.
Jordan Schafer, Houston Astros (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 2%, CBS 8%)
You can't steal first base, Jordan Schafer. Here's hoping that that second-rate pitching of the Reds, Rockies, and Cardinals will help him get there anyway. Goodness knows nothing else Schafer has tried lately has worked. Only useful in NL-only leagues or on teams in dire need of a steal or three.
J.D. Martinez, Houston Astros (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 8%, CBS 28%)
At least the stubbornness of yours truly in regard to J.D. Martinez reaped a slight reward this week, as he rapped out eight hits in 28 at-bats. He has the same soft schedule as Schafer, and higher expectations can be held for the Astros' number three hitter.
Jerry Sands, Los Angeles Dodgers
Yes, this Jerry Sands, last being noted as a “file his name away” player on June 15 when he was unceremoniously dumped from the Value Picks list. At this point in the season, it's unlikely a team could find more power potential than Sands offers. The Dodgers have three games at San Diego and three at Arizona after the current three-game set against the rival Giants. It's likely that the D'Backs will be worrying more about their playoff rotation than three essentially meaningless games against LA, so Sands could see some true Triple-A quality pitching, and he's slugged .586 in his 418 plate appearances of Triple-A play (29 HR), so that holds a lot of allure for power-hungry teams.
Joe Benson, Minnesota Twins
And why not Joe Benson? The multi-tool prospect had slugged .538 between High-A and Double-A in 2010 but had a frightening strikeout-to-walk ratio of 136-to-47 in 519 plate appearances. Though players often show artificial gains in their second go-round at the same level, everyone is happy about Benson's Double-A reprise as he brought that ratio to a much more tolerable 109-to-56 in 472 PA; the overall effect was a .285/.388/.495 batting line. With nothing to play for, the Twins are seeing how he handles major-league hurlers this month. He’s done well for himself thus far with six extra-base hits and two steals in 38 plate appearances. Coming all the way from Double-A, don't expect too much, but he's certainly worth some FAAB dollars in an AL-only league.
Rob McQuown is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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