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May 11, 2012
Outfielders for 5/11/12
There was a common perception that Jayson Werth is injury prone, but he went almost four years between stints on the disabled list (his previous being May 23, 2008). His loss hurts fantasy owners, though not nearly as much as it is likely to hurt the on-base-challenged Nationals. Meanwhile, mixed-league afterthought Rick Ankiel becomes a much better risk; the team really needs his power, even if he brings little else to the table offensively. In the fantasy realm, however, owners can do a lot better when searching for a replacement in most league formats, which is where Value Picks comes in...
With the assistance of Sam Miller, DiSars recrudesced again Wednesday, and the fact that the 2010 “winner” of this “award” was none other than Dayan Viciedo (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 0%, CBS 25%) was mentioned. With 28 strikeouts and just three walks in 97 plate appearances, it appears that Viciedo has reverted to his apparent pursuit of Gary DiSarcina's goal of never walking. But in some ways, his 2012 stats are even more concerning still. He's swinging at only 49 percent of pitches compared to nearly 56 percent in 2010, but he's also taken 37 percent of his pitches seen for strikes, whereas his 2010 aggressiveness held this rate to just 26 percent. In some instances, a reduction in swings at pitches outside the zone (from 45 percent in 2010 to 36 and 39 percent, respectively, in 2011 and 2012) would compensate for taking a few more pitches for strikes (which patient hitters do). Yet connecting on just 57 percent of those out-of-zone swings is disconcerting, to say the least. Part of the reason his 2012 outlook was so positive is that he wasn't missing these pitches previously. He had just a 25 percent miss percentage on pitches outside the zone (75 percent rate of making contact) in 2011. There's still the possibility that Viciedo will find some magic bullet (such as moving his hands back four inches in his stance) and instantly become the solid mid-order hitter that we hoped for. And the lack of pressure from young up-and-coming players, combined with the bleak outlook for the Sox in 2012, makes it less likely that he'll be demoted or lose too much playing time. His stat line is bad enough now, however, that he can safely be cut in most formats and subsequently re-acquired if he starts hitting.
Nobody ever suggested that the Oakland A's are the most popular baseball team, and that helps explain why their most often-used number-three hitter, Josh Reddick (Yahoo! 30%, ESPN 65%, CBS 57%), is available in so many leagues. The A's organization (and general manager) will forever be synonymous with the “Moneyball” philosophy and discerning market inefficiencies, and it appears as though they’ve keyed in on a new inefficiency: low-OBP isolated power. Reddick has always been this sort of hitter, which never sat well with Boston's management and led them to seek out a hitter with a more patient and selective approach.
While his defense won't help a fantasy owner, it is likely to keep him in the lineup during slumps; he's a smooth, rangy right-fielder who can cover center field in a pinch. Oh, and he has a cannon attached to his right shoulder that has allowed him to rack up 10 assists in his brief MLB career to date (four so far in 2012), confirming that the 34 assists he piled up between 2007-2008 in just 205 games was not some sort of minor league illusion. That's nearly 27 assists per 162 games, which compares favorably to Alex Gordon's MLB-leading total of 20 outfield assists in 2011 and the mere 16 for the second place outfield assistant. Reddick may not end up leading the league, but he should be a frequent contender.
Not much positive can be said about his teammates or his home ballpark, but if he keeps batting third, at least he'll be surrounded by the best Oakland has to offer, and that should allow him to end the season with representative totals in runs and runs batted in.
He's a one-category guy who probably is no better at the plate than the ill-fated Clete Thomas AL-only recommendation last week, but Jarrod Dyson (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 5%, CBS 9%) is so great at that one category that he's actually worth picking up in deeper mixed leagues until Lorenzo Cain returns. Vince Coleman led off for the Cardinals for years, posting lines as bad as .232/.301/.280 in 1986. Dyson's career batting line is a not-far-off .234/.301/.331, though that’s probably slightly lower than his true skill level. He has hit .282/.348/.367 in 659 Triple-A plate appearances, so slightly lower doesn't mean to expect him to suddenly become Kenny Lofton at the dish. Nor is he really Vince Coleman on the basepaths either, though with the change in strategy over the years, it's not inconceivable that if he (and his manager) was willing to take more risks, he would pile up more. So far, he's been on first base 79 times with second base open and has gone 23-for-26 in steal attempts with four pickoffs (zero pickoff caught stealing). This means that 38 percent of the time, he tried to steal. Thirty-four percent of the time, he both attempted and succeeded in stealing. Coleman's numbers were astonishing: 51 and 41 percent, respectively. Since Dyson has appeared as a pinch runner so often, it's not safe to pro-rate his steal rate per PA, but even with a .300 OBP, he should manage a 60-steal pace.
As in real baseball, Delmon Young (Yahoo! 26%, ESPN 27%, CBS 55%) is getting another chance this week to show that he belongs on a Value Picks list. If he plays his way off this list, he may re-emerge on Michael Street's DH list in the future, even if he doesn't like the idea very much. If he doesn't rebound, he won't be the only player to peak at age 24 (Nick Markakis appears to be on this career path as well, providing evidence that it's not necessarily a matter of having a bad attitude—no one would question Markakis' attitude). Unlike many other players listed as Value Picks, Young is likely to get snatched up as soon as he strings a couple good games together, so there's some strategic value to being overly patient with him too.
Despite a bad week (.150/.190/.150 and his first off day of the year), Denard Span (Yahoo! 20%, ESPN 39%, CBS 44%) remains a very solid pickup among typical waiver wire fodder. He has the Indians, Tigers, and Brewers coming up, so the schedule makes this a good time to pick him up. Tangentially, who would have guessed that the Brewers would have the second-highest runs allowed per game through May 10? It can't even be blamed on sixth-turned-fifth starter Marco Estrada, who has a 4.50 ERA and 1.125 WHIP so far.