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September 14, 2012

Value Picks

Outfielders for 9/14/12

by Paul Singman

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No new arrivals this week, but plenty of returning names and lots of speculation in the “Edge of the Radar” section to keep you busy.

Hanging Around
With Chris Young’s quad injury lingering, Adam Eaton (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 12%) drew all the starts in center the past week and, for the most part, played well, leaving his batting average at .323 after his first seven major league games. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, that average is mostly an empty one; Eaton scored six runs and stole a base but has otherwise left the roto categories untouched.  As long as Young remains out, it’s easy to endorse Eaton as a fringe three-category contributor (runs, steals, average), but how the playing time is divvied once Young returns is still a mystery only time will solve, so keep an eye on the PT distribution in the D’Backs outfield if you invest in Eaton.

Last week’s VP star, Chris Parmelee (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 3%, CBS 8%), has lamentably been out for most of this week with a strained groin. I’m not one to forget past production so quickly, so Parmelee can continue to hang around these parts. Expect him to miss a few more games but pick up his hot-hitting ways when he returns.

Nate McLouth (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 3%, CBS 7%) had himself a fruitful week, batting over .400 and contributing two steals to the cause. The rejuvenated outfielder’s ownership rates are still depressingly low, don’t be afraid to give McLouth the ole’ pick up.

Chug-a-chug-a-chug. That’s the sound of Andy Dirks (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 6%, CBS 26%) continuing to chug-a-long, his .319 batting average in tow. The undervalued Tigers left fielder had another solid week, offering a home run, a couple runs and RBIs, and a near-.300 average to his owners. Inexplicably, Dirks has sat in favor of Ryan Raburn (he of the sub-.300 OBP and SLG) against the last two lefties. The next test in this regard will come next Thursday and Friday when the Tigers face lefties Tommy Milone and Brett Anderson; we can only hope Jim Leyland passes those tests. If Dirks were to be platooned, his value would be limited mostly to AL-only leagues, but as an everyday player, he should be owned in all 14-team mixers and deeper.

Departing
It was an uneventful week for John Mayberry (Yahoo! 13%, ESPN 28%, CBS 32%), who picked up a few hits and a couple of runs and RBI but not much else. Considering his ownership rates also jumped some, the combination of falling production and rising ownership is a simple formula for the “Departures” section. In 15-team mixers and deeper, Mayberry is still a serviceable fourth or fifth outfielder.

Edge of the Radar
This year’s breakout minor league position player is Oscar Taveras (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 0%), a left-handed outfielder in the Cardinals’ system with all five tools. Lance Berkman is done for the year and Carlos Beltran is slumping and dinged up, meaning Taveras could carve out a role in the Cards’ outfield as they try to fend off a hoard of teams for that second Wild Card spot. In NL-only leagues, the time to add is now.

One of the most productive hitters the past week, Justin Maxwell (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 4%), managed to swat a homer and steal three bases. Maxwell still strikes out too much to sustain a high average but can contribute with power and speed. Playing center field every day and batting cleanup (albeit in Houston) combine to make favorable conditions for Maxwell to end the season on a high note.

Since last writing about Anthony Gose (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 6%, CBS 11%), the raw youngster went 5-for-14 with a home run (his career first) and four steals. He still sits against lefties—and the Jays face two in the next week—but is an elite speed option when on the field. If you need steals, Gose is a go.

Teasingly, in early September the Royals called up an outfield prospect not named Wil Myers. Instead, we get 26 year-old David Lough (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 0%), who is a slap-hitting, speed-first type of guy. In his first five big league games, Lough has batted .304 and missed time with a hamstring injury. He’s recovered, though, and could get the majority of time in right field for the Royals over the final weeks. If you’re in an AL-only league and searching for anyone to fill an OF spot, Lough could be your man.

Former VPers Gregor Blanco (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 2%, CBS 9%), Fernando Martinez (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 2%), and Charlie Blackmon (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 1%) all had plenty of hits this week in part-time duty. Blanco seems to be playing his way into the lineup every day, making him mixed-league-relevant again.

After an abysmal August, Michael Saunders (Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 8%, CBS 30%) appears to be getting back on track in September, batting .368 in five games. Nothing to get overly excited about, but if he was dropped in your 14-team league, he might be worth an add.

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