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May 7, 2013

Free Agent Watch

National League, Week Six

by Josh Shepardson


Dee Gordon, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ownership: ESPN: 17.7% Yahoo!: 24% CBS: 38%
2013 Stats: 2 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 SB, .429 AVG

The Dodgers, and their fan base, are likely crying uncle at this point. They are hurting. Less than one week after being activated from the disabled list, Hanley Ramirez suffered another injury that required a return to the DL. His injury prompted the team to promote Gordon from Triple-A, where he hit .314 with 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts through 25 games.

Perhaps the most promising thing about Gordon's stint in Triple-A to start the year was a huge jump in his walk rate. His best walk rate in an extended stay at any minor-league level was 7.2 percent in 2009 at Low-A. After 117 plate appearances for Triple-A Albuquerque, Gordon was sporting a 12 percent walk rate. He's always done a good job of avoiding strikeouts, even in his time in the majors (15.6 percent strikeout rate in 572 plate appearances), but the walks are a welcome addition for a player who gets almost all of his fantasy value from swiping bags. Gordon is a career .303 hitter in the minors, but that success hasn't carried over to the Show, where he's hit just .262. If he can boost his on-base percentage in any way, he'll be a stolen-base monster. Even with a paltry .303 OBP in the bigs to date, he has managed to steal 59 bases. Gordon is a category monster that needs to be nearly universally owned. Even if you don't have a need in stolen bases or at shortstop, he's worth adding as a trade chip in all but the shallowest of formats.

Cameron Maybin, OF, San Diego Padres
Ownership: ESPN: 15.8% Yahoo!: 14% CBS: 22%
2013 Stats: 3 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB, .091 AVG

I was higher than many folks on Maybin coming into the season, ranking him 49th in my outfield rankings. Suffice it to say, he's been a disappointment for me so far. Part of my rationale for liking Maybin this year was simply being a sucker for his tools. It wasn't just his tools I fell in love with, though. Maybin has improved his strikeout rate each of the last two years, and for the first time in his career, it was below 20 percent last season. His contact rate rose from 73.33 percent in 2011 to 80.28 percent last year. Through 10 games this year, Maybin had shaved approximately another six percent off his career-best strikeout rate from ast season. However, his contact rate before the injury was actually a little lower, at 78.18 percent.

The next step Maybin needed to take to enjoy a true breakout at the dish was improving the type of contact he was making. From 2010-2012, his line-drive rate fluctuated between 14-16 percent, and he pounded more than half of his batted balls into the ground. His line-drive rate was a little below 14 percent in the early going this year, but it's likely that was due in part to a wrist injury that sent him to the disabled list. There isn't a timetable for Maybin's return to the Padres’ active lineup, but he's no longer wearing a splint on his injured wrist, and according to manager Bud Black, he has motion in the wrist and, "He continues to improve daily." Many fantasy owners have jumped ship, and the lack of a timetable for his return is frustrating, but he's a worthwhile DL stash for owners in need of outfield help in mixed leagues of 12 teams or larger that start five outfielders and deeper formats. If he continues to make weak contact after he returns to the Padres, then it will probably be time to give up on hoping for a breakout from the 26-year-old center fielder. 

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pac... (05/06)
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Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Nati... (05/01)
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Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Amer... (05/09)
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