May 19, 2010
Hot Spots: Outfield
Living in the Past: Cameron Maybin has been 6-for-19 since getting his Value Pick “yellow card” (or font) last week - responding better than his teammate to a benching. He tallied a startling total of 9 RBI, hitting his 2nd home run of the season yesterday. And, since the Austin Jackson comparison was used last week, it will be noted that Austin has been 4-for-25 (with 0 HR or SB). These are all tiny sample sizes, of course, but at least keep Cameron Maybin on your scope for a future pickup. The team from Miami may not get much publicity other than when Hanley Ramirez is feuding with Fredi Gonzalez, but both Mike Stanton (for whom the Value Pick list will be expanded by an extra slot for the time being) and Cam Maybin have very good fantasy upside. Another ex-VP placeholder in the news is Carlos Guillen. The announced move to second base sounds like the Tigers want to see him on the DL again soon, but as soon as he qualifies for second base, he becomes one of the 2nd-tier players at a position which doesn't have many (and which lost one to Asdrubal Cabrera's injury)... as long as he's healthy.
Recap: The Cubs outfielders haven't cooled off, so Tyler Colvin only got 10 plate appearances last week, but he used them well - collecting 3 runs, an RBI, his first steal, and raising his batting average to .300 on the season. It was a rough week for Nate Schierholtz, as his team was pwn'd by the Padres (as usual) until yesterday, when he was removed as part of a double switch which helped his team come back for their first win against the Friars this season. Fortunately for both the Giants and Schierholtz, they won't see the Padres again until August.
Departures: In what may turn out to be a badly timed piece of advice, Jeremy Hermida will be dropped from the Value Pick list this week. Fortunately for fantasy owners who read the fine print, it will be noted that said departure is contingent upon J.D. Drew's injury being of the sort which doesn't land him on the DL. If Drew is healthy, the lineup could very quickly revert to that of the pre-season plans, as Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron are both playing live baseball in rehab stints, and David Ortiz seems to have remembered which end of the bat to hold. Hermida's window to stake out a larger role has probably already closed.
Arrivals: Unable to work out a trade with Mike Street to acquire Luke Scott for the “Outfielders” segment of Hot Spots, and a step slow getting on the Brennan Boesch Bandwagon, more relatively obscure outfielders were needed this week. Even before the injury to Travis Snider, Fred Lewis was looking like a good pickup. Clearly, he's not MVP material, but he's also not 30 years old yet, and has enough power to allow a fantasy owner to play him for his speed without cringing. His .405 BABIP will come down, but his career mark is an outstanding .362, consistent with the type of hitter he is (a lefty slasher with good speed and “doubles power” - often triples in Lewis' case, obviously). He's shown a sizable platoon differential for his career (.288/.355/.442 vs righty pitching), and his fantasy owners may wish for him to get rested against some of the tough lefties in the AL East (e.g. Lester, Sabathia, Price, Pettitte, Matusz). But there are mostly righty pitchers in the division, and 3 of the teams regularly start catchers who can be stolen against, which is a nice bonus (Martinez, Posada, Jaso). Having noted that Lewis is a player worth having, it would be remiss to not take note of some of the upcoming series, and the expected great starting pitching he'll see:
TB, SD, SF, STL, PHI, NYY are (respectively) the six best run-prevention teams in the majors so far in 2010. So, overspending on Lewis is not indicated, but he may end up being a much better “value” after the Jays are done with this upcoming gauntlet of suppressive starting pitching, as his stats are likely to look much worse at that time.
One may wonder why Jack Cust isn't making this list, as a full-time hitter who has reached 25 homers each of the past three seasons would seem like a great pickup. And he really isn't bad, if a team has a slot in which to use him. But the A's have 9 inter-league games at NL parks coming up in June, in which he's unlikely to start. Besides, there's little mystery with Cust – if his average stat line from the past three years helps a fantasy team, he should be added.
At least in terms of striking out and homering, Marcus Thames has some resemblance to Jack Cust. And with Nick Johnson coming off his season-plus-long stint on the active roster (returning to his customary DL slot), lots of playing time has opened up for Thames. He'll vie for DH at-bats with Jorge Posada, and while his career batting line of .235/.294/.473 against righties isn't thrilling, he hits lefties hard and has clouted 103 homers overall in 1777 career plate appearances. That sort of power behind the OBP-heavy core of the Yankees lineup could result in some fantastic RBI totals for a part-time player.
Rob McQuown is an author of Baseball Prospectus Fantasy Beat, Baseball Daily Digest, and the team expert for both Chicago teams in Heater. You can click here to see Previous Fantasy Beat articles or click here to see his entries at BDD (including daily fantasy advice).