August 10, 2011
Outfield for 8/10/11
There was little value to be had this past week as the seven players on the Value Picks List hit a combined .192/.261/.256, but Dexter Fowler and Josh Reddick had good weeks, and there's reason for hope with some others. As always, some players won't last on the list, while new faces come along to help out fantasy teams in need.
Nolan Reimold, Baltimore Orioles (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 3%)
Nolan Reimold started five straight games in left field for the Orioles, but that's a bit misleading as four of them were against lefty starters, and he wasn't allowed to start against Chicago's Gavin Floyd, who is a bit homer-prone (career .148 ISO against right-handed batters). Due to low ownership percentages, Reimold will be removed from this list, but keep him in mind as Felix Pie still has a bad stat line for 2011, and Reimold has the raw power to hit 30 home runs in a full season. His (lack of) other skills make the cost of those homers a bit high, however, which is why he's never really been able to hold down a full-time job.
Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers (Yahoo! 15%, ESPN 7%, CBS 24%)
Bad news for Magglio Ordonez is good news for Andy Dirks. Since Dirks batted third in the Tigers lineup Tuesday, it's clear that Jim Leyland still views Maggs as the right fielder and #3 hitter (he'll directly swap players into the same lineup spot when they are subbing, usually reserving lineup changes for when he decides the “starter” has changed). That said, Ordonez holding his spot appears to only be a function of respect for past performance and salary paid. Don't completely forget about Ordonez, but there are certainly better options available in most formats now.
Jon Jay, St. Louis Cardinals (Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 14%, CBS 30%)
Playing time is king in fantasy baseball, and Tony LaRussa seems to have taken a liking to Corey Patterson, who’s stealing valuable playing time from Jon Jay in center field. Despite the bad week (.167/.286/.167, one run, two RBI), Jay remains a viable aid to batting average going forward. Since LaRussa's choices of which player to start against which pitcher are impossible to predict, and since Jay won't help a fantasy team much without playing almost every day, it's time to look elsewhere in most formats.
Trayvon Robinson, Seattle Mariners (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 1%, CBS 12%)
For fantasy purposes, it's almost impossible to gush over batters who call Petco or Safeco home, like Trayvon Robinson does with the latter. Sometimes, though, Triple-A stats are simply impossible to ignore. In the case of Robinson, there are some quirks to his stats, making expectations difficult to pin down, but his 26 homers in 416 PA at Albuquerque and highlight-film outfield play made him interesting to Seattle at the trade deadline and will give him fantasy value as well. Other fantasy sources rave about his great speed, and while there's no doubt he's a fast runner, he stole only nine bases in 2011 before his promotion while being caught six times. This comes under the “quirks” category as he stole 47 bases in 2009 and 38 more in 2010.
As far as being a Value Pick, Robinson is much higher risk than most players who get featured. There's really very little chance he'll have mixed-league relevance in 2011. The Mariners not only have a rough home park and 26 home dates remaining, but they also have series at Oakland and Cleveland, both of which are extreme pitcher’s parks. Also, only series against the Twins and Royals involve weaker pitching staffs, much more than counterbalanced by many series against the league's best park-adjusted pitching staffs.
Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 14%)
It's really difficult to add much information about Kyle Blanks. Whenever he's been healthy, he's hit. And hit hard. When he was still in the minors, he made the NL-only list a month ago. Now, with Ryan Ludwick gone, he's all but assured of playing left field for the rest of the season. As with Trayvon Robinson, the park works against him, but at least the righty home run factor for Petco is only mildly deleterious to his stats (right-handed home runs are reduced by only 5% in Petco). The Tuscon Padres may have hit .292/.363/.465 as a team, but even in that context, Blanks' .351/.421/.716 batting line stood out. Afield, Blanks will always look like a first baseman (or linebacker) playing the outfield, and it's likely his fielding stats will continue to be poor as well. His hitting should be good enough to keep him in the lineup, though, which is the only thing fantasy owners usually care about. The remaining schedule isn't very good for him, but look out for September series’ in Arizona and Colorado.
Jason Bourgeois, Houston Astros (Yahoo! 17%, ESPN 52%, CBS 36%)
Welcome to the world of a full-time outfielder, Jason Bourgeois! Before Tuesday's relatively tame matchup with Jason Marquis, the righties Bourgeois recently faced were Chris Carpenter, Yovani Gallardo, Bronson Arroyo, Yovani Gallardo (again), Zack Greinke, and Daniel Hudson. He won't continue to have .136/.136/.136 weeks, but there's some pressure to produce soon, as Jordan Schafer will be back soon. Schafer's injury was to his finger, so his great steal numbers should resume whenever he gets to play. He's not as good of a hitter as Bourgois, but in the extended tryouts the Astros are holding, playing time could be divvied up based on very small sample sizes. Even if he loses playing time, Bourgeois should always have a niche as a guy who can hit lefties, play all three outfield spots, and pinch run.
Josh Reddick, Boston Red Sox (Yahoo! 13%, ESPN 32%, CBS 41%)
Added last week, a reader asked what 2012-13 fantasy value Josh Reddick would have, to which the reply was:
I don't mean to avoid the question, but I really think it's too early to tell. For him to have a full-time Red Sox outfield job in 2012, he'll have to continue to do well this year and inspire confidence. I think it remains to be seen how gracefully he handles his first slump after this extended period of success.
That being said, he does make great contact for someone with his power potential—the aspects of his game (along with his D) which made him appealing back in 2007. If even half of his improved patience (in small sample sizes) this year is for real, he has a good chance to be an above-average outfielder as soon as 2012, and the surrounding lineup could provide him with the possibility for 180+ runs+RBI to go along with 25-30 homers.
If I had to do "expected values" for him right now, I'd probably say 50% chance of the full-time (85-90% PT) gig, 50% chance of a 40-50% PT 4th-OF role. Either way, my expectations for him would be about 90% of the above "possibility" numbers per 650 PA. How that valuates out depends on scoring systems.
With days off against lefties CC Sabathia and Francisco Liriano interspersed with a 1-for-5 and an 0-for-3 day, fantasy owners nationwide have taken a much more bearish position, cutting Reddick in many leagues. Expect Reddick to keep sitting against the league's tougher lefties (Liriano still has this reputation, even if the 2011 stats don't back it up), but Darnell McDonald's career line against left-handed pitchers is just .278/.344/.438 (far superior to his .205/.269/.331 line against righties), so don't expect Reddick to miss all lefty starters.
Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies (Yahoo! 25%, ESPN 38%, CBS 37%)
Before Tuesday's game, Dexter Fowler had hit .326/.426/.522 since his recall, stealing six bases in 24 games. He added two singles and an RBI on Tuesday, too. With 22 home dates on the Rockies schedule the rest of the way, Fowler should be owned in all formats.
Eric Thames, Toronto Blue Jays (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 7%, CBS 21%)
Sunday appears to have just been a day of rest for Eric Thames, but with another terrible week (.059/.111/.059), the possibility of Rajai Davis taking some playing time from him grows. Given the usage pattern of Travis Snider, the Jays appear to allow a young player a month of struggling before replacing him, and Thames' troubles began on July 16, so he may have to do something this week or risk losing MLB playing time.
Fernando Martinez, New York Mets (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 3%)
It's possible that Lucas Duda will play right field and Nick Evans first base, as the depth chart currently suggests. But Duda isn't much of a fielder in the outfield, and Evans has hit .275/.341/.465 in 695 plate appearances in Triple-A in his career and .248/.308/.401 in 266 PA in the majors. With Kirk “bag full of fives” Nieuwenhuis (as a scout told Kevin Goldstein) on the shelf, Francisco Martinez is likely to get another chance. If he'd taken a different path to arrive at his .263/.333/.431 batting line in Triple-A at age 22, he might still be highly regarded, but the early hype and the major-league failings (.183/.250/.290 in 145 PA) have led to him being an afterthought. Still, the Mets aren't going to learn anything by platooning Willie Harris and Jason Pridie in right field, so don't be surprised to see Martinez starting (at least against right-handed pitching) in September.
Endy Chavez, Texas Rangers (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 3%)
Endy Chavez has started 10 of the Rangers last 15 games, and while he doesn't have the skills to keep hitting .309, his career batting average is .273, and he's stolen 93 bases in 2636 career PA. With his good defense, he doesn't have to play over his head to keep getting playing time, though he's likely to sit against most lefty pitchers and when manager Ron Washington wants more offense.
Rob McQuown is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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