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October 18, 2011

The Keeper Reaper

Outfielders for 10/18/11

by Rob McQuown

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Starting off on a tangent, the Player Forecast Manager has been updated with 2011 final stats, as many have already noted in this blog post: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15322. This is good news for discussing keepers. In fact, for easy reference, here are direct links to the PFM reports for the various league sizes used in Keeper Reaper (note that minimum dollars have been set to $5 so that the reports display faster – this can be extended to include players who had worse 2011 seasons, if desired):

Shallow (10-team mixed, 3 keepers): http://pfm.baseballprospectus.com/index.php?cid=6431
Medium (12-team mixed, 5 keepers) http://pfm.baseballprospectus.com/index.php?cid=6430
Deep
(15-team mixed, 6 keepers) http://pfm.baseballprospectus.com/index.php?cid=6432
NL-Only
(12-team NL only, 5 keepers) http://pfm.baseballprospectus.com/index.php?cid=6435
A
L-Only (12-team AL only, 5 keepers) http://pfm.baseballprospectus.com/index.php?cid=6434
Super Deep
(20-team mixed, 10 keepers) http://pfm.baseballprospectus.com/index.php?cid=6433

Also, email notification of comments will be coming very soon, so you can be notified when people comment on a Keeper Reaper article you're interested in. Speaking of comments, in the two weeks since the last Outfielders edition, many suggestions have been made, so without further ado, let the reaping begin.

Ben Revere | Minnesota Twins
Shallow
: NO
Medium
: NO
Deep
: YES
AL-only
: YES
Super Deep
: YES

Ben Revere was a bit of a statistical disappointment in 2011. He'd burst onto the full-season baseball scene in 2008 with a whopping .333 TAv in the Midwest League, and with his lightning-fast speed adding both fielding runs (FRAA) and baserunning runs (BRR), he logged 5.6 WARP over the next two seasons combined, despite seeing his TAv drop. When Denard Span had concussion problems this season, Revere got his chance, having hit .305 in Double-A in 2010 and .303 in Triple-A in 2011. In the end, with the injury problems on the Twins, Revere ended up with the third-most plate appearances of any Minnesota player despite posting a terrible .231 TAv while his FRAA fell below average (though “average” is better in the majors). He collected a paltry sum of just 14 extra-base hits and 26 walks. If he hadn't created nearly a full win (8.0 BRR) with his running, he would have been worse than replacement level. All of this real-life stuff only matters inasmuch as the question of his playing time is concerned. And it bears observation that Revere has been treated the opposite of many other mid-level prospects the Twins have had over the years, who seem to get more minor-league time than many fans and analysts would prefer, yet seem to come out better for it.

Real-life considerations aside, Revere has the raw speed to steal 50 bases, and that may be conservative. To do that, however, he'll need to get on base 33-34 percent of the time, continue leading off, and stay healthy. And all of this—besides the health—gets back to the seminal question: “will he hit?” Comparisons can be misleading—for example, Willy Taveras hit .291/.325/.341 in his age-23 season and had two more productive years followed by that 68-SB fantasy fun outburst in 2008 before falling apart. However, Michael Bourn seems to be improving, ala Lance Johnson, and he wasn't starting full time until age 25. Johnson didn't become a starter until age 26, yet he hit .295 from age 27 onward, collecting 4819 plate appearances and 263 stolen bases. Given the raw tools and the good work ethic that Revere has, it seems safe to assume that he'll make at least steady progress as he ages—learning better how to disguise the bunts and how to lay off the pitches he can't handle. And if this happens, he should keep his fantasy owners in the money with the rampant base pilfering. Expectations shouldn't get too high, as the hopes for him to turn into a more complete hitter—with walks and extra-base oomph—have dwindled, but singles and steals make for a good fantasy asset.

Denard Span | Minnesota Twins
Shallow
: NO
Medium
: NO
Deep
: NO
AL-only
: YES
Super Deep
: BORDERLINE

Through June 3, Denard Span was hitting an even .300. He'd stolen only four bases but had scored 32 runs in just 54 games started, thanks to his .367 on-base percentage and good baserunning. We don't have any oracle here to augur a player's recovery from injury, but the safe advice is to talk up how great he is when he's healthy and trade him as soon as possible. Concussions (which he suffered on June 3) are bad enough, and Span had a history of vertigo as far back as 2009, compounding the problem. When healthy, he's likely every bit as good as his first two months, if not quite his 2009 season, but the risk is just too high when it comes to head injuries.

Tyler Colvin | Chicago Cubs
Shallow
: NO
Medium
: NO
Deep
: NO
NL-only
: NO
Super Deep
: NO

This author has some analytical egg on his face regarding Tyler Colvin. He has shown great ISO at every level, including one of the best in the majors in 2010. But for now, it would take the Cubs hiring a general manager who publicly declares that he's going to give Tyler Colvin a full-time job for at least half a season to make him worth keeping. His value could potentially go up if he opens eyes in spring training, of course, but all things considered, he seems like someone who will be very cheap in the auctions. The reader question was whether to keep him at $2 in a 12-team NL-only league, and that really depends on who the other options are. It's difficult to imagine him going for even $4 in an auction, so is saving $2 really that big of a deal?

Leonys Martin | Texas Rangers
Shallow
: NO
Medium
: NO
Deep
: NO
AL-only
: NO
Super Deep
: NO

Sometimes, the keeper decisions depend more on how the long-range keeper rules work in a league. Martin has enough tools that keeping him would be defensible in mixed league if there are no escalating salaries to worry about (i.e. in 2015, he could be quite good, playing in that nice ballpark with a potent surrounding cast to provide runs and RBI). For 2012, let someone else worry about how he's going to get plate appearances while the Rangers are driven to field the best possible team and make yet another run at the World Series.

Charlie Blackmon | Colorado Rockies
Shallow
: NO
Medium
: NO
Deep
: NO
NL-only
: NO
Super Deep
: NO

It's possible that Charlie Blackmon could end up on many “2012 sleeper” lists. He did, after all, batter Triple-A pitching in 2011, and he plays in the best hitting environment in baseball. The problem here is that Dexter Fowler—as confounding as he is sometimes—had a very nice year. Again. And Seth Smith was the second-most-common batter in both the number five and number six slots in the Rockies lineup, which makes sense given his career batting line of .290/.364/.518 against right-handed pitching. Oh, and Blackmon bats lefty as well. While he'd be a defensive (and speed) upgrade over Smith, it's difficult to supplant a player who has hit 47 homers in 1210 career plate appearances against right-handed pitching with a guy who has hit one in the majors (and just 30 in 1590 PA in the minors).

2012 is shaping up to play out the same as 2011 for Blackmon—he'll start in the minors (Triple-A this time, as opposed to Double-A), and hope to make enough noise that they'll hear it in Denver if Fowler or Smith scuffles. Barring a trade of one of the starting three outfielders (stud Carlos Gonzalez being the third), there's too much risk to keep Blackmon.

Jay Bruce | Cincinnati Reds
Shallow
: BORDERLINE
Medium
: YES
Deep
: YES
NL-only
: YES
Super Deep
: YES

The question with Jay Bruce is whether he's a top 30 player or not. PFM shows him ranking 52nd in shallow leagues last year, but most would agree that he still hasn't reached expectations despite clouting 32 home runs and driving in 97 runs. Meanwhile, many ahead of him on the list (this means you, Melky) are unlikely to remain in such lofty company in 2012. He's listed as BORDERLINE, but entering his age-25 season, he's one of the few NL players who has a shot at winning the MVP award. The reason he's not a sure keeper in shallow leagues is only because outfielder “replacement value” is insanely high in such contexts, and Bruce is really just a three-category player, though two of those could be exceptional (HR and RBI).

Matt Holliday | St. Louis Cardinals
Shallow
: NO
Medium
: BORDERLINE
Deep
: YES
NL-only
: YES
Super Deep
: YES

On a 21” monitor, Matt Holliday's injuries (from his Player Card) take up an entire browser window, top-to-bottom of screen. That doesn't really mesh with the fact that he's played 155-plus games in four of the past six seasons, but while he's tough enough to shake off most injuries, they do add up, and the recent ones cause the most alarm... and he's nearing the end of his prime. He's an excellent hitter in a very good lineup, but his park works against him, he doesn't steal bases, he hasn't topped 28 home runs since leaving Colorado, and his injury history makes him too risky to bank on. He's still a good bet to hit .300-25-100, but he's certainly not top 30 any longer, and while he'd be kept in most medium-depth leagues, he'd be someone to consider packaging in a trade to improve that keeper slot.

Alex Rios | Chicago White Sox
Shallow
: NO
Medium
: NO
Deep
: NO
AL-only
: YES
Super Deep
: YES

Alex Rios had a train wreck of a season. Following the Sox here in Chicago, everyone had a theory as to what was wrong, suggesting that nobody really knew. One thing is certain: he wasn't playing with the same brash confidence he shows when he's playing well. This turned up in the field as well as at the plate and came across as a terrible lack of focus most times. Sometimes low BABIP can be attributed to bad luck, but Rios wasn’t making hard contact as often as the player who had entered the 2011 season with a (career) .281 batting average and .446 slugging percentage. The comment from BP2011 ended with, “With four years and $50 million left to go (taking him through his age-34 season), Williams' grab looks more obviously like the inspired snag that it was, especially given the shortage of quality everyday center fielders floating around on the market.” So, it's probably too early to punt Rios in super deep formats, but make sure that there's a viable Plan B on the roster. If he's not hitting or playing good defense again in April and May, new manager Robin Ventura could have him spectating, regardless of his salary.

Rob McQuown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Rob's other articles. You can contact Rob by clicking here

Related Content:  A's,  Denard Span,  Ben Revere,  The Who,  No-no

8 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

harderj

Thanks, Rob. Love the hot stove musings.

In my Strat league (50 man rosters), I have the following outfielders, and any thoughts on the fringe ones (any hope?) would be appreciated...I'm looking for nine to ten position player cuts (Jeff Clement, Dan Johnson, Brandon Inge, Taylor Teagarden, Daric Barton, Steven Pearce, Mat Gamel, Ian Stewart, and Reid Brignac are other possibles).

Clear keepers - Dexter Fowler, Carlos Beltran, Jayson Werth (use Howie Kendrick in left or draft someone)

Keep for future potential - Travis Snider

On the bubble - Fernando Martinez, Michael Saunders, Rajai Davis (hits lefties and plays defense)

Clear cuts (I think) - Lastings Milledge, Jack Cust

Oct 18, 2011 08:04 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

Well, I guess I'd cut in this order:

1. Cust
2. D.Johnson
3. Pearce
4. Teagarden
5. Clement
6. Milledge

Then it gets tougher.

7. Saunders - though his AAA stats are promising.
8. Barton - sort of depends on how many teams you have and how many DH slots exist ... hard to cut him after such a useful card just last year, but he's still a powerless 1b, even if he plays good D.
9. Inge - could have some value if he gets a 1, so he's not as easy of a cut as his stats would suggest.

I guess R.Davis and Gamel would be the next two. I'd see if you couldn't trade Inge or Davis - they both play very good defense (will Inge get a 1?) and hit lefties (though in Inge's case, "hit" is questionable). Gamel's biggest selling point is that he hit AAA this year, and Fielder seems unlikely to return. But he's not very young for a prospect, nor has he shown the raw offense you want from a 1b in the minors consistently.

Oct 18, 2011 13:26 PM
 
harderj

Thanks so much! I really appreciate the "Full Monty" of your ranking all of them ;~). More than I expected.

Yes, if Inge pulls a 3b-1 that obviously ups his value. John Lamanna projects him as a 2e18, though, and he's usually pretty close.

He also projects Pablo Sandoval as a 3b-2, which means I wouldn't need a defensive replacement this year (only a platoon guy against lefties...Jed Lowrie). I've tried to shop Inge, but in an 11-team league he doesn't get much play...

Rajai Davis, on the other hand, might be very useful to me with Carlos Beltran (rf-4) and Howie Kendrick (lf-4) currently in the starting lineup (was hoping for good things from Travis Snider in left, but alas...good LFs in the draft, though).

Sitting at 52 players, I need to shed 12 by trade or cut to draft 10.

Your list (10) - Cust, D. Johnson, Pearce, Teagarden, Clement, Milledge, Saunders, Inge, R. Davis, Gamel

Clear pitcher cuts (2) - Justin Duchscherer and Brian Tallet

I also have Mike Pelfrey, Evan Meek, Joey Devine, J.P. Howell, David Purcey, Brian Duensing, and Brian Anderson as possible pitcher cuts if any of them would be better than Davis, or Gamel or Saunders especially (who, since my park slightly favors left-handed hitters, I like, especially in Gamel's case if the Princely One leaves).

Meek, certainly, seems a replaceable commodity, at 29 years old with one good year (and the 2nd worst name for a relief pitcher on the staff, behind Grant Balfour), and Pelfrey is continually frustrating with nothing more than a garbage man Strat card any year (but with lots of innings!).

I'm inclined to keep Anderson for his post-TJ recovery phase as my 50th man, and Devine is divine when he's healthy...

Thanks for any further thoughts!

Oct 19, 2011 04:48 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

I listed 11 batters, and Barton was #8.

11-team league? Purcey seems like a very safe cut. I'm going to assume that's Brett Anderson, who's a certain keeper. Howell and Duensing seem like safe cuts to me, too. But Duensing did have that one surprising season.

It does seem like you'll easily be able to come up with 12 cuts before shedding R.Davis and Gamel, who should have some value.

Oct 19, 2011 06:35 AM
 
harderj

Right, I forgot my own player Barton, and of course it's Brett Anderson (not Brian...announcer on TBS? Former White Sox centerfielder?).

Purcey was one of those "I need a lefty for 2010 cards" picks (and he wasn't even that good). I have more hope for Howell and Duensing, but neither had 2011's to speak of.

Thanks again!

Oct 19, 2011 13:16 PM
rating: 0
 
fawcettb

When Ben Revere is nearly as keepable as Matt Holiday, there's something wrong with the formats. I guess I've been ruined by Scoresheet, but these are all as useless to me as they would be to a MLB talent evaluator.

Oct 18, 2011 11:15 AM
rating: 3
 
davinhbrown

Mike Morse, $13

Geraldo Parra $2


Was this perhaps Morse's career year with holes in his swing? or is improvement possible for a guy who took so long to get to this point and this opportunity?

12tm NL only league. Can keep 3 players total.

Other potential keepers include:
Danny Espinosa $13
Brandon Beachy $7
Mike Leake $1
Jon Niese $6
Daniel Hudson $13
RA Dickey $6
Clint Barmes $1
Jon LuCroy $4
David Freese $13

Oct 18, 2011 17:07 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

Morse is interesting - in limited sample size before 2010, he had a .293 career batting average and .355 on-base percentage.
But he had just a .409 slugging. Over 2010-11, he's had a .298 batting average and a .357 on-base percentage, consistent with what he'd done before, but obviously he's hitting the ball a lot harder now. I have to assume that age will steal some of his batting average (and hence OBP) as it does for everyone. But a .200+ ISO seems a part of his game now. I have to think that .280/.335/.500 should be expected at this point.

I think Beachy and Dickey (and probably Espinosa) should earn more than their salaries, and I think Leake is very risky, but I'd probably keep Leake for $1 anyway, just because he's okay and the price is so low.

Oct 19, 2011 01:55 AM
 
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