Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10 Scoresheet
Tyler Colvin CHN 115 7 19 17 1 .304 .360 .608 .246 .297 .412 29 7 15 +20 –71 2.12
Eric Hinske ATL 133 4 20 24 0 .314 .383 .551 .244 .334 .448 20 0 0 +26 –91 2.06
Conor Jackson ARI 173 1 19 11 4 .238 .326 .331 .287 .362 .452 37 0 0 –20 +52 2.07
Austin Kearns CLE 217 7 34 31 4 .291 .378 .481 .256 .344 .401 52 3 0 –1 +2 2.09
Seth Smith COL 169 9 26 28 0 .268 .325 .516 .281 .365 .476 40 0 0 +26 –87 2.09
Ryan Sweeney OAK 252 1 31 28 0 .302 .349 .397 .290 .355 .424 0 0 61 +29 –88 2.14
Jose Tabata PIT 23 0 3 1 2 .250 .348 .350 .280 .335 .420 5 0 0 –16 +40 2.10
Andres Torres SF 220 3 29 19 11 .297 .398 .486 .240 .306 .406 22 23 22 –24 +56 2.12
Delmon Young MIN 210 8 28 41 3 .295 .333 .500 .280 .324 .425 54 0 0 –25 +57 2.04
Subscribe to Heater: Avg for Left Field .274 .342 .440   vRH = OPS v RH
Heater Magazine Avg for Center Field .269 .338 .424   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Right Field .275 .348 .449   Rng = Range
  Avg for All Outfield .273 .343 .438  

Is Steve Stone'd, or Just Stupid? Here's a (very) loose translation of the recent war on words between analyst Steve Stone and manager Lou Piniella, regarding Value Pick outfielder Tyler Colvin:

Steve Stone: “Play the kid, already. He shouldn't be sitting on the bench. Jason Heyward is playing every day; Mike Stanton is playing every day; so should Tyler Colvin.”

Lou Piniella: [thinks to himself: Look, I know Steve Stone is on on on on on on the television, but this kid can't hit lefties to save his life, and you need a leash to get him to take a walk, but I can't say that about my player on the air, so…] “Why don't you talk to me so I can explain this off the air.”

Lou Piniella (continues): [thinks to himself some more: Hey! My outfielders are hitting .291/.358/.511 as a group this year, what more do you want?!  If my stars in the corner infield were hitting at even their 20th percentiles, we'd be scoring some runs…] “I'm no dummy, look at all the games I've won!”

Steve Stone: “Lou sure is a doddering old fool, isn't he?” (chuckles)

Okay, Stone's primary role is to entertain now, and Lou's is to position the team to have the best chance to win each baseball game. Both seem to be doing their jobs effectively [Michael Jong will be happy to field comments about Lou's handling of Geovany Soto in his "Catchers" column – you're welcome, Mike], with the “entertainment” coming at Lou Piniella's expense since he's clearly not going to win a war of words with a slick – and beloved – orator like “Stoney.” Obviously, Colvin's problems with lefty pitching aren't going to be helped by never seeing them, but it's a tough ask for a manager to sit a guy like Xavier Nady, whose career line against lefties is a cool .300/.374/.458 – especially when others aren't hitting.

For fantasy purposes, assume that Lou's going to get his way on this one, and his way involves starting Colvin against almost all righty pitchers. Fukudome got a spot start against Jake Peavy, based on career batter-versus-pitcher stats, but those will be rare. Even if the Cubs ship out Nady or Derrek Lee, don't expect much improvement in fantasy value from Colvin, as the extra AB will come against pitchers he's less able to handle.

Eric Hinske looked a lot more solid last week, but Melky Cabrera seems to have found his misplaced bat, posting three 2-hit games in the past week. Hinske is still in the lineup against righty starters for now, though, and he had a good week as well.

The Seth Smith rave has to quiet down a bit, as he's being benched sometimes for Ryan Spilborghs. Spilborghs is a career .282/.355/.451 hitter (with a weighted-means projection of .280/.353/.462), so it will be no small task to fend him off. The difference in batting average is something the Rockies appear to take very seriously (just ask Chris Iannetta). Smith will keep his spot as a Value Pick for now, as the better player should emerge with the playing time, and Spilborghs has hit just .276/.343/.425 in his career against right-handed pitching (calling Coors home all the time), so Smith should be able to get the big half of the platoon.

Ho-hum, Ryan Sweeney played every game this week and dropped his batting average 15 points. But he did score eight(8) runs.

Exit Stage Left: Conor Jackson becomes another quick-yellow on Value Picks, as the move to Oakland can't help his cause any. Playing his home games in a hitter-happy ballpark was a big part of the allure, and in addition to playing in a pitcher's park (though now only mildly so) and going to the tougher league, the AL West has some excellent pitching talent now. The one factor in his favor is that there are many lefty starters in the AL West rotations, and Conor is a career .298/.396/.468 hitter against Southpaws.

Happy Trails: As noted last week, Andres Torres' steals have caused him to get on the radar for many, and he's “graduating” from the Value Picks. Pick him up if he's still there in your league. Likewise, mainstay Delmon Young is finally being kicked out of the nest, with his ownership in most public leagues doubling in the past week. The .295-8-41 line, with a .500 slugging and 3 steals for good measure finally couldn't be ignored. Continue to be excited about him, as the much-reduced strikeout rate portends the batting average staying around .300, as has been discussed in past columns.

Ahoy, Mates! Jose Tabata is well-equipped to become a Pirate. He drastically improved his speed over the offseason, allowing him to pursue his larcenous ends in Indianapolis this year, utterly destroying all his previous speed metrics, as he swiped 25 bases in just 252 plate appearances en route to leading the league in runs scored with 42 in 53 games. Even with very modest speed expectations, he was considered a great long-term prospect due to his age-related-to-league (weighted means has him at 12 steals per 483 PA, a pace of about 15 for a season). But with his improved speed, he could perform at the 10th percentile PECOTA for rate stats (.258/.318/.359), and could even see his SB-per-time-on-base fall from 27% in AAA to 18% in MLB (33% less), due to tighter defensive batteries (it's safe to assume he didn't see anything like Chris Carpenter/Yadier Molina, or Carlos Zambrano/Koyie Hill, or Wandy Rodriguez/anyone in AAA)… and still end up with over 20 steals the rest of the season. Note that multiple “negative” scenarios were presumed here, and the SB total is still high enough for him to have good fantasy value in most formats. Additionally, the Pirates have shown a keen sense of perspective to their place in the “build cycle”, and are very patient with ballplayers. So, expect Tabata to get ample playing time, even if he goes through periods where he's struggling.

You were right: Writing at Baseball Prospectus is challenging, since the level of sophistication (and, really, intelligence) of the readers is so high. Someone suggested in a comment a few weeks ago that Austin Kearns was worth a look, an idea which seemed uninspiring, given his .240/.339/.366 batting line from 2007-2009 (1242 PA, a good sample size), his move to the tougher league, and his sky-high BABIP. But fantasy baseball is nothing if not making adjustments. Kearns has made some adjustments, clearly. But the most important thing is that he appears to be fully healthy and is in great shape, resulting in a 4.5 speed score, after spending 2007-2008 in the 2.5 range. It's not like he's going to steal a ton of bases, but it's a positive health indicator, and will help buoy the sub-.300 BABIP he's sported the past three seasons. On the topic of that BABIP, however, it would be good to assume that his stat line is currently at a more luck-neutral .255/.340/.445 when assessing his value in waiver claim or trade. He's striking out in 30% of his plate appearances, a rate at which it's virtually impossible to maintain a fantasy-helpful batting average.

A short summary of things to like about Kearns:

  • The aforementioned health indicators suggest that his past three years were hindered by ailments.
  • His ISO is .190 this year, about what it was for his first 5 seasons before taking a 3-year hiatus.
  • He is still walking in 11.5% of his plate appearances.
  • The Indians have batted him 3rd, 4th, or 5th in 43 of his 49 starts this season.
  • The lineup promises to score many more runs in the second half, compared to the first.
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Here's a question for you: I traded Colby Lewis for Jayson Werth... thoughts? And on the Colvin thing, honestly I think Stone was probably just trying to start something with the cross-town rivals. He probably still has sour grapes from his own departure from the Cubs' booth. Admittedly you can make countless criticisms of the Cubs, but it's hard to see one of them being the manager's insistence on playing a guy who has always hammered lefty pitching instead of a rookie. That's scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Well, I drafted Lewis in all my leagues this year, and am thrilled with the outcome - surpassing even the seemingly optimistic PECOTA pre-season projections. He's shown a little less fine control than expected, and while his BABIP should remain under .300 with the good defense and his flyball tendencies both helping suppress it, it will rise from .244 and he'll always allow home runs, so it seems safe to assume that he won't remain as effective as he's been. Until Werth started slumping, he was playing like an MVP candidate, and is stealing more bases than ever before, making him a great fantasy option. I tend to shrug off most in-season "trends" for hitters, since they go through streaks and slumps, and Werth's season stat line is still great, and consistent with a very strong pre-season projection (W-M is .281/.372/.517). Even with outfielders being much easier to replace than good starting pitchers (in most formats), I think this is a no-brainer, and a great deal for you.
You should check the SBs on Werth. He is not stealing more than ever before. In fact, he only has 4 so far this year. That's a pace for 10 SB when he stole 20 the last 2 years. Granted he stole 2 the other night against Boston but those 2 were his first steals since 5/8. And the fact that he's only been caught once (on 4/20) this year means he simply is not running at all. I'm not so sure the hip he tweaked earlier in the season is affecting his ability to run.
Gah! Well, good thing I didn't use that piece of "data" in a feature. I had pulled up his page, and read the line under Davenport Translations, which has 11 SB, but that's scaled for full-season. I stand corrected. The reduced speed does reduce his fantasy value considerably, though he's still a power hitter who calls Philly home, and that lineup should be good, recent performances notwithstanding.
Werth's lack of stolen bases has a lot to do with the Phillies' offensive struggles (Chase Utley and Ryan Howard had not been hitting, so Werth was rarely in a favorable position to steal) and, prior to that, the Phillies' seemingly organizational aversion to base-stealing. Werth wasn't the only one not stealing bases. Through the first 34 games, Shane Victorino only had four stolen bags. I do think the Phillies will pick up the thievery on the base paths, perhaps as tonight's game against the Yankees showed (three SB's). Would bet that Werth finishes closer to 15 swipes when all is said and done.
It's funny, I actually picked up Lewis as a free agent after 23 rounds. I wanted to take him because PECOTA was high on him, but I really couldn't justify taking him after he'd washed out of five MLB teams and was exiled to Japan for a couple of years. Suffice it to say I was thrilled with his high strikeouts, eight quality starts, and six wins (and must needed for me too after drafting Sizemore, McLouth, Cust, and other 2010 fantasy superstars). On the other hand, I just couldn't see that holding up, especially in the AL, in a hitter's park, and on a glorified .500 team. Now if I can just find a way to convince someone to take Carlos Quentin off my hands...
Might want to check Tabata's line for 2010 again - pretty sure it isn't exactly the same as Torres'...
Fixed, thank you.
I noticed in our fantasy league that Carlos Beltran is now available as a free agent. One of the players drafted him back in April and has kept him stashed on the DL until now, but apparently decided to cut him this morning. Based on what Will has been writing, it looks like he may return sometime around mid-June. What should be the play with him? Is he worth picking up on a flyer?
If Will thinks Beltran's return is imminent, my experience with long-time vets like him is that the "rust" comes off pretty quickly, and we all know that he has elite fantasy potential with his "floor" being pretty good, too. It always depends on what you'd be giving up, but it seems like a great play with him so close to returning. I wouldn't expect vintage-level steals from him, but his other contributions are fine.