Before the season, I went through the American League landscape position by position. In the AL outfield landscape, I identified Jake Marisnick as a deep target, but he’s struggled lately after a scorching start to the season. Here, I’ll examine one of Marisnick’s new teammates, who’s already cutting into his playing time a little bit, and another outfielder who has caught my eye.
The Astros called up Tucker a few weeks ago when George Springer had to go on the seven-day concussion disabled list, but he put his name on the fantasy radar with two pinch-hit home runs in Detroit last week. Tucker handed Tigers closer Joakim Soria his first blown save of the season Thursday with a game-tying opposite field blast, though the Astros would go on to lose in extra innings. On Sunday, he ruined Anibal Sanchez’ afternoon with another game-tying, pinch-hit home run, only this time he pinch-hit in the sixth inning rather than the ninth and the home run was of the three-run variety. The fact that Houston used Tucker that early in the game shows what they think of him and also of Jake Marisnick, who has struggled since around the time Tucker was called up.
Since May 3rd, Marisnick has been mired in an 11-for-68 (.161) slide with a 2-to-25 BB:K ratio. Marisnick has gone back to striking out in bunches after booking only 10 Ks in his first 21 games this season, which likely means Tucker will see more opportunities in the coming weeks. Tucker isn’t nearly as good of a defensive outfielder as Marisnick or even Colby Rasmus, but he can hit, and while Marisnick is struggling it makes sense for the Astros to take a nice long look at Tucker in the majors. On Monday, Tucker started against a left-handed starter and hit sixth while Rasmus came off the bench. He picked up two hits and upped his AVG to .341. It seems like he’s in a nice spot with Houston where the Astros are using him against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers while the guys he’s competing with for playing time both struggle with same-side arms.
Burns is another outfielder who was called up this month and now seems to have real value in AL-only leagues. Burns is hitting .294 atop the Oakland lineup and has scored 11 runs in 21 games. His speed is his calling card as he’s a legitimate burner on the base paths. Burns already has seven stolen bases in nine attempts in the majors this season and he stole 54 bases between multiple levels of the minor leagues last season. While I like Tucker a lot and believe he has the higher upside, Burns’ path to playing time is arguably much clearer, and in AL-only formats, getting more at-bats can be crucial.
Coco Crisp has already come back and re-injured himself for the Athletics, but even if and when Crisp returns, Burns isn’t automatically out of a job since Sam Fuld is hitting below .200. The Athletics also have Josh Reddick in the outfield, and like Crisp he also generally has trouble staying healthy. Burns isn’t likely to keep up his high AVG, but he’s worth having for his speed alone.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now