Fantasy Baseball 2014: Outfielders In New Places
Pat Mayo (@ThePME) tells you whether team changes increase or decrease the Fantasy values of Shin-Soo Choo,Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran…
Outfielders in New Places
Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) ADP: 46 – Choo’s Fantasy value is odd. He’s not elite in certain categories like Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Bruan or Mike Trout, but really, outside of them, who is – yet he’ll contribute slightly above average totals in all five categories. Now in Texas, Choo’s counting stats will depend on where he hits in the Rangers order. He seems like an ideal two-hitter, but that’s just me talking. It does seem sensible, though. Choo’s OBP is a hair below .400 over the past two years, which is A) incredible and B) more sustainable than you think. Haters will point to an elevated BABIP (.338 in 2013) for that inflated number, but a bloated BABIP’s nothing new. Choo’s career rate is a ridiculous .350. That’s a number he’s been able to maintain through his supreme plate discipline. His walk rates have risen three straight seasons yet he’s been able maintain a line drive percentage over 20 percent in each of his nine seasons, sans one – It was 19.7% in 2010. He’s consistent, safe and if he could ever figure out left handed pitching, he’d be a lock for Top 10 at the position. And with a combined .207 average versus southpaws the last two years, that number is far more likely to go up than down.
Curtis Granderson (NYM) ADP: 144 – Moving from the Bronx to Queens is going to hurt Granderson’s production – DERP!!! – but his return to full health somewhat offsets that keeping him a viable Fantasy starter in 12+ team leagues. Expecting a line like his peak 2011 (.262/136/41/119/25) is not suggested, but he’s still one of the few OFs that could post 30 HRs and 20 SBs, making Granderson undervalued at his current draft position.
Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY) ADP: 13 – How much does the move from Fenway to Yankee Stadium affect Ellsbury? That’s somewhat unknowable, but but a slight boost in power shouldn’t be unexpected. Perhaps he can crack double digits in home runs again – for the second time in career, and first since he smacked 32 in 2011. I wouldn’t count on that many though, 15 HRs may even be pushing it. Ellsbury will continue to provide elite run and steal totals, but anticipate a bit of a drop in average, though. His .298 mark was assisted by a .341 BABIP. If that number regresses back to his career .326, you should expect slightly fewer hits, especially if his strikeout rate continues to climb for the fifth straight season. But he’ll be fine as long as he can remain healthy, something he hasn’t done in consecutive seasons since 2008 and 2009. Does he have elite talent? No question, but that injury risk forces him onto a tier below the group of top outfielders. It’s probably not fair, but this is Fantasy – it’s not fair – so give me an equivalent talent without the DL history, especially at the beginnings of drafts.
Carlos Beltran (NYY) ADP: 107 – HARK, more Yankees signings! And Beltran’s a curious case. I’m intrigued to learn where his average draft position ends up when more real drafts start to take place towards the end of February, and we get more of a sense of how the general public values his services. Normally, Beltran goes undervalued because he’s old. Exploiting ageism – a high-end Fantasy strategy. But his move to the Big Apple may inflate his draft stock. Don’t ever overlook the value added to players on big market teams – That’s a real thing. Production wise, expect Beltran to continue his late-career surge. What he may have lost over the offseason in ability should be mitigated by the upgrade in ballpark, and since he’s likely to DH the majority of the time he won’t require so many days off, and in turn shouldn’t suffer from the wear from playing the field. This way, he can keep his crippled feet intact, just as long as he remembers to take his Actonel every six hours.
Marlon Byrd (PHI) ADP: 249 – Maybe he’ll continue not being caught for PEDs (again), don’t bank on though.
Adam Eaton (CWS) ADP: 217 – It’s tough to know how Eaton’s skills will translate to an entire 162-game season, because that’s never happened. But, if it does, he could very well be among the SB leaders in the American League.
Corey Hart (SEA) ADP: 226 – Hart’s injuries made him a DL All-Star all last season, and a move to Safeco isn’t going to make a comeback any easier, but he does persist as a perpetually underrated power bat. Hart’s ISO never dipped below .226 from 2010-’12, so if he has any knees left, a return to 25+ HRs wouldn’t be the most outrageous thing that could happen this season.
Drew Stubbs (COL) ADP 400 – Yes, Stubbs’ average will continue being brutal – it thinks cement shoes are all the rage, but his power/speed upside – especially now at Coors Field – means he should be getting drafted a lot higher than his current ADP. Whether he’s hitting in front or behind (more likely behind) the Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer core, there will be beaucoup opportunities to post gaudy counting numbers. He just needs to keep Charlie Blackmon at bay.
Rajai Davis (DET) ADP: 265 – Regardless of team, you can always count on Davis’ consistency in two areas: Starting a season without a full time job and being exceptionally fast – even with capricious playing time he could swipe 30+ bags. But if some sort of injury plague was to terrorize the Tigers’ outfield (a roving case of Black Deathmaybe?), Davis instantly morphs into a high end source of steals and runs.
Justin Ruggiano (CHC) ADP: 371 – Swapped straight up for Brian Bugosevic, Ruggiano appears like he’s going to be the first chair CFer in Chicago. If that’s the case, continue to expect more of the same: A bit of pop, a bit of speed, with a decent average. In 2012, Ruggiano was the benefactor of a .401 BABIP, which translated into .313 average. Last year, it flipped, churning out a dreadful .222 mark because of a .260 BABIP. His true number rests somewhere in between.
Dexter Fowler (HOU) ADP: 215 – Turns out that power binge last April wasn’t sustainable. Shocking. But that’s not why you draft Fowler. He’s on your squad to score runs, nab some bags and hopefully crack double-digit home runs again; you’re outright lying to yourself if you expect any more than that. Doesn’t mean he can’t become more. To which there’s good news, no one’s usurping Fowler in Houston. He’ll get the opportunity to evolve.
Norichika Aoki (KC) ADP: 193 – Aoki’s crippling lack of power is problematic (.084 ISO in 2013), but he gets on base, and runs enough to fill in a lot of holes (for little cost) if you’ve decided to build a power heavy roster.
Chris Young (NYM) ADP: 400 – We may be a few years removed from actually witnessing Young’s 20/20 potential, but it still lingers off yonder. And maybe, jussssssttttttttt maybe, with some enhanced playing time in New York, he could flash a glimpse or 20 of it again. Pay particular attention in deep NL-Only formats. Young’s a name to put an asterisk next to deep on your draft-day cheat sheet.
Jason Kubel (MIN) ADP: 477 – Kubel’s back in Minnesota after his two-year vision quest in the desert. However he’s only on a minor league deal, so he’s no lock to actually make the Twins roster, but if he does, we know he can provide the BOOM at the plate. Don’t forget, Kubel’s just a year removed from a 30 HR season in Arizona.
David Murphy (CLE) ADP: 409 – A career .281 hitter heading into his contract 2013. That didn’t go so well. Murphy rolled out the worst season of his career, posting a .220 average, but a lot of that was a result of a very unlucky .227 BABIP. Across the board though, the rest of his numbers weren’t all that far off of normal. Cleveland signed him as an OF4, a role that could yield far more action than you’d expect with the potential for an expanded role if he gets off to a hot start.
Seth Smith (SD) ADP: 569 – Still has pop, but that’s about it. Smith’s nothing more than a platoon player. Which, along with his double-digit power upside, is worth a buck or two in an NL-Only league.
Nate McLouth (WAS) ADP: 338 – All the good tidings McLouth brought to Fantasy owners last season have vanished. Nasty Nate’s still a solid NL-Only option because his skill set, but he’s going to need something to happen to Denard Span, Jayson Werth or Bryce Harper in order to have any value in standard formats.