2011 Favorites: Outfielders

The outfield is a wonderful place.  Playing center most of my <ahem> illustrious career, I have an appreciation to the boredom coupled with rapid excitement that comes from playing in the space past the infield diamond.  But before I start digressing about outfield arms and covering ground, let’s talk fantasy.  No one cares about outfield defense in fantasy, we want power.  Or speed.  Or power AND speed.  The fantasy outfield landscape is vast and varied.  So let’s jump on in…

 

YOUNG STUDS

 

Mike Stanton

Mike Stanton can MASH.  That’s actually the scientific term used by physicists when describing his swing.  He hit a homer every 18 times he stepped up to the plate and had a stellar .248 ISO.  He hit 21 homers in AA then then jumped and hit 22 more in the majors.  The kid’s got serious power.  CAIRO, for some reason, has him down for abbreviated AB and only 21 homers.  This is still a good ratio considering they have him down for only 418 AB.  Slightly more realistically, RotoChamp has him hitting 34 in 562 AB and GUESS WHAT?  The usually stingy Bill James has Stanton hitting a whoppin’ 38 homers in 2011 (and an improved ISO of .288).  Sure, he’s going to strike out a ton but how many young studs are out there?  Actually quite a few, but not many who are very very likely to hit 35+ homers and doubles and knock in near 100 runs.  He’s not going to hit .300 next year, but with 40 bombs and 100 RBI, you better be able to stomach a .270 average.  Stanton is a stud, and is here to stay.  Get him.

very artsy shot here

Desmond Jennings

Jennings is one of the many young players I could have thrown into this space.  However, he distinguishes himself in one of my favorite areas: speed.  While there are questions about his power developing immediately, his speed is the real deal.  Call him Crawford 2.0.  He tore up the bases in the minors, stealing 45, 37 twice and 32 in rookie ball.  No one seems to think that will change in the majors.  CAIRO and RotoChamp seem to fear that he will lose AB’s to Damon and Manny, keeping him under 400 AB, yet both have him stealing 20+ bases.  Now it gets interesting.  Bill James, notorious for conservatism about rookies has him down for FIFTY-FOUR STEALS!  That’s instant stud-dom!  Jennings has always had a pretty good eye, but you gotta figure that, as a rookie, it is unreasonable to expect a .300 average.  Look for .275 and be thrilled when he does better.  As I said, his power is still (allegedly) developing, so don’t expect more than 10 homers.  But 10 homers, 20+ doubles, 5 triples and FIFTY-FOUR STEALS sounds like a pretty good ‘low’ expectation to me.  Jennings has enormous (read: the next Crawford) ceiling, but temper your expectations- he is a rookie, after all.

Domonic Brown

Great name, right?  And we all know that’s the first step towards stardom.  And the general consensus is just that – Browns headed to stardom.  He looks like a player, standing (or towering) at a lanky 6’5” 200, he projects to hit for nice power but is also fleet of foot.  He’s the whole package, basically.  Now in my thinking about his 2011 season, I figured a safe starting bet was numbers similar to Jason Heyward’s 2010 campaign… good, very good even, but really just a teaser for the NEXT season.  Again, I’m no expert, but this seemed reasonable.  So imagine my surprise when I got to Domonic Brown’s Fangraphs page and saw Bill James’ projections.  Apparently he likes the kid – 26 homers, 33 doubles, 4 triples, 94 RBI, 84 runs (breath), a .288 AVG AND 28 steals?!?  Bill James gone wild!  Ew.  Gross.  Seriously, though, is that a projection or what?  Even if he doesn’t reach James’ lofty projections – and I expect he will not – somewhere between the low end (my theory) and the astronomical (James’) is a happy medium.  20+ homers and 20+ steals is ownable right there, throw in some other stats and it’s all gravy, baby.  Tasty, tasty gravy.

 

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DON’T FORGET ABOUT THESE GUYS

Shane Victorino

I should admit that I’ve always been partial to the Flyin’ Hawaiian.  I admire the speed in which he plays the game and the hustle he shows.  That said, he was a major disappointment last year… or was he?  Yes, his average slipped all the way down to .259 but the dude still swiped 34 bags and hit 18 homers!   He is more than capable of producing a 15 homer, 35 steal, 100 run, 10+ triple season, making him at the very least interesting.  But what do I know?  Let’s see what the projectors say… just as I thought.  CAIRO, RotoChamp, and Bill James all have similar numbers: .280 average, 90-100 runs, 15-ish homers, 30-ish steals… and that wonderful threat of the triple.  I’m not saying go out and reach for Victorino in drafts – quite the opposite.  I’m suggesting that when he drops (and he WILL drop), be mindful of letting him by in the later rounds.

Grady Sizemore

How’re you gonna forget a face like that?

Easily, actually.  Sizemore is a serious red-flag injury risk at this point.  But for the bold, all signs seem go.  Bill James seems to think he can play 150+ games but RotoChamp and CAIRO have him at limited (mid 400’s) at bats.  It’s really a matter of how much faith you have in his health.  I happen to think he’ll break down again, others are very optimistic.  James has him for 23 homers, 105 runs, 81 RBI, and 23 steals in roughly a full season, hitting .265.  Given a full year, this seems about right to me.  There comes a time in every draft you take a player you’re scared of, and I’ll say that when you get to it, you might as well take a flier on a healthy Grady Sizemore.  You remember healthy Grady Sizemore… right?  He was a fantasy dreamboat.  Good luck if you snag him, and I hope he does well – he seems like a good dude.

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THE INCEPTION PLAY(s)

Matt Joyce

Do you know Matt Joyce’s ISO off the top of your head?  That’d be incredible, rain man, but let me just tell you – it was .227.  He hit 10 homers and 15 doubles (3 triples too, woot.) in just 261 plate appearances.  That’s good for an extra base hit every 9.32 AB, a delightfully high rate for a guy who just needs a chance to play.  Joyce has real pop – it’s just a matter of whether the Rays will let him use it.  He figures to split time on the corners, so I’d hope for 500 AB and be happy with 400.  Why?  Well, let’s once again go to the projectors:  RotoChamp has him at 21 homers in 444 at bats, an amazing amount and Bill James thinks 18 in 388 AB (with 28 doubles to boot).  Point is, his power projects.  Now if only it would come out on a regular basis… put him on your watch list or stash him while you monitor his playing time.

Travis Snider

So, first off, yes I’m including him because I want him to follow us on twitter (@duckfromthepond).  But more than that, this is the year for Snider, who is only 21 (actually his birthday is coming up so 22), to make a big step in his progression.  With an improved batting eye, Snider could be a late-round power bargain.  He put up two very promising months, May and September, which are hopefully indicators of what might be.  Now the 24:2 K:BB ratio isn’t going to cut it, but that’s easily improved marginally.  What sticks out in those months are his 6 homers in September and .543 SLG.  Bill James doesn’t seem to think he will get regular PT, so I’m ignoring his projections (16 homers in 311 AB).  CAIRO and RotoChamp, however, have him at 19 homers in 466 AB and 23 homers in 521 AB, respectively.  These numbers are a better base if you look back at Snider’s power potential from the minors.  Plus, the dude just looks like he can swing the lumber (link evidence of a BOMB).  Snider is a great guy to take a flier on this year at the end of a draft, as, once again, he’s only 21.  He’s improving every year and could pop off at any time.  He was a major prospect who has since cooled in the majors so grab him before he heats up again.  And see if he’ll follow us on twitter, damnit.

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There we go, the outfielders to keep an eye on this year in drafts.  With the exception of Sizemore, I would readily own them all (and I’d take Grady, just knowing that the injury bug could burn me).  Outfield is a funny position in fantasy, as you can play it fast and loose with guys like Juan Pierre and Raja Davis, you can go for boppers like Snider, or you can play it safe with guys who emerge like Pagan or Torres.  Only the season will tell, and it is fast approaching!  Two weeks til Spring Training starts, so get ready.  DotP is taking off so be prepared – fantasy baseball excellence is at the tip of your finger.

Later, ducks, and happy drafting.

-w

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12 Comments

Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, Posted, Sleepers

12 responses to “2011 Favorites: Outfielders

  1. Jonny D. Snider

    u guys fucking suck u did not even have Jason Heyward

  2. We were aiming for less obvious choices

  3. Jonny D. Snider

    stanton led all rookies in HRs jackass

  4. I didn’t say these were the best players, just guys I am paying attention to. I don’t really understand the aggression. You can look back at the rest of the ongoing series- I’m merely musing about players I like going into 2011. Regardless, thank you for reading.

    • Chris

      No more feeding the trolls!

      • Chris, you get the tone of these posts, no? It’s more thinking out loud than anything. Discussion points. Or it’s sposed to be…

      • Chris

        I get them, but nothing productive was being said, nothing was gained or lost in your post by not mentioning that Stanton lead all rookies in HR, but you did mention his 22 HR’s, which imo is more important to the discussion.

        Saying people are f’ing gay for not including a guy and bad mouthing them for not including a trivial detail isn’t commenting, it isn’t discussion, it’s trolling. I enjoy a lot of what you write and don’t want people tearing it down over nothing. If you get analysis wrong, or you miss a detail or something like that and some one says something, that’s fine, it’s productive. This? This isn’t.

      • well said. I mean, I figure anyone who reads this blog has probably heard of the guys I’m talking about. I’m giving the reader credit- if you’ve somehow ended up on my site, you probably have done some fantasy baseball searching. Guys like Jennings, Stanton and Brown are exactly what I said, young studs, and I’d imagine people know what they’re about. That said, it was silly of me not to mention Stanton’s standing among rookies, as he was a monster… but people probably knew that already…. you see the dilemma.

        All in all, I’m glad you’re reading, I wish some other people would join the discussion cuz you’re bringing good stuff to the table

        -w

  5. Nice work. FWIW, we had Jennings with 51 SBs in 550+ ABs before the Rays signed Damon and Manny. I was in love with Jennings until then. I still think he’s got a chance at the every day spot at the top of the order, especially if the Rays are hit by the injury bug.

    I really like Snider as a sleeper pick, but I think he will become such a popular sleeper pick that he will lose sleeper status.

    I’m not sure how Bill James can project such great stats from Brown. Maybe in 2013 or beyond, but he doesn’t have the plate discipline of Heyward and he’s older so I don’t see his minor league numbers translating so well.

    • Yeah the Jennings situation will be tricky. A lot will depend on his adjustment to the big leagues, no? If he’s hitting .220, he’ll be down in the order and lose some value. The kid can absolutely fly, can’t wait to catch him in a game.

      Snider is an interesting case. I was flabbergasted to learn he’s my age (22) and has already been in the bigs 3-ish seasons. He’s an excellent candidate to keep improving, but yes, a lot of people are wise to him. My hope in drafts is that his ADP and location (read: Canada) allow him to fall to the late rounds. He could very well get overhyped though, you’re correct

      I’m baffled by James’ projection of Domonic Brown. The numbers he has him putting up are beyond gaudy. They’re video game numbers! Heyward hit 18 homers and was up and down – I’d expect similar from Brown. A .260-.270 average with a mediocre OBP is more likely, wouldn’t you say? He’s a rookie with rookie plate discipline, unlike Heyward who has uncanny poise. However, he’s fast, I hear, so maybe he’ll find his way to 30 steals, a drafters dream.

      Thanks for the comment! RotoChamp is excellent

      -w

      • Brown has had a SB success rate less than 70% the last 2 years in the minors. Guys like that don’t usually get the green light in the majors. So, while he has the speed, it takes more than that to steal bases at the big level. He might steal 30 bags sometime down the road, but I just can’t see it happening in 2011. I think 15 would be nice, but I would only expect around 10 if he gets 500 ABs.

      • Fair enough. The more I think about it, if I keep comparing him to Heyward, it doesn’t make much sense to expect more than that.

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