Here we will continue to monitor the risers and decliners of the American League outfield rankings:
Marlon Byrd – I’ve already waxed poetic on Byrd in a previous article, so I won’t ramble too much today. I like Byrd as someone who is CF eligible and starts for the team that has scored the 5th most runs in the AL. Byrd’s ownership rate is still just 2% in Yahoo! leagues so there is a good chance that he is available in yours. If the match up is favorable, I like Byrd for FanGraphs: The Game at home on days where you want to save a few dollars. He’s a useful ballplayer.
Yeonis Cespedes – Cespedes already has 4 dingers and is 4-4 in stolen base attempts. The 30% K-rate is something to be wary of, but he is still producing in spite of it. Per Pitch f/x, not even 45% of the pitches that Cespedes has seen has been a 4-seamer or a 2-seamer. That means that he has seen an awful lot of curves, sliders and change-ups. Cespedes does have a .357 OBP, but that includes his 3 HBP. Cespedes has only earned 7 walks for himself so far. With a swinging strike rate of 16.4%, I am tentatively pushing Cespedes up one tier. If those strikeouts get out of hand, then expect him to drop back down.
Denard Span – Although I don’t expect Span’s average to remain at .324 all season long, I do feel that he has a good chance to end with a .300+ average. He’ll never hit too many homers for you, but his runs, SB and AVG should all be above average at the end of the year. If you play in an OBP league, then Span is one of those deeply satisfying late round types. His sneaky good OBP (career .361) is great to have penciled in for 650 plate appearances.
Coco Crisp – I understand that Crisp was battling a cold to start the year, but his play has been a touch below replacement level so far. The A’s aren’t exactly in a pennant race, so giving a veteran like Crisp a ton of plate appearances isn’t being called for by the press mob. Crisp’s speed hasn’t yet fully diminished as he does have a pair of steals in as many attempts, but his lack over AVG, Runs, HR and RBI make him a fairly expendable commodity. I wouldn’t bail on him just yet, but if you can find a trade partner looking desperately for steals, I would probably unload Crisp.
Ryan Raburn – Despite the fact that Raburn barely made my original cut (tier 8), he is threatening to play himself out of even that small honor. Surely much of his struggles are due to random variation, e.g. his .094 BABIP, so expect for Raburn to join the list of Bullish hitters soon, but that time is not now. As of now, he currently has zero home runs and even zero RBI’s of any variety. The Tigers were many people’s preseason pick to runaway with the Central, but they are currently in third place, though only on percentage points. For the Tigers to begin to pull away from the pack, Raburn needs to get back on track. In due time he very well may, but the question is will the Tigers be patient enough? Keep an eye on his playing time and spot in the lineup. His walks are up and his strikeouts are down, so I would take this rough patch as just that: a rough patch. I wouldn’t over-react and panic, but if this hitting drought continues into late May, you (and the Tigers) may be forced to bail.
Peter Bourjos – After popping 12 homers and nabbing 22 bags last year, many people (myself included) began to wonder just how good Bourjos could be. So in 2012 far the freshly turned 25-year old has fallen on his face. Similar to Raburn’s poor BABIP, Bourjos’ is surprisingly low. Unlike Raburn however, Bourjos’ poor walk rate has tumbled even lower. On the year Bourjos has but one lone walk compared to his 11 strikeouts. With the corpse of Vernon Wells still on the roster, I wouldn’t worry about Bourjos losing any playing time just yet, but like Wells, both may lose time to Mike Trout when the wonder kid finally gets the call.