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AL OF Stock Watch

Here are the past weeks risers and fallers in the American League outfield.

Bullish:
Josh Hamilton – Although he is only jumping one spot, I just can’t keep him at number two any longer, not the way he is currently mashing. Not much needs to be said about his numbers, but this is my favorite statistic of his so far: Hamilton’s .866 SLG alone would rank in top 10 of AL OF OPS, just below Josh Reddick and above Ben Zobrist. Absurd.

Ryan Sweeney – After a bit of controversy of leaving him completely off my May tiered rankings, I have backed off on my doubt of Sweeney. Obviously I don’t think his current .416 BABIP is his true talent level, but he is enjoying his best offensive season of his career and you should enjoy that too. He has always been an opposite field hitter and he is currently taking full advantage of the Green Monster. His 13 doubles lead the AL OF. He won’t offer much power or any speed, but his average (or OBP) and his runs scored, particularly if he continues to lead off, are making him a must own for now. He is only owned in 12 % of Yahoo! and 16% of ESPN leagues.

Josh Reddick – Reddick was initially ranked in tier seven in April, then tier six last week and now he will probably be in tier five. He has already surpassed his home run total from 2011 in barely half of the plate appearances and quadrupled his stolen base total. I wouldn’t count on too many more bags, as he was never much of a runner in the minors or the majors, Reddick is currently 4-4 in stolen base attempts. A new trend is that the A’s do have the most SB and SBA in the AL, so it is possible that Reddick ends up with 10+ bags on top of his power numbers. That makes for a nice little bonus. He won’t win your love in the AVG/OBP department, but he has been and should continue to accrue value in other ways. In the past week his ESPN ownership has shot up by 55%, bringing it up to 96% overall. He is more freely available in Yahoo! leagues where is only owned in 65% of the leagues. If for some reason he is still available, ride the hot hand and hope that he keeps hitting and running.

Alejandro De Aza – De Aza, like Sweeney, is another player that I’ve been admittedly slow to come around on. I can’t undersell De Aza too much anymore though. Not when he is 4th in AL OF in runs, 2nd in SB and rates in the top 10 for AVG and OBP. His contact rates are exceptional thus far and so has his walk rate. De Aza had a fantastic partial season last year, but I have been burned on those types of players before and was overly cautious with his ranking. De Aza has made a believer out of me though. He probably isn’t available in ESPN leagues at this point, not with a 96% ownership rate, but you might have better luck in Yahoo!, where his owned percentage is much lower, at 63%.

Bearish:
Colby Rasmus – I was one of Rasmus’ biggest fanboys when he was a prospect and in his early seasons with the Cardinals. He has dropped from tier five to tier six, and if he doesn’t pick up the pace, he’ll be relegated to even more fantasy irrelevancy. The truth of the matter is that his .225/.288/.375 line just isn’t worth playing at this point in time. I wouldn’t drop him, but I’d bench him until he hits himself out of the slump.

Marlon Byrd – Byrd is like the poster boy of players who I was flat out way too high on. So far in 2012, Byrd’s value has been entirely tied to his empty average. To say how empty his .281 AVG really is, his ISO is .016. Clearly Byrd is no longer the player that I and the Red Sox thought he is. He is getting down 0-1 over 70% of the time, compared to an average rate of 59%. There are a lot of things for Byrd to adjust to, and I sincerely hope he makes those much needed adjustments.