AL OF Stock Watch

Today marks latest batch of trends in the American League outfield.

Bullish:
Mike Trout – I know that it is hard to be bullish on a kid who is as highly touted as Trout, but so far he has shown that he is as much production as we projected. His strikeout rate is a touch high, 22.7%, but he makes up for it with excellent power and speed. In just 88 plate appearances, he has four homers and 10 walks. To put that another way: he has as many walks as Albert Pujols does and Pujols has 176 PA’s this year. Trout is an absolute superstar in the making, if he isn’t already one. He is still available in 31% of Yahoo! formats somehow although ESPN leagues have been quicker to reel him in (that will be only Trout pun from me all season, I promise), as his ownership rating there is a healthy 94%. For anyone in any format in need of offense, Trout is a fantastic pickup.

Raul Ibanez – I’m surprised to say his name too. After his disaster of a 2011 season where he “hit” .245/.289/.419, he has shown that he isn’t finished just yet. Compare to last year, he has cut his strikeout rate in half to an unbelievably low 9.8% while upping his walk rate to 7.4%. I don’t expect that low strikeout rate to continue, but perhaps it is a sign of a major adjustment on his part? Just yesterday he hit his ninth home run of the year and a 25 home run season wouldn’t be shocking at this point. Given his surrounding lineup and his batting position of fifth against right handed pitching, his RBI totals should be nice shot in the arm as well. Once again we see that ESPN is quicker on the draw; his ownership rating there is 83% and it went up over 50% in the past week. Yahoo! lags behind considerably despite his LF and RF eligibility, he is only owned in 41% of leagues. Anyone in need of a solid OF bat that will play 4-5 times a week should pick up Ibanez. I know I am.

Rajai Davis – I admit to being a big Davis fanboy. I have a chronic weakness for cheap steals late in the draft, or sometimes even out of free agency. Toronto Blue Jays skipper John Farrell seems to agree. Farrell has recently stated that he wishes to get Davis more at-bats with more regularity. To me, that directly translates to 30 extra steals that I wasn’t expecting. Don’t expect too much power out of Davis, despite his recent two home run game. That is the exception to his game, not the rule. Davis’ value on your fantasy squad is directly related to how many steals he can rack up. ZiPS foresees 25 more bags, but I would actually take the over on that. Last year while appearing in only 95 games, Davis ran away with 34 stolen bases. With more playing time comes more stolen bases. His Yahoo! ownership rate is a microscopic 4% and his ESPN rate is a near invisible 3%. If you can stand the lack of RBI production and a middling batting average in an active OF slot then Davis could represent the ultimate steal for you.

Ben Revere – Revere, like Davis, was a man who I dreamt could tally 30 stolen bases without coming with too high of a price tag. Other than his steals, his 2011 season was quite forgettable. Not enough power to make up for the poor average and not enough runs to be recognized. So why am I bullish on him? Well the good news is that he is an outstanding contact hitter who doesn’t strike out much. His extreme ground ball tendencies and solid speed lead me to believe that he can quite possibly replicate his .300 average days in the minor leagues. His ability to beat out ground balls awarded him with a low point of a .295 average throughout his minor league career. With a similarly paltry 3% Yahoo! ownership rate and 2% ESPN rate, Revere is even more underground than Davis. Though for now Revere won’t receive a starters amount of at-bats, I assume he will be used a fourth outfielder/pinch runner type. He can still get steals.

Xavier Avery – Avery is another guy with 25+ steal potential. Since 2009, he has stolen at least 30 bases every year, and has stolen over 40 in 2010 and 2011. He has always had his good speed but very recently has he displayed patience as well. Before his recall this year, his BB% and K% were the highest and lowest respectively of any point in his minor league career. So far in his extremely short major league career his plate discipline has translated nicely, as his walk to strikeout ratio is 4:6. Combine Avery’s on-base and stealing ability with the fact that he’ll be hitting lead off for a quality offense and you have a potentially fantasy league-changing pickup. In the FG vs. THT Expert League I just picked him up off of waivers for $7. A healthy amount for an untested rookie, but I am hoping that Avery pays big dividends for me in the long haul. Avery is currently owned in less than 1% of ESPN and a mere 1% of Yahoo! leagues.

Bearish:
Hideki Matsui – With the strong possibility that Matsui joins the the Rays at some point later in the week, several question arise: Will Matsui be the Godzilla of old? What kind of numbers is Matsui capable of producing? Will Matsui fall asleep in the clubhouse a la Ken Griffey Jr.? I can’t tell you the answer to the last question there, but the first two seem fairly straight forward. I’ll answer both of them with this: In 2009, Mastui’s ISO was at an all time high of .235 and he was coming off of a five year stretch where his ISO was above .190 for four of the five years. In 2010 it fell down to a still very respectable .185, then in 2011 with Oakland it fell through the basement to .124. Long story short, I wouldn’t expect much out of Matsui at this point in time.

Johnny Damon – Another aging left-fielder, Damon’s best days are also behind him. His putrid triple line is not all age-related, as his his BABIP is a preposterously low .192. That excuse said, his upside at this point is about a .260 AVG with 10 homers and maybe 10 steals. None of those are inspiring. If you need average, homers or steals, there are other, better options available. Damon may eventually reach 3,000 career hits, but I don’t want him on my fantasy team while he goes for it.




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You can catch David spouting off about baseball, soccer, esports and other things by following him on twitter, @davidwiers.


30 Responses to “AL OF Stock Watch”

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  1. Mark R says:

    Add Avery, drop Dyson?

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    • David Wiers says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      ZiPS sees Dyson hitting for about a 20 point lower AVG and roughly the same steals. Both guys hit lead off too. I’d give the edge to Avery.

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      • Mark R says:

        I appreciate the reply, David. I made the move after I saw the AVG difference. Dyson gets bumped around a lot too. He hit at the bottom of the order just yesterday.

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      • David Wiers says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        Not a problem! I hope it works out for you, but not as much as I hope it works out for me.

        I’ve been suck in 8th place-ish all season. Maybe Avery will be the boost that sends me to top.

        I didn’t know Dyson hit 9th yesterday, I just know he hit 20 games at leadoff. Good to know.

        Best of luck the rest of the season!

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      • Skob says:

        Don’t forget Dyson is the 2nd choice for CF on that team. When Cain comes back, the job is his and Dyson is back on the bench or in AAA!

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  2. shibboleth says:

    Thanks for this, David. In a mixed league with OBP and SLG, would you prefer Avery over any of: Tabata, Neiuwenhuis, or Bernadina?

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    • David Wiers says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      You’re very welcome!

      I’d take Avery over any of those guys, but it’s very close with Tabata. Bernandina just doesn’t offer enough counting stats in any category to make up for his mundane rate stats. I think Neiuwenhuis will cool off. A 30% strikeout rate with a.400 BABIP? Seems like an ideal regression candidate.

      Tabata has 5 bags already, but 4 CS too. Even though most leagues don’t use CS as a negative category, Tabata’s real life manager might not be giving him the green light if he keeps running into outs.

      I’d stick with Avery.

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  3. Shane says:

    Thoughts on Kole Calhoun please. Can he stick with Halos long term?

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    • David Wiers says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      At first glance it looks like he killed the ball in the Cal league.

      Of course, that is like saying he can hit homers on the moon. It just isn’t that impressive given the context, not to mention the fact that he was 23 in High-A ball (no fault of his own, he was a 4 year player at ASU, but still worth mentioning the age vs level).

      He’s now in the PCL and still superficially hitting well. His walks are down a bit and his strikeout rate although still good, is up a few percentage points.

      I think he can be about as good as Vernon Wells, but that isn’t saying much.

      As a pre-arb guy he could be useful to the Angels, but I don’t know if he’ll ever have the AVG or power to be totally fantasy relevant in 12 team mixed. His home park has a home run factor of 90 for LHP, whereas his AAA park was 115.

      For now I’d say move along, nothing to see here.

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      • howard says:

        i’ve been offered trout, matt adams and bryce harper for Justin Upton (it’s a keeper league).

        What do you think?

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      • David Wiers says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        Although Justin Upton could be a superstart, Trout and Harper are two of the best outfield prospects the game has seen in years.

        I would jump all over that trade.

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    • Angelsjunky says:

      I agree that Calhoun probably won’t do much right away, but I think he’s going to be one of those players that is better than his tool set, sort of a Baby Brian Giles. Just call it a hunch. I think his upside is around .290/.370/.460 with15-20 HR and SB a year. But he might hit .270/.350/.420 and still be a nice player to have around.

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  4. howard says:

    one last question: drop dirks or viciedo?

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  5. JEdward says:

    I woke up yesterday morning wondering how Trout wasn’t owned in 100% of leagues. Then he went and had another monster game. What in the world are people in those leagues doing?

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  6. lorne says:

    How would you rank these OF the rest of the season in Roto 6×6 (included OBP)

    Reddick
    Willingham
    Swisher

    Tanks, David. Great article

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    • David Wiers says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Swisher > Willingham > a mile > Reddick.

      I’m really worried about Reddick’s r/RBI chances and his OBP is brutal. If it was just a normal 5×5, Reddick is considerably closer.

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  7. Yankees123 says:

    Im in an $280 auction keeper league where Hamilton would be kept for $31 and Trout $1 (Can keep players for 3 years where price increase by $1 first year, +3, then +5) Would you trade Hamilton for Trout if you had Trout?

    Hitting categories are R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG

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    • David Wiers says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      It might sound wild, but yeah, I think would trade Hamilton for Trout.

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  8. Josh says:

    Hey David – on how ESPN calculates its %owned number…taken from this recent article http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/flb/story?page=TMR120510

    “I asked the great Mike Polikoff, who oversees our League Manager products, to pull a bunch of data from last season. Mike used a sample from our prize-eligible leagues and an active 10 percent of our standard leagues; these are all active leagues that play out the season, you see, so as to not skew the data. It’s also how we calculate ownership percentages so as to purge the dead leagues.”

    Probably why ESPNs numbers are so much higher than Yahoo. Assuming Yahoo doesn’t do something simliar.

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    • David Wiers says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Ahh, they purge the dead leagues from their ownership rates then? I wonder what the cutoff for “dead leagues” is.

      Maybe less than 10 moves made in the first five weeks or something? No one logging in and changing the SP for two weeks?

      Good find nonetheless, thanks.

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  9. Vegemitch says:

    Where does Coco Crisp fit in with the speed merchants at this point? He’s only 29% owned on ESPN, any reason to believe he can’t challenge for the league lead in SB again? Will he end up with limited playing time in Oakland?

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    • David Wiers says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Crisps’ triple slash has been abysmal this year. A .230 BABIP isn’t helping at all, so there’s a good possibility that he hits something like .260 the rest of the way with 30 steals. He doesn’t offer the same youthful upside as guys like Avery or Revere, but steals are steals.

      If you have enough power bats to balance out Crisp’s zero RBI contributions then he’s a good pickup. The A’s have been running constantly this year so Crisp will get plenty of chances to run.

      The only thing is that once Cespedes is back from the DL (probably next Monday or so) then that outfield gets crowded again. I don’t know who gets left out in the cold, but I don’t see management sitting Reddick or Smith. That kind of leaves Crisp as the guy struggling to find at-bats.

      Long story short (too late, I know), Crisp is still worth a pickup, but I’d look to trade him as his playing time will be in doubt in the near future.

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  10. Bert Simpson says:

    Do you prefer Rajai Davis over Tony Campana?

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  11. Ashman says:

    I have a dire need for a CI so I’m going big FAAB on a Matt Adams waiver pickup. I’d say my need for power and speed are equal – question is who to drop, Viciedo or Rajai? Also, Avery or Davis in 6 cat league where the sixth is OPS?

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  12. David Wiers says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I’d drop Viciedo before Rajai.

    I’ll go Avery over Rajai in the 6 cat league.

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    • Ashman says:

      After posting I checked out the numbers and Zips has Rajai around a 740 OPS with Avery at 680ish – still feel that way or is there reason to be bullish on Avery’s on-base and/or slugging?

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      • David Wiers says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        I think the gap will be considerably smaller than what ZiPS forecasts.

        The power SLG won’t be there for either one, but with comparable speed and AVG, I give the OBP edge to Avery. Yes, this is the first time he’s facing major league pitching, but he has shown double digit walk rates in 100ish PA spells in the minors. He already has five walks this year to Davis’ 4, in less PA’s too.

        Of course, BB% and K% don’t normalize fully till past the 200 PA threshold, but I am still confident in Avery.

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