Check the Position: Right Field

Over the offseason we’ll take a look at each position on the diamond and see how the past season affected the positional rankings and where there might be some potential bounceback value picks going into next year’s drafts. (See shortstops, catchers, second basemen, first basemen, third basemen, and left fielders.)

These rankings are for 5×5 rotisserie fantasy baseball. Eligibility was determined by where the player had the most at-bats last year.


The tier-of-his-own player in right field is Justin Upton, and I doubt there will be too much grumbling about this ranking for a guy who hit .300 with 26 home runs and 20 stolen bases in his firs full year. Sure, we may talk a little about his high BABIP (.364), but for now let’s just look at the fan projections and sigh.

That should end the easy portion of our rankings today. Perhaps this is just a little self-pity in anticipation of the comments thread, but the next two tiers could be a single tier, or could be three tiers, and could probably be re-arranged ad infinitum. We’ll give Ichiro! Suzuki credit for his BABIP and (sexy) infield-hitting prowess which are perfect for the right fantasy team.

Now come the players that are impossible to rank. Where do you put a guy like Nelson Cruz, who will give you great power and speed, but will hurt your batting average? Could he be any more different from Shin-Soo Choo, who is is solid across the board but won’t win you a single category? Bobby Abreu is in the Choo-mold, but we’ll move him back a little for the waning power and, to be frank, his old age and body type. It hasn’t hurt him yet, but someday, well it just has to. Right?

I don’t think blame can be attributed for seeing a separation after Abreu. While Nick Markakis is a metronome, his steady ticking doesn’t provide much beyond a .300 average and 20 home runs. The steals in 2007 have proved to be an aberration, and while he may get a power spike some year, there’s no way to predict it. Andre Ethier should, with a better BABIP (.292 in 2009, .316 xBABIP, .322 career BABIP), have a better batting average next year, but is the power real? When Bill James shaves seven home runs off your total, you should take notice. He may not hit 40+% fly balls next year. Some will complain about Jayson Werth‘s placement, because he certainly looks like a Nelson-Cruz-lite, and they might be right. But Werth has had issues with staying on the field, and with his batting average and strikeout issues, the tier seems right.

Jay Bruce may just zoom up the charts next year and make his ranking seem silly, but at least the fans are backing my sense that we should temper our enthusiasm on the young slugger just a tad. He does seem like a great upside play, better than the young but inconsistent Hunter Pence behind him, who has seemingly showed us his best already. Brad Hawpe has some strikeout issues, some defense issues, and never really showed the power we thought he might. Forgive me for not believing in the simultaneous spike in both flyball rate (39.6% in 2009, 35.7% career) and HR/FB (17.1% in 2009, 12.9% career) and agreeing with the projections that say Michael Cuddyer‘s power may subside next year.

The last tier is not very exciting in my mind. Nick Swisher‘s batting average ranges from awful to terrible, Jermaine Dye is getting older and posted a six-year low in line drive percentage (16.9%), Garrett Jones was a 28-year-old rookie who had done nothing before 2007 in the minor leagues, and Magglio Ordonez, well we all saw what happened there. In fact, I would rather wait until the end of the draft to pick someone off of the “just off” list, so the Deep League Value piece this Sunday will feature some gems.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

13 Responses to “Check the Position: Right Field”

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  1. Southsider says:

    I’d switch Ethier and Abreu, but only because I am skeptical about Abreu for 2010…

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  2. Bernard says:

    I would drop Abreu down as well. I’d likely have him between Hawpe and Cuddyer. He’s another year older, the power numbers are only going to decline further and he stole 19 of those 30 bases in the first half – I’d be shocked if he stole more than 20 bases next year.

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    • R M says:

      1st/2nd half splits shouldn’t be read into much for a guy like Abreu I don’t think. What’s to say he doesn’t steal 19 bases in the first half next year and trail off as the season progresses?

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    • Johnny Tuttle says:

      I traded away Abreu as one my first moves when taking over an existing dynasty team before the 2008 season on similar assumptions to Bernard. The sequence of roster management worked out for me in the end, but Abreu has proven already to be an outlier for normal age-based regression.

      Yes, one year soon he will go “poof”, but I agree that he’s still likely to earn the position above in 2010. This is likely a value of this series: we get to spot likely value from a player who’s price will be lowered on expectations of regression. If I see Abreu slipping in a draft next spring, I’m pouncing. If I can offer something lesser for him in a trade, I’m doing it.

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  3. Big Oil says:

    Are we dinging JD Drew on the basis of his projected playing time or for his .389 wOBA? Yes, the RBI’s have been measly — you just have to manage him appropriately in daily leagues, and he produces relative to his ADP.

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  4. Eno Sarris says:

    No, Drew is a fine real-life player, but with a .270-.280 average and 20 home runs, he’s not mixed-league OF material. In deep leagues with daily lineups, he’s fine, and maybe as a bench player in mid-size leagues he’s fine, too. But he’s no starting RF in mixed leagues for sure.

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    • Big Oil says:

      I’m on board with that I suppose. My league is a 12 team, 26 player roster from both leagues. So, my default perspective is not 5×5 10 team smaller roster, to the detriment of some comments made here.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        I think even in that situation you’re talking about a bench/platoon player where you’d want two guys from his ‘tier’ to fill that one OF spot. I mean, your starting RF in a mixed league should be at least 12-th best, right? So really we’re talking about Cuddyer, Hawpe, Dye-level work, and most of those guys are every-day players that won’t take the day-in day-out work to maintain that Drew will. I don’t hate on him. That last tier is relative un-ordered, so he’s just as good a ‘just off’ guy as any of that group.

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      • Big Oil says:

        Over at Mock Draft Central, they’ve got Hawpe going as 36th outfielder/109 overall, Cuddyer going 38th OF/~118 overall, Dye @ 45/157 (interestingly Bruce is pegged at 41/122)…Drew is 65/~275. I agree the former options are more desirable than Drew, and perhaps I’m not making an apples to apples comparison (overall rank vs. value relative to ADP) but for whatever reason he seems to be a bargain if you’re the type of player who is OK micromanaging in a league having just “OF” spots rather than positional outfield allocation.

        Naturally, any discussion of “value” must be conducted with respect to scoring categories. Ours are R, HR, RBI, SB, OPB, SLG, OPS (sort of duplicative, I know). The players around Drew being drafted are Varitek, Ramon Hernandez, Inge, Alex Gordon, Salty, Gerald Laird (??) and Felipe Lopez.

        I appreciate your responses and input and further am not even sure what precisely I’m advocating. He seems to be better at his ADP relative to where the others are going, but not without his question marks.

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  5. Eno Sarris says:

    Bringing in the ADPs brings this into focus. I still like Drew where he is, but he gets drafted so low that he is definitely interesting, especially if you can draft him late as a fourth or fifth OF and start him or not daily. I will have to include some ADP numbers in future work, or start a new series using ADP to find undervalued players. Thanks Big Oil!

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    • Big Oil says:

      No doubt, I think that is the logical follow up to your tiered rankings series.

      As a side note, one issue I struggle with after reading articles purporting player A is as good a value “x” number of rounds later than player B is, at current ADP (and not to mention the “Clone Wars” THT articles in any context other than awesome, but articles similar to that), is, who precisely then is best to take at the earlier draft pick? It seems this is where aspects of positional scarcity factor in. One such example off the top of my head would be a Zimmerman v. Longoria comparison: Longo is going top-12, while Zim is picked around the mid-40’s. If I can snag a comp to Longo 2 rounds later, then I’ll take Mauer with my higher pick and Zim later rather than Longo and, say, anyone not named VMart (23) or McCann (high 30’s).

      Sorry for incessant babbling. “Tandeming” picks, to the extent possible, seems an interesting idea, but one that simply may not be possible in the random world of live drafts where some picks render strategy ineffective.

      As always, the roto-writer’s insight is appreciated. Keep up the good work.

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  6. NBH says:

    I like Choo, but as an under the radar player and not an early round pick. With only 35 (HR + SB), so much of his value comes from the AVG and even though he hit .305 over his last 900 at bats, he has a 25% K%, a poor 75% contact rate (83% zone) and a sky high .375 BABIP. I know he’s always been a high BABIP player and he has a great LD% and he puts the ball on the ground more than in the air, but any “bad luck” in BABIP and you have a .280ish hitter.

    .280, 20 HR, 18 steals, 85 runs, 85 RBI is pretty good, but I’d rather have Abreu or Werth.

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  7. I’m in dire needMake some moolaOn the netzI’m learning as I go but – This blog is at least helping me

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