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Coco Crisp: Shaving Cream Pies Don’t Count

It’s time to take another stroll through Zach Sanders’ Outfield End of Season Rankings and today’s jaunt takes us all the way down to number 47 on the list — A’s outfielder Coco Crisp. A veteran outfielder, the now 33-year old, switch-hitting Crisp enjoyed one of the more productive seasons of his 11-year career in 2012 when he posted a .259 average with 11 home runs, 68 runs, 46 RBI and 39 stolen bases. He stayed healthy enough to amass 508 plate appearances over 120 games, was considered a leader in the clubhouse, and had a flair for the dramatic as he produced numerous game-winning moments for the A’s. Though not counted as a stat in fantasy just yet, Crisp enjoyed a total of six shaving cream pies in Oakland this year to commemorate his heroics.

But shaving cream pies mean about as much in the real world as they do in fantasy as the A’s made a move this offseason to acquire Chris Young from the Diamondbacks, giving them a glut of outfielders with limited space to play them. Along with Crisp and Young, the A’s also have Josh Reddick, who is coming off a career year, Yoenis Cespedes who, despite a few dings and dents, lived up to his moniker ‘The Showcase‘, Seth Smith, and Collin Cowgill. That’s six guys for three outfield spots and one DH. You would think that at least one would be on their way out, but Billy Beane re-iterated on Tuesday that Crisp isn’t being traded, there’s no indication that they picked up Young only to flip him in another deal, it’s doubtful that Cespedes or Reddick is going anywhere anytime soon, Smith comes cheap and has two years of arbitration still and it would appear that Cowgill is quickly running out of minor league options.

So what does all of this mean for Crisp’s fantasy value in 2013?

According to Bill James’ projections, we’re supposed to be looking at a guy who will amass 542 plate appearances and hit .263 with 10 home runs, 72 runs scored, and 51 RBI while swiping 36 bases. There should be a continued rise, albeit a small one, in his strikeout rate, but his walk rate is expected to plateau and given his batted ball data and plate discipline numbers everything should stay roughly around what he produced last year. Some up, some down, but all right in the general vicinity. That is, of course, assuming he has a full-time job.

However, if everyone stays put, then the answer to the above question is ‘nothing good.’ What can you do with all of these guys on the team? Platoon them? Maybe that would work in the real world…barely…but with respect to the fantasy game, that would be a huge bummer. Not that Crisp’s overall fantasy value is that huge, but there’s no way any of them could live up to their full potential playing in, say, half as many games. If we can all agree that Crisp’s biggest asset in fantasy is his ability to steal bases, do you really think he is going to steal 36 as a part-time player? Remember, you have to account for his usual missed time as he hasn’t played in more than 140 games since 2007.

Even if he gets some late-game pinch-running work on days that he doesn’t start, is he going to be able to put up totals worthy of a fantasy roster spot? Maybe, but with little or no guarantee, owners certainly aren’t running out to draft him. Outside of AL-only and incredibly deep, mixed leagues, few people even consider drafting a part-time player. That’s not to say they don’t have value but if your choosing between a full-timer and a part-timer on draft day, assuming they’re close in skill set, which way do you tend to lean?

If you’re a fan of Crisp and were thinking about picking up his speed for a minimal cost, then this situation certainly bears monitoring. It would appear that the A’s still have quite a bit of maneuvering to do and if they opt to leave things as they are, then most values are going to take a hit and the ones left out in the cold are going to be the fantasy owners.