Let’s check in on two outfield situations that might produce a waiver wire prize.
Roger Bernadina, Washington (16% owned in Yahoo)
My preseason favorite for a starting job has meandered his way back into a role for now, but how long will it last? Rick Ankiel could return and push the Shark out of his territory, as improbable as that sounds considering the former pitcher’s sub-.550 OPS. Still, when he returns in early July he should at least have above-average power and a rocket arm in center field, two things that Bernadina probably won’t manage. With the team making its way to respectability, and the fact that Bernadina is under team control for longer, the most likely plan has the Shark retaining his playing time somewhere on the diamond. Laynce Nix won’t keep his batting average looking this useful, or so says his career .247 batting average. Then again, he has a .322 BABIP and a .316 xBABIP based on his mix of batted balls. And he’s always had good power. And while we’re here, we might as well mention that Bernadina’s .256 career batting average and ZiPs RoS is just as pessimistic about his chances to keep producing at this level. And yet, Bernadina’s .344 BABIP is two points lower than his xBABIP. He’s got wheels and is hitting the ball on the ground (2.13 GB/FB ratio). Both outfielders might continue to show better batting averages than they have in their careers. If only one of Nix, Ankiel and Bernadina were right-handed, there might be a platoon to be had. In the end, though, as exciting as this run of competence from the Nationals has been, the team must look to the future. That means more of Shark roaming the outfield.
Lucas Duda, New York NL (0% owned)
Really, this blurb might as well start with Jason Bay and get it over with. Carlos Beltran will miss the occasional game, but if Duda wants to get enough plate appearances to be even deep-league relevant, he’ll need to steal some time from Bay. Lately, there’s been a few days where Terry Collins has given Bay ‘mental health’ days off, but if the expensive Omar Minaya acquisition returns to even 80% Jason Bay levels, Duda may find himself back in the minors shortly. Unfortunately, counting last year, we now have over 600 plate appearances of Bay sporting an HR/FB rate just around five. Hitting a career low in fly balls is not helping matters this year, either. Other than his expensive contract, there’s little reason to believe that he deserves time on a major league corner outfield right now. Which is not to say that Duda necessarily does either. He hasn’t found his power stroke just like Bay. But he’s only put up 65 plate appearances. Given time, he could hit .250+ with above-average power — his ISO has been .295 the last two years in Triple-A — and that’s more than you can say for Bay right now. Duda’s an okay flier in the deepest of leagues.
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