Vernon Wells and David Murphy: Waiver Wire Outfielders

In truth, I am not in favor of a lot of roster movement this early in the game. Unless you totally botched a series of draft picks or have gotten hit early and hard by the injury bug, I’m more of a “trust your draft instincts and let the team marinate for a little while before you start the overhaul” type guy. But between the possible bad luck and all the jumpers out there, there is an early call for waiver wire suggestions. Since I won’t encourage the jumpers, this week’s waiver piece from me will focus on replacing the injured Ryan Ludwick who dislocated his shoulder and will now be out for three months.

My natural inclination it to direct you to  Chris Heisey who will be taking over for Ludwick in the Reds’ outfield but since Mike Podhorzer just published about him, I’ll turn elsewhere…

Vernon Wells, NYY  |OF|  Ownership:  ESPN – 4.7%  Yahoo – 5.0%

Yes, yes, I know. No one really wants to admit that they are going to use Wells, but he actually has some decent value for at least the first two months of the season. The batting average might be atrocious, but there is still plenty of lif in his bat. Last season’s power totals obviously show a decline in power, but with the frequency with which he did play, it’s pretty tough to build any kind of momentum. But check out Wells’ totals in just the two years prior to that. He hit 25 home runs and posted an ISO of .194 with pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium as his home and the year before that he had 31 homers and a .242 ISO in hitter-friendly Toronto. Now I’m certainly not saying that he’s going to go back to his 2010 stats, but as a right-handed pull hitter with a distance of 318 feet down the left field line, Wells has the opportunity to produce some decent power totals with an everyday opportunity like he has right now. You could be looking at upwards of 10 home runs in a relatively short time. And should Wells take advantage of such a friendly line and produce, then there is certainly the possibility that the Yankees use him as a DH when Curtis Granderson returns, either full-time or part-time, depending on how Travis Hafner hits. It might not be that pretty, but for a quick counting stats boost, it could be quite helpful and inexpensive.

David Murphy, TEX  |OF|  Ownership:  ESPN — 32.0%  Yahoo —  38.0%

If you’re in a mixed league, then there seem to be a few more choices to replace Ludwick found in the American League, one of whom is Murphy, the Rangers “new” starting left fielder. With the departure of Josh Hamilton, Murphy has been given the chance to play full-time and show what he is capable of doing. He’s been fairly consistent over the past five years as a part-timer and there’s no reason to think that he can’t repeat his level of performance and build of his past numbers. He consistently makes good contact, he doesn’t strike out too often and should be good for roughly 20 home runs and a .280-ish average with a full season’s worth of at-bats. Should he still be available in your league he becomes a must-add if you just lost a guy like Ludwick.

Other names that had me thinking include: Collin Cowgill and Michael Saunders


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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

11 Responses to “Vernon Wells and David Murphy: Waiver Wire Outfielders”

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  1. Tak says:

    Had to double check that this wasn’t 4/1…. I’d be embarrassed to roster Wells.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Really? Embarrassed? Maybe if you’re playing in an eight, 10 or possibly a 12-team league, I could see you having stronger options. But if you’re playing in a deeper league than that, I’d be more embarrassed if a silly sense of pride kept me from taking advantage of a potential cheap 10 home runs and a .245/.250 average over the first two months of the season. Surely Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds are rostered in your league, no?

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  2. Urban Shocker says:

    I’m trying to decide whether to keep Kubel or pick up Saunders in one league (5% owned in ESPN). He’s rostered in my most competitive league. He could under or over-produce Murphy, but his shot at batting 1st or 2nd for the Ms puts him ahead of Wells for me.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      I definitely like Saunders and was going to write him up instead of Wells, but in every league in which I play, both deep and shallow, he is owned. Figured I’d go with the guy less likely owned in any league. Went with Murphy more as a “really? how is this guy not owned even in shallow leagues?”

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      • Urban Shocker says:

        Murphy is a no-brainer for teams in need; the floor is .280 with 10 HR and 10 SB, and some run upside due to a playing time increase.

        CBS shows Saunders as 26% owned, and while Wells could catch lightning in a bottle, I think even Saunders .250 15/15 floor would be an improvement.

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      • I benched Duda today says:

        A Met fan just cut Saunders to pick up Cowgill. Could you give me that quick write up on Saunders? Also, Maybin or Saunders?

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      • Howard Bender says:

        Saunders fell just short of a 20-20 season and the expectations, especially with the fences moving in at Safeco and him hitting closer to the top of the order on most days, are that he’ll reach that plateau this season. His batting average has been a bit of a bear but from just a counting stats perspective, he should make for a solid option as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

        Maybin has much more speed potential as he isn’t that far removed from a 40-steal season. He is just entering his prime right now and there’s definite power potential to be had, but figuring his floor/ceiling for home runs has been difficult. Early on there was talk of 20-HR potential, but that seems to have cooled with his time in San Diego. Fences coming in at Petco could help though.

        If I had to pick between the two, I’d probably still lean towards Maybin for the upside.

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  3. Kevy T says:

    How do you feel that outfielders Carlos Beltran, the Melk man and Hunter Pence will do this season?

    All have some question marks. Beltran and his toe. Will Melky bounce back after his suspension? Pence’s numbers plummeted immediately after being traded to San Fran last year.

    How about the Angels new starters in Vargas and Hanson, any chance they produce a solid year?

    Lastly, thanks for all the great work you do. Love reading your stuff.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Thanks Kevy —

      Ultimately, I think Beltran will be fine — 20-odd HR with 85ish RBI. Not a huge Melky fan — maybe a dozen HR with a .270ish avg. And Pence needs to prove that he can hit in AT&T Park and produce for the full season. He’s not a favorite of mine but would have taken him in a draft had it been the 11th or 12th round.

      I actually like Vargas as a low-end rotation guy. The move to Angel Stadium leaves him in a pitcher’s park still but with a much better offense to support him. He won’t dazzle you with strikeouts, but should keep his ERA below 4.00 for the season. Hanson, on the other hand, makes me nervous. The shoulder issues, the lost velocity, the move to the AL…that’s already enough to concern me that he could do some bad things to your ratios. I’d leave him for someone else to test drive.

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  4. Garrett says:

    Bit of a long list here, but how would you rank the following OF: Saunders, Murphy, Wells, Cabrera, Kubel, Fowler, Bourne, Choo, Beltran, Jay, Matt Carpenter?

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    • Howard Bender says:

      If I had to rank them in order of my preference, I would say: Choo, Bourn, Carpenter (position flexibility), Beltran, Cabrera, Saunders, Murphy, Fowler, Kubel, Jay, Wells

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