American League Outfield Stock Watch

After posting the all bullish stock watch two weeks ago, now the tables have turned and we’ll focus on the bearish report. This isn’t to say that the players here have no value, just less value than their name or draft position may have once yielded them.

Emilio Bonifacio
After stealing 40 bases in 2011 and 30 last season, Emilio Bonifacio finds himself well off of that pace this year. Last season he appeared in just 64 games but still managed those 30 steals, whereas this year he has already appeared in 54 games and has just seven bags to show for it. His strikeout rate is up, his walk rate is down, and his triple slash is a gruesome .206/.236/.315. A large part of his struggles can be attributed to his .264 BABIP, which is almost 60 points below his .330 career average. That being said, the skepticism comes from seeing Bonifacio strikeout almost once every four plate appearances. His 10.1 SwStr% is a career worst mark and his 35.8% O-Swing% and his 51% Swing% are both the worst since his rookie season.

Bonifacio may be a prime example of a solid utility player being overwhelmed when given a starters playing time. His projections aren’t kind to him either, as ZiPS and Steamer both predict a batting average around .250, 20 runs scored, and 15ish stolen bases the rest of the season. With Jose Reyes playing in simulated games and not terribly far from a rehab assignment and Maicer Izturis and Munenori Kawasaki both looking for playing time in the middle infield, Bonifacio’s grasp on the second base job looks shaky. Bonifacio isn’t largely owned, just 11% ESPN, 17% Yahoo!, and 28% in CBS leagues, but it may be time to call it a day with him.

Ichiro Suzuki
In the battle of time vs man, time always wins out. Unless you have a DeLorean, but then you have a borderline oedipal experience and then you a need a lightning strike, needless to say, things get heavy. As for Ichiro, this season has not been any kinder than the previous two. He is currently sporting a .254/.294/.328 line that equates to a 64 wRC+. His five steals aren’t nothing, but unless he rediscovers his old legs, there isn’t much value to Ichiro at this point. His strikeout rate is up from last year, though not quite a career high, but most alarming is that Ichiro’s Contact% is at a career worst 85.4%. His SwStr% is also a career worst at 6.7% and his 90.1% Z-Contact% is another career worst. Taken one at a time, these numbers don’t represent much, but when looked at as a group, the answer is clear. Ichiro will still score some runs and may end the season with 20 stolen bases, but there is a reason that his ownership is down to 27% in ESPN, 41% in Yahoo! and 48% for CBS leagues.

Let us end on a high note
It would be far too depressing to have nothing but bearish remarks to make, so here is one bullish pick: Jeff Baker. Baker only has 88 PA’s to his name but has socked nine dingers, scored 13 runs, and has 16 RBIs as well. His 9.1% walk rate is a new addition to his skill set — and we’ll see how long that keeps up — and he now owns a .333/409/.731 line. Of course this pace is unsustainable, but with David Murphy’s BABIP in the toilet and Nelson Cruz’s hamstrings made of papier-mâché, the soon to be 31-year-old Baker may continue to see playing time. Ride Baker while he is hot, especially with the hot weather approaching. It’s not secret that The Ballpark is a hitter’s park, but the ball really carries as the weather warms up. Baker is owned 3% of Yahoo! leagues, 6% of ESPN formats, and 7% of CBS leagues.

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JR Ewing
JR Ewing

When Kinsler gets back (assuming no more injuries), expect Baker to still start most games vs LHP, but see sporadic playing time against RHP. He absolutely rakes LHP so if there’s room on your bench he’s a good platoon guy even though he’s the wrong side of the platoon.