Robbie Grossman & Alex Presley: Deep League Wire

It wasn’t a set plan to have an all-Astros edition of the deep league waiver wire. But judging by how many Astros players I own in Tout Wars (five), it’s clear that I think there’s some intrigue here. Heading into spring training, there was a plethora of first base/DH/outfield candidates, but those position battles have been somewhat sorted out at this point, leaving many of their players undervalued.

Robbie Grossman | OF HOU | 9% Owned

I’m a bit surprised that Grossman’s ownership rate sits below 10%. I figured it would be a bit higher. There’s a lot to like from a real baseball perspective, but which could also translate into some sneaky fantasy value. The most obvious is that he’s become the team’s regular number two hitter. No matter what lineup you’re a part of, hitting in the two hole is a pretty good thing. Why is he hitting so high in the order? Because the Astros are a forward-thinking organization and rightly value the ability of its hitters to get on base. That’s precisely what Grossman had done throughout his minor league career, consistently walking at excellent rates, leading to strong on base percentages.

He doesn’t possess a whole lot of power, but perhaps a ceiling of 10 over a full season is something he could potentially provide. He does have some speed though, as he’s stolen as many as 35 bases in the minors. But, he hasn’t really been a very good base stealer, which will likely curb his attempts. Though I cannot remember the source, I remember hearing something about the team wanting him to be more aggressive at the plate. His passiveness has increased his walk rate, but has also led to lots of strikeouts, despite a normal SwStk%. If he does make the change, it should help his batting average, as he’ll put the ball in play more often.

Alex Presley | OF HOU | 1% Owned

After losing the battle for the starting center field job in Minnesota, Presley landed in Houston and was immediately given a strong-side platoon role. The Astros have some guy named George Springer down in the minors, so it’s highly unlikely that Presley finishes the year with a starting job. So this is more of a short-term pickup.

Though you wouldn’t realize it given how many partial seasons he has played, Presley has actually hit about 13 homers and stolen 14 bases per 600 at-bats. That’s not too bad for someone likely hanging around your free agent pool. He won’t be a great source of batting average, but he does own a career .263 average, while striking out at around a league clip and posting a better than average BABIP. He’s unsexy for sure, but should earn value for as long as Springer remains down on the farm.

Print This Post

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

newest oldest most voted

Mike, high steals totals in the low minors should not be used as evidence of speed. Garin Cecchini stole 51 in A ball despite below average speed, so Grossman’s 35 in A ball really wouldn’t mean anything even if it wasn’t also five years ago. Robbie did steal 21 between two levels last season, but six over his half season in the majors is pretty representative of the ~10 steals you can realistically expect out of him in 2014.

The one and only reason to like Grossman is that the Astros inexplicably seem to, if reports about their attempts to sign him to a long-term contract are true. His extreme passivity is understandable once you consider that he knows he can’t do much with pitches when he does swing, but that leaves him with the upside of a poor man’s David Murphy. I appear to be the only one on the planet excited about the prospect, but I’m looking forward to Preston Tucker getting a crack at left field in Houston, perhaps sometime later this year.