Saturday, June 28, 2008

Value Watch

By: Derrick Boyd

Outfield and Starting Pitcher are easily the deepest positions in Fantasy Baseball. In most leagues there is plenty of value available on the Waiver Wire at either of these positions, which eliminates the need for most of us to work hard and search for the value players. However, these days more and more of our fellow ‘Roto Geeks’ are opting for challenging 20 team leagues with deep rosters, or AL/NL specific leagues, rather than the typical, shallow 12 team public league. These deeper leagues test and stretch us by forcing each manager to lengthen their cheat-sheets and sharpen all aspects of baseball knowledge, including Minor and Major League depth charts.

Last week we discussed some Starting Pitchers that are less-known or undervalued and this week we will do the same with Outfielders.

1. Luke Scott – He’s quietly having a decent season. During the first month Scott hit a lot of doubles while recording a batting average over .280. During the second month those doubles turned into homeruns, but his batting average sunk lower than my retirement portfolio (*Sigh*). Overall he’s on pace for exactly what those of us who know anything about Luke Scott expected. Watch for him to continue on this pace and end up around .270/.350/.500 with 20-25 HR and 75-80 RBIs.

2. Lastings Milledge – Has shown signs of life recently (.294/.333/.471 over the last week) after struggling greatly the first 2 months of the season. Milledge is making contact as expected (82%) and his BB rate is right around where it should be (6% so far compared to 7% in 07). However, he has been a little unlucky with the percentage of the balls he has put in play that have fallen for hits, thus depressing his season batting average (.246). As this normalizes his batting average will get closer to .280 and I expect him to hit at least 10 more homeruns and steal at least 10 more bases this season, making him a good buy low target at this point.

3. Jason Kubel –
Off to a slow start again this year, after many of us hoped that his strong 2007 2nd half numbers (.303/.379/.511) would lead to the breakout season we’ve been waiting for, for what seems like an eternity. Maybe he’s just a slow starter? Although the surface stats don’t show it, Kubel has been improving over the last month. Over this period Kubel’s BB% is just above his 07 2nd half level of 11.5% and his contact rate is a very solid 82%. Like Milledge, Kubel has suffered from an unlucky # of balls in play falling for hits, so the 0.238 batting average looks worse than it really should. Look for Kubel to heat up along with the weather this summer – a .270, 20 HR, 80 RBI season is still well within reach. Don’t give up hope just yet.

4. Randy Winn – Yeah I know, there is absolutely nothing exciting about Randy Winn. I’m even a bit bored writing this portion of the article, but I’m going to push through because I feel that I’d be doing a great disservice to the Fantasy Baseball populace if I neglected to give him mention. Winn has been a steady power/speed combo guy for many years now. He typically makes good contact and hits for good average – this season is no exception. At 33 years old, Win’s speed is still intact enough to make him a 20 SB threat. He still has double digit homerun power and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him finish .300, 15 HR, 20 SB.

4. Delmon Young – I’m still bullish on Young this season. Obviously this isn’t going to be his breakout year and anyone who thought it would be was misguided at best. Young is only 22 years of age – at 22 many of the elite prospects are still toiling away in the upper levels of the Minors, so just the fact that Young is here, playing everyday, and making consistent contact is somewhat impressive. While he has yet to hit a homerun this season he is far too talented to maintain this level of futility much longer. I’ve watched Young play a number of times this year and I’ve noticed that, for the most part, he’s hitting the ball to the opposite field. Once he starts pulling the ball he is going to get hot and makeup for this slow start. I’m willing to be bold and project that Young will finish the season with 10 homeruns and between 20-25 stolen bases. He’s been able to improve his contact rate from 80% last year to 83% this year which should help him finish the season with a batting average close to .280. This is a great time to buy low on Young, especially if the manager who owns him in your keeper league is getting tired of waiting for him to produce.