Fantasy Baseball's Dirty Half-Dozen: Outfielders
Well, we could try to talk about catchers this week, but I promise you—there aren't more than a couple who are flying under the radar right now, certainly none who can keep it up, and anyone worth keeping is long since gone.
So let's jump to the only set of positions we havne't discussed so far: outfielders. And boy, what an odd year it's been for THIS slot in your lineup.
Carlos Quentin just isn't hitting the way we want him to—a bad foot'll do that. Manny's—well, you know about Manny. People in India know about Manny. And Grady Sizemore's bat needs a hat to keep warm.
So you need something to boost your production for these guys, and no one's willing to trade you Adam Jones or Carl Crawford. Here, again, are six guys who are way under-owned in most Yahoo! and ESPN leagues.
We lead off in Minnesota, where amidst the snow and ice, no one can ever find you.
Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins (Available 88 percent Yahoo!/92 percent ESPN leagues)
Jason Kubel, Minnesota Twins (57 percent Yahoo!/52 percent ESPN)
Denard Span, Minnesota Twins (36 percent Yahoo!/54 percent ESPN)
I can't believe my eyes. People left and right are struggling past the infield dirt, and the Twins are hiding not one, not tow, but three outfielders who arguably rank in the Top 30 this year and are less than 50 percent owned. If you're in a 12-team or deeper league, at least one of these guys should be on someone's team, and yet, chances are, they're not.
Cuddyer and Kubel are the guys you want if you're having a power outage Cuddyer is hitting .275 (.836 OPS), Kubel a scorching .336, with an OPS over .900. Cuddyer's got six big flies to Kubel's five, and their run production (Cuddyer: 26 runs & 25 RBI, Kubel 22 and 23) would be a welcome addition to any fantasy club.
Span is another little-known name that Minnesota has groomed right up to the big-league level. In his first full season in the majors, Span's picked up right where he left off in his part-time role the last couple of years, tagging the ball at a .299 clip.
While Span isn't likely to hit more than ten homers in any year, he's already hijacked nine bases, scored 23 runs, and knocked in 20. I wouldn't be surprised to see 30 steals and a .300 AVG from the 25-year-old Span, plus 80 each scored and driven in.
Kubel, on the other hand, is likely to endure a slide at some point this year; he's hitting well above his .275 career average. Even so, Kubel is the poor man's Hunter Pence, despite the fact that they were nearly indistinguishable statistically in 2008 (outside their SB production, of course). I can see Kubel going for 20 or so HR and a MINIMUM of 80 RBI, with 100 well within reach.
The Twins have been nursing Cuddyer back to health the last couple of seasons, so his numbers have been less than spectacular. But right now, Cuddyer's not hitting above his head like Kubel is (Cuddyer's career average is .269), but it seems that his power has improved.
And Cuddyer's four SB are legit, too—he's not swiping them through pure speed, but through smart base-running and good timing. I'm projecting Cuddyer to a 20+ HR/10+ SB finish, but that's probably conservative.
Get these guys NOW. You don't want to miss their next big game.
Michael Bourn, Houston Astros (50 percent Yahoo!/47 percent ESPN)
If you were waiting to see if this kid could keep up his hitting, you can stop holding your breath now. He can, as long as you're not looking for power numbers; Bourn has only one homer and 10 RBI. But, oh, the runs this kid scores.
He's got 25 runs on the year already, plus a .289 AVG and 13 SB. Even in a standard 5x5 league, Bourn has value in three of five categories. And remember, he's in a hitter-friendly park over in Houston, so while his average might be inflated, it still helps your fantasy team.
Juan Pierre, Los Angeles Dodgers (43 percent Yahoo!/36 percent ESPN)
Listen, if you're a fantasy player, you're probably following baseball very closely. And you've heard this recommendation from a lot of 'experts' who told you to go get Juan Pierre, because with Manny gone, he's an everyday player now, and gee, he might hit better with more at-bats. But they can't have seen this coming.
Juan Pierre is hitting .434 (23 for 53!) since MLB grounded Manny. Ramirez has 38 more games on his suspension, and it looks like Pierre is making a case to try to stay in the everyday lineup when he gets back. Since going full-time two weeks ago, Pierre has scored 14 runs, driven in nine more, and swiped six bases—all from the leadoff spot.
He should be owned and started in every league as long as he keeps this up. Who knows; he might even homer for once.
Kendry Morales, Anaheim Angels (55 percent Yahoo!/60 percent ESPN)
Before you correct me: I will not refer to them as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That's ridiculous. The cities are separated by 60 miles, and the stadium has been located in Anaheim for over 40 years. They're still the Anaheim Angels to me.
And Kendry Morales has still arrived. He finally has his opportunity to play full-time at age 26, and he's taking advantage of it. He's eligible both at outfielder and 1B, though he'll primarily play the latter with Vladimir Guerrero coming off the DL soon.
That said, Morales has hit a steady .275 this year, with 8 homers and 26 RBI, both new career highs for him. He's 16 games away from his career high in games played, as well. He isn't Mark Teixeira by any means, but he's definitely a nice fill-in if you need a little extra pop. And more importantly, he's heating up—hitting .288 with 4 jacks int he last 2 weeks.
Looks like he'll get about 25 homers this year—a nice under-the-radar boost, should you be facing a power shortage.
In the next edition of Dirty Half-Dozen, I'll let you know who you drafted that's gotta go, no matter how high you took them.
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