Fantasy Baseball: Roaming The Outfield

Collin HagerSenior Writer IJune 30, 2009

ATLANTA - JUNE 26:  Jason Bay #44 of the Boston Red Sox pops up during action against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 26, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Three months into the season, and all owners can count on is that there are going to be changes at the top of the leader board from month to month. The stars are always going to be your stars, but adjusting and adapting based on what is happening in the course of a given period is what separates playoff teams.
Micromanaging a roster may seem like a pain, especially when you work with multiple teams and leagues. Leagues without limits are classic targets for making changes on a regular basis. Every team is week, and upgrading a position through trade is not always an easy task.
June showed many managers that there are more waiver-wire heroes out there than people may think. Let us take a look at a couple comparisons to prove the point. All numbers are from the last 30 days.
Starting it off:
Player A:         .302 AVG, 8HR, 25 RBI, 15 runs, 50 percent owned
Player B:         .255 AVG, 5HR, 22 RBI, 12 runs, 100 percent owned
Player B is Jason Bay. Player A, though, is Juan Rivera of the Angels. Rivera out produced Bay in every category this month and is still available to most owners right now.

His production is not going to be at this level for an entire season, but it is not unreasonable to assume that he could hit .285 the rest of the season. Especially where the Angels could look to make a move in the outfield, Rivera provides power flexibility.
With the rash of injuries in the outfield, especially in New York, owners looking to boost power production could do much worse than Rivera. In fact, for this period, Rivera drove in more runs than anyone in baseball.
Moving on, how about:
Player A:         .296 AVG, 7HR, 17 RBI, 17 runs, 1 SB, 100 percent owned
Player B:         .309 AVG, 6HR, 18 RBI, 13 runs, 1 SB, 35 percent owned
Player A in this case is Jayson Werth, while Player B is Cody Ross. The numbers here are decidedly close.

Neither is going to win you a week on their own, but their performances make them reliable number two or three outfielders, depending on league size and depth. Ross is widely known as a streak hitter, and he is on an absolute tear over the month of June.
Even his overall average has jumped up to .273. His work in the outfield is going to keep him in nearly any lineup, and owners need to jump on him while things are going well. This is another case of a player that can fill in admirably for owners struggling with injury.
Next on the list:
Player A:         .294 AVG, 8HR, 17 RBI, 12 runs, 65 percent owned
Player B:         .306 AVG, 5HR, 13 RBI, 12 runs, 100 percent owned
It is a small difference in average here, right? A couple of hits, and Player A ends up ahead in every major offensive category, especially when you consider that neither player stole a base on the month.
Here, Player A is Jason Kubel. Player B? Well, that is Jermaine Dye.

Kubel has simply destroyed right-handed pitching this season, and since the majority of pitchers are right-handed he is in the lineup regularly. Kubel came on strong at the end of last season, making fantasy owners take notice of the type of production he is capable of bringing to the table. This season, he has built on it.
His .360 average against righties is among the best you will find, and his home average of .331 makes him a solid play in the ballpark he gets stuck in for half of his games. Kubel generates power and provides protection to the Joe Mauer’s and Justin Morneau’s of the Twins lineup.
The final group we have is:
Player A:         .204 AVG, 2HR, 12 RBI, 13 runs, 3 SB, 97 percent owned
Player B:         .323 AVG, 1HR, 13 RBI, 16 runs, 1 SB, 26 percent owned
Player C:         .295 AVG, 1HR, 18 RBI, 16 runs, 4 SB, 45 percent owned
The fact is, most people are very down on Player A and should be. Problem is, he was drafted highly and there are those that are afraid to cut the cord.

These stats prove that his production is available elsewhere. Players B and C may not produce the same home run numbers, but they certainly are generating better average, and nearly as much, if not more, in the two “legs” categories of runs and stolen bases.
Who are these guys? Player B is Aaron Rowand.

Player C happens to be talented rookie Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has come into the league on fire.

He still is going to make mistakes, but the speed is legit and that translates at any level. The question for him will be how he adapts the second time around the league. Pitchers are going to develop a book on him, and it will be about making the little changes.
Rowand moved toward the top of the Giants order, and he has done well in adjusting. His average is the key to how his value is perceived.

Rowand’s home/road and left/right splits are perfectly in line with one another. There is no benefit to him regardless of who he is facing or where the game is being played.
The only potential downfall comes in the fact that the Giants are now searching for playing time for Fred Lewis. Nate Schierholtz has taken most of Lewis’ reps, and that means that with only three spots, one person will be sitting each day. Where Rowand has upped his season average to .295, it likely will not be him most days, but the chances is there.
Player A is Vernon Wells. His inconsistency this season is somewhat due to luck.

Even that, though, is starting to wear as an excuse with owners. With the production from the rest of the Toronto lineup, Wells’ struggles are more perplexing. There is no doubt that he is tough to drop because of where he was drafted, but his numbers make it just as hard to keep him.
The players above are just a couple examples of those that can give the same numbers as Wells has to this point in the season. These are tough decisions for owners to make.

If you want to continue to stash Wells on the bench, then that makes sense. Just adjust your roster so production can be found in his starting spot.
Rowand, McCutchen, Kubel, and others are not going to win you any style points. These players, though, are going to win you weeks in head-to-head leagues.

Sifting through the pile will allow an owner to garner more production out of their roster than simply going with what has gotten them to that point. If you are in the lower half of the league, something is obviously not working.
Take a chance on these players and production will improve. You might not have drafted Jason Bay, but you can find players that are producing like him.
Collin Hager writes The Elmhurst Pub fantasy blog. You can get your questions answered by sending an email to He's also on Twitter @TheRoundtable.