Fantasy Baseball: Roaming The Outfield

Collin HagerSenior Writer IJuly 9, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 1:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim walks off after striking out against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark July 1, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The season has found its mid-point, and teams are getting ready to head to the break. While, for the most part, the right outfielders are making their way to St. Louis for the All-Star game itself, there are many players that are going largely unrecognized for their work.

For some, statistics are fawned over by fantasy owners. Others are struggling to find glory even there.

In Anaheim, it is almost too much of a good thing. Over the last 15 days, the top three outfielders in all of baseball in terms of RBI are playing for the Angels. Production continues to emerge out of Torii Hunter, but Juan Rivera is still stuck without many believers and Kendry Morales is finding it worse.

Rivera has been discussed in this space the last several weeks, and his ownership is now pushing towards 70 percent.

Still, his .298 average in these last two weeks and four home runs should be more universally owned. Factoring in his entire month of June, and the question should be why are we still seeing him on free agent wires.

Morales is slightly easier to understand, but he has multi-position eligibility that makes him as attractive, if not more. The Angel is 16 for his last 46, good for a .348 average. His 10 RBI are tied for 12th across all outfielders in the last two weeks and he has added three home runs. Morales can hit, plain and simple. Owners looking for some roster flexibility should continue to flock towards his 40 percent ownership.

The situation in Texas has become slightly more clouded with the return of Josh Hamilton. The team tried to simplify it slightly by sending down Chris Davis. With that move, the outfield will look pretty normal with a fully healthy Hamilton. He will take his place in center, but until that time the team will continue to use Marlon Byrd there.

And why not? Byrd has hit three home runs and driven in 11 in his last 14 games while posting a .298 average. He has a certain spot in the lineup regardless, as he will slide to left when Hamilton is in center.
The person most impacted by the return of Hamilton will be David Murphy. Byrd proved last year that he can play, but he just does not have much power.

Murphy played well in Hamilton’s absence, but is simply not going to get the full-time gig in the crowded Arlington outfield. Murphy is 14 for his last 39, good for a .359 average. He has shown some moderate pop with four home runs.
He makes solid contact, and will see time at DH and in left field when the team is fully settled. He will need to battle Andruw Jones for some of those at-bats at DH, and Davis will be back eventually.

Beyond that, the team decided to keep up speedy rookie Julio Borbon. Borbon had 19 steals in 23 attempts in the minors before his call-up, and was getting on base at a .365 clip.

He hit well in June in AAA, and the Rangers expect him to continue to play. He should get some sporadic playing time in that regard. Unfortunately, Borbon’s biggest impact will likely come in limiting the playing time of Murphy, in the long run.

The only regular sure-things in Arlington will be Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Otherwise, between Borbon, Murphy, Byrd, and Jones, there are only two spots to be had. Borbon is likely odd-man out at the end of the day. Murphy and Byrd will get the bulk of the work, and are solid deep-league plays.

Every team needs help in pushing up their batting average, and there happens to be a player on an absolute tear when it comes to getting on base. He is hardly owned, sitting at about 10 percent, and he even has put up a couple home runs in the last 15 days. Franklin Gutierrez is on a nine-game hitting streak, raising his average 40 points in that time.

The Seattle outfielder is 21 for his last 53, and has scored 10 runs to go with his two home runs. Gutierrez is not going to win points for a sexy pickup, but he is producing for Seattle. Only six outfielders in all of baseball have scored more runs over his current run, and no one has more hits.

Cody Ross has started July the way he finished off June. The Marlins outfielder is hitting everything being thrown at him. Checking in at .284, he is above his norms, but his BABIP is not out of line. This season, his number is .313, just above the .303 he had last season.

Not out of the ordinary, and nothing that suggests tremendous regression. His biggest plus this season is more contact and fewer strikeouts. Ross has added 14 home runs, and should easily crack close to 25 this season.

In San Francisco, Fred Lewis continues to lose time to Nate Schierholtz. Schierholtz has produced at a high level since being called up. In his last 50 at-bats, he has 19 hits and has scored 11 runs.

The Braves have also relegated Jeff Francoeur to the bench, at least for the time being. With Matt Diaz hitting .364 since the start of June and .481 in his last 27 at-bats, the Braves could make this more long-term. Diaz generally faces only left-handed pitching, but his run at the plate could cost Francoeur more playing time.

A host of outfielders continue to struggle. Rick Ankiel continues with an ownership level around 60 percent, meaning as many people own him as they do Rivera. The production level is not even close.

The St. Louis outfield has been wrought with disappointment in terms of production levels in the first half, and cutting the cord in favor of some greater production is the right call.

While there are no recommendations being put out for cutting Corey Hart yet, the Brewers starter is just eight for his last 46, and has struggled to hit righties all season long. Hart’s .250 average and nine home runs are fine, but there is greater production available elsewhere.

Keep him reserved to see if he starts to turn it around in July, but with many of these outfielders widely available, do not hesitate to make a move in more shallow leagues.

One of Carlos Gomez’ traits is speed, but he has not stolen a base in the last two weeks, has no power, and has struggled to hit .261. He has scored just five runs in the last 15 days, he is not helping to provide run creation stats for owners either.

Right now, his 50 percent ownership is not justified. Better production is available in many other places. For the season, he is still only hitting .224. Owners can do much better.
Collin Hager writes The Elmhurst Pub fantasy blog. You can get your fantasy questions answered by sending an email to He's also on Twitter @TheRoundtable.