A few days ago I posted my Buy Low options for the infield. Today, I continue my journey by moving on to the outfield where I’ll suggest purchasing guys which appears to be on their last legs but actually may not be.
Carl Crawford: .243-6-31-33-8 in 263 ABs
I’m going down with the ship. Back in January I championed Crawford in Pick Your Poison: Crawford or Tulo where I pointed out that in six of the past seven years Crawford was in the top-15 amongst all hitters in the fantasy game. The only time he missed was 2008 when he was injured. Clearly he has no shot of reaching that level in 2011, but he should be back on the field within a week (hamstring) with history taunting us. Will you bite with the expectation that Crawford will return to being the disruptive force he has always been, or are you going to wallow in your wet socks and expect him to struggle like he did at the start of the year?
Jason Heyward: .226-9-22-31-5 in 230 ABs
Heyward has been one of the biggest disappointments in the game this season, and I’ve heard of people in 12 team leagues who have dealt him for players like Josh Willingham and Darwin Barney, or flat out released him. I certainly hope you weren’t one of those people. Heyward has been called out by the team and his teammates for being “soft” which has led to many in the fantasy game questioning his career path. Don’t be one of those people. I continue to say it, but let me repeat it – the young man, he’s just 21, has Hall of Fame talent. I’ll take a chance on skills like this anytime.
Alex Rios: .213-6-21-41-6 in 320 ABs
Ozzie Guillen has show remarkable patience with Rios be it because he is stubborn, or because he is looking at the facts. (1) Rios has hit at least 15 homers with 71 RBI, 63 runs and 15 steals each of the past five years. Only he and Bobby Abreu have done that. I’m NOT saying he gets there this season, but you don’t just throw out 5-straight seasons like that when a guy is only 31 years old. (2) His BB/K rate is better than his career average (0.62 to 0.40). His GB/FB ratio of 1.15 is an exact match for his career mark. His 17.4 percent LD-rate is down from his career level but it would still be a three year high. His BABIP is only .221, some .088 points below his career mark. Only once in his career did he finish a season below .300 and that was .273 in 2009. His HR/F mark is 5.5 and that would be a career low. Add that all up and a rebound certainly seems possible for a player who should still be in his prime.
Ichiro Suzuki: .270-1-23-46-23 in 374 ABs
In 10 seasons Ichiro has never failed to hit .300 with 200 hits and 25 steals. He’s gonna blow past the steals mark yet again, but the other two categories are in doubt (he is on pace for 180 hits). Ichiro has hit .323 in the second half in his career, and he’s going to need a push like that to get to .300. Given that he working on his best BB/K mark since 2002, he should have a shot. His current line drive rate is also a three year high, and he’s not hitting the ball in the air at all which should help (his fly ball rate would be his second worst, or in this case best, mark). A .354 BABIP producer, he’s only had one season in his career under .333. You think that his current.293 mark is gonna stay that low even as his age advances?
Jason Werth: .215-10-31-40-11 in 326 ABs
When you sign a deal that well in excess of $100 million dollar expectations will follow. Has he lived up to those expectations? The answer is a resounding no. He’s got a career worst LD-rate (16.0 percent), a career worst GB-rate (45.2 percent), a five year worst in the HR/F category (10.6 percent) and a career worst BABIP (.258). The two numbers really stick out though. Over the past five years Werth has always had a HR/F rate of at least 13.3 percent, and his career mark is 15.5. That’s substantially better than we’ve seen from him so far. Also, his BABIP is .323 in his career and has never been under .304 in a season. You really think he’s gonna undershoot that by .050 points this season? Werth is also on pace to produce 18 homers, 56 RBI, 72 runs and 20 steals this season. While that’s a far fry from his 2010 effort (27-85-106-13), considering that he can’t really perform any worse than he currently is has got to leave some hope that better days lay ahead, doesn’t it?
By Ray Flowers