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Fantasy Baseball - Finding Value in the Outfield and on the Mound
Value to be Found... Continued
Yesterday, I covered some potential infielders who could provide great value. That is to say, their overall production will outproduce their probably draft slots. Now, on to the outfield and the mound.
Outfield - Lucas Duda
Due to various injury circumstances on the Mets, Duda received some unexpected, but not undeserved playing time. After raking during the first month of the season in AAA (1.011 OPS), Lucas got the call up to the big show. He played in 100 games and posted an .852 OPS in 347 plate appearances. With a decreasing K% in the minors and a solid walk rate, Duda has show to have a good eye at the plate, and improving discipline. His power is average (15-20 HR), but he should have a good deal of doubles and an above average OBP. With no impediments for playing time, Duda could post an OPS nearing .880 and post some solid counting stats, and should be a steal late in the draft.
Outfield - Cameron Maybin
Cameron Maybin was the 10th pick in the 2005 draft. He broke into the majors in 2007 as a raw 20 year-old prospect with the Tigers. He was traded to Florida in 2008, received sporadic playing time, and didn't produce a whole lot. He was traded to the Padres before the 2011 season and quickly became the mainstay in center due to his defense. With assured playing time, Maybin showed the skill set that made him a first-round pick. He stole 40 bases and somehow scored 82 runs in 137 games for a stagnant Padres offense. His road batting average was .294 and his OPS was over .800. His home stats left much to be desired, and PetCo is an extremely tough hitting park, but Maybin's maturation as a player gives hope to him figuring out the best way to attack his new home park. Should he find some improvement at home, he could get his OPS near .780 and score 100 runs. With the addition of prime hitting prospect Yonder Alonso and masher Carlos Quentin, the Padres should have a chance to boost their offense which will help further Maybin's advancement. Playing in over 300 big-league games before the age of 25, Maybin's experience could really buoy his development. For someone who may not be drafted, Maybin could provide some solid value.
Outfielder - Shane Victorino
A player who contributes solid numbers in all categories is often overlooked for the players who contribute huge numbers in a couple of categories. Victorino had 27 doubles, 16 triples, 17 homers, and 19 steals. He posted a career high in OPS and walk rate and still scored 95 runs despite missing 30 games. His .279 average was weighed down by a somewhat low BABIP. At 31, Victorino is still in his physical prime (albeit the tail end), and this is the final year of his current contract. In 2012, Victorino will be angling for his last big payday, and there is talk that the Phillies won't have enough money to sign him. Victorino should be motivated to have a monster year, showcasing his many skills for his likely run into the free agency market. It is very possible that Victorino will easily outperform his somewhat meager draft slot.
Starting Pitcher - Cory Luebke
Luebke broke camp with the Padres in 2011 as a reliever. He ended up starting 17 games, striking out 154 in 139.2 innings, posting a 3.5 to 1 K/BB, and a 1.07 WHIP. You don't just luck into numbers like that, in fact, one could make the case that Luebke was unlucky last year. Despite pitching his home games in an extreme pitchers park, Luebke's home ERA was over 1.5 runs higher than his road ERA. Overall, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) suggested his ERA should be even lower than 3.29. Heading into his age 27 season, Luebke could post some excellent counting stats with some very positive ratios. Taking Luebke in the later rounds should provide some excellent value.
Starting Pitcher - Brandon Beachy
For our other starting pitcher, we look to the pitching farm down in Atlanta. Consistently developing top-level pitchers for the past two decades, it is easy to trust a promising youngster from the Braves system. He posted 169 K's in 141.2 innings, with a 3.67 K/BB ratio. His ERA was 3.68 but his FIP suggests his ERA should have been about .5 runs lower. Despite a limited number of walks, his WHIP was 1.21, which is solid but not spectacular. His BABIP was little high, so it is reasonable to think that with a normal correction, his WHIP should fall some. An injury and 15 no-decisions kept him from compiling the shiny numbers, wins and 200 K's, that catch people's eye. Beachy should improve on his rookie campaign and outperform his middle round draft status.
Relief pitching is extremely volitatle. Some people take the philosophy of "never pay for saves." I don't necessarily agree with that, but the most valuable relief pitchers are commodities that can't be assessed. You just have to pay attention, and strike quickly because relief pitchers always materialize during the season.