Last Minute Pickups: AL Outfielders
With the season winding down, waiver wire scouring has hit a fever pitch, with dynasty league owners looking to set up a run in in 2014.
Here’s a list of potentially available outfielders from American League teams who could help your team. Some could even help out your team for the final week of the 2013 season, if there is a need.
Leonys Martin, Texas Rangers
Ownership Percentages: Yahoo!: 38% ESPN: 84.3%
Martin became a big story when he defected while playing for Cuba in the 2010 World University Baseball Championship in Taiwan. After signing a five-year $15.5 million contract with the Texas Rangers in May 2011, he was assigned to the rookie-level AZL Rangers to get acclimated to professional baseball. After playing only four games, Martin was promoted to the AA Frisco RoughRiders, where he put up a 348/435/571 line, playing spectacular defense. Martin was promoted to the AAA Round Rock Express, where he struggled, hitting 263/316/314 over 40 games before being promoted for a September cup of coffee with the Rangers.
In 2012, Martin spent 55 games with the Express, hitting 359/422/610 before being called up to the Rangers, where he rarely played, hitting 174/235/370. In 2013, Martin grabbed the centerfield job and has not let go, hitting 260/314/385 with 34 stolen bases.
While Martin does not figure to improve substantially, he could provide a lot of value in 2014. Martin will be the starting centerfielder for the next few seasons, and he will turn 26 next season (assuming you believe that Livan Hernandez is 38 and El Duque is 47), meaning that he is entering his prime. Improving to 285/350/420 would not require a large bump in production, and maintaining a 35-40 stolen base output would put him right around the top 10 each season.
Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
Ownership Percentages: Yahoo!: 38% ESPN: 60.9%
Brantley was acquired by the Indians in 2008 as part of the CC Sabathia trade with the Brewers, and is, by far, the most successful player acquired by the Indians in that trade. Rob Bryson has turned into an org player, Zach Johnson had a good year in AA in the Royals organization, but his ceiling could be a lefty specialist (though his sub-5 K/9 will probably limit his effectiveness), and Matt LaPorta’s 238/301/393 line while striking out in approximately 21% of his plate appearances has turned him into little more than an afterthought.
Brantley improved every season from his cup of coffee in 2009 through 2012, where he hit 288/348/402, while walking almost as much as he struck out (53 to 56) and hitting 37 doubles. In 2013, Brantley took a small step back, hitting 283/332/398, but his home run production improved (10 from 7 in 2011 and 6 in 2012), as did his RBI total (60 to 70). The improvement in his counting stats make him a better player for fantasy purposes.
Much like Leonys Martin, Brantley will turn 26 next season, meaning that he will be entering his peak seasons. So go pick up Michael Brantley for 2014, and expect a solid third outfielder for your fantasy team. He won’t carry your team, but he’s a solid every day option.
Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Ownership Percentages: Yahoo!: 51% ESPN: 59%
Gardner is your standard leadoff guy: not much power, steals a bunch of bases, and scores a fair amount of runs. However, he has one major strike against him: he’s already 30. However, don’t let his age dissuade you from picking him up as your third outfielder.
Gardner has been a starting outfielder for the Yankees since 2009 (though he missed nearly all of 2012 due to injury), and he has been remarkably consistent during that time. For his career, he is a 268/352/381 hitter with an average of 42 SB per 162 games played. If you take out his rookie season where he hit 228/283/299, his line improves to 270/356/387 with 42 SB per 162 games played. His OPS+, which is adjusted for season and park, is a league average 100, meaning that he won’t hurt you.
However, Gardner’s strained oblique has left him available in many leagues. Gardner’s consistent production makes him someone who should be owned in every league in which he is eligible.
Emilio Bonifacio, Kansas City Royals
Ownership Percentages: Yahoo!: 50% ESPN: 89%
I know, I’m (somewhat) cheating by including Bonifacio, as he primarily plays second base, but he provides enough value to be a starting fantasy outfielder (and he will qualify as an OF in 2014). After his breakout season in 2011, many penciled Bonifacio in to be their fantasy super utility player, as he qualified at SS, 3B, and OF. In 2012, Bonifacio struggled, hitting 258/330/316 while exclusively playing CF and 2B. After Bonifacio was dealt to the Blue Jays as part of the Marlins somewhat regular fire sale, many expected him to return to his 2011 form.
Bonifacio struggled in 2013, hitting 218/258/321 for the disappointing Blue Jays, before being dealt to the Royals in mid-August for a PTBNL or cash. Immediately installed as the Royals’ second baseman and #2 hitter, Bonifacio has returned to his 2011 form, hitting 290/358/359 while stealing 15 bases in 39 games, a 162 game pace of 62. Furthermore, Bonifacio is playing every day surrounded by good hitters (Alex Gordon hits leadoff, followed by Bonifacio, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, and Mike Moustakas.
Bonifacio should be owned in every league, as someone who hits above .280 and steals more than 30 bases can have a week that could steal (pun intended) that category.
Until next time, follow me at @HypeProspect.
Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball
ESPN Fantasy Baseball