Last Minute Pickups: NL Outfielders
My apologies to those of you who are in shallower dynasty or keeper leagues, as I know my writing tends to skew towards deep leagues, and I’m afraid I’ve revisited that well again here. I don’t have a mixed league under sixteen teams, and my -Only leagues are insanely deep in both major and minor league rosters, so it does affect my writing in that respect.
With that out of the way, I present four players that could be available in deep dynasty leagues that, with minimal investment, could pay off handsomely come next April.
I mentioned Davis in a piece at FakeTeams in January of this year, looking at three hitting prospects who could help this year. While I missed entirely on the other two, Davis was something of a prescient call. Davis received playing time, not because the offensive black hole they’ve experienced all season at first base, but instead the continued absence of Corey Hart and the suspension of Ryan Braun conspired to allow Davis to see the majors. In his brief tenure (125 at-bats), Davis has put together a .280/.355/.600 slash line with 10 home runs and two stolen bases.
Davis strikes out in bunches but walks some as well, and while his swing has been killed by scouts in the past, he’s experienced success at every level he’s played at. Where his playing time will come from once Braun is back is a question mark, but it’s hard to ignore the production he’s had thus far, and while it might not continue at that level going forward, his power is legitimate. This is a name for deep leaguers only, but he’s a name worth rostering just in case playing time opens up for him somehow.
Another player I’ve discussed in this space, perhaps I just have an unhealthy affinity for the cousin of Carlos Beltran. Hear me out though. Fuentes has struggled mightily in his first start of the majors, but he also got there with barely any seasoning at Triple-A. He’s walking in just under 10% of his at-bats (only plate appearances) and while his strikeout rate is an abomination (42%), there’s also no way it’s remotely repeatable in extended at-bats.
Fuentes’ value comes from the potential speed he can provide. In a league where speed is concentrated in a few key players, some of whom have very inconsistent playing time (yeah, I’m throwing shade at Eric Young, Jr.), Fuentes has the ability to steal 30+ bases. Obviously his playing time is in question as well, but Cameron Maybin has struggled to come back from his leg injury, and recently underwent wrist surgery. While he’s projected to be ready for Spring Training, complications arise all the time. On top of that, The Padres may want to take a look at a younger option than Chris Denorfia, seem unwillingly to commit to Kyle Blanks and while Carlos Quentin is still under a ridiculous contract, he’s never healthy anyway.
All those names might seem like reasons to ignore Fuentes, and they might be. But you don’t find value where others don’t by doing what they do. All the names are a deterrent, sure, but other people’s deterrents are your opportunity, right? Someone put that on a pillow.
While the more popular name in available Colorado outfielders might be Charlie Blackmon, the one to target is Dickerson. While Blackmon is sporting a walk rate of 2.5%, Dickerson’s is a more reasonable 7%. They’re striking out at a comparable rate and Dickerson is hitting for more power (.215 ISO), and the difference in batting average can be explained by a higher BABIP.
Dickerson should get a shot for playing time in Colorado next two Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler next season, as Colorado should make use of Michael Cuddyer’s flexibility with the leather by moving him to 1B. If Dickerson gets the nod, he could be a solid piece in every category without excelling in any. Those might not be the most attractive guys but they’re the glue that holds fantasy teams together.
The much maligned “prospect” has done more with his playing time than many anticipated. No, it’s not the 38 home runs he managed in the minor leagues in 2012 but Ruf has contributed 14 home runs in less than 300 plate appearances while maintaining a batting average that doesn’t kill off his value. He’s also shown command of the plate, producing an 11% walk rate. The downside of course is that Ruf’s lack of contact (30% strikeout rate) will make it difficult for him to replicate these types of numbers going forward. On top of that, his .331 BABIP doesn’t jive with a 55% flyball rate and someone with his speed (or lack thereof).
While there are numerous things working against Ruf in terms of projection, it’s highly likely he receives playing time next season on a Philadelphia team that is somewhat in disarray. He’s been a bright spot for them, and someone they can at least attempt to sell to fans as a piece of the future. He’s not perfect, but if your league is deep enough, playing time is almost as important as skills, and there’s a good chance he gets it. The upside to making a play on Ruf is that if he fails, he’s an easy cut. With minimal investment there’s hardly any downside.