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AL Outfielders: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Outfielders with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.  B = Bats.  T = Throws.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2005.
Age = Player's Age as of October 2, 2005.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement in 2005; Adjusted RAR = RAR modified to
consider a player's 2005 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed each player in the league where he started the season.

Craig Monroe567157.2772089869O
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R191915.719.8

Monroe broke camp as Detroit's starting centerfielder then moved to the corners where he spent much of the season subbing for Magglio Ordonez in right and Dmitri Young in left. While he looks like the starting left fielder right now, I fully expect Jim Leyland to give significant playing time to both Nook Logan and Curtis Granderson as he attempts to load more speed into the lineup. The good news is that this change should not result in a dramatic downturn in playing time for Monroe. He again should see plenty of time compensating for the loss of power whenever Ordonez and Young hit the DL. Figure 475 AB and another .280/20/80 season, making him worth about $15 in most leagues.

Aaron Rowand578156.27013691677O
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R18184.317.7

Rowand's move to Philadelphia actually could increase his value due to a pending BA surge. He seems slated to hit between Jimmy Rollins and Bobby Abreu, creating plenty of opportunities for him to rebound toward his 2004 performance. Rowand still lacks patience and significant power potential, but given his all-around skills, rostering him for anything under $25 will look like a bargain by year's end.

Garret Anderson575163.2831796168OD
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:L    T:L171710.919.1

Back, knee, and hamstring injuries all slowed Anderson last year yet did not force him to the DL. He also saw slight skill upticks almost across-the-board, giving him one more good shot at a .300/20/100 season as Vlad's primary protection. However, you should not bid excessively here due to the obvious downside inherent in any player with such a questionable skill set. Abruptly withdrawing from bidding at $19 flat seems very prudent.

Mark Kotsay582163.2801582575O
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:L    T:L171710.529

Back problems continued to bother Kotsay much of the year yet did not keep Oakland from extending his contract through the 2008 season. Unfortunately, his skills largely collapsed as he returned to a .91 contact rate at the cost of weakened walk and ground-fly rates. He also failed to fix his reverse platoon split while suffering a prolonged slump throughout the summer. I do not know why Ken Macha insisted on hitting Kotsay in the top three lineup slots all year given his lack of speed and comparatively poor OBP, but a rebound down the stretch at least suggests he could improve in 2006. Consider Kotsay a relatively reasonable gamble anywhere under $20.

Jonny Gomes34898.2822154961OD
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:R    T:R16162424

No player should benefit from the change of Tampa ownership more than Gomes, who no longer needs to worry about playing time now that management recognizes the worth of his bat. Stuck in the minors and only recalled for good after Damon Hollins first received a promotion, Gomes posted a .317/.440/.665 performance with 15 HR, 47 RBI, and a 30:44 BB:K in 167 AB for AAA Durham(IL). He respectably echoed those numbers with the Rays, quickly moving to the #5 hole despite his production gradually dropping throughout the year. Although a .68 contact rate limits his upside, a 3.88 #P/PA and .57 G-F otherwise provide a superb skill foundation for the one true power threat in Tampa. With no platoon split and several more years of servitude until free agency beckons, expect Gomes to emerge as a key member of the Rays' rebirth, regularly registering about $20 in roto leagues and possessing even more value in sim leagues.

Rondell White374117.3131253149OD
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:R    T:R161521.522.5

Given White's injury history, I cannot envision him remaining relatively healthy while moving back to an artificial surface. Projecting any more than 400 at-bats seems downright foolish, and with shoulder injuries sapping his power, even departing Detroit for Minnesota likely will not yield an overt improvement in his numbers. Conversely, White's overall batting skills always give him a shot at .300, and if staying at DH somehow enables him to see 500 at-bats for the first time since 1999, his roto value could shoot above $25. Feel free to bid about $15 in any league where you can keep a viable backup OF on reserve.

David DeJesus461135.293956569O
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:L151517.724.6

DeJesus appears prepped for a true breakout despite the sprained shoulder that ended his season in August and a few other minor injuries that slowed him throughout the year. Improved power, patience, and speed combine with the fact that he just turned 26 in December to provide a superb foundation for a big step forward. Receiving better lineup support from Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Sweeney, and Reggie Sanders similarly will boost his runs scored by a couple of dozen. Even some general concerns regarding his apparent fragility cannot persuade me to recommend bidding anything less than $20 here, especially if you can lock him down at that price for the next couple of years.

Luis Matos389109.2804321753O
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R15140.54.8

A broken finger ruined a strong rebound from Matos, who held a .319/.402/.420 April line with a superb 8:4 BB:K in 69 AB before his injury sent him to the DL for six weeks. He never truly recovered and now may lose his starting job following the additions of Corey Patterson, Jeff Conine, and Kevin Millar, as well as the competition of surging prospects like Nick Markakis. However, if the Orioles allow Matos to play every day, thirty steals with a helpful average could push his value well over $20. Take advantage of his uncertain playing time in the hopes of netting a nice bargain by obtaining him anywhere around $10.

Jacque Jones523130.24923731374O
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:L    T:L14158.88.8

Few deals this decade approach the inanity of the contract Jones signed with the Cubs. Despite contributing very little offensively during his peak years, he somehow secured three years and $16M from a club apparently handing out similar proposals to everyone but trick-or-treaters. Jones cannot hit southpaws, which renders him useless against 40% of the likely starting pitchers in the division, and after dealing Jason Dubois, Chicago no longer possesses a capable lefty masher short of Mike Restovich. Most worrisome, Jones returned to a 2.53 G-F in 2005, an abhorrent number for a presumed power hitter. While he may approach $20 of roto value, a weak skill set and extremely limited upside should keep him off your roster.

Kevin Mench557147.2642573471O
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:R141417.69.8

The departure of Alfonso Soriano should elevate Mench to the #5 hole behind Young, Teixeira, and Blalock, providing one last opportunity for Mench to reach the benchmarks of 30/100 before the Rangers finally give up and deal the young veteran. Batting an additional 119 times last year did not result in any bump in his numbers, but with nicely improved plate discipline and plenty of latent power potential, I easily can envision a dramatic surge toward the .280/30/100 level. Unfortunately, even that seemingly impressive line would leave Mench at $20, so I see little justification for pushing toward $25 under almost any circumstances.

Alexis Rios481126.26210591471O
TOR Blue Jays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:R    T:R1314-2.1-1.1

Rushed to the majors without receiving the opportunity to truly dominate in the minors, Rios seemingly stagnated in his sophomore season, failing even to perform at replacement value in the Jays' outfield. Of course, he only turns 25 in two weeks and at least cut his ground-fly rate from 2.42 to 1.46, resulting in nine more homers without an accompanying decrease in doubles. The biggest problem Rios faces in his continued development is a surprisingly crowded outfield picture that might result in an uncomfortable platoon for the youngsters. I suspect a slow start for Rios instead will lead to a trade or demotion, but while drafting him entails plenty of risk, I also still see significant upside given his tools and skills. Definitely take advantage of any lull in the bidding that enables you to roster him around $10, a gamble that could lead to double-digit profit and a long-term anchor for your club.

Frank Catalanotto419126.301859056O
TOR Blue Jays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:L    T:R131319.215.1

While Catalanotto's platoon split seemingly vanished, he saw so few pitches from southpaws that he appears destined to find a similar number of at-bats this year, especially given the increased outfield competition resulting from Eric Hinske's position shift. Fortunately, Cat owns one of the most consistent skill sets in the game, making him a solid #2 hitter even after the acquisitions of Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay. I want to recommend him to anyone looking for BA help to offset their sluggers' minimal qualitative contribution, but Cat always seems to follow a 400 AB year with a 250 AB DLathon, so drop out of any bidding that approaches $10.

Shannon Stewart551151.2741056769O
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R13141.80.6

Minnesota's nominal leadoff man no longer belongs in that role after posting a .323 OBP, his worst mark since before his rookie year of 1997. Stewart's patience completely collapsed, and he only produced acceptable numbers in the one month in which he did not struggle with some sort of injury. His contract at least expires after the season, but the Twins' fans likely will remain aghast when Stewart spends all year wasting plate appearances in the #1 hole rather than dropping way down in the lineup to accommodate a top-of-the-order featuring Luis Castillo, Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Justin Morneau. Limited speed and power leave Stewart with an empty BA and little hope of earning much more than $20 at the absolute most. I see little reason to bid more than three-quarters of that price given his minimal upside.

Lew Ford522138.2647531370OD
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R13130.92

Unexpected difficulties with left-handed pitchers dropped Ford from the $20 he earned last year to this level. He now enters camp in competition with Mike Cuddyer and Jason Kubel for the starting right field job. However, given the former's value as a utilityman and the latter's extended injury recovery, Ford should enjoy one more chance to prove he deserves an everyday job. With a low-pressure spot down in the order and relatively respectable skills, expect a BA rebound to near .300, which should allow Ford to return to his 2004 value.

Nook Logan32283.2581172347O
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:S    T:R1212-5-1.1

Although he opened the season as the new Alex Sanchez in Detroit, winning the centerfield job by May, his terrible OBP led to his playing time dropping off a cliff in the second half. Now Logan's career appears invigorated just by the hiring of Jim Leyland as manager of the Tigers. While I do not envision Logan developing into a particularly significant player, he looks perfectly capable of seeing a few hundred at-bats as the #9 hitter while running at every possible opportunity. Consider him an ideal fifth outfielder, capable of stealing a couple dozen bases for a comparatively minimal investment.

David Dellucci435109.2512965597OD
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:L    T:L121427.424

Only an abundance of strikeouts prevented Dellucci from posting truly impressive numbers. Excellent patience and power potential still resulted in a .367 OBP and .513 SLG, giving him a ton of value in sim leagues. Dellucci seems set to enjoy another productive season even though he will compete with Gary Matthews, Laynce Nix, Phil Nevin, and Jason Botts for everyday at-bats. Of course, I fully expect Dellucci to see no less than a full slate of at-bats as the DH against right-handed batters, either hitting leadoff or sixth depending on where Brad Wilkerson settles. A middle-of-the-order Dellucci could head toward 30/100 behind Wilkerson, Young, Teixeira, Blalock, and Mench, making him a bargain in single digits.

Joey Gathright20356.2760132029O
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:L    T:R1210-1.6-0.8

Gathright compiled a .305/.385/.407 line with 1 HR, 18 RBI, a 30/38 SB%, and a 29:47 BB:K in 226 AB for AAA Durham(IL). He unsurprisingly continued to run in the majors, and if he is allowed to hit leadoff all year, anything less than fifty steals would shock me. Everything here depicts a potential dominant fantasy asset, lacking only the playing time necessary to emerge as one of the top ten players in any standard league. Gathright will not find a starting opportunity in Tampa, but if the Rays deal him to a club like the Marlins as expected, he automatically merits $30 bids in every draft. Despite his minimal contribution in other categories and the loss of his formerly respectable plate discipline in the majors, nothing here dissuades me from pricing him around $15 in Tampa and upwards of double that price in a starting job.

AL Outfield Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Rowand, Kotsay, and Ford should rebound while Gomes, DeJesus, and Rios should continue developing. However, the two potential studs here look like speedsters Nook Logan and Joey Gathright. Despite their limited current value as fourth outfielders, both could earn starting jobs during camp and accrue significant fantasy value.

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