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NL Outfielders: Day Four
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National 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.

Jayson Werth33779.2347431146O
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R45-3.6-5.6

From a broken left wrist in spring training through a sore knee and then November ligament surgery in his wrist, Werth sputtered badly in his first year as an anointed starter and now needs to fight Jose Cruz for regular at-bats. Werth's .66 contact rate negated the positives of a 4.62 #P/PA, and although he owns 20-20 upside, his weak BA could depress his fantasy value indefinitely. Treat him as a good source of a dozen steals for five or six bucks and just be pleased if a return to full health results in across-the-board roto contributions.

Ricky Ledee23766.278739031O
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:L    T:L444.66.3

The Dodgers' putative fourth outfielder should spend much of the year in that role as nominal starters like Drew, Lofton, Werth, and Cruz all inevitably hit the DL. Unfortunately, the move from Philadelphia to Los Angeles treated Ledee rather badly, so although he possesses sufficient power and plate discipline to post positive value, he appears incapable of emerging as more than a platoon starter at best. Ledee certainly won't hurt you as an endgame fifth outfielder, but his relative lack of upside certainly limited his fantasy value.

Chris Duffy12643.34119222O
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:L444.74.7

Craig Wilson's July DL trip cleared a spot for Duffy, who owned a .308/.358/.464 line with 7 HR, 31 RBI, a 17/26 SB%, and a 16:57 BB:K in 308 AB for AAA Indianapolis(IL) at the time of that promotion. He quickly ascended to the leadoff job and spent a month there before hamstring issues forced Duffy to the DL. The youngster barely lost his rookie eligibility, exceeding the rookie maximum by only a couple days of service time, which tosses him off many prospect lists yet doesn't really diminish his relatively minimal value. Duffy only compiled a .385 OBP on the strength of an unsustainably high BA, doesn't own superb speed or plate discipline, and even registered a 3.05 G-F that demonstrates his minimal power potential. Bidding into double digits for someone with this tenuous a hold on a starting job just doesn't make sense despite his tantalizing SB upside.

John Rodriguez14944.295524215O
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:L    T:L4366

An impressive 2004 with AAA Columbus landed the minor league free agent a job with AAA Buffalo(IL), where he compiled a .247/.323/.447 with 5 HR, 23 RBI, and a 15:40 BB:K in 170 AB. Cleveland passed him to St. Louis as the PTBN for Javier Cardona, whereupon Rodriguez exploded at the plate, totaling a .342/.419/.808 performance with 17 HR, 47 RBI, and a 13:28 BB:K in just 120 AB for AAA Memphis(PCL). His abundant offense earned Rodriguez the chance to replace the injured Reggie Sanders in mid-July, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to establish his credentials as a reliable backup. Now Rodriguez will fight with So Taguchi for any excess at-bats in the Cardinals' outfield, presenting an intriguing opportunity for endgame prospectors to land a low-risk, decent-upside player for minimal cost.

Jorge Piedra11235.313616219O
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:L    T:L439.29.5

Although a positive drug test interrupted Piedra's season, he demonstrate welcome development at AAA Colorado Springs(PCL), posting a .312/.372/.527 performance with 6 HR, 46 RBI, and an 18:23 BB:K in 186 AB before recalled for good in June. He rarely played for the Rockies, but with a .09 walk rate, .87 contact rate, and a .58 G-F, five hundred at-bats for Piedra means somewhere around thirty homers. Feel free to bid several bucks for this combination of skills, tools, and a home park that jacks his immediate upside through the roof.

Ryan Langerhans32687.267842048O
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:L453.73.7

Langerhans absolutely earned this opportunity with an excellent 2004 campaign that gave the Braves plenty of reason to turn to him as a starter after Raul Mondesi flopped. He enjoyed a perfectly respectable rookie season, nicely improving in the second half mid-season call-ups Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson faded. While the two higher profile prospects will receive more attention this winter, Langerhans probably owns better skills than his fellow sophomore outfielders and looks far more likely to play every day than the inconsistent Johnson. Landing Langerhans for a few bucks just might net you a double-digit value if he emerges as the everyday starter.

Austin Kearns38793.2401867062O
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:R    T:R454.26

Few players possess more immediate upside than Kearns, who finally owns an unquestioned starting job heading into his age-26 season. He crushed the ball during a six-week demotion to AAA Louisville and then returned to the Reds to compile a solid .851 OPS in the second half despite a shallow .253 BA. Since Kearns owns the skills necessary to send his BA over .275, only that improvement stands between him and the .900+ OPS that would justify a chance to hit cleanup between Junior and Dunn. The hiring of Wayne Krivsky should insure that Kearns stays in Cincy to receive the last chance he'll need to emerge as a star. As long as Kearns appears healthy in the spring, bid to $20 without hesitation.

Orlando Palmeiro20458.284320322O
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36B:L    T:L433.23.2

I mostly fail to understand Houston's decision to award Palmeiro a two-year extension after his best season since 2000. He lacks the skills to keep his OPS above the minimally acceptable .700 level and can't bat against southpaws. However Palmeiro's .880 mark off the bench gives him some utility even though his effectiveness in that role insures he won't see sufficient playing time to accrue any real roto value. View him strictly as injury filler.

Eric Young14239.275212722O
SD Padres4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 38B:R    T:R33-1-1.4

The total dislocation of his right shoulder that Young suffered in the season's first week cost him three months of action. His speed remained gone upon his return, and although his held a decent BA due to his consistently great plate discipline, Young just doesn't offer much upside in PETCO. I suspect his name value will elevate his price above the acceptable five-dollar mark unless he slips into the endgame.

Marlon Byrd22961.266226520O
Age: 28B:R    T:R32-1.90.1

Pat Gillick inexplicably exchanged Byrd for Endy Chavez in perhaps the only trade where Jim Bowden dealt the toolsiest outfielder in the deal. Byrd recovered from a broken finger that cost him all of April to pound the ball for a couple of weeks before his inconsistent plate discipline sabotaged his batting average. The former Rookie of the Year contender did not receive consistent playing time over the balance of the year. He technically remains in competition with Ryan Church and Brandon Watson for a starting job, but I just don't see him as anything more than a platoon player in Washington. Limiting your bids to the mid-single digits makes the most sense here.

Craig Wilson19752.264522323O
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R224.72.4

Even this simply brutal season didn't result in the Pirates non-tendering Wilson, Dave Littlefield actually making the correct decision for once. While Wilson suffered an injured left finger and then fractured his left hand in July courtesy of a Greg Maddux pitch, Wilson performed capably when healthy and at least could excel in a platoon with Jeromy Burnitz or even Sean Casey. Of course, sharing left field with Jody Gerut while Jason Bay covers center presents the most upside for Pittsburgh's offense, but I instead see Wilson quietly contributing several bucks of value before shifting to a contender in July and emerging as a significant force during the stretch run. Anyone with Wilson's history of success deserves the gamble of a few bucks due to his quantitative upside.

Corey Patterson45197.21513341547O
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:L    T:R23-24-19.9

Corey should thrive in the comparatively low pressure atmosphere in Baltimore. Rather than rank among baseball's worst players, I fully expect better luck alone to drive a significant BA surge. With plenty of power and speed still present in these skills, the twenty-six year-old veteran only needs a low lineup slot to reemerge as a $25 fantasy star. Bid about $10 if Sam Perlozzo foolishly follows through on rumors to hit Patterson second yet push to the highest teens if Baltimore correctly hits Corey seventh.

Todd Hollandsworth30374.244636426O
Age: 32B:L    T:L11-9.3-13.2

Mediocre marks for both the Cubs and Braves didn't keep the Indians from signing Hollandsworth to a minor league deal that virtually guarantees him a spot on Cleveland's rather woeful bench. While I don't believe he'll hit this badly, Hollandsworth's limited upside prevents him from contributing to successful fantasy teams as anything more than short-term roster filler.

Kelly Johnson29070.241940246O
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23B:L    T:R12-1.1-1.1

Two unimpressive AA campaigns somehow produced Johnson's spring performance at AAA Richmond(IL), where he pounded the ball to the tune of a .310/.438/.581 line with 8 HR, 22 RBI, and a shocking 34:22 BB:K in 155 AB. Quickly promoted to Atlanta to cover left field, he held an .823 OPS for six weeks before a weak BA cause his overall performance to collapse. Right now Johnson looks like the odd man out in an outfield that only requires one left-handed hitter to start in left field, but if he lands a bench job, spending a couple bucks here eventually could pay welcome dividends, especially in long-term keeper leagues.

Jeremy Hermida4112.29341129O
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 21B:L    T:R105.25.2

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Florida for my comments on Hermida.

Michael Tucker26864.239536435O
Age: 34B:L    T:R11-4.9-7.5

An inexpensive deal with Washington places Tucker on the bench next to Marlon Byrd and just behind Ryan Church and the injured Jose Guillen on the depth chart. Yes, Tucker flopped in Philly, but with decent plate discipline, power potential, and even a little speed, he won't hurt your roto team when you need him to fill out your lineup.

NL Outfield Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Perhaps we're blinded by nearly a decade of faith in his skills, but we fully expect Corey Patterson to blossom once out of the Chicago pressure cooker where both his manager and fan base generally detested his style of play. Although any attempt by Baltimore to mold him as a leadoff hitter will encounter similar problems, Patterson seems properly position to prosper in the faint echo of Sammy Sosa if simply allowed to homer, steal, and strike out at will. While you can blame us if he tanks your season, we strongly believe Patterson will look like a giant bargain by year's end.

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