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AL Outfielders: Day Four
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Outfielders with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
B = Bats.  T = Throws.  Age = Player's Age as of October 1, 2006.
Proj. = Rotohelp's projected 2006 stats and fantasy values for each player.
2006 = Each player's final 2006 stat line and fantasy values.
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2006.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement; aRAR = RAR adjusted to
consider a player's 2006 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players by position 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 all players in the league where they began the season.

53.  Shane CostaKC RoyalsAge: 24B:L   T:R

Costa won the fourth outfielder's job with a hot spring despite his relative lack of experience in the upper minors. He impressed in April with a .317/.333/.533 performance, albeit with little plate discipline, but a pulled hamstring sidelined him for a couple of weeks, followed by the expected dip in production that prompted his demotion. However, he pounded PCL pitching at AAA Omaha, compiling .342/.398/.593 averages with 10 HR, 30 RBI, and a 13:25 BB:K in 199 AB. Unfortunately, he couldn't earn regular playing time upon his promotion in late July, and after a second demotion, needed a decent September to boost his OPS above .709 for the year. Now the move of Mark Teahen to the outfield seemingly places Costa in direct competition with Joey Gathright for the fifth outfielder's job. The different skill set Gathright brings to the table seemingly gives him an edge, though if Costa's plate discipline keeps improving, he just might emerge as a long-term corner outfield solution for the Royals. He shouldn't hurt you as Dollar Days roster filler if he earns another shot on the Opening Day roster.

54.  Mike MorseSEA MarinersAge: 24B:R   T:R

Currently the leading candidate to snag the last spot on the Mariners' bench if the club opens the year with eleven pitchers, Morse doesn't appear particularly worthy of that opportunity after a couple of mediocre PCL campaigns. Last summer he posted a .248/.300/.403 performance with 5 HR, 34 RBI, and a 14:46 BB:K in 206 AB for AAA Tacoma, and nothing in his statistical history hints at any real quantitative upside. Considering he also lacks adequate plate discipline and plays in the American League's worst hitters' park, I see no reason for him to appear on anyone's fantasy roster in 2007.

55.  David NewhanBAL OriolesAge: 33B:L   T:R

Baltimore non-tendered the veteran journeyman after Newhan posted two very poor follow-up campaigns to his 2004 rookie breakout. However, a broken right leg suffered in last April caused him to miss nearly five months of action, so he at least appears capable of a further rebound if fully healthy. The problem Newhan now faces is that he signed with the Mets, which positions him at the very end of the club's bench behind veterans Ramon Castro, Julio Franco, Damion Easley, and Endy Chavez, as well as newly-acquired fifth outfielder Ben Johnson. Nothing about this situation seems conducive to Newhan producing acceptable fantasy stats, rendering him as little more than roster filler in all standard leagues.

56.  Alexis GomezDET TigersAge: 26B:L   T:L

Unexpectedly retained on the Tigers' playoff roster over Chris Shelton, Gomez's 4-RBI performance in Game 2 of the ALCS seemingly keyed Detroit's run to the pennant by preventing Oakland from regaining any momentum at home. Of course, the Tigers also demoted him twice during the season, allowing him to register a very respectable .288/.343/.540 output with 11 HR, 36 RBI, and an 18:48 BB:K in 226 AB in the pitchers' park at AAA Toledo(IL). His combined performance intrigued a few teams after Detroit non-tendered him in December, and Gomez might enjoy a true fantasy breakout in 2007 if he takes advantage of the NRI awarded him by Colorado. The Rockies field a wealth of candidates for the last two spots on the bench, including Cory Sullivan, Ryan Spilborghs, Choo Freeman, and Jeff Salazar, but Dan O'Dowd appears to favor Gomez for his five-tool talent. If he breaks camp in the majors, Gomez warrants a Dollar Days pickup in every NL league.

57.  Aaron GuielKC/NYYAge: 33B:L   T:R

Another round of solid stats for AAA Omaha(PCL) prompted Guiel's promotion in early May, courtesy of his .249/.388/.525 performance with 11 HR, 32 RBI, and a 35:45 BB:K in 177 AB. Despite posting an .799 OPS in 50 at-bats with the Royals, Kansas City demoted him at the end of the month and then lost him on waivers to the Yankees in early July. He performed nearly as well in New York, though the acquisition of Bobby Abreu also forced him to Columbus for the first three weeks of August. Guiel deserved a longer look from multiple teams, but after the Yankees non-tendered him in December, he opted for a one-year deal with Yakult in Japan, completely removing him from the fantasy player pool for 2007.

58.  Reggie WillitsLA AngelsAge: 25B:S   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Los Angeles(A) for my comments on Willits.

59.  Kevin ThompsonNY YankeesAge: 27B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: New York(A) for my comments on Thompson.

60.  Lew FordMIN TwinsAge: 30B:R   T:R

Following a couple of increasingly less impressive summers as a starting outfielder, Ford quickly ceded right field to Mike Cuddyer, posted a terribly mediocre .234/.304/.324 first-half performance in 188 at-bats, and then suffered an oblique strain right after the All-Star break. He missed nearly a full month, and thanks to the belief that the additions of Jason Tyner and Josh Rabe fueled the Twins' surge, Ford only batted forty-six times over the last six weeks of the season. While Ford might have regained his starting job with a strong spring, he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee a month ago, and though he should enter camp fully healthy, he also appears highly unlikely to unseat Rondell White in left or Jason Kubel at DH. Consider Ford no more than a marginal endgame option for a buck or two assuming he even breaks camp in the majors.

61.  Jason KubelMIN TwinsAge: 24B:L   T:R

The low-profile Twins' outfielder most likely to emerge as a fantasy force, Kubel respectably rebounded last summer after missing all of 2006 while recovering from a torn left ACL suffered in the 2004 AFL. Yes, he lost the right field job after two weeks, but he returned in May after registering .283/.343/.475 averages with 4 HR, 22 RBI, and a 12:23 BB:K in 120 AB for AAA Rochester(IL). Kubel torched the ball in June for a .333/.365/.580 performance, though general overaggressiveness and continued knee problems led to extended struggles down the stretch. Thankfully he appears fully healthy now, and while Rondell White and Lew Ford cover left field, Kubel appears in an intriguing situation as the club's probable DH, especially considering he won't turn 25 until late May. Rostering him for anything much under $10 could like a complete steal given the tremendous upside suggested by his minor league numbers.

62.  Todd HollandsworthCLE/CINAge: 33B:L   T:L

Hollandsworth added practically nothing to the Indians in four months of action, and only a slightly improved performance upon his trade to the Reds in early August resulted in him eking out positive draft value. Still unsigned with spring training only two weeks away, he doesn't belong on any fantasy roster even if he somehow lands a big league roster spot.

63.  Chris SnellingSEA MarinersAge: 24B:L   T:L

Stolen from the Mariners with Emiliano Fruto by a Nationals' franchise eager to deal Jose Vidro, Snelling finally may receive a long-overdue everyday job. He only needs to outplay nominal centerfielder and leadoff man Nook Logan, and given Snelling's potentially superb OBP, he could emerge as a particularly useful sleeper in sim leagues. The problem is that he hasn't exceed 350 at-bats in a season since departing the California League after 2001. A variety of injuries kept him benched, including a torn ACL in the summer of 2005 that sidelined him until last June and a mild shoulder problem that cost him three weeks in August. I want to believe that he'll turn the health corner after turning 25 in December, but given his fairly limited quantitative upside in Washington, even the least risk-averse owners should hesitate before gambling more than a fairly minimal amount on Snelling without first securing the voodoo doll clearly responsible for his extended difficulties.

64.  Kevin ReeseNY YankeesAge: 28B:L   T:L

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: New York(A) for my comments on Reese.

65.  Brent ClevlenDET TigersAge: 22B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Detroit for my comments on Clevlen.

66.  Tommy MurphyLA AngelsAge: 27B:S   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Los Angeles(A) for my comments on Murphy.

67.  Rondell WhiteMIN TwinsAge: 34B:R   T:R

The former All-Star finished the year with his fewest big league at-bats since 2001, mostly due to the reduced playing time he received following a mind-bogglingly atrocious .182/.209/.215 first-half output. A strained shoulder thankfully allowed White a little time to regain his lost hitting stroke in the minors, and although hamstring troubles later wiped out another three weeks of his season in August, he finished the year strong and re-signed for a reasonable $2.75M. He'll head back to left field, leaving Jason Kubel at DH, so unless another round of holey bat syndrome forces him to the bench, White looks like a decent late-round option for a couple of bucks.

68.  Franklin GutierrezCLE IndiansAge: 23B:R   T:R

Posting a .278/.373/.433 performance with 9 HR, 38 RBI, a 13/21 SB%, and a 49:84 BB:K in 349 AB for AAA Buffalo(IL) earned Gutierrez three different three-week stints with the Indians. While he clearly improves the club's defensive alignment, he also desperately needs more seasoning given the 3:28 BB:K he registered in Cleveland. The off-season additions of David Dellucci and Trot Nixon by Gutierrez more development time, and since he only turns twenty-four in three weeks, spending another summer at Buffalo isn't a terrible idea. Yet with limited power development and no need in Cleveland for a new centerfielder, he probably needs a change of scenery to emerge as more than a bench player. Don't roster Gutierrez until he begins posting decent fantasy stats in the majors.

69.  Damon HollinsTB Devil RaysAge: 32B:R   T:L

Strongly echoing his 2005 performance didn't impress the Devil Rays, who simply don't require the services of any outfielder with a .700 OPS. Apparently neither does any other big league team as Hollins, once Tampa non-tendered him in December, signed with Yomiuri in Japan. Even if pulls a Gabe Kapler and returns to the States during the summer, Hollins possesses no fantasy value in 2007.

AL Outfielder Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: The Yankees' overloaded bench leaves Kevin Thompson little shot of prospering in the majors, though he could blossom into a roto beast if sent somewhere like Florida. Minnesota looks like the best place to raid for bargains here given Kubel's upside and the strong odds that Rondell White will return near double-digit value. Chris Snelling similarly seems a great sleeper, but without any guarantee of decent quantitative stats or even a high BA, he doesn't merit significant investments in any league.

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