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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:
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.

49.  Alex EscobarWAS NationalsAge: 28B:R   T:R

After missing all of 2005, the third season of his career in which he totaled fewer than a dozen at-bats at any level, Escobar, acquired by Washington two years ago from the White Sox for Jerry Owens, finally emerged as a competent big leaguer. He crushed Double-A pitching to the tune of a .317/.447/.528 performance with 5 HR, 36 RBI, and a 21:23 BB:K in 123 AB for AA Harrisburg(EL), earning a shot with the Nats in May. Unsurprisingly, Escobar headed to the DL after four days for a strained hamstring then returned in July and began pounding the ball for six weeks in sporadic action. As befitting one of the most injury-prone prospects in many years, Escobar then tore his right labrum with a moronic headfirst slide into first base in late August. While he certainly earned a job in Washington for 2007, Escobar just doesn't seem capable of spending the majority of the season on an active roster, making him no more than an endgame gamble at best.

50.  Ryan SpilborghsCOL RockiesAge: 27B:R   T:R

In 2005 Spilborghs posted a combined .950 OPS with a .340 BA while splitting the summer between AA Tulsa(TL) and AAA Colorado Springs(PCL). He returned to the latter affiliate for about half of 2006, compiling a .338/.400/.476 performance in 269 AB that easily ranks him with the best contact hitters in the minors. More importantly, he served as the Rockies' platoon centerfielder for when in the majors and acquitted himself decently in that role. While he seemingly lost both his primary jobs to Willy Taveras and Jeff Baker, Spilborghs remains perfectly ready to contribute whenever summoned from Colorado Springs. Expect him to ride the shuttle for the next two years before securing a full-time gig on Colorado's bench no later than 2009. He certainly belongs on someone's fantasy squad whenever in the majors, though unless you can carry a fairly deep reserve squad, don't employ him as more than roster filler until he wins a bigger role.

51.  Gabe GrossMIL BrewersAge: 26B:L   T:R

The move of Bill Hall to center essentially condemns Gabe Gross to extended bench duty in Milwaukee, and given his meager quantitative stats since reaching the upper levels of the Jays' system, Gross just doesn't look like a fantasy asset. While he rakes against right-handers, his terrible performance against southpaws means that even a trade of Geoff Jenkins will result in little more than a platoon job for Gross. However, since he still possesses plenty of patience and some power upside, Gross also ranks among the best low-risk options to complete your roster. Consider Gross a decent endgame pick with a small chance of emerging as a double-digit value if injuries unexpectedly open a job for him.

52.  Jeff BakerCOL RockiesAge: 25B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Colorado for my comments on Baker.

53.  Daryle WardWAS/ATLAge: 31B:L   T:L

After failing to emerge as a reliable platoon player during his years with the Astros, Dodgers, and Pirates, Ward seemingly found a niche last summer as a top pinch-hitter, posting a .335/.440/.645 performance with 4 HR and 17 RBI in 62 pinch at-bats. Dealt to the Braves for Luis Atilano at the waiver deadline, Ward remained quite effective with Atlanta, earning himself a $1.05M deal with the Cubs that could emerge as a massive bargain if Chicago exercises his $1.2M option for 2008 as expected. However, unless Derrek Lee succumbs to injury Ward should not receive many at-bats as a position player. With a decent chance of his BA dropping due to his questionable plate discipline, Ward really just looks like Dollar Days outfield filler given his rather minimal upside.

54.  Jason RepkoLA DodgersAge: 25B:R   T:R

A sprained right ankle sidelined Repko for much of 2006, and after undergoing surgery for plantar fasciitis over the winter, he should resume his old role as the Dodgers' fourth outfielder, potentially even serving as a platoon partner for Andre Ethier or Luis Gonzalez. While he doesn't possess great power, Repko's decent speed could compensate for his questionable BA for roto purposes. I still don't particularly like him and don't expect him to post much positive value this year, but if healthy, Repko also shouldn't hurt any team that needs the extra SB boost.

55.  Cliff FloydNYNAge: 33B:L   T:R

Finally returning to his hometown after a decade of trade rumors and general innuendo regarding his desire to play in Chicago, Floyd's $3M deal with the Cubs finally gives him that opportunity while placing him in the first true hitters' park of his career. With Matt Murton readily available as an alternate starter, Floyd also doesn't need to play when feeling ill, a situation which suggests that his qualitative stats will improve even as his quantitative contribution drops due to reduced playing time. Of course, he certainly could echo his 2006 schedule by needing two more DL trips, especially with so many of his problems seemingly chronic in nature. Few players appear more injury prone than Floyd, making him a bad target in deep leagues with limited reserve slots. However, if you can roster a decent reserve outfielder and bench Floyd at your leisure, you could receive as much as $20 of value for the $10 Floyd should cost this spring.

56.  Matt KempLA DodgersAge: 22B:R   T:R

Yes, Los Angeles signed Juan Pierre to a five-year deal that blocks Kemp in center, but the one-year deal given Luis Gonzalez suggests that the Dodgers expect Kemp to seize one of the corner jobs by 2008. After this performance, he really deserved the shot this spring since he looked solid in the Sally League in 2004, clobbered Florida State League pitching a year later, and then excelled in the upper minors this summer. He posted a .327/.402/.528 performance with 7 HR, 34 RBI, and a 20:38 BB:K in 199 AB for AA Jacksonville(SL), reached Los Angeles at the end of May, and then after failing to impress management, headed to AAA Las Vegas(PCL) for the second half. Kemp continued raking in Sin City, registering a .368/.428/.560 output with 3 HR, 36 RBI, and a 17:26 BB:K in 182 AB that should have finished embossing his prospect credentials. Yet he barely saw the field in December, and despite needing to prove nothing in the minors, appears stuck at Las Vegas until injuries open a full-time job. The good news for fantasy teams is that despite his questionable plate discipline, Kemp ranks as an outstanding endgame or reserve-round target since his power-speed combo insures he both will post positive roto value given any extended action and could net you plenty of value as mid-season trade bat in keeper leagues.

57.  Freddie BynumCH CubsAge: 26B:L   T:R

Out of options last spring with Oakland, Bynum headed to the Cubs via the Rangers for Juan Dominguez in a deal that netted Texas John Rheinecker and John Koronka, who combined to start thirty-six games for Texas. Bynum spent half the season as the twenty-fifth man in Chicago, aside from two summer months on the DL due to shoulder inflammation caused by a blood clot in his arm. His performance with the Cubs frankly shocked me given his previously unimpressive minor league stats, though I suppose he always possessed decent quantitative potential. Left without a roster spot on the 2007 roster, Bynum headed to Baltimore in December for a PTBN, where he'll compete against as many as a dozen other players to remain at the end of a big league bench. I don't see him repeating his 2006 numbers any time soon.

58.  John RodriguezSTL CardinalsAge: 28B:L   T:L

Though Rodriguez posted perfectly respectable stats as a backup with St. Louis, he lost playing time to Chris Duncan and eventually headed to the minors for a couple of weeks in August. With Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion, Preston Wilson, So Taguchi, and Duncan all seemingly set for roster spots this year, Rodriguez will spend another summer on the Memphis-St. Louis shuttle even if he enjoys a great spring. Unless injuries devastate the Cardinals' outfield, he won't deserve consideration as more than fantasy roster filler.

59.  Steve FinleySF GiantsAge: 41B:L   T:L

Acquired from the Angels last winter for Edgardo Alfonzo, Finley unsurprisingly saw plenty of time as the Giants' primary reserve outfielder. While he rebounded thanks to the return of his briefly departed plate discipline, Finley's homers continued downshifting to triples as he nears the end of his career. Yet despite the fact he still hasn't found a team for this year and turns 42 in March, Finley appears likely to land somewhere during spring training, possibly even offering decent fantasy upside if he finds a park that can boost his batting average to the point that allows him to take full advantage of his remaining speed and power skills.

60.  Brady ClarkMIL BrewersAge: 33B:R   T:R

Signed to a two-year deal a year ago that guarantees him $7M, Clark slipped from the Brewers' leadoff and centerfield jobs to Milwaukee's bench because his OPS dropped over a hundred points, leaving him with little value as more than a part-time player. However, while he enters this season as the club's fifth outfielder, solidly behind Bill Hall, Corey Hart, and the Geoff Jenkins/Kevin Mench platoon, as well as only slightly ahead of a coterie of bench candidates that includes Gabe Gross, Laynce Nix, Tony Gwynn, and Drew Anderson, Clark offers as much fantasy upside as of the alternatives. He still owns impressive plate discipline, complemented by decent speed and power skills. Even in limited action, his BA should rebound toward his .278 career norm while he contributes no less than a half-dozen homers and maybe a dozen steals. Barring an additional run of health issues, grabbing Clark in the endgame just might net you a double-digit asset for minimal cost.

61.  Carlos QuentinARI DiamondbacksAge: 24B:R   T:R

Stuck in the minors as much as a year more than necessary due to Joe Garagiola's foolish trade for Shawn Green, Quentin finally reached Arizona last summer after another impressive .286/.422/.484 performance in 318 AB for AAA Tucson(PCL). He homered in his debut and then managed a comparable .253/.342/.530 output with the Diamondbacks despite not claiming a full-time starting job until after Green's trade to the Mets in mid-August. Although Quentin didn't demonstrate his normal superb plate discipline, I don't expect him to encounter any real difficulties this season since he should spend 2007 in the fairly low-pressure #6 or #7 slots in the lineup. Unfortunately, his current roto performance probably won't match his true value in more sabermetrically-oriented leagues, so unless you can grab him in the $10-12 range, let someone else suffer through Quentin's growing pains in the year or two before he develops real power and the skills to hold a .300 BA in the majors.

62.  Nate McLouthPIT PiratesAge: 24B:L   T:R

Kept him in the majors last year as Pittsburgh's fourth outfielder, McLouth spent much of the summer as the platoon starter in center despite posting a reverse split that wrecked his value to the Pirates. He also missed the last six weeks of the season, and since he didn't really improve at the plate, he offers little besides SB upside as he returns in an identical role in 2007. With Andrew McCutcheon charging up the minor league ladder, McLouth needs to take advantage of any misstep by Chris Duffy or else risks slipping into a permanent reserve job. Unless he rediscovers his lost plate discipline from the minors, the latter scenario appears more likely even though his speed at least makes him a decent roto investment for a few bucks.

63.  Jeremy HermidaFLO MarlinsAge: 22B:L   T:R

Despite the extraordinary performances by more than a dozen Marlins' rookies last summer, only Hanley Ramirez clearly appears a superior long-term investment to Hermida. He never got on track in 2006, landing on the DL in mid-April for five weeks due to a strained hip flexor that seemingly limited him for much of the year. Hermida also missed most of September due to a seemingly minor ankle problem, though the good news is that he appears both healthy now and set to resume his duties as Florida's unquestioned starting right fielder. Simply remaining healthy should result in a value in the mid teens, and despite my general concern that nearly every Marlin will suffer a joint sophomore slump, Hermida remains a good target due to possessing a skill foundation unrivaled among most young players around the game.

64.  Jeromy BurnitzPIT PiratesAge: 37B:L   T:R

Following three seasons spent serving as a placeholder for prospects in Colorado, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, Burnitz appears set to hang up his spikes after a fourteen-year career in which he smacked 315 homers and drove him 981 runners despite failing to earn a full-time job until he turned 28. His .253/.345/.481 career averages also hide a fairly significant platoon split, so while he still could contribute in a limited role, he also appeared unlikely to find a job commensurate with his experience after experiencing this last difficult season with the Pirates.

65.  Nook LoganWAS NationalsAge: 26B:S   T:R

With a chance to keep his starting job with the Tigers last spring, Logan instead flopped back to the minors, where he missed most of the summer due to a broken finger. Washington bought him from Detroit in August, installed him in center, and watched him hit .300 in September, albeit without the expected half-dozen steals. Now Logan enters camp with a guaranteed starting job, and although he probably doesn't deserve more at-bats than Ryan Church and Chris Snelling, he possesses as much roto potential as anyone in the lineup if his speed returns. Right now he looks like a solid $15 investment capable of returning twice that value with any luck.

66.  Angel PaganCH CubsAge: 25B:S   T:R

Initially catching my eye by stealing 62 bases in 2002 with the Mets, Pagan unexpectedly broke camp in the majors after an excellent spring. The Cubs bought his contract from New York last February, and although he missed most of the first half with a torn hamstring, he regained his role as the club's fifth outfielder in the second half. He needs another strong camp to regain that job since the Alfonso Soriano, Cliff Floyd, Mark DeRosa, and Daryle Ward signings left the bench rather full, but if Pagan appears in the majors, he still possesses the skills necessary to steal a dozen bases as a reserve. However, unless you desperately need speed, wait until he steals at least a couple of bags before grabbing him anywhere.

67.  Norris HopperCIN RedsAge: 27B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Cincinnati for my comments on Hopper.

NL Outfielder Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Carlos Quentin and Jeremy Hermida easily pace today's list of outfielders due to the tremendous long-term potential both youngsters possess. If they avoid further injury issues, each could clear $20 this summer, though since everyone recognizes their situations, neither appears more than a decent sleeper right now. Nook Logan appears in a comparable position in Washington, albeit with far less value in anything other than straight roto. Consider Jeff Baker and Matt Kemp far better investments since the former appears slated for a bench job with the Rockies while Kemp only needs a Luis Gonzalez injury or Andre Ethier slump to seize a job in Los Angeles. Either player easily could produce more fantasy value Quentin or Hermida if given the chance since high OBPs comprise so much of the latter duo's current profile yet don't give them the roto upside of Baker's BA-power combo or the 20-20 potential of Kemp.

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