Roaming the grassesby Paul Singman
June 01, 2010
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Last year I tooted Seth Smith's horn often and while he finished with solid numbers—15 homers and a .293 average in just 387 PAs—his inconsistent performance and playing time made him somewhat of a pain to own.
This preseason I avoided Smith in drafts, despite believing in his abilities, because I did not see much of a chance for him in a Rockies outfield comprised of Brad Hawpe, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler already. However, cue up an injury to Hawpe earlier in the season and make Fowler look like Miss Teen South Carolina at the plate, putting him back in Triple-A, and voila, Seth Smith gets some playing time.
|Smith doing an interpretive dance with the baseball during a game. (Icon/SMI)|
A lefty, Smith still is not playing much against fellow left-handers but is currently getting about 70 percent to 80 percent of the starts in left field and doing enough with those starts to warrant being owned in most leagues. After a slow start to the season, Smith played well in May, batting .306 with four home runs and impressively walked twice as much as he struck out.
I own Smith in most of my leagues, so this is not a case where the broker is telling you to buy something he wouldn't touch. As someone who has been there, I'll warn you that Smith has a way of endearing himself to you and then falling apart just when you have the utmost confidence in him. Right now the winds seem to be blowing perfectly for Smith to continue building off his recent success and if he is unowned in your league I would certainly add him, but just beware that good things tend not to last too long with him.
This recent hot streak does seem different though.
The wrong approach
Coming into the season, THT's projection system Oliver prognosticated big things from Cody Ross and I took a late-round flier on him in a couple of leagues. To me, Ross was someone who could blast about 25 home runs while still maintaining a decent .270s average and racking up the RBIs.
A few weeks into the season I made the tough decision to cut Mr. Ross from my team with little production coming from his bat. To my dismay he was immediately scooped up by another team, making me think perhaps I was premature in cutting him. A month later, however, I am not regretting my decision because Ross boasts a surprisingly high .300 average but is not offering much else.
Now, after reading articles like this one, it just makes me more upset that Ross actually thinks he is progressing as a hitter. He says: "Maybe a couple years ago, I’m trying to hit a home run instead of hitting the ball the other way."
Ross was not batting in the .240s when he was hitting closer to 25 home runs; he was batting a respectable .270. In terms of batting value to his actual baseball team, Ross' production is nearly identical with a wOBA in the .340s. From a fantasy perspective his average for power swap has cost him a lot of his fantasy relevance though.
In most mixed leagues I would not consider him worthy of a starting job, though for NL-only leagues he does provide consistent production with the chance of power binge every so often. In other words, Ross does just enough to keep you interested but won't keep your attention for very long.
I admittedly missed the boat on Andres Torres a few weeks ago when he was probably available in your league. After the preseason, I thought John Bowker would establish himself at the major league level, but that clearly did not happen. Nate Schierholtz was the second recipient of my endorsement as the player to own in the Giants outfield. And up until mid-May he looked spectacular but since then has been on a nosedive back to a pinch-hitting role.
Amidst those failures emerged Torres as the most advanced and talented of the bunch, currently batting .301 with plenty of doubles and eight steals. His underlying skillset and past production suggest his current production level is for the most part maintainable.
Unfortunately he is probably not available in most leagues anymore, but Torres is the type of player who if he gets unlucky for a short stretch would make a good trade target and might even be dropped in some leagues.
Paul has been managing fantasy baseball teams for many seasons and writing for THT Fantasy over the past three years. He is currently a student at UPenn welcomes readers' thoughts at his email here or in the comments below.
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