Roaming the grasses

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.

Torres emerges

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.

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  1. buck turgidson said...

    Explain, please, what part of any of those Giant’s prior performance would indicate that they are going to be significantly better than mediocre big leaguers?  I mean is there any specific reason that you are wanking their respective hype chains on a reputable website?

  2. Jim G. said...

    (buck must be a Dodger fan)

    Don’t feel bad about Torres. He’s finally establishing himself at the age of 32. His decline is just around the corner. I remember when he was going to be the centerfielder of the future for the Tigers back at the turn of the century. I was surprised to see his name pop up in the majors again last year.

  3. Paul Singman said...

    Haha Buck my suggestions to own Bowker and Schierholtz came less from any prior performances that impressed me and more from the fact that they seemed in line for a decent number of at bats, which in deeper leagues is pretty much the criteria for a player to be considered “ownable.”

    That being said I remember in the preseason most projection systems thought Bowker could bat around .260-.270 with something around 15 homers. Also, his 2009 Triple-A season can be seen as proof that he could hold his own in the majors. Schierholtz also has a few impressive minor league seasons under his belt and I still believe he can be an above average hitter given regular playing time.

    I am not saying it was likely they became “significantly better than mediocre big leaguers” but thinking they could be about average doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  4. Elbert said...

    yeah i would concur with Paul’s assessment, since my 16-mixed league doesn’t have anything left, so these names definitely has value, especially with the loss of Idiota Morales on my end.

    Yes Paul, I’m still bittered over those damn Monkeys….

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