Waiver Wire Offseason: AL

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Kouzmanoff Catching Flies (Icon/SMI)

Kevin Kouzmanoff | Oakland | 3B
2009 Final Stats: .255/.302/.420
2010 THT Projections:: .266/.311/.447

Using the new handy-dandy tool to visualize batter hit distribution in an alternate park, it doesn’t appear that Kevin Kouzmanoff will benefit much from Oakland Coliseum.
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Feel free to give the tool a try and see the key for the various colors as well, but suffice it to say that blue is good. The lack of ballpark aid really doesn’t come as a big surprise, and he’ll further be facing Felix Hernandez better American League pitching as well. At least his career Interleague stats are robust (.309/.344/.559), and he’s hit well in the Coliseum (14 PA, 1.000 OPS), but he won’t get to feast on Oakland pitching anymore (.348/.400/.522). He’s not a high-walk player, so he’ll rack up lots of at-bats, and while that should be somewhat neutral in bigger leagues, it’s something to watch out for if he’s snagged as a cheap power source in shallow leagues.

Jason Frasor | Toronto | RP
2009 Final Stats: 8.7 K/9, 3.5 K/BB, 2.50 ERA
LIPS ERAs (2006-2009): 4.22, 4.01, 5.44, 3.62
2010 THT Projections: 8.1 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 3.80 ERA

We gave a rosy prediction for him to have a 1-in-3 chance to keep the closer’s role after the season, and he kept pitching very well and the Jays upped it to “50-50”, but then brought in Gregg. We are pretty sure that Gregg will get first crack at closing, with Downs and Frasor picking up scraps based on matchups. Tough division, bad team, some good pitchers vying for saves, and it all adds up to Frasor being an unappealing pick at this point, despite the great arm.

Scott Podsednik | Kansas City | LF
2009 Final Stats: .304/.349/.412
2010 THT Projections:: .271/.325/.363, 16 SB

At the risk of over-editorializing, Scott Podsednik is the sort of player who gives fantasy sports a bad name among any right-thinking Sabermetrician. Even if you think standard valuations undervalue speed (which this author believes, though things have improved in recent years), the outs that “Pods” racks up on the basepaths drive everyone from Ozzie Guillen to Ken Harrellson to John Dewan crazy (we’re guessing, since we didn’t track Mr. Dewan down and ask him). And he can’t hit. And his throwing arm is terrible. And he’s not nearly as rangy as his speed would suggest. [steps down off soapbox...] Anyway, the steals projection is low, as Podsednik will likely approach his 30 SB from 2009 again if he manages to hit enough to stay in the lineup, though it’s easy to understand why a projection system would assume that his manager would be smart enough to give him the red light more often. We’re going to bank on the light staying green, however, and he should be a cheap source of steals.

David Dejesus | Kansas City | LF
2009 Final Stats: .281/.347/.434
2010 THT Projections:: .271/.337/.404, 2 SB

Dejesus is moving to RF, and the Royals are hoping his back problems are a thing of the past. He attempted 13 steals last year, so expect him to get more than 2 SB this season, even if it means a lot of outs … see Pods commentary. It also wouldn’t be shocking to see him exceed his projection, as his career stat line is .286/.358/.425 and he was playing hurt for most of 2009 and is just entering his age-30 season.

Luke Scott | Baltimore | DH/OF/1B
2009 Final Stats: .258/.340/.488
2010 THT Projections:: .248/.330/.458

Scott has big-time power, as can be seen from his ISO and projected ISO. He’s popped 48 HR in the past two seasons, playing only about 2/3 of the time. While people will say that spring training stats don’t count, Felix Pie‘s spring training stats have to be considered to count against Luke Scott at this point, as he’s a much better defender than Nolan Reimold, who would end up as the primary DH if Pie wins the job. For now, Luke has a hold on another 2/3 of a season (vs. righties), but it’s tenuous. Not for the shallow (leagues) or the faint (of heart).

Delmon Young | Minnesota | LF
2009 Final Stats: .284/.308/.425
2010 THT Projections:: .289/.323/.421

Delmon Young is being drafted in barely 10% of mock drafts. This is a serious mistake in judgment unless your league uses OBP, and even then it’s unlikely to be wise to disregard him.

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Check Out Delmon Young (Icon/SMI)

We won’t pretend he’s going to be a superstar still; he was always overrated as this author has pointed out since his minor-league days. But he’s still a talented hitter whose power should improve as he matures. He’s been healthy over the years, and Gomez won’t be around to push Span over to LF this year. He posted full-season highs in ISO and FB% in 2009. While he’s not a particularly valuable MLB player, fantasy ball is primarily about playing time, and Delmon rates to be useful in fantasy leagues. Not worth more than a very late pick pick, since he’s not being drafted in most leagues, but worth rostering.

Shaun Marcum
2009 Final Stats: (played in minors – 15.2 IP)
LIPS ERAs (2006-2008): 4.97, 4.24, 4.21
2010 THT Projections: 7.1 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 3.79 ERA

Shaun Marcum has been cleared medically, and looks healthy. He’s slated—somewhat shockingly—to start opening day and is being taken in only 12.8% of mock drafts. Here’s what we wrote on July 17, none of which has really changed: “Marcum is a strike-thrower (99 BB in 310 IP in 07/08) who allows too many home runs to be a truly top-notch starter. Don’t expect much ERA help, and the IP should be low as he’s coming off an injury, but he could be a nice boost for WHIP in any format and pick up a few wins. “

Quick hits:

Carlos Santana | Cleveland | C
2009 Final Stats: .290/.413/.530
2010 THT Projections:: .243/.338/.422

Probably not worth it for 2010, though AL-only 2-catcher leagues would make for enough positional scarcity to consider the upside.

Austin Jackson | Detroit | CF
2009 Final Stats: .300/.354/.405 (AAA)
2010 THT Projections:: .254/.308/.366 – 9 SB

Austin Jackson gets scouts excited a lot more than Statheads, but few in either camp think he’ll be ready to do much in 2010. Detroit is a tough ballpark, and the lineup rates to be weak; look elsewhere.

Rob McQuown is a lifetime Cubs fan, longtime SABR member, and former STATS, Inc. employee. He also writes for Baseball Daily Digest and other sites and can be reached via email (
; baseball email is always welcome) and followed on Twitter (robmcquown).

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Comments

  1. Jonathan Sher said...

    I’m not so sure Detroit’s lineup hurts Austin Jackson. He’s expected to bat leadoff and has some pretty good bats behind him, with Cabrera a leading masher hitting cleanup and Johnny Damon bating second.

    Where the lineup is weak is at the bottom – Laird and Everett won’t get on base much. So Jackson will have fewer RBI opportunities than Jacob Ellsbury will get in Boston where Marco Scutaro bats 9th. But leadoff guys don’t get a lot of RBI’s anyways – last year Jeter hit 17 HRs but still only had 62 RBI’s. Jackson’s ceiling on RBI’s in his lineup is probably closer to 40. The spread just isn’t that much.

    The key issue for Jackson is playing time—if he keeps the starting job he should get 20 to 30 SB and that is his real value in fantasy in a deep A.L.-only format. My suspicion is that Jackson will be on a long leash as the Tigers are anxious to show fans they got something valuable in return for Granderson.

  2. rbt said...

    Rob, where did you get the information that David DeJesus played with back pain last year?  Baseball Prospectus also stated this, but it was never in the local paper, nor was it stated by the team.  When I read that I thought “huh?”

  3. Rob McQuown said...

    rbt -

    My comment was spurred by this MLB.com report from May 1:

    http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090501&content_id=4511800&vkey=news_kc&fext;=.jsp&c_id=kc

    …and Will Carroll’s notes at BP.  I admit that this could arguably come under the “daily grind” for ballplayers.  It certainly doesn’t sound like a Don Mattingly-esque career-threatening issue; but back problems have a way of persisting, so it seemed to warrant a note since he missed games with it.

    Rob

  4. Rob McQuown said...

    Jonathan -

    Free info from THT, the Tigers’ projections:

    1. Damon   0.277     0.357     0.429
    2. Sizemore .246     .318     .378
    3. Ordonez   0.316     0.385     0.477
    4. M-Cab   0.309     0.377     0.559
    5. Guillen   0.268     0.349     0.433
    6. Inge     0.221     0.303     0.378
    7. Laird   0.230     0.293     0.333
    8. Everett 0.234     0.282     0.329
    9. Jackson   0.254     0.308     0.366

    I see the following guys getting a lot of PT also:
    Santiago 0.254 0.307   0.370
    Raburn   0.257 0.330   0.458

    Obviously, “weak” is open to the interpretation of the individual, but this looks a lot more like the Mariners’ lineup than the Yankees’ to me, though obviously Cabrera could play for anyone.

    -Rob

  5. Jonathan Sher said...

    Rob,

    You’ve effectively elaborated on your point (that the Tigers lineup is weak) but haven’t address mine, the first of which is this: How is weakness in the lineup going to affect Jackson’s numbers other than have a marginal effect on his RBI’s?

    The Tigers plan to bat Jackson, not Damon, lead-off, THT projections notwithstanding. Jackson’s value, then, is largely ties to two traditional roto categories: stolen bases and runs scored.

    Austin will be batting ahead of Damon, Ordonez and Cabrera. It’s not last year’s Yankees—well actually it’s one-third of last year’s Yankees, Damon. But it’s also not all that weak.

    Which gets to my second point: The weakness in the Tigers lineup is at the bottom. where Laird, Everett and Inge just don’t get on base. That means there will be relatively few base runners for Jackson and one could expect relatively few RBI’s.

    Which leads to my third point: Even though Austin can be expected to get few RBI’s, the gap between his RBI’s and other lead-off men won’t likely be much, since leadoff hitters in the best lineups often get only 60 to 70.

    In short, I agree the Tigers lineup overall is weak, but since this is an analysis of Jackson, I’m more interested in how that weakness will affect Jackson’s numbers.

    For context, I read you column every time it comes out as I am in an A.L.-only roto league amd I have quite enjoyed and appreciated your analysis. I think you are bang-on with the other players mentioned in this piece, the only exception being Jackson.

  6. Rob McQuown said...

    Jonathan -

    Well, first off, I am close to 100% certain that if Jackson hits like projected, he will not lead off for long.  That begs instead the question of whether the projection is low.  At this time last year, the White Sox had Jerry Owens leading off, but few thought that was reasonable.  Clearly, A-Jax is a much better player than Owens, but the point remains that a contending team won’t sink leadoff PA into a guy who is struggling, unless Dusty Baker is at the helm, or maybe Bobby Cox, who’s been known to be quite “loyal” as well.

    As far as whether the projection is low, I have a gut feeling it might be, but I think that expecting more in the first half of the season would be a bit optimistic, so functionally it’s useful – as you could likely acquire Jackson at a reduced rate if he’s not hitting by June.

    As far as lineup impact, your points are good.  And while high-OBP offenses see more PA/game, the top and bottom PA/season teams last year were within 350 (NY 6447, KC 6101).  Call that 30 PA/starter as a top-to-bottom range, roughly speaking; and the Tigers aren’t as inept at getting on base as the 2009 Royals (who is?)  Still, in general, teams which aren’t scoring a lot limit both the “runs” and “RBI” category impact for a fantasy player.  Obviously, your point about the core of the Tigers lineup being strong is viable, but what if Jackson gets dropped to 7th in the lineup against RHP?  Then he’s essentially in a R/RBI sinkhole. It’s not the first thing to look at, but I don’t think it’s wise to ignore it, either.

    Rob

  7. Jonathan Sher said...

    Rob,

    Thanks for quantifying the top-bottom for PA; that is helpful information to know even if the Royal hierarchy insists otherwise.

    Your point about being dropped in the lineup is one to consider too and is really a cousin to the one I made about playing time—What happens if Jackson struggles? I suggested he could lose at-bats and you suggest he could be dropped lower in the order. Both are possibilities.

    I have Jackson on my roster and frankly have been trying to peddle him, though that is in part due to roster considerations independent of his talents. There’s no great interest so far even though half my fellow owners are avid Tigers fans so there’s little question that even Tigers fans have some doubts.

    So at the end of the day, both of us question if he will hit well enough to lead-off.

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