In remembrance of the formerly-talented, forever-volatile Milton Bradley, who was designated for assignment yesterday by the Mariners following two ejections and a one-game suspension last week, here are three other American League outfielders rostered in about three-quarters of leagues that owners shouldn’t feel bad about giving the Bradley treatment at this point in the season.
Nick Markakis, Orioles
Yahoo! – 78%
ESPN – 82%
Once upon a time, I was a huge Nick Markakis fan.* He got on base, had some solid pop and even ran a little bit, yet somehow (as an Oriole?) remained underrated in fantasy. Now? He does none of those things, and he’s even overrated by most owners, considering his ownership numbers. The 27-year-old’s current OBP is .288 (thanks to a 6.2 BB%), his ISO is .091 and he’s managed but a single steal. Each of those stats is a career-worst. Sure, his BABIP is .233, compared to .324 career, but even factoring in an increase there, I’ll point to his .331 BABIP in 2010, when he hit .297 with just 12 HRs, 60 RBIs and 79 runs. Those are fine enough numbers for your third or fourth outfielder in a 12-team league, but they’re not reason enough to hang on in hopes he picks it up and achieves those digits, which at this point, look to be the best-case scenario here.
*I actually had this crazy theory that the Orioles, on the strength of their then-top notch farm system, were going to transform into contenders by 2012 or 2013, and Markakis was going to be in the discussion for AL MVP. Sometimes we can try too hard to look smart.
Juan Pierre, White Sox
Yahoo! – 65%
ESPN – 92%
For all the crazy stats I’ve come across this season, this might be the most absurd one of all: Juan Pierre has 6 steals and has been caught 8 times. Folks, that’s a 43% success rate from a guy who’s career rate is 75%. Also? In his 8 seasons with at least 400 at-bats, the faux-Frenchman, now 33, has scored 90-plus runs 7 times. This year, he’s crossed home plate on all of 13 occasions, which puts him on pace for a shield-your-eyes bad 59 runs. From a leadoff hitter. Granted, a lot of that has to do with hitting atop a lineup that has wildly underperformed to date (.243 BA, .311 OBP, 3.9 runs/game), but there’s also the fact that his ground ball percentage has dropped below 50% for the first time in his career — not exactly promising for a player who needs that sort of approach to be successful. While there aren’t likely to be many potential 50-steal players just floating around on your waiver wire — at this point, can we even say Pierre fits that bill? — there should be plenty capable of 25-plus swipes in 10- and 12-team leagues who can also help you in runs and, you know, may actually hit more than Pierre’s obligatory one homer. Unless your need for speed rivals that of Maverick and Goose’s, it’s time to say au revoir.
Denard Span, Twins
Yahoo! – 53%
ESPN – 89%
Look, there’s nothing wrong with Span, per se. It’s just that he’s better in real life baseball than the fantasy kind. In fantasy he just, well, is. He’ll hit for a solid average, probably somewhere between .280 and .300. He’ll thieve 25 bases. He’ll score 80-90 runs. All of that is ownable, valuable even. But it doesn’t make him indispensable in any way. My best guesses as to why owners hang onto Span are 1) because for some reason they think he’s capable of more, possibly because he’s now entering his prime at 27; or 2) his stats don’t stand out in a I-have-to-cut-this-guy kind of way. But if you saw his line — .298 average, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 17 runs and 3 SBs — sitting in your 10- or 12-team league’s free agent pool, would you honestly say that it calls out to you in a I-have-to-add-this-guy kind of way? Point being, if you wouldn’t jump to roster him, others probably won’t either, which means you should feel free to take an available higher-upside player for a spin, or make a push in a specific category you’re lacking by bringing aboard someone at Span’s expense. If it doesn’t work out, you can find a guy who will approximate Span’s skill set — if not Span himself — on the waiver wire.
Jason Catania is an MLB Lead Writer for Bleacher Report who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider and MLB Rumor Central, focusing on baseball and fantasy content. When he was first introduced to fantasy baseball, Derek Jeter had 195 career hits, Jamie Moyer had 72 wins and Matt Stairs was on team No. 3. You can follow him on Twitter: @JayCat11