Peter O’Brien & Clint Robinson: Deep League Wire

With a million players on every roster, sometimes it’s hard to predict exactly how the playing time will be allocated. So as usual, my choices could end up being lucky to find 10 at-bats over the next week or prove to be a nice injury replacement.

Peter O’Brien | C ARI | CBS 8% Owned

Acquired during the 2014 trade deadline from the Yankees for Martin Prado, O’Brien had been viewed as the Diamondbacks’ catcher of the future. But that didn’t last for very long because already by the end of May, it was announced that he has officially become a full-time outfielder (the D-Backs later reversed course on this so-called decision). Though it should help his offensive performance and result in more playing time if he wins a starting job, it hurts his fantasy value as he’ll need to produce significantly more to earn the same amount in two catcher leagues.

The former catcher, now outfielder, was recalled yesterday, and as I type this, he has yet to make his Major League debut, as he was not in the starting lineup. But with a crowded outfield, one wonders how much he will actually play. That said, the D-Backs are going nowhere and it would make sense to see how he performs the rest of the way, especially defensively. Offensively, he’s an interesting young man. He has huge power potential and was slapped with a 65 grade on his Raw Power by Kiley. He has posted an ISO above .220 at every minor league stop since 2013 and hit 39 home runs last year.

But he has two major weaknesses — both his strikeout and walk rates are problematic. Simply put, he strikes out a lot and he rarely walks. The strikeouts haven’t been a major issue though. Most power hitters strike out a lot and when you’re hitting that many home runs, it typically comes with the territory. But power hitters who strike out a lot also typically walk a lot, which helps boost an on base percentage held down by a lower batting average due to the strike outs. O’Brien has failed to do that and he has generally posted low walk rates.

It appears that his skill set could look similar to what Ryan Howard and Mark Trumbo have become — a low average hitter who can still contribute in power. This isn’t worth much in a shallow mixed league, but certainly adds value in deeper mixed or NL-Only formats.

Clint Robinson | 1B/OF WAS | 2% Owned

Surprise, surprise, Ryan Zimmerman is hurt again. This time, it’s an oblique injury. This type of injury usually sends players to the disabled list for at least several weeks, though there hasn’t been any word on how long he might be out for. Robinson should garner the majority of the playing time in Zimmerman’s absence and perhaps form the strong side of a platoon with Tyler Moore.

The 30-year old journeyman is clearly no prospect, but he has performed well over his long minor league career, but never got much of an opportunity in the big leagues. He came into this season with just 14 plate appearances to his name. But with the Nationals various injuries, Robinson has managed to rack up 269 plate appearances and has performed respectably, posting a .346 wOBA.

Though many of these older types get labeled Quad-A players when they hit in the minors and then fail to in the Majors, Robinson’s skills have held up fairly well. Both his walk and strikeout rates are excellent, while he has hit for some power. Most impressively, though, is that sexy 28% line drive rate. Combined with a lower than average IFFB%, his BABIP could rise from his current mark, which is right around the league average.

For Zimmerman owners in deeper leagues or those hurting from other injuries, Robinson makes for the perfect stopgap. He has some pop, makes good contact and shouldn’t hurt you in batting average.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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