Today we’ll continue our look at Pick Six values by looking at middle infield and outfield. You can see our discussion of catcher and corner infield values here. As a reminder, the production numbers you see below (FP/PA = Fangraphs Points per Plate Appearance) are weighted averages of THT’s Oliver and BPro’s PECOTA. I didn’t include ZiPS, but feel free to click the players and look up those numbers as well.
Elite Three (they cost a fortune, but they’re worth it):
Tulo has overtaken Hanley this year as the best SS, at least on a per-PA basis. But you can’t go wrong with either of them, as they produce almost as well as corner infield picks for the same dollars–and you have a wealth of high-powered value picks in the corner infield. With Tulo, you can leverage him best when playing at home. Cano’s not quite on their level, but doesn’t cost as much and has value when playing against a bad, opposite-handed starter.
Value Three (better production than you’re paying for)
Uggla had a rough debut with the Braves, but still seems likely to turn it back on. He projects as well as Cano for a bit more than half the cost, and his power should make for some big nights. Michael Cuddyer’s move to 2B this season has made him a terrific value for a buck fifty, and is a great way to save at MI while still retaining good power potential. Johnson is still a good value this year, projecting on par or better than many more expensive options.
Not Exactly Bargain Three (less production than you’re paying for)
With Reyes and Andrus, you have the same problem: both of good real life players because of their defense, but their fantasy value is tied largely to steals. And steals, in the linear weights-based scoring system that Pick Six uses, just aren’t worth that much (fantasy traditionally overweights saves badly compared to reality). Ottoneu and Pick Six managers are still paying far too much for steals-based players.
With Castro, I’m torn: he’s young, has lots of talent, jumped to the majors from AA last year, and so the projection systems may just not have caught up to him yet. But at the same time, while he’s off to a great start, he is basically all batting average. He hits a decent number of doubles, but he has no home run power and almost never takes a walk. While his reduction in strikeout rate this year makes me think he can be a true talent .300 hitter, batting average can be a pretty fluky stat. I think you can do better for the $15.50 he costs you in pick six.
As long as they’re healthy, these guys are always safe plays. Bautista may be underprojected here: Oliver, which knows what Bautista has done this year, has him at 1.74 FP/PA, while PECOTA, which only knows 2010, has him at 1.30 FP/PA. The only problem with taking a guy like Bautista, however, is that outfield probably has better value picks than any other position, so it’s an ideal place to save some cash…
Berkman has the wrist sprain right now, but assuming he can return from that and not have it affect his swing (a big if?), he’s been a beast this year for very little cost–and is a switch hitter to boot, so you don’t worry about a lack of platoon advantage. Quentin also is an injury risk in the long term, but in a game like Pick Six where long term doesn’t matter, he’s a terrific value and has had a great start to the season. Smith is more of a platoon player, but as long as he faces a righty, he’s are great plays and is at the minimum salary. When Smith plays in Colorado vs. a below-average right-hander, you almost have to take him, right?
On top of those three, there are plenty of other guys in this range of production for under $10: Logan Morrison (1.30 FP/PA), Jason Bay (1.35 FP/PA), Vladimir Guerrero (1.41 FP/PA), Carlos Beltran (1.37 FP/PA), Alfonso Soriano (1.33 FP/PA), J.D. Drew (1.36 FP/PA), Josh Willingham (1.31 FP/PA), Raul Ibanez (1.30 FP/PA), Matt Joyce (1.34 FP/PA)…the list goes on…
Not Exactly Bargain Three
I really like McCutchen and Suzuki as players in real life. They’re both fine fielders and are fun to watch. And in traditional fantasy, they offer steals. But in an uber-deep game like Pick Six, there are lots of guys I’d take over them–and that’s even before factoring in the premium price tag they currently sport. Rasmus, I’m less sure of. His rough 2009 season pulls his projections down, but to my eye, it seems like he’s starting to take off this season after what was already a rebound year in 2010. Still, unless the matchup is fantastic, there’s little reason to pay almost $21 for him when there are so many other terrific OF options.
Next week: Pitchers!
Justin is a lifelong Reds fan, and first played fantasy baseball on Prodigy with a 2400 baud modem. His favorite Excel function is the vlookup(). You can find him on twitter @jinazreds, even though he no longer lives in AZ.