Tommy Pham & Colby Rasmus: Deep League Wire

Hope you need outfielders, because I got two for ya.

Tommy Pham | OF STL | CBS 8% Owned

The Cardinals outfield has been decimated by injuries, with Dexter Fowler nursing a shoulder issue and Stephen Piscotty on the disabled list with a hamstring strain. With a need for healthy bodies, the team recalled Tommy Pham, who has been up and down with the team since 2014. The 29-year-old (I definitely thought he was younger!) is no prospect, but has displayed both power and speed at times in both the minors and Majors.

Strikeouts have been his biggest issue, but that’s because he has been too patient at the plate, rather than too whiffy. His career SwStk% stands at a reasonable 11.9%, but he has swung at pitches inside the strike zone at a below average clip. The approach has resulted in a strong walk rate, but also lots of walks back to the dugout, likely due to called strike threes.

It’s only been 378 plate appearances, but he actually owns an excellent .335 career wOBA. So if hitting hasn’t been an issue, why has he failed to become a permanent fixture with the big club? Probably his defense. He has posted well below average UZR/150 marks at all three outfield spots. However, he was actually a bit better than average overall in 2015, but absolutely atrocious in 2016 to wipe out all the positive. The defense will likely be key in keep some sort of role, especially when the outfield gets healthy. For now, he should be a nice injury replacement and source of some power and speed.

Colby Rasmus | OF TB | 4% Owned

I’m rather shocked that Rasmus is owned in just 4% of leagues. That’s half Pham’s mark and he’ll be a part-timer in a couple of weeks! It’s true that we probably expected more from the now 30-year-old, and his 2016 season was terrible. He posted a career low .282 wOBA and his ISO plummeted to just .149, after sitting well above .200 for three straight seasons. But, his walk rate jumped to its highest mark since 2010 and strikeout rate fell to its lowest since 2012. So it wasn’t all bad, as a deeper look reveals that there was actually some skills growth.

He even cut down on his pop-ups, hitting those at a career low rate. He’s going to need to sustain that because his batted ball profile does his BABIP no favors. He hits too many fly balls and pulls the ball too frequently to expect better than a league average BABIP, which means he’s not going to ever be a positive batting average contributor, without some dramatic changes in his underlying skills.

Rasmus joins a new team this year and we usually think of Tropicana Field as a pitcher friendly venue that suppresses homers. The latter is certainly true for right-handers, but it’s played league average for lefties. So perhaps his home run power won’t collapse like some may fear. While he probably won’t start against lefties, he should have little competition for the strong side of a platoon and do his normal thing of hitting a homer here and there, and not much else. That’s not someone you want in your shallow league, but certainly a useful asset in a deep one.





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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NickGerli
Member
NickGerli

Pham also crush the ball from an exit velocity stand point in 2016.

Shame he’s stuck on an nl team.

Lanidrac
Member
Lanidrac

Perhaps, but that was only when he hit the ball. His offensive numbers were not very good last year even in AAA, and Jose Martinez deservedly beat him out for the spot on the Opening Day roster this spring.

Thankfully, this was mostly due to a vision problem that has now been corrected (for now, anyway).

Although, he’s also had some injury problems over the years, too.