Injuries in the Outfield: Finding Ryan Braun’s Replacement
Last week, we focused on Chris Davis and the potential candidates to replace him on your fantasy baseball team. This week, another elite power-hitter goes down to the disabled list in Ryan Braun. It is incredibly difficult to replace an elite hitter like Braun as he does a bit of everything in all fantasy baseball formats. But the most intriguing aspect of Braun’s game is his home run power. Finding that consistent power bat off of waivers is not always the easiest thing to do, but it’s not impossible. If Braun’s injury wasn’t enough, Jay Bruce will also be out for about a month with a knee injury that will require surgery.
The following is a list of potential candidates that have shown some power in their bats. All players have an ownership rate of no more than 65 percent in CBS Sports fantasy leagues unless otherwise noted.
Get Him While He’s Hot
Dayan Viciedo–Ownership Rate: 67 percent
On Sunday, Viciedo hit a three-run home run off of John Axford to justify our own Josh Collacchi’s assumption that Viciedo’s home run power would eventually start coming around. In his last 49 plate appearances, he’s posted an OPS of .920. But probably the most impressive thing about Viciedo this season is the improved approach at the plate as he’s cut down on the strikeouts and owns a Walks-to-Strikeouts Ratio (BB:K) of 0.65. To put that in perspective, Viciedo has a better BB:K than the more established Joe Mauer and Matt Carpenter. Unfortunately, Viciedo’s torrid start is aided by a Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) of .380 which is almost 70 points above his career average. He also tends to pop up a lot so a cool-down period might be coming. However, he has a good Line Drive Rate (LD%) and, along with an improved approach at the plate, that should help prolong the streak that he’s currently on.
Going with Pedigree
Nick Castellanos–66 percent
Since being drafted, scouts have heralded Castellanos as a hitter that can hit, potentially, for both average and power. He’s finally getting the opportunity to prove himself in the Majors and, as always seems to be the case with rookies, the results have been mixed. On the bright side, he’s on pace to post a 20 home run, 90 RBI season. On the downside, he’s only hitting .234 and based on his his strikeout rate and low BB:K, he is clearly still trying to figure out big league pitching. A quick look at his plate discipline shows Castellanos ranking second in Swinging Percentage (only behind fellow prospect, Mike Zunino). Also, a low Contact Rate and high Swinging Strike Percentage shows a hitter with a poor approach at the plate. Or a very young player learning on the job. If you believe in the young phenom and are able to deal with the woes of owning a very young player, feel free to pick up Castellanos.
If Only Southpaws Were Outlawed
Matt Joyce–47 percent
For the last three seasons, Joyce has been a very intriguing hitter. He possesses all the skills you would want from a hitter:
- A knack to get on base
- Decent approach
- Good power
His Achilles’ heel, however, has always been left-handed pitching. Currently, Joyce is listed as part of a platoon system with teammate Sean Rodriguez. If it weren’t for his struggles against lefties, Joyce would not only be highly recommended, but he would be highly owned. Instead, Joyce becomes a player that you insert into your lineup when the opposing starter is pitching from the right side.
Nick Swisher–62 percent
As mentioned in our look at potential first basemen last week, Swisher has good qualities in fantasy circles because people know what to expect from him. Unfortunately, Swisher has not improved his play in the last week. He’s currently striking out at a career high 24.4 percent of plate appearances. Meanwhile, his current walk rate is the lowest it’s been since 2010. An established fly ball hitter, Swisher is now seeing a career high in pop up rate. So with all these negatives surrounding him, the only reason to even monitor Swisher is because his plate discipline percentages are basically on par with his numbers over the last three seasons. If Swisher is able to turn his season around, he has shown the ability to hit for 20 home runs in the past and might still reach that mark in 2014.
The Rest of the Field
Garrett Jones–32 percent
Good: Cheap source of power…
Bad: High amount of strikeouts…poor on-base skills…poor batting average… one-dimensional player.
Marlon Byrd–52 percent
Good: Currently displaying some power…Great LD%…
Bad: More lucky, than good…low on-base percentage…terrible approach at the plate.
Corey Dickerson–19 percent
Good: Off to a hot start…has shown some control over strikeouts…has taken advantage of high number of pitches in strike zone…
Bad: Extremely high BABIP is setting up for a hard fall down to earth…could use more walks…low Contact Rate…might prove to be too impatient.
Colby Rasmus–38 percent
Good: Legit power…has hit 20 home runs before…
Bad: Ranks third in majors in Strikeout Percentage…terrible batting average…poor on-base skills…pops up a lot…fifth in lowest Contact Rate.
All stats are courtesy of fangraphs.com and are good through May 3, 2014.