A large part of the Oakland Athletics unexpected success in 2012 can be attributed to Billy Beane‘s ability to find undervalued assets, particularly in the outfield. The rebirth of ‘Moneyball’, if you will. According to FanGraphs WAR, Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, and Jonny Gomes were worth a combined 9.3 wins last season for Oakland.
Given the Mets payroll constraints, Sandy Alderson is probably going to have to implement his own brand of Moneyball this offseason. Here are a few potentially overlooked outfielders that could be available this winter.
Ryan Kalish, LF/RF, Boston Red Sox. Bats/Throws: L/L. DOB: 3/28/1988
Once one of the Red Sox more highly touted prospects, the former Red Bank Catholic standout has missed much of the last two seasons dealing with a variety of injuries. Kalish’s numbers in 36 games with Boston last year were undoubtedly terrible, but much of his struggles can be attributed to the fact he was still dealing with neck and shoulder issues following two off-season surgeries, causing the Red Sox to shut him down in mid-September. If healthy, however, Kalish has shown 20-20 potential, as well as above average plate discipline and contact skills in the minors. Most reports suggest he could potentially play center field, but is probably better suited in a corner. Classic “tweener” guy.
Kalish’s value is basically at an all-time low right now, so the Red Sox might be hesitant to move him. At the same time, he’ll be 25 at the beginning of next season, and is probably a fourth outfielder at best in Boston.
Tyler Colvin, LF/RF/1B, Colorado Rockies. Bats/Throws: L/L. DOB: 9/5/1985
|2011 (Chicago- NL)||222||.150||.204||.306||.509||.218||0|
The Cubs’ first-round pick in 2006, Colvin appeared destined for some sort of big-league future after hitting .254/.316/.500 in 395 plate appearances for Chicago in 2010. Colvin floundered in 2011, however, posting a .509 OPS. in 80 games, earning a demotion to AAA, and was traded to Colorado for Ian Stewart last off-season.
Colvin received plenty of playing time in 2012, following injuries to Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez, and Michael Cuddyer, hitting .290/.327/.531. While Colvin’s numbers seem impressive on the surface, there are a lot of red flags here. For one, he almost certainly benefited from playing half his games at Coors Field, as he showed a significant home/road split (1.032 OPS at home, .687 on the road). Of course, all players hit better at home, and as Matt Holliday has shown, not every player that leaves Colorado can expect his offensive output to nosedive, but it’s still something worth taking note of.
More concerning is Colvin’s plate discipline, as he walked just 21 times, while striking out 117 times. Further, Colvin had a .364 BABIP last season, so don’t expect him to hit .290 again.
Colvin provides more or less average defense in the corners, and can play center field in a pinch, as well as first base. Strikeouts, a mediocre batting average, and a low OBP will always be a part of his game, but so will plus power. In other words, Colvin is basically a left-handed Scott Hairston. Combined with the real Scott Hairston, a Colvin-Hairston platoon would basically be… Alfonso Soriano?
Colvin is slated to return to Colorado’s bench in 2013. While the Rockies may want to keep him around as insurance for Helton, I wouldn’t be surprised if they look to sell high on him following his unexpected success in 2012.
Jordan Danks, CF, Chicago White Sox. Bats/Throws: L/R. DOB: 8/7/1986
The White Sox 7th-round pick in 2008, Danks has forever been a disappointment, failing to live up to the promise that his athleticism and 6’4″, 210-pound frame suggest. Last season, however, he finally tapped into his power potential, hitting .317/.428/.514 in AAA, earning himself a brief stay in the big leagues. Of course, his AAA performance was certainly buoyed by a .418 BABIP, but Danks nevertheless appeared to make major strides at the plate in 2012.
By all accounts, Danks is an excellent defensive center fielder, so if he can hold his own at the plate, he could be an everyday player. Unfortunately, that remains a big “if.” Danks will be 27 next August, and the White Sox’s outfield next season is set with Dayan Vicideo, Alejandro de Aza, and Alex Rios.
Chris Parmalee, LF/RF/1B. Bats/Throws: L/L. DOB: 2/24/1988
Desperate for starting pitching, the Twins have a plethora of outfielders to deal from, with Josh Willingham, Denard Span, and Ben Revere at the big-league level, and top prospects Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks waiting in the wings.
Parmalee, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2006, is caught somewhere in between. After his development appeared to stall for awhile, Parmelee put himself back on the map in 2012, destroying AAA pitching at the tune of .338/.457/.645. He struggled in an almost equal amount of time at the big league level, however, hitting .229/.290/.380.
Parmalee is similar to Lucas Duda in many respects; while both lack a high offensive ceiling, they are at least capable of putting up moderately good numbers across the board. Difference is, Parmalee appears to hold his own defensively despite his size, a la Travis Snider.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that any of the above players has the kind of “breakout year” experienced by the likes of Josh Reddick or Brandon Moss. But they are examples of “diamonds in the rough” who might be on the cusp of success, and can be acquired for relatively little.
What do you think of these outfielders? Worth grabbing, if they can be had for a song? Anyone else who you can think of, who might fit the Beaneball model? Post your thoughts in the comments.
About the Author
Matt is a high school student in New Jersey and avid Mets fan. He occasionally updates his blog at: matthimelfarb.wordpress.com