Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Stay Away from the Arizona Oufield

When the Diamondbacks traded Justin Upton to the Braves, they gave Atlanta a pretty star-heavy outfield. They also seemingly lessened a logjam in their own outfield, which still has potential to be one of the better ones in the game. But remember, this is a fantasy baseball site. So, what are we thinking about the fantasy value of the remaining outfielders in the desert?

Now, you’re going to see the Diamondbacks preview next week (done by yours truly) and I’ll talk about the Arizona outfield, but this situation really requires more of an in depth look.

Just a reminder, Arizona is a National League team. So, with the exception of a few Interleague Play games, they’ll be going without a designated hitter. Now, the trade of Upton made the situation a little bit easier, but not much. Gerardo Parra, Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton, and Cody Ross are four outfielders playing for three spots.

Our friends at the Dear Mr. Fantasy Podcast gave their take on the situation.

Not a fan of any of Arizona’s “regular” OF (Adam Eaton, Cody Ross or Jason Kubel). Gerardo Parra looks to vulture at bats from all 3.

I have to say that it’s pretty spot on. Now, as of this moment, the Diamondbacks team website actually has Eaton as the current odd man out, but remember that Spring Training hasn’t even started yet. A lot is still to be determined as to who wins that job. Even if the situation remains identical into Opening Day, the cluster is still immense. Actually, those four don’t really even scratch the surface as to what could happen.

You’d think that Martin Prado would be Arizona’s third baseman. It makes sense, they obviously valued him enough to make him part of a trade involving their best player. But let’s say that Prado gets hurt, or becomes ineffective early on. The Diamondbacks have a very capable backup third baseman in Eric Chavez. Yes, he’s injury prone, but he also belted 16 homers in fewer than 300 at-bats for the Yankees in 2012.

Staying on this Train of Thought, imagine Chavez playing well enough to keep his starting job. Now imagine one of those four outfielders goes into a slump or gets hurt. Remember, Prado’s an outfielder, as well. If Chavez takes the third base position over, Prado could conceivably be slid into the outfield and the situation would be just as cluttered as it was before Upton was dealt.

I know, the example of Prado losing his third base job only to gain at-bats by playing in the outfield seems extreme as it sounds like a lot needs to happen. I can buy that, but only to a degree. Eaton is still very young, Ross is a streak hitter with a history of injuries, Parra’s never been an every day player, Kubel could lose late game at-bats because he’s a terrible defender, and he’s also also never played more than 146 games in a single season). Which one of those guys is so solid that you couldn’t see them losing at-bats? Not a one, if you ask me.

The Arizona outfield scares me. From a real baseball point of view, they’ll be fine. Those are all capable players, they have a nice mix of experience and youth, and can be subbed in and out pretty easily at the end of games.

From a fantasy perspective, I wouldn’t let any of those guys near my team unless some people find themselves off of the roster.

If you’re looking for value as an every day fantasy player, you need to rely on four plate appearances in most games. In order to put up big numbers, they need to be in the lineup. As I look at that group of outfielders, I see some very talented players, but at this point, I wouldn’t predict that any of them will get 500 at-bats on the season.

Because of that, when I’m filling my fantasy baseball outfield, I’ll be crossing the Diamondbacks player’s off of my list well before draft day. Unless you’re in a crazy deep league, or one where you have to fave five (or more) active outfielders, I’d suggest that you do the same.

Tags: Adam Eaton Arizona Diamondbacks Cody Ross Fantasy Baseball 2013 Fantasy Baseball Strategy Gerardo Parra Jason Kubel Martin Prado