The Colorado outfield has been a fascinating and unpredictable story this year in fantasy baseball.
First, Charlie Blackmon began the year on an absolute tear and has since proven himself as a legitimate starting outfielder. Of course, he has been very poor in the month of August, but his overall line is still 15 homers, 22 steals, and a .284 batting average.
Then, Corey Dickerson began to get more playing time and kept producing throughout the season. He has been one of the better outfielders in fantasy with a nasty .321 batting average to go with his 17 home runs.
Carlos Gonzalez succumbed to injuries multiple times before being recently ruled out for the season. He will almost shockingly fall outside of Colorado’s top three fantasy outfielders on the season.
Michael Cuddyer has been activated from the 60 day DL and he also warrants a fantasy spot in your lineup along with Blackmon and Dickerson. However, does the return of Cuddyer limit the productivity of a fifth (now fourth) Colorado outfielder, Drew Stubbs?
Drew Stubbs has always been a player with decent fantasy intrigue because of his power-steal potential. Stubbs hit 22 homers and swiped 30 bags in 2010 back in Cincinnati. Stubbs followed it up with 15 homers and 40 steals in 2011, and then he went for 14 and 30 the next season.
While the power-steal combo is certainly appetizing, Stubbs has always suffered from a very high strikeout rate. His career K rate of 29.5% is flat out bad, and the 2014 version of Drew Stubbs is striking out a whopping 30.4% of his plate appearances.
The high number of strikeouts correlates with a lower batting average because it is a lot tougher to hit for a good average when you put the ball into play less frequently. The low average has always driven many owners away from Stubbs in the past even though he once seemed on the verge of fantasy stardom after 2010.
Another negative issue about Stubbs is that he is walking at a career worst 6.4% this season. Compared to his career rate of 8.5%, Stubbs has shown a worse plate discipline in 2014 that generally lends itself to a bad season.
Beyond the high dose of strikeouts and lower rate of walks, Drew Stubbs has been incredibly lucky in 2014. His career best .404 BABIP is .72 points of his career rate. This would generally mean that he would be more likely to regress to the mean over time, but we never know if and when that BABIP regression will begin.
After telling you how Michael Cuddyer will likely start in the outfield with Blackmon and Dickerson in the Rockies’ normal lineup and that Stubbs has been extremely lucky, I am sure you expect me to say to drop or do not pick up Drew Stubbs. However, I will not do that because I think Stubbs could actually continue to be a valuable fantasy baseball commodity because of the following reasons.
Unlike every other season where Stubbs has had a generally poor batting average, Drew Stubbs is batting a very impressive even .300. In fact, his slash line of .300/.343/.508 is a career best in all three categories. Adding up the OBP and SLG gives Stubbs an .851 OPS that is .141 points above his career average.
While I detailed earlier paragraphs with a few disparaging remarks about some of his poor peripherals, Stubbs has a strong ISO of .208 that is also good for a career best. Drew Stubbs is also having his best season at the plate in regards to his wRAA, wOBA, and wBC+.
Some of you may be sabermetric junkies while others may think I just fell asleep at the keyboard, but I want to highlight the context of some of those stats. A very simple idea in baseball is that you should maximize your runs. The sabermetric community has tried to create stats that best encompass run creation.
In essence, these three stats are telling you that Drew Stubbs is creating runs at a better rate in 2014 than he ever has before. Furthermore, he is doing so at a decent bit above the league average pace of run creation. Of course, the vast majority of people do not include any of these stats in their fantasy baseball leagues, but the point is that Stubbs is doing some things right this year at the plate.
Drew Stubbs also is posting a career best line drive rate of 22.1%. Furthermore, his HR/FB% is also a career-topping mark of 19.1%. Thank you again for your help Coors Field.
In fact, Stubbs has been a completely different ballplayer home and away this season. He is not even close to the first Colorado Rockies player to significantly benefit batting at the Mile High ballpark.
(Home/away splits for Stubbs only credit him with 101 games played and 303 plate appearances played while his season stats credit Stubbs with 103 games played and 329 plate appearances).
Stubbs is a first round pick at home and free agency fodder on the road. At minimum, Stubbs looks to be an automatic start when he is penciled into the lineup at Coors.
Above all, this analysis on Drew Stubbs will mean nothing if he cannot get into the lineup, but I bet he plays enough to warrant ownership because Colorado has been a bit of a productive outfield carousel all season long.
Cuddyer is 35 years old, was just activated off the 60 day DL this weekend, and he is already dealing with a sore hamstring. Charlie Blackmon is hitting under .200 in August. Carlos Gonzalez is done for the year. Drew Stubbs will find his way to home plate enough.
In fact, Stubbs has already managed to play in 103 games and has 329 plate appearances so far in the Rockies’ 125 games this season.
Even if you question the playing time, let’s not forget that Stubbs already has 13 homers, 15 steals, a surprisingly pleasant .300 batting average, and an .851 OPS.
There was quite a bit of analysis and numbers thrown at you in this article. Some good, some bad, and some of the data could still be interpreted in multiple ways. However, the question remains, should you roster Drew Stubbs on your fantasy baseball team?
I would personally suggest adding Drew Stubbs to your team and make sure to find a spot for him if the Rockies are at home and he is in the starting lineup. However, you could contend that Stubbs is just lucky and will regress big time, but then I would counter that you are adding a valuable home run and steal combo who could also continue to help you out with his batting average or OPS based on his current pace.
In the end, you have to make the call if you want to add Drew Stubbs to your team. He is only owned in 20.2% of ESPN leagues, so you probably have that choice. I think the upside outweighs the downside. Plus, if Stubbs falters, then just cut bait and try someone else.