Roto Arcade

Shuffle Up: Adam Jones makes the leap

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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Baby, you're a big star now (USP)

Another week, another shuffle. Today's assignment is the outfield. You won't find Miguel Cabrera, Cliff Lee or Fernando Rodney on this list: those cats aren't outfielders. And this list does not include players currently on the DL; because injured played have largely-relative values, I don't see the point of ranking them in this exercise. Do what you like. Slot them however you feel comfortable. Pretend Carl Crawford is the cure to all that ails you.

Here's how the shuffle process goes down this year. First, I rank the position in question, from scratch. I don't look at preseason ranks, I don't look at last month's ranks — those collections are dead to me. All I'm trying to do is figure out how I arrange the commodities from today-forward. (Don't obsess over the specific dollar amounts, all that matters is how the players relate to one another. Assume a 5x5 roto scoring system.)

Then, I take some distance from the ranks. A good meal, maybe a burrito and a margarita or two. You don't want to be too close to the first draft. Finally, I come back from dinner, tweak a ranking or two, add some comments, and interact with you fine folks.

Sound good? Bueno. Make the jump, and let's try to figure out this made-up world of stats, together. (Off to the cantina. Back shortly.) 

$32 Josh Hamilton
$31 Ryan Braun
$30 Curtis Granderson
$29 Carlos Gonzalez
$28 Adam Jones
$28 Jose Bautista
$25 Justin Upton
$24 Jay Bruce
$23 Andrew McCutchen
$23 Carlos Beltran
$23 Hunter Pence

If you want to go Ryan Braun over Josh Hamilton, I'm not going to wrestle with you. But there are a few basic reasons why I'd take Hamilton first: he's in a better park and a much better lineup, and the replacement value is very high in the outfield if Hamilton happens to fall into an injury. I realize that contract-year motivation has not been validated in statistical studies (the best you'll get from the numbers is that a small correlation might apply), but I think you have to take it on a case-by-case basis. It's not hard to build an argument that suggests this might be the most focused time of Hamilton's life, with his next contract on the line.

I've taken plenty of shots at the Orioles over the years and I pegged them to land significantly under their over/under total; I was about as wrong on this club as you could be (and yes, I think this is a decent ballclub going forward — I've accepted it). And while I thought I had Adam Jones ranked in a fair area before the year, I didn't land him on any teams before the season, so I guess I didn't go far enough. His HR/FB rate is obviously in a lofty area (you can't have a homer spike without it), but I like seeing a raise in his fly-ball rate at the same time. His contact rate has nudged forward, and strikeouts are down. And after a few years of ordinary steal numbers, it's encouraging to see Jones amping up his efforts there as well.

I really don't have a good feel on where to slot Carlos Beltran. If he can stay on the field for 135 games or so, he's easily a mid-20s player, the skills are still there. But we're talking about a 35-year-old with a body that's been through a lot. At least we saw him pinch-hit Thursday, a promising sign; it takes a backdated DL stint off the table, but it also suggests the Cardinals might not be that worried about him.

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Mashing Marlin (USP)

$22 Giancarlo Stanton
$22 Andre Ethier
$22 Matt Holliday
$22 Nelson Cruz
$21 Shane Victorino
$20 Michael Cuddyer
$20 Michael Bourn
$20 Jason Heyward
$19 Ben Zobrist
$19 Austin Jackson
$19 Allen Craig
$18 Bryan LaHair
$18 Josh Willingham
$18 B.J. Upton
$17 Melky Cabrera
$17 Corey Hart
$17 Josh Reddick
$17 Lance Berkman

Giancarlo Stanton's power has rebounded nicely in May (seven homers, .742 slugging), and although most of the damage has come on the road, it's too soon to draw any hard conclusions about Miami's new fish tank. The ongoing concerns with Stanton's knee are the reason I don't have him slotted higher. … I'm not worried at all about Allen Craig finding a slot to play. He doesn't really have the defensive chops for center field or second base, but he can play any infield or outfield former without major incident. I'm in love with his offensive potential, as I think most of us are. … A lot of people mocked the Giants for buying high on Melky Cabrera (and selling low on Jonathan Sanchez), but as we approach the quarter pole, it looks like the right move was made. The Melkman didn't grade out as a strong center fielder in Kansas City, but he's been a decent fit in San Francisco's left field. Sanchez is currently on the DL for the Royals, on the heels of six terrible starts (6.75 ERA, 1.86 WHIP).

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Unknown soldier (USP)

$16 Mark Trumbo
$16 Nick Swisher
$16 Howie Kendrick
$15 Matt Joyce
$15 Angel Pagan
$15 Alex Gordon
$15 Cameron Maybin
$15 Mike Trout
$14 Nick Markakis
$13 Drew Stubbs
$13 Martin Prado
$13 Ichiro Suzuki
$13 Shin-Soo Choo
$13 Emilio Bonifacio
$12 Alejandro De Aza
$12 Luke Scott
$12 Jordan Schafer
$11 Lucas Duda
$11 Andy Dirks
$11 Bryce Harper
$10 Carlos Lee

As ugly as Cameron Maybin's season has been to this point, at least he's still producing in some areas — he's on pace for 46 steals and 87 runs. There's also been a significant spike to his walk rate, something you especially like to see with a player who gets a lot of his value through stealing bases. Buy Low fantasy advice can often be grounded in pipe dreams and made-up scenarios, where a writer suggests you go out and get a popular commodity who really isn't on the discount shelf. In the case of Maybin, I strongly suggest you might be able to land him away from an owner at a significant discount; one size never fits all with this sort of advice, but I'd at least look into it. … If we're talking about long-term potential, I'd go with Bryce Harper over Mike Trout, but the Anaheim kid gets a clear nod when it comes to 2012-only. Although Trout is just 14 months older than Harper, he's played in 157 more minor-league games (not to mention 39 more games in the majors). That edge in experience is significant when we're talking about players as young as these kids are.

I'd like to see the Andy Dirks story last, and anyone in that No. 2 slot in Detroit has the potential to be a nifty fantasy value. Just keep in mind Dirks wasn't anything special over 219 at-bats last year (.251/.296/.406), and he was never a buzzy prospect in the minors (.292/.351/.430). His upside is probably something similar to what Brennan Boesch did last year before the thumb injury, a very ownable fantasy line but in a "back of the outfield" sort of way. We're still early in Dirks's MLB career, but it's interesting to note that he's showing a reverse platoon split to this point: .917 OPS against lefties, .778 OPS against righties. That's not the worst thing in the world: improvement against right-handers shouldn't be a problem, and he's not at risk of falling into a time-share, unless the Tigers completely misread the numbers.

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Raul and the Grandy Man (USP)

$8 Jason Kubel
$8 Raul Ibanez
$8 Torii Hunter
$8 Kendrys Morales
$7 Alex Rios
$6 Brennan Boesch
$6 Yonder Alonso
$5 Logan Morrison
$5 J.D. Martinez
$5 Jeff Francoeur
$4 Dexter Fowler
$4 Delmon Young
$4 Vernon Wells
$4 Jarrod Dyson
$4 Jose Tabata
$4 Andres Torres
$3 Cody Ross
$3 Mitch Moreland
$3 Tony Campana
$3 Michael Brantley
$3 Alfonso Soriano
$3 Dayan Viciedo
$3 Brandon Belt

I've long been an appreciator of Raul Ibanez's class and work-ethic, and he was a helluva fantasy commodity for most of his 30s (not to mention the inspiration for the Ibanez All-Stars, the idea that boring veterans are often strong fantasy values). Most of his production this year is coming at home and against right-handed pitching, and that's okay — when splits land in reliable areas like this, you can take advantage in leagues that offer daily moves. For more Ibanez propaganda, please check in with my esteemed colleague Brad Evans.

Brandon Belt really deserves a shot to play every day, but Bruce Bochy is steering the kid away from left-handed pitching. And I suppose Bochy might feel justified, given that Belt hasn't been a monster against the northpaws so far, either. But if you want the best results from your young and talented players, you have to give them a chance to get on the field, make mistakes, grow. It's hard to imagine Belt getting a fair shake under the current regime in San Francisco. I recognize most of this paragraph is stuff most of you know already, but it's no less frustrating to watch. And I say all of this as someone who's not a Giants fan or a Belt owner; I'm just someone who likes to see logic, and justice, win out in the end.

I'm curious to see if the Jarrod Dyson story goes anywhere. We know he's capable of a silly number of stolen bases, it's just a matter of making contact and getting on base a reasonable amount of the time. And Dyson at least has some time to breathe and get comfortable, given the Lorenzo Cain's recent setbacks. The batting slot for a rabbit is less important in the American League than it is in the National League — in the NL, hitting eighth can be a death sentence for a steals guy; you don't want to run in front of the bunting pitcher — but that to the side, Dyson's owners definitely want him taking ownership of that leadoff slot. So far, so good (.355 OPB, 17 runs in 20 games).

$2 Kirk Nieuwenhuis
$2 Gerardo Parra
$2 Juan Pierre
$2 Michael Saunders
$2 Gregor Blanco
$2 Ty Wigginton
$2 Ryan Sweeney
$2 David DeJesus
$2 Colby Rasmus
$1 Jonny Gomes
$1 Brian Bogusevic
$1 Denard Span
$1 Will Venable
$1 David Murphy
$1 Eric Thames
$1 Roger Bernadina
$1 Rick Ankiel
$1 Mike Carp
$0 Tyler Colvin
$0 Rajai Davis
$0 Seth Smith
$0 Tyler Greene
$0 Nate Schierholtz
$0 Jesus Guzman
$0 Garrett Jones
$0 Daniel Nava
$0 Bobby Abreu
$0 Johnny Damon

I'm not someone who looks too far back with the shuffling exercise — any rank that's multiple weeks old is just about dead to me — but I know many of you want the look-back links, so here they are. I'll keep them parked at the bottom of future shuffles. And following the established cycle, we'll revisit starting pitchers (always the most important assignment of the shuffling month) next week.

Previous Shuffles: Catchers (5/14), Middles (5/10), Corners (5/4), Starting Pitchers (4/27).

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