Over the winter, San Diego went on a trading binge, coming away with starry additions such as Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Craig Kimbrel, along with lesser known players such as Wil Myers and Derek Norris.
Heading into Opening Day, San Diego’s new lineup looked amazing on paper. Of course, the operative phrase there has been “on paper”. Through the first two months of the season, the Padres have disappointed, ranking in the bottom third of the league in home runs, average, and on-base-percentage. The neglected infield has been predictably lousy, although at least Yangervis Solarte has been solid for them while shifting around the infield. The real intrigue for fantasy owners, however, is in the outfield, where, according to FantasyPros, the 39th, 47th, and 186th players in ADP reside.
There are plenty of questions relevant to fantasy baseball in this outfield that need to be answered. Let’s go through each outfielder and attempt to determine their fantasy outlook for the rest of the season.
Justin Upton: Many people (myself included) deemed Upton a risky player to stay away from because of the change in ballpark to Petco, a move to a worse lineup, and whose stats weren’t amazing to begin with. Well, those who took a risk on him in the third or fourth round, have seen their gamble pay off. Upton has been an all-around stud, with 12 homers, 37 RBIs, and 22 runs already. Much of what Upton is doing is sustainable but there are two signs of possible regression. First, a big reason for his fantasy value thus far has been his 10 stolen bases. However, he’s 10-10 when attempting a steal, a rate that will obviously regress, perhaps back down to his career norm of just over a 70% success rate. Additionally, he’s never stolen more than 21 bases in a season. Second, his BABIP is .362 compared to a league average of about .300. His career BABIP is .334 so although his average and OBP are likely to regress, they’re unlikely to regress too drastically. Upton will remain a stud throughout the year, but I find it probable that he’ll end up a top 25-30 player instead of the top 10 player he is right now. If you can sell high and get back a proven yet underperforming stud like Michael Brantley in return I’d certainly consider it, but there’s no need to rush into a trade.
Matt Kemp: Since running into a wall in Coors Field in 2012, Kemp has never been fully healthy. Despite that, whenever he’s on the field, he usually hits. This year, that’s not been the case. Kemp has a brutal OBP of .284 and a single home run, resulting in an ugly OPS of .616. I’m not high on Kemp’s chances of returning to his former glory. The nagging injuries he’s dealt with for years may finally be catching up with him and the fact that he’s now on the wrong side of 30 only exacerbates the problem. If I owned him, I’d trade him as fast as I could for whatever I could get before he gets injured again and before all trade options for him dry up when owners realize that he’s not going to return to his previous heights.
Wil Myers: Myers’ value is tough to assess. On the positive side of the ledger, he’s young, was once a top prospect, and bats leadoff. On the negative, he doesn’t walk nearly enough for a leadoff hitter and he’s been out for a month with a wrist injury, an ailment that may linger for the rest of the season and interfere with his swing. I wouldn’t actively attempt to trade for him but I would be willing to take him on just in case he continues to improve. If I owned him I would be willing to trade him but I’d refuse to sell low. When entertaining trade offers for him, I would continue to point out the positives above and insist that he’s going to improve.
One player to look out for in the Padres’ outfield is Will Venable. If the Padres decide to sacrifice some offense for defense or if Myers’ wrist turns into a long-term problem, Venable will walk into a ton of playing time as San Diego’s starting centerfielder. In the past, when Venable has gotten consistent at bats, he’s consistently hit double digit home runs and stolen plenty of bases, including a four year run from 2010 to 2013 where he never had fewer than 22 stolen bases. As of now, it’s not worth it to pick him up in shallower leagues, but he’s certainly someone to monitor closely as the season progresses.