by Eno Sarris
When we recently wrote about Cameron Maybin and Cliff Pennington, we pointed out that these young players had the potential to give your fantasy team late steals. Steals are a rarer phenomenon than home runs in regular baseball, but you’ll notice that this scarcity is mitigated by the fact that you only need about 100-120 steals to be competitive in the category in a traditional mixed roto league (as opposed to 200-240 home runs). It’s good not to go overboard on steals too early in your draft – especially with late speed available.
Drew Stubbs will be available late in your draft (B-Rank 178, ADP 258.6), and has speed (121 stolen bases in 423 minor league games and 10 in 42 major league games). Those are your known knowns. Let’s explore the unknowns about this young player.
Will he start? It’s difficult to predict the ways of Dusty Baker, who ran one of the worst major league regulars (Willy Taveras) out there so often last year that General Manager Walt Jocketty had to trade Taveras away just to keep him off the field (and his new team, the Oakland A’s, promptly released him). Stubbs does have competition in the form of Chris Dickerson, a speedy slap hitter who’s had some success against right-handed pitching. But Dickerson is both a known commodity with his 28th birthday imminent, and a liability against lefty pitching: a .707 OPS against them in the majors, .647 in the minors. The 25-year-old Stubbs owns no such platoon weakness. Meanwhile, Total Zone, which rates defense in the minor leagues, rates Stubbs as a very good defender in center and Dickerson as much less impressive. It looks like Stubbs will get every opportunity to start.
Will he hit for power? It’s a small sample size, but you might remember that Stubbs debuted late last year and spanked eight home runs in only 180 at-bats. That was good for an isolated power number (ISO, or SLG minus AVG) of .172, something that might translate to about 20+ home runs over a full season. That would well outpace his minor league ISO of .132, so the power is actually an open question. Though last year’s 180 at-bats don’t represent much of a sample size, he really enjoyed hitting at home, where he posted a .997 OPS and a .600+ SLG. Remember that Great American Ball Park sports a 1.176 park factor for home runs – GAB tended to give up 17.6% more home runs than a neutral park. Perhaps the park will coax a few more homers out of Stubbs in 2010.
Will he hit for average? This might be the toughest question to answer about prospects in general, but Stubbs has a major factor going against him that will probably keep him from posting a nice batting average in 2010. While perusing his minor league records (where he hit .269 in more than 1500 plate appearances), you’ll notice a very high strikeout rate (27.3%). His best full-season strikeout rate in the minor leagues was not much better (25.3%). Stubbs also made below-average contact with the Reds last year (76% – 80.5% is league average). There’s really no reason to think that Stubbs will improve beyond his 27.2% strikeout rate from his stint in the majors last season, and a player who strikes out more than a quarter of the time is going to struggle to post a nice batting average. In this respect, Stubbs is very similar to Maybin, actually. Consult Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tool about Stubbs, and you’ll notice that his 2010 Spring Training statistics are compiled on the ‘Analysis’ page for each player. It’s early going, but you might notice something.
Yup. Stubbs has already struck out three times in his first six at-bats this spring. That’s about the tiniest sample size you could use, but it does underline his previous problems with the strikeout. Expect a poor batting average, some power, and lots of speed from Stubbs. He makes for a fine backup option if you decide to wait on speedy outfielders.
For more information on Drew Stubbs, late-round steals options, and more, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kit.