By R.J. Anderson
Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre are eerily similar. The pair of early-30s outfielders share a division, an affinity for high socks and grit, past or present homes in Colorado and the south side of Chicago, and the ire of the sabermetrics community. They also own the same career OPS (.720). But it’s the two players’ ability to swipe bases which them interesting, if unheralded, options in most leagues.
Podsednik is coming off a year in which he hit seven homers in 537 at-bats. That qualifies as a power spurt; Podsednik had hit six homers in his previous 1,407 at-bats. He also hit over .300 for the first time since 2003, his breakout season with the Brewers. Don’t expect a repeat of that feat either.
He’s still a strong stolen base threat, though, especially if he sticks in the Royals’ everyday lineup. After swiping 30 bases last year, Manager Trey Hillman has Podsednik penciled in as the starting left fielder and plans to give him the green light to run often.
Podsednik’s B-rank of 321st is accompanied by a projected line of .277, three homers, and 20 stolen bases. An average draft position of 326 suggests the market for his services is just right. With Jose Guillen shunted to DH, Podsednik winning the confidence of his manager and his speed holding up, though, 500-plus at-bats and another season of 30-plus steals could happen – which would bump up Podsednik’s value substantially.
Meanwhile, Pierre will man left field on the south side of Chicago. B-Rank enjoys the faux Frenchman’s abilities far more than Podsednik’s, and ranks Pierre 208th with a projected line of .296, a single homer, and 32 steals. Considering Pierre is coming off a season in which he went on a hot streak in Manny Ramirez‘s absence, there’s a chance someone will overdraft him; in fact, his average draft position is at 196. That’s a slight overdraft, although acceptable if you draft power early and are looking for a late-round speed threat.
It’s important to note that these players are undervalued because their flaws are well-established in real world analysis. Both Podsednik and Pierre are woefully short on power, especially playing corner outfield spots, where teams typically target far more prolific offensive players. But in fantasy baseball, both could be good targets. In fact, if your fellow league members are sabermetrically savvy, Podsednik and Pierre could be terrific win-ugly value plays.