Is Darnell McDonald the New Garrett Jones?

By R.J. Anderson //

The Baltimore Orioles selected Darnell McDonald with the 26th pick of the 1997 amateur draft. With just over 200 career big league at-bats, after sharing a class with All-Stars like Lance Berkman, Troy Glaus, Jayson Werth, and teammate J.D. Drew it’s easy to call McDonald’s career a bust. But for right now, McDonald has done his part to inspire the downtrodden Red Sox nation.

Now 31 years old, McDonald is hitting .246/.328/.456 with below-average defense in center but also some huge late-game heroics. The projected starter in center field, Mike Cameron, began a rehab assignment on Monday, and left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury will return at some point in the near future too. McDonald’s power figures to keep him around longer than Jonathan Van Every, but just because McDonald could stick on the Sox’s roster for an additional few weeks, does that mean he should stick on your roster?

In a word: No.

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It’s easy to get caught up in McDonald’s triumphant debut with Boston and buy into his power as legitimate. The sample size is still incredibly small, even smaller than McDonald’s stint in Cincinnati last year, in which he hit .267/.306/.400. Even in the minors, McDonald never showed the ability to consistently hit for a slugging percentage over .450. His career Triple-A slash line – which is representative of more than 3,700 plate appearances over a good stretch of his statistical prime – is only .278/.337/.423.

This all seems rather obvious. After all, McDonald is probably out of a roster spot by June and career journeymen are pretty fungible in the fantasy world. However, after the success of Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee or even players like Jack Cust, it’s important to analyze and evaluate each player under their own circumstances, since career minor leaguers can occasionally grow into viable big league fantasy commodities.

McDonald’s story is a nice one of potential redemption and persistence. But he’s just not somebody who will continue to help your mixed league fantasy team no matter how much longer he’ll stick in the majors. In a deep American League-only league, he’s worth holding for a little while longer. Otherwise, you can safely let him pass.

For more on Darnell McDonald and the Boston Red Sox, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits

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