By R.J. Anderson //
Scott Hairston is not the only Hairston on the San Diego Padres. His brother, Jerry Hairston Jr., has been the Friars’ starting shortstop with Everth Cabrera on the disabled list. Scott starts most games for the Padres too, and why wouldn’t he? The Padres traded Hairston during the 2009 season, but reacquired him in the Kevin Kouzmanoff deal and quickly decided he would start in the outfield.
So far, Hairston is batting .247/.357/.494 with six homers and three steals. Besides the fact that Hairston’s previous career high in home runs is 17 – and that he’s on pace to top that by a healthy margin – Hairston is also walking more than 13% of the time. It wasn’t too long ago that Hairston was a top prospect with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Playing second and clobbering home runs, but doing so with poor defense, the Diamondbacks eventually traded him to the Padres; they would also allow Dan Uggla to leave via the Rule 5 draft, a player with a similar skill set.
Hairston’s career batting average is a few points higher, but here’s where things get a little weird. His career batting average on balls in play is about 20 points above his current level, meaning Hairston is a little unlucky based on what we know about his ability to turn batted balls into hits. On the other hand, he’s striking out 33% of the time. That’s well above his typical K rate around 23% and generally enough to kill any hopes of a respectable batting average.
Of course, with Hairston, the golden egg of value is never going to be his batting average, but rather his power. This surge of power is impressive, without doubt, yet carries some sustainability questions. His home run per fly ball ratio is above 20% (career is just under 12%) and he plays in the National League West, where most parks, save for Coors Field, tend to favor pitchers. Hairston plays his home games at PETCO Park, one of the toughest stadiums in the game for power hitters, though a more favorable environment for right-handed hitters like Hairston than for lefties.
Hairston’s status changed over the weekend, though. He suffered a hamstring injury and may be on his way to the disabled list. So there are a few ways to assess his value. In shallow mixed leagues, you can disable him or just cut him outright. In deeper leagues, his DL stint might provide a buy-low opportunity. If you can find someone willing to offer 85 to 90 cents on the dollar based on Hairston’s power potential, though, pull the trigger.
For more about Scott Hairston , check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.