Why Mark Ellis — Yes, Mark Ellis — Could Be A Second Half Sleeper

By Eriq Gardner //

When Mark Ellis was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Colorado Rockies this past week, most people shrugged.

Ellis is 34 years old and only was only batting .217 at the time of the trade. His ownership in mixed fantasy leagues is less than 5% and didn’t move an inch after being dealt. Nothing to see here, right?

Well, not so fast.

Call us crazy, but there’s definitely something intriguing about Ellis going forward this year.

For one thing, Ellis is going from a terrible home hitter’s environment at the Oakland Coliseum to one of the friendliest home hitter’s environments at Coors’ Field. You say, “So what? We’re still talking about Mark Ellis!”

But check out just how badly playing in Oakland has hurt Ellis’ production these past few seasons. Here’s a look at the five players who have had the biggest OPS home-road split differences from the beginning of the 2007 season until today:

Adrian Gonzalez tops this list and is one of the greatest reasons we were quite high on him in the preseason. (How’s that working out?) Park effects get a good amount of press, but is it possible we still underrate the influence?

A few more things why Ellis could be a second half sleeper.

First, Ellis’ road OPS over the past few years is 0.762, which isn’t spectacular, but check out his road stats compared to a player at a much deeper position who is owned in virtually every league. Mark Ellis on the road vs. Billy Butler on the road (since 2007):

  • Mark Ellis: 1054 AB, 25 HRs, 135 RBIs, 136 Runs, 27 SBs, .282 AVG
  • Billy Butler: 1092 AB, 22 HRs, 135 RBIs, 120 Runs, 1 SB, .282 AVG

Nearly identical, except that Ellis has more speed and plays a position where good production is tougher to come by.

Second, he’s not just headed away from Oakland to play in a neutral environment. He’s going to Colorado, which based on historical evidence, could inflate Ellis’ statistics even beyond the decent production he’s put up on the road in past seasons.

Plus, he’s not merely going to a hitter’s environment, but also playing with better teammates, including Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Seth Smith. That’s also an improvement on what he had in Oakland.

Finally, and it’s only been a couple of games so far, but Ellis is looking at a pretty nice lineup opportunity in Colorado. On Friday and Saturday, Ellis hit in the #2 slot. It’s too early to establish where Ellis will hit in the Rockies lineup going forward, but this is certainly a good sign. The fact that Ellis puts the ball into play rather than striking out (85% contact rate this season) and has a decent, if-not-spectacular amount of speed means he could indeed stick there. He plays pretty good defense and the team just optioned Eric Young Jr. and Chris Nelson to the minors, so he’s got pretty firm job security as well.

Don’t be surprised to see Mark Ellis’ ownership numbers climbing in future weeks.

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

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