by Eno Sarris //
When a player goes down, the first instinct is often to go to the wire and pluck the best year-to-date performer you can off waivers. Sometimes, though, the best move is to look at the real-life team and target the real-life replacement.
When Magglio Ordonez went down this weekend with a fractured right ankle, many fantasy teams (and the real-life Tigers) lost a resurgent run producer. Though he no longer has the gaudy power of yore, Ordonez has used his high (BABIP-neutral) batting average (.303) to plate his teammates (59), while still socking a respectable 12 home runs. Take a look at how Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools values Ordonez’s overall skill set.
Replacing him in the Tiger outfield is a player who couldn’t be any more different, but still has the upside to provide some run production in Magglio’s stead. Ryan Raburn strikes out too much (25.8%) to put up the same superlative batting average, but his .208 AVG should rise if his .262 batting average on balls in play regulates toward his career mark of .314. Raburn still has some potential to make this comparison from the Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools look a little better over the next couple of weeks.
In fact, Raburn’s upside is probably defined by his 2009 final slash line (.291/.359/.533), though his BABIP (.323) might have been a little high for a slugger-type with little speed (5/9 in stolen base attempts last year). Look at his minor league numbers, and you see that while he was usually at the average age or older in each league, he did consistently show solid power (.223 career minor league ISO, or slugging percentage minus batting average).
This year? He’s been reaching at 28% of pitches outside of the zone (26% career, 28.9% average across baseball), and walking a little less (5.6% walk rate this year, 7.3% career, 10.4% in the minors). He hasn’t been showing the same power as is his norm, but he’s only 162 plate appearances into this year, and his 831 career PAs with above-average power (.179 ISO, the average is around .150-.155 in any given year) are just more important to valuing him as a player.
Those looking for an Ordonez replacement in deeper leagues should consider Raburn. This might just be his chance to rediscover the abilities he showed just last year, which includes more power upside than the veteran he is replacing. In mixed leagues, though, there are probably surer things out there.