Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 4/26/13
Welcome to Dumpster Diving, where we search for deep league pick-ups among the picked over. In this space we’ll highlight some of the good and bad lurking on the waiver wire in those deep mixed leagues (14+ teams) and NL/AL-only leagues. Today we examine some OF leftovers.Another Man’s TreasureIf you play in a league that can in any way be classified as deep, stop reading right now, go to your league’s page of available players, and search for Lucas Duda. Surprisingly, he’s unowned in about 75 percent of Yahoo and ESPN leagues, but that number is shrinking fast — and for good reason.Simply put, Duda can hit. His power potential is legit, and in OBP leagues he can provide a big boost. It even seems the Mets are starting to realize what they have, as the burly 27-year-old outfielder was slotted fourth in the batting order Thursday for the first time this season.So far, Duda has 5 HR in 74 PA and has played in 19 of the Mets’ 20 games. That puts him on pace for 39 HR, 154 games and 570 PA. It’s unlikely he’ll get close to that home run total, but with a full season’s worth of at-bats, 25-30 home runs is a distinct possibility. And underlying numbers say his triple slash of .273/.459/.600 isn’t going to plummet when the numbers normalize.Look for Duda to fall into the selective-slugger-with-a-hefty-strikeout-rate category. His contact numbers aren’t good, but he has continually improved on an already-patient approach throughout his time in the majors. So far this season, his swinging rate on pitches outside the strike zone is at 19.3%, well below the league average of 28.4%. And when he does hack at one outside the zone, he’s making the most of it, getting contact 71.4% of the time (league average is 62.5%).Of course, the sample size is still very small, but Duda’s history of improvement makes him worth believing in. In the minors, he averaged 29 PA/HR, but that number is skewed by weak rates early in his career. In 2007, his first season as a professional, Duda had just 4 HR in 274 trips. He raised that number every year until in 2010 in Triple-A he totaled 17 HR in 298 PA. That trend has continued in the bigs — 34.7 PA/HR in 2011, 30.6 PA/HR in 2012, and 14.8 PA/HR in 2013.An ugly K rate (currently at 25.7%) will cap Duda’s batting average, but he’s trending upward, and history says it’s no fluke.Toxic WasteDrew Stubbs‘ power/speed combo can be titillating for fantasy owners. He’s had at least 14 HR and stolen 30 or more bases in each of the last three seasons. For those types of counting stats, a mediocre batting average can be tolerated, and even last year’s .213 BA can be explained as a product of bad luck.Don’t fool yourself.Though Stubbs (13% owned in Yahoo) is off to a not-terrible start (1 HR, .250 BA, 3 SB), it’s not likely to last. His K-rate (30.9%) continues to climb (it has risen every year in the bigs), his .368 BABIP won’t be sustained, and don’t be surprised if his power dips in his first season away from Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. Just check out his career home-away splits:Home: 973 PA, 35 HR, .262/.334/.439 Away: 1099 PA, 25 HR, .222/.294/.336He’ll steal bases, but for cheap speed, you can do better.Might Be SalvageableA better option than Stubbs is Baltimore’s leadoff man Nate McLouth, who is available in over 85% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues. The 31-year-old speedster has resurrected his career this season thanks to improved patience and superb contact rates.Of course, 2008 was a long time ago, and McLouth’s 20/20 seasons are a thing of the past. But he can still run (7 SB/8 attempts) and with an improved OBP at the top of the Orioles’ lineup he can produce runs and steals. Don’t count on a .300 average, though. His current BABIP of .345 will likely regress to something closer to his .279 career average.
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