SleepersJune 15, 2009


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Sleeper Watch

By StlSluggers

Scott Podsednik. Remember that name? After three weeks of .333/.400 hitting with five stolen bases and a dinger, it’s time to knock the dust off those memories and reconsider him for your beleaguered fantasy outfield. For those of you who are relatively new to fantasy baseball, let me give you a quick refresher on Scotty Pods. After all, he hasn’t been fantasy-relevant in a few years.

A Refresher on Scott Podsednik

Scott Podsednik is your traditional one-category speed guy. He can run like crazy, but all of that is dependent on his ability to get on base. Sadly, guys like him tend to be a bit erratic in that aspect of their game, so their value fluctuates accordingly. If a speedster is not getting on base, he will not only be lacking in steals, but he will drag down your average, power, runs — you get the drift. Since traditional speedsters also tend to lack any semblance of power (if you get really lucky, maybe they hit 10 home runs in a season), the entirety of their value will be highly correlated to their on-base percentage. If this little description does not give you an idea of what kind of player you get with Podsednik, then let me provide you with a modern name to compare him against. Think Michael Bourn but older.

With that little introduction out of the way, let’s talk about the current state of Scott’s game.

Why Is Scott Podsednik a Sleeper Candidate?

During his recent ascension to relevance, Podsednik has managed to get on base at a healthy .400 clip via an increased mix of hits and walks. That is much higher than the low-.300 OBP seasons he has produced since 2005, and the blend of hits and walks is encouraging. He is also playing in Chicago and Cincinnati this week against the Cubs’ league-average defense and the Reds’ poor defense. Based on his recent history and upcoming opponents, there is good reason to think he could be productive for at least another week.

I’m going to go out on a limb and give you a line to look for from Pods in Week 11:

6 G, 27 ABs, 9 Hs (.333 BA), 3 BBs (.400 OBP), 0 HRs (.407 SLG), 4 Rs, 2 RBIs, 3 SBs

I know that is not an earth-shattering line, but if you are desperate for steals and hurting in your OF/Util spots, this line could be just what the doctor ordered. It does not hurt that he should contribute in not only steals, but three additional categories to some small degree, too.

Is Podsednik Suddenly Legit, or Is He Just on a Hot Streak?

Our next task is to figure out how Podsednik is getting on base, determine if he has been lucky or legit, and then figure out if we are looking at riding a hot streak or acquiring a long-term contributor.

Scott’s BABIP is looming around .350 this year, and it is on the rise. That number is very high by most any standard, but this is exceptionally high for him. He did produce an entire year with a .350 BABIP in 2005, but he was 29 years old then. However, if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, we can check his GB/FB/LD splits to see if he is hitting the ground balls and/or line drives needed to sustain his style of play. To date, Scott’s GB-rate has been normal by his history, but his FB rate has been as high as it’s ever been. Lately, he has regressed to his career norms a bit, but overall, he is still very far from where we would like a guy with a .350 BABIP to be. It would seem that Podsednik has been getting very lucky, but we can look further for extra validation of that suspicion.

For a little non-standard analysis, let’s take a look at Scott’s batting quality. The easiest stat to check here is his BB%, which has settled at 10.6% for now. This is a tick higher than what we’re used to from Scott. The BB% is encouraging as it indicates his batting eye might be improving. However, a closer look at his O/Z-swing rates (click here for a primer on FanGraph’s plate discipline measurements) leads us to believe this improvement in his batting eye might be short-lived.

Scott’s O-Swing rate, his rate of swinging at pitches outside of the zone, is over 20%. This is way above his historical average. Translated, that means Podsednik has been chasing pitches more often than usual. What has saved him so far is his 88.7% contact rate when he swings outside the zone. That will definitely regress, and he will start missing pitches when he chases them out of the zone. Those misses will translate into strikeouts and not getting on base.

Conclusion

So how would I summarize Scott Podsednik? He is on his game right now — there is no denying that. He is getting on base by any means possible, stealing bases, and he will face some substandard defenses this week. You have to like his chances for continuing this streak. Unfortunately, his skill set is not supporting this rise in performance. He will drop off at some point. The question is simply a matter of when. If you are in need of some steals, grab Pods, and ride this hot streak. Keep an eye on his strike out, walk, and BABIP rates. Once those normalize, move on to the next hot hand. Until then, enjoy.

 
John Sherwood is five-year veteran member of the Cafe. He also writes the occasional article when time permits (typically when he is laid up with some lame softball injury). You can catch up with John in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the names of StlSluggers & JTWood.
 
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