While left shoulder surgery may limit Cliff Pennington over the “first week of exhibitions” (according to Joe Stiglich via Twitter), that makes it seem like he will not be very far behind the rest of the Athletics hitters. That would make it seem like he is going to be ready for Opening Day, but is it enough to make him an option for fantasy owners?
He’s certainly an under-the-radar option, but let’s first look at his 2010 campaign to help give us an idea of his potential:
508 At Bats
.250 Batting Average (127 Hits)
6 Home Runs
29 Stolen Bases
.319 On Base Percentage
.368 Slugging Percentage
.296 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Clearly he didn’t bring much power to the table, though no one in Oakland’s lineup was much of a threat in that department in 2010. Over his minor league career he hit 18 HR and picked up 187 RBI over 1,852 AB. He’s going to be a non-factor in those departments, which immediately hurts any potential fantasy appeal.
He certainly brings speed to the table, however. In 2008 between Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors he stole 35 bases in 42 attempts. In 2009 between Triple-A and the Majors he stole 34 bases in 43 attempts. The number he put up in 2010 is no fluke and is easily repeatable.
The problem is that he is going to likely bat at the bottom of the A’s lineup (probably ninth). While the A’s have improved the potential thump in the middle with the additions of Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham, it’s hardly enough to get fantasy owners excited. He could do a tremendous job of getting on base (and there is reason to believe he will improve on his ’10 OBP given his .362 minor league career mark), but there is no guarantee that he significantly improves on his runs scored.
It’s a rosy picture, isn’t it?
The fact of the matter is that shortstop is a position that is very top heavy and has a significant drop-off in potential. The fact that he brings 30+ SB potential to the table makes him a player that should be on fantasy radars, though certainly not as a starting option.
If Ryan Theriot (ADP of 295.12) holds value in your format, Pennington is someone that you certainly should look at late in your draft. Theriot hit .270 with 2 HR, 20 SB and 72 R in ’10. While the runs may be debatable, Pennington has the potential to match or outperform all of those numbers and is available nearly 200 picks later (ADP of 474.72).
Considering how little Theriot brings to the table, you have to love that potential payoff.
What are your thoughts of Pennington? Is he a player that you think holds any potential value? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections: