Obviously, all 4th outfielders are an injury away from starting. Otherwise, most of these guys can be expected to start about 2-3 times per week. The good thing about some of them is that when they start, they usually are put into a situation that is positive for them. In deep leagues, as well as one-league leagues, some of these 4th outfielders will need to be rostered. I am looking at 5 of these 4th outfielders that can be a positive addition to your roster.
No longer looking like the future Hall of Famer he was five years ago, Jones still can mash mediocre left-handed pitching. With Yankee opponents always trying to find any way to throw left-handers at them, Jones looks good for about 200-250 at-bats. With the way the team is set up now, he looks like he will be locked into the lineup whenever a southpaw starts against the Bronx Bombers either as their DH or corner outfielder (usually in LF for Brett Gardner). Last year against LHP Jones had a .286 avg. with a .540 slg. In 2010, he had a .256 avg. with a .558 slg. The last two years, overall, he is averaging a homer every 14.6 AB's. Not bad numbers if you can find weeks where the Yankees face a couple of left-handers.
2011 was a fairly good season for Parra. He started the majority of games in LF, the Diamondbacks surprised everyone by getting to the playoffs, and at 24 was looking like he was ready to blossom into a solid starter. Oh, and by the way, he also won a Gold Glove. How does Arizona thank him? They go and sign Jason Kubel for 2 years and $16 million. Last year Parra hit .292 avg., .427 slg., and 15 sb. D'Backs GM Kevin Towers said recently that they still like Parra, and "thinks he will play a lot". I hope so. He can play all three outfield positions which should help him.
Just signed to a one-year deal by the Sox, Ross has a chance to start the season as their LF since Carl Crawford could be recovering from wrist surgery. When Crawford returns, Ross will platoon with Ryan Sweeney in RF. Coming off an absolutely ridiculous 2010 post-season, Ross came back to earth in 2011. However, he will be joining a much better lineup in Fenway, which is also a better hitter's park than AT&T Park. He should be, at the very least, starting against all left-handers. At best, he starts off hot, and wins the starting job from Sweeney. I'll guess something in the middle, but that could be pretty good. How does .270 avg,. 30+ doubles, and 15+ hr sound?
Always an afterthought in the Giant outfield, Schierholtz had a decent last two months before a hairline fracture in his foot ended his season in late August. This off-season the Giants added Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to their outfield. With Aubrey Huff/Brandon Belt expected to play some outfield, Schierholtz again will be fighting for time. In his last 42 games, Nate had a .294 avg. and .451 slg. With a projected outfield of Huff, Cabrera, and Pagan, it won't be long before Schierholtz gets the majority of at-bats in RF. This is the year he can reach 400 at-bats.
Talk about a sophomore slump. Colvin followed up his 20 homer, .500 slg rookie campaign with a complete dud. Batting a buck-fifty will have many people crossing you off their lists. Luckily, Colvin got traded to....... the Rockies. Guess who's back on my list? Taking over the 4th outfielder role, he has a chance to see some at-bats in the Rockie lineup. Yes, their outfield probably won't need a platoon partner, but does anyone think that 38-year olds Todd Helton and Casey Blake or 36-year old Marco Scutaro will all play full seasons? When one of them drops, Cuddyer can slide into the infield and Colvin can play RF. Hopefully, last year was just an anomaly.
If I had to pick one of these guys for 2012, my first choice is probably Cody Ross. Who do you like?