Sleeper Power Sourcesby Victor Wang
January 05, 2009
When players hit home runs, they not only help your fantasy team in the home runs category but also with runs and RBIs too. The following are some lower-rated players who can help you with home runs. Many of these players have a noticeable weakness or two, but you may want to consider putting up with it if you are looking for some cheap power.
Scott Hairston, OF, San Diego: Hairston put up some impressive power numbers last year, hitting 17 home runs in 326 at-bats with a .230 isolated power while playing in PECTO. The biggest question with Hairston is his playing time as he struggles against righties and has had a few injury problems. While his platoon issues mean he's a batting average risk, he does hit for some serious pop when he plays.
Marcus Thames, OF, Detroit: Thames' skill set is very similar to Hairston's. Both are slugging right handers who strike out a lot and have been platooned. Thames also has some serious power as well as he hit 25 home runs last year in 316 at-bats. Thames is backing up injury risks in Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, and Gary Sheffield so he could see that at-bat total rise next year. If that happens, there is a good chance his homers will rise as well.
Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City: Gordon has been a bit of a disappointment when you consider the hype he brought as the number two overall pick in 2005. However, Gordon improved in almost every meaningful statistical indicator last year. Also, he increased his fly ball percentage by four percent. Remember, Gordon was projected to hit for at least plus power when he was a prospect. It looks like it's taken a little longer than expected for Gordon to adjust to the majors, but if he keeps hitting fly balls at the rate he's shown the last two years, 2009 could be the year Gordon starts tapping into his power.
Ben Francisco, OF, Cleveland: With the trade of Franklin Gutierrez, Francisco looks like he'll be the opening day starter in one of Cleveland's corner outfield spots. Francisco was never known as a big time slugger coming up through the minor, but he put up an intriguing 47.5 percent fly ball rate. Francisco could very well see a playing time increase next year, and he is entering his prime years. Francisco is probably the biggest power gamble on this list, but you won't likely need to commit very much to get him.
Miguel Olivo, C, Kansas City: Olivo wouldn't be a terrible second catcher. He has shown pretty good pop in the past and his fly ball rates have been increasing the past four years. Playing time is a big question with him as Kansas City still appears to be committed to John Buck. However, Olivo's playing time situation also means that his mediocre batting average won't hurt you too much.
Cody Ross, OF, Florida: Ross had a solid season last year, putting up 22 home runs and 73 RBIs in 461 at-bats. Projected to be a starter in either left or center for the Marlins, Ross should see more at bats next year provided he stays healthy. Ross' power output last year wasn't that big a surprise as he's shown his power skills in the past in the minors and in short major league stints. Look for this to continue in 2009.
Victor Wang's work on OPS has been featured in SABR's By the Numbers magazine, and was the 2007 recipient of SABR's Jack Kavanagh Memorial Youth Baseball Research Award. He can be reached via email here.
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