There are going to be a lot of outfielders selected after pick No. 225 at your fantasy draft. Who are the ones worth targeting? Here are my favorite five late-round outfielders for 2012:
Lucas Duda, New York Mets
I wrote a Sleeper Spotlight on Duda back in November, and my thoughts on him have not wavered. He thrived in the second half of 2011 (.322, 10 HR and 38 RBI in 205 AB), which could just be a prelude of things to come.
I know some people will point towards his inflated BABIP (.364 and .351 over the final two months), and it is true. I wouldn’t expect him to hit .322 once again. However, he could provide you some significant pop at the tail end of your draft.
There just is no questioning his power, with 27 HR in 393 AB at Triple-A (in the International League no less). Now, with the fences being brought in at CitiField, does anyone believe that he won’t hit at least 20 HR (and could surpass 25)? Throw in hitting in the middle of the Mets lineup, no matter how weak of a group it will be, and he is going to be a productive option. Don’t sleep on him.
J.D. Martinez, Houston Astros
The Astros have gone extremely young, and Martinez is the best of the bunch. He is still growing and developing, but so far we have to be impressed with what he’s shown us.
Summoned directly from Double-A, Martinez was thrust into the third spot of the Astros lineup. That is a lot of pressure to put on a rookie and he stepped up and delivered. In 208 AB he hit .274 with 6 HR and 35 RBI.
The power is definitely still developing (he did have 25 doubles in 317 AB at Double-A prior to his recall), but 16 to 20 homers is not an unrealistic expectation. Throw in the fact that the average should increase, given his inflated strikeout rate (21.2 percent in the Majors vs. 14.9 percent at Double-A) and there’s a lot to like.
Delmon Young, Detroit Tigers
How quickly do we forget about guys like Young? This is the same player who hit 21 HR with a .298 average in 2010. Yet, because he struggled in Minnesota in 2011 (.266 with 4 HR in 305 AB) people just want to write him off. Should we just forget his resurgence after the trade to Detroit, hitting .274 with eight HR in 168 AB? What about his four HR and 18 RBI this spring?
I know he’s disappointed in the past, but when you are drafting someone this late is it even possible for them to underperform? He has always had tremendous upside, and hitting in a lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder certainly isn’t going to hurt. He’s well worth the gamble, to say the least.
Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics
He was a player that everyone thought would flourish in Boston, so why would we think any less of him in Oakland? Granted, it is a worse hitter’s park and an offense that lacks fire power, but that doesn’t mean that Reddick should simply be ignored.
Last season he split time between Triple-A and the Majors, hitting 21 HR in just 445 AB. Would it really be a surprise to see him hit 20-plus HR, even in Oakland? He hit .278 in the minor leagues so, even if it came courtesy of a .260 average, would anyone complain?
Cody Ross, Boston Red Sox
The man that could easily end up replacing Reddick in Boston. Long-term, people may want to think that he’s going to platoon, but a strong start while Carl Crawford is out should land him with regular playing time all season long.
Let us not forget that he is the same player who posted 20-plus HR in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009. Sure, he’s only hit 14 each of the past two years, but it is not like San Francisco is a hitter’s haven.
Moving into a much better situation, where there is going to be no pressure for him to produce (thanks to the deep lineup), could easily do wonders for his numbers. Don’t be surprised to see him hit 20-plus HR for the third time in his career in 2012.
What are your thoughts on these outfielders? Are you targeting any of them on draft day? What other late-round options are you eying?