Fantasy Baseball: Five Guys Ready for a Rebound

Collin HagerSenior Writer IFebruary 8, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 01:  Brandon Wood #3 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim gets set against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium on October 1, 2009 in Anaheim, California. The Rangers defeated the Angels 11-3.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Whereas some are taking a look at people that may be best to avoid, there are others ready for a rebound in 2010. The players discussed below are coming off of down years and were not held off the field due to injury.
Players that are perennially injured or may finally come through after years of hopeful predictions are included (Alex Gordon, come on down!). Most of these players will be available after the early rounds of your drafts. Keep their names in mind.

The Angels made the decision this offseason to let Chone Figgins walk away. Doing so is going to open the door for Brandon Wood . Though the Angels have signed Maicer Izturis to a three-year deal, his value is much greater in a utility role than it is as an every day Third Basemen.
Wood has the inside track to the job and as long as he hits, the Angels will not be able to keep him out of the lineup.

The statement seems obvious right, "if he hits." It is a self-explanatory statement and should have gone without saying. The point with Wood is that hitting is the better part of his game, the Angels just have not given him a chance to prove it beyond a failed experiment of 55 games in 2008.
It has been seen in the minors, and been seen consistently. He his .293 with 22 home runs last season after hitting .296 with 31 home runs in 2008. He played just 96 games last year and 103 games the year before.

Wood will need to get the numbers to translate to the American League, and he will spend time this Spring proving he can do it and that he belongs. Third Base is not the deepest of positions, and Wood is a better option than not in late-round drafting, especially in leagues that require a Corner Infield starter.

I will admit to being higher on Daisuke Matsuzaka than many others are. Matsuzaka has gave fantasy owners nothing last year and gave them heartburn the year before. His consistency and command issues are known far and wide. Assume, though, that there is some truth to the rumors circulating with regards to last season.
Matsuzaka is said to have been dealing with a leg injury that he hid from the Red Sox even after the WBC ended.

Leading up to the WBC, there is the fact that Matsuzaka worked too hard and too fast. His physique was better served for old-man softball than it was for the Major Leagues, and it took some time to get him to understand the conditioning needed to produce. Nothing about last season was good.
Now, though, there is some reason to be optimistic. Matsuzaka is working out earlier and has something to prove. Saving face in the Japanese culture certainly would transfer to the work place. Keeping his name out of the papers in his home country with negative press might spur him forward.

With an ADP hovering near 200, the upside of selecting him is far greater than the risk associated with the pick. Expect him to be improved from 2009 by leaps and bounds and to closely rival the win totals he saw in 2008. Two years of totals should outweigh one of a disaster.

It would be remiss of me to discuss potential without talking about Chris Iannetta . While still being selected as the 12th catcher overall in most mock drafts, Iannetta's potential is worth exploring. While he managed to find a way to hit 16 home runs in 93 games last season, the .228 average is low enough to make Jason Varitek blush.
If we peel the onion a bit, the .253 BABIP is nearly 60 points below his 2008 total and 50 points below the league average. Iannetta had numbers in this category of .314, .289, and .310 in his three partial seasons in the big leagues.

Bottom line, Iannetta has shown that he has the power to provide owners 20 home runs and his role should expand this season to well over 110 games. With some better luck, his average should also come up 30-40 points, making him a decent option based on where he is being selected in drafts. This is even further supported by a reduction in his strikeout rate last season and consistency in his contact rates.

For 2010, just hope some of his fly balls come back to line drive territory.

While others are looking for a rebound year out of Alex Rios, in the outfield I would look to Corey Hart . Many well-informed people felt that Hart would be able to build on the successes he found in 2007 and 2008, but instead saw his home runs drop in half and his average fall 30 points. No doubt this was not in the original game plan.
With another year under his belt and expectations set much lower, look for Hart to provide numbers well above his draft position.

How can we be sure? Well, his strike out rate increased by five points last season and his swing percentage dropped by nearly as much. Hart seemingly struggled with some confidence, causing those numbers to change. In fact, many of his contact rates stayed the same. His BABIP was consistent, but is down over the last two years. His isolated power has fell off last season, and we should see that get better.

Is he a .300 hitter that will close in on 30 home runs? At one point many thought that would be the case. Now, though, a .280 average with 22 home runs that can be found north of pick 200 is not a bad thing.

One other player that is coming out of extraordinary circumstances and may be missed by many is Conor Jackson . Jackson spent most of last season away from the game after being placed on the DL with Valley Fever. Jackson was able to participate in the various Fall Instructional leagues. Rumors right now have him moving out of First Base and over to Left Field with the signing of Adam LaRoche.

Owners should not sleep on Jackson. While he has not demonstrated the power many hoped he would bring to the table, he has become a very reliable two-hole hitter in Arizona. Take last season completely out of the equation. Without it, Jackson has shown he can consistently provide an average north of .290 with a consistent BABIP that does not show any luck in the final number.

Jackson will score 70 runs while driving in 75-80 and hitting 15 home runs. He may not necessarily be an option in more shallow leagues, but in 14-team leagues and NL-only formats, Jackson's skills are a nice late-round benefit that may not be on the minds of other owners.

Collin Hager is a featured fantasy baseball columnist on Bleacher Report. He contributes regularly to and writes the Elmhurst Pub Fantasy Blog . You can follow Collin on Twitter @TheRoundtable.