Don't Sleep on Jake Fox: Why the Oakland A's DH Has Fantasy Value

George FitopoulosContributor IApril 16, 2010

SEATTLE - APRIL 14:  Jake Fox #50 of the Oakland Athletics is congratulated by third base coach Mike Gallego #12 after homering against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on April 14, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
He doesn’t have a starting job. He plays in an extreme pitcher's park on a terrible lineup.
So why should fantasy owners keep an eye on Jake Fox?
Well, he did just hit his first home run of the season.
Fox is what we in the business call a free swinger. In 82 games for the Cubs last year, Fox offered at 37.7 percent of pitches outside the strike zone (25.1 percent MLB average) and walked just 5.8 percent of the time.
However, Fox is a player who was an absolute monster in the minors and could bring that type of power to the Oakland A's.
In just 99 Triple-A games, Fox hit 29 home runs in 380 at-bats. For those keeping score at home, that is one home run every 13.1 at-bats, or in other words, just slightly better than Albert Pujols’ career rate of 13.9 HR/AB. Obviously, I am not saying that Fox is going to be the next Pujols, but when a player has minor league numbers that are at least comparable, people should take notice.
In 2009, Fox had a triple-slash line of .409/.495/.841 and hit 17 home runs in 45 games. Now that's what I call productive!
There is no doubt that this guy can rake. At every level he’s played, he has reached a .200 ISO except in two instances. His batting average over 640 minor league games was .293, and he compiled an .885 OPS. The Cubs called him up for 82 games last season, and he hit .257 with 11 home runs and a .779 OPS while shuffling between third base and the outfield.
So what gives? Looking at these numbers, you’d expect him to be on the fast track to Cooperstown at his age.
It just so happens that Fox has been hampered by his horrific defense, and no matter what position he played in Chicago, his results yielded UZR ratings well into the negatives. This ultimately forced the Cubs to trade him to the American League, where he could be utilized as a designated hitter.
Now Fox needs just one of two things to happen for him to become a viable fantasy option: (1) The A's realize he should be starting over Eric Chavez or (2) Chavez gets injured, making Fox the everyday DH. With Chavez being one of baseball's most brittle players (121 GP since 2007), I would say Fox's chances at regular playing time are very good.
Fox already brings multiple position eligibility, as he qualifies at third base and outfield (also first base in some formats) and could be adding catcher, as he is Oakland's backup. Don't underestimate the catcher eligibility because not many catchers play more than 135 games, so he could be a valuable fill-in on your roster at no cost of an additional bench spot.
When the opportunity knocks, you will want to scoop this guy up, because while Fox's free-swinging style won't help his batting average in the majors, his power, combined with his position eligibility, is very valuable.