27 has always been that magical number that fantasy owners circle each year before the start of the fantasy draft. They sit in front of the computer, nodding at the screen while mischievously rubbing their hands, smirking and laughing at their new findings like a villain who just discovered a diabolical plan to destroy the world.
“I have the perfect sleeper, he’s turning 27 and is finally ready to put it all together. With this stud, there is NO WAY I won’t make the playoffs this year.”
Unfortunately, not every player who turns 27 hits his fantasy peak, just ask Grady Sizemore. But, there are many notable names that appear ready to enter the fantasy spotlight. 2011 happens to be one of the best 27 year-old classes in recent memory. MVP Joey Votto leads the charge followed by some other big name athletes such as Ryan Braun and Hanley Ramirez. I am going to focus on some notable players and up-and-comers that could bring you to the fantasy playoffs.
Name: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Birth date: Oct 10, 1984
Projected Round: 1
2010 Stat line: 470 AB, 89 R, 95 RBI, 27 HR, 11 SB, .315 AVG, .381 OBP, .949 OPS
Analysis: Troy Tulowitzki has already become one of the best fantasy players in the game. He has always had the talent and skill set but has been constrained due to reoccurring injuries these past few years. If you average out his numbers over the course of last season, Tulo would fall into the Top 10 in scoring. If he can put together a full season, watch out. He could very well be one of the top scorers—his SS eligibility doesn’t hurt either.
Name: Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
Birth date: Sept 28, 1984
Projected Round: 1-2
2010 Stat line: 525 AB, 85 R, 85 RBI, 25 HR, 4 SB, .307 AVG, .388 OBP, .899 OPS
Analysis: It seems like every year since Zimmerman has reached the Bigs, we have been waiting for him to live up to all the hype. Zimmerman, by no means, is a slouch. However, he has yet to prove why he was drafted ahead of the likes of Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Turning 27 later in the year, look for Zimmerman to potentially break out and finally prove why he deserves his late first-round status.
Name: Prince Fielder, MIL
Birth date: May 9, 1984
Projected Round: 2-3
2010 Stat line: 578 AB, 94 R, 83 RBI, 32 HR, 1 SB, .261 AVG, .401 OBP, .871 OPS
Last season, Prince Fielder had what you would call a "down year." After putting up MVP caliber numbers in 2009, he regressed by hitting 14 less home runs and 58 less RBI’s. Despite these lower stats, he was still able to produce an OBP of .401 and put up a career-high 114 walks. His BABIP was 10 points below the league average so you should expect the Prince’s batting average to return to his career median. Look for his patience to pay off and put up the same power numbers he has produced over the past four seasons. Hey, a .290-30-100-100 stat line ain’t bad for a third round pick.
Name: Matt Kemp, LAD
Birth date: Sept 23, 1984
Projected Round: 5-6
2010 Stat line: 602 AB, 82 R, 89 RBI, 28 HR, 19 SB, .249 AVG, .310 OBP, .808 OPS
Analysis: In 2009, Matt Kemp put up monster numbers and proved to us why he should be called a Five-Star Athlete. He had a stat line of .297-28-89-82 while getting the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. Did I mention he dated Rihanna??? However in 2010, his numbers took a significant dive, and his draft projections lowered because of it. Some of that can be attributed to the atmosphere surrounding him. With Furcal and Either both spending time on the DL, Manny just being Manny, and the ownership problems surrounding LA, it can be seen why Kemp got lost in the mix. However, with Ethier healthy and the new power threat of Juan Uribe, Matt Kemp should see a significant rebound. Is that gamble worth a fifth round pick? I think so.
Name: Mark Reynolds, BAL
Birth date: Aug 3, 1983
Projected Round: 6-7
2010 Stat line: 499 AB, 79 R, 85 RBI, 32 RBI, 7 SB, .198 AVG, .320 OBP, .753 OPS
Analysis: Mark Reynolds is a very difficult player to project. He has some of the best raw power in the entire league but also strikes out more than anyone—in history that is. There are several important numbers to look at when analyzing Mark Reynolds. The first number is his BABIP which is 43 points lower than the league average. This means that Reynolds had an "unlucky" year and is due for a rebound next season. The second statistic to look at is his walk rate. Over the past few seasons, his total walks have increased from 37 to 64 to 76 to 83. This means that he has been getting a better sense of the strike-zone and that he might, MIGHT, be able to cut down the strikeouts in 2011. A change of scenery may just be the thing Mark Reynolds needs to turn the corner in his career.
Name: Drew Stubbs, CIN
Birth date: Feb 20, 1984
Projected Round: 12-13
2010 Stat line: 514 AB, 91 R, 77 RBI, 22 HR, 30 SB, .255 AVG, .329 OBP, .773 OPS
Analysis: After becoming a full-time starter at the beginning of the 2010 season, Stubbs has shown why he was the eighth overall pick in the 2006 Draft. He showed a rare combination of size and speed, while being considered by some to be the best defensive center fielder in the game. After one full season under his belt, you should only expect Stubbs to improve upon his previous numbers. Being surrounded by possibly the best offense in the NL with MVP Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubbs should always be in position rake in the fantasy points. Be sure to pick up Drew Stubbs as a late round sleeper come 2011.