2011 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners

Jeff MansContributor IIIFebruary 21, 2011

SEATTLE - JULY 10:  Justin Smoak of the Seattle Mariners watches the pitch during the game against the New York Yankees at Safeco Field on July 10, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

It’s interesting how a few bad weeks can toss a highly touted young player completely off of everyone’s fantasy baseball radar.  But that is exactly what happened to Mariners rookie Justin Smoak last season.  We have seen Smoak ranked in the 30’s among first basemen alone this preseason and it is as if everybody has forgotten what an immensely talented player he truly is.  Well, we haven’t forgotten and thus feel Justin Smoak is a perfect candidate to begin our Fantasy Alarm 2011 Sleeper List


Justin Smoak – 1B – Seattle Mariners

2010 Stats -- .218/.307/.371, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 40 runs, one steal

Average Draft Position - 338

Sleeper Scale Rating (#1-5) – 5


Justin Smoak entered 2010 as one of the top rated prospects in all of baseball.  He graded out near the top of almost every scouting indicator ever invented and was highly regarded as one of the most major league ready talents in the minor leagues.  Then on April 22, he was summoned to the Texas Rangers to replace struggling slugger Chris Davis.  Smoak too awhile in adjusted to major league pitching, but hit a few big HR’s for the division leading Rangers in May and June. 

Then on July 9, Smoak was the centerpiece of a trade between the Rangers and Mariners that sent Cy Young Award Winner Cliff Lee to Texas.  In a brief stint with his new big league club, Smoak never looked comfortable and was sent down to work on his approach at the plate on July 31. 

He eventually got hot at AAA Tacoma and rejoined the Mariners on September 18 and slugged three HR’s while hitting a cool .318 the rest of the way.  His overall numbers for 2010 illustrate his ability to get on base even while struggling, as well as his ability to hit the ball over the fence and drive in runs.

Smoak is a rare switch hitter who demonstrates both power and average from either side of the dish.  His defensive ability is also a big plus and undoubtedly a key to why the Mariners sought him in the Cliff Lee deal over such players as Domonic Brown and Jesus Montero.  The comparisons to Mark Teixeira are uncanny yet valid. 

Last year was a very tumultuous one for the young slugger having started out in Oklahoma City and finishing up in Seattle.  But he will enter 2011 as the starting first baseman for the Mariners and should be much more comfortable and secure in this role and thus should be able to make good on the bounty of skills he possesses.  It would be very easy to expect 25 HR’s, 90 RBI, 80 runs and a .280/.350/.480 stat line out of Justin Smoak this season. 


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