2011 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper: Baltimore Orioles' Luke Scott

Fantasy Knuckleheads@_knuckleheadsCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Infielder Luke Scott #30 of the Baltimore Orioles fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 29, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Great Scott! Usually fantasy baseball drafters are quick to pick up guys who have proven capable of hitting for a respectable batting average with above-average power production. Not with Luke Scott, though.

Like Oakland first baseman Daric Barton, another established player who gets so little attention he still qualifies as a sleeper of sorts, Scott has done nothing but hit the past three seasons with Baltimore, culminating in a .266/.348/.497 slash line with 75 home runs and 214 RBI over the past three seasons.

Those numbers don’t look too exciting at first, but with Scott, they just may be indicative of a late bloomer, because the 32-year-old has improved over each of the past three seasons.

With Scott never viewed as much of a defensive player, the Houston Astros traded him in 2007 as part of a deal to acquire Miguel Tejada so Scott could be a DH and not be a liability to his team in the outfield.

Because of his bouncing around, Scott has carried first base and outfield eligibility in recent seasons, but enters 2011 with solely DH eligibility.

Fear not, though, as the presence of Vlad Guerrero ensures Scott a starting left field job, which means it won’t be long into the season until Scott gains eligibility to play outfield, which is a surprisingly thin position this year, especially if you play a standard ESPN format with five starting outfielders.

Like previously mentioned, Scott has improved his peripherals in each of the previous three seasons while maintaining steady power production. After hitting .257/.336/.472 with 23 home runs and 65 RBI in 2008, Scott finished 2010 batting .284/.368/.535 with 27 homers and 72 RBI.

Having Mark Reynolds and Vlad Guerrero in a new and possibly improved Orioles lineup should offer Scott protection to keep up the steady performance in 2011.

Since he turns 33 in June, though, it’s likely we saw Scott reach the apex of his talent last season. That doesn’t mean he’ll have a bad follow-up this year, and because he can be had as a draft-day bargain, it’s not worth betting against him in 2011.

Like Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, over the past two seasons Scott has turned in some of the most underappreciated numbers in the game, and his 218 ADP indicates fantasy baseball players still won’t give him any love.

If you play your cards right, that can all shake out in your favor, though, as in the later rounds of your draft, you can end up with a guy who is sure to provide you mid-20s home run power and around 70 RBI.

Those who don’t want to tarnish their roster with Scott’s presence will be sorting through prospects and unknowns betting on the next big breakout.

If you go into the late phase of the draft in need of surefire production as opposed to a gamble on a prospect, look no further: Luke Scott is your man.

2011 projected stats: .267 AVG, 23 HR, 71 RBI, 68 runs