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Fantasy Baseball: Why Derrek Lee Will Be a Sleeper

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Fantasy Baseball: Why Derrek Lee Will Be a Sleeper
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Derrek Lee had a down year in 2010. Lee's 19 home runs marked his lowest total since 1998 (min. 250 PA). His 80 runs were his lowest total since 2000. His 80 RBI were his lowest total since 2001.

I suppose saying he had a "down year" is a bit of an understatement. From 2007-2009 Lee averaged 26 home runs, 92 runs, 94 RBI, .304 AVG and a .340 BABIP. So what gives?

A closer look at Derrek Lee's peripherals suggests serious unluckiness. Lee's 2010 BABIP of .309 is his lowest since 2004 and doesn't match his .322 career mark. The huge dip in his BABIP doesn't jive with his 22.5 percent line-drive rate and career-low 1.3 percent infield fly-ball rate. All of Lee's other peripherals are fairly similar to his career.

The Orioles offense looks very strong for 2011. Lee will be batting third behind Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis who get on base at a decent clip. Vladimir Guerrero, Luke Scott and Mark Reynolds will be batting behind him. Lee is hitting in a much-improved lineup and looks to have the perfect setup. Derrek Lee will have boatloads of opportunities to score and drive in runs.

Camden Yards has a 126 home run index for right-handed hitters. Compare that to Turner Field (92) and Wrigley Field (102).

Derrek Lee's current ADP is 273. He is being taken after Adam Lind (182.1), Adam LaRoche (182.6), Carlos Pena (197.3), Gabby Sanchez (210.9) and Ike Davis (228.9). Adam LaRoche put up the best line of the five listed with .261/75/25/100. Those numbers are certainly obtainable.

Which Orioles player will be a better value in fantasy drafts?

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It's no guarantee that Lee will outperform all these guys but, the value is certainly there. Why even waste a pick on Paul Konerko (70.8), Billy Butler (84.1) or Aubrey Huff (107.2) when you can draft Derrek Lee 140-185 picks later?

2011 Projection: .291 AVG, 85 R, 27 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB

Our Next Sleeper will be: Gordon Beckham

Previous Sleeper: Luke Scott

Brian "Killboy" Kilpatrick is a Senior Writer for 4thandHome.com where this, and other work, can be found. Additionally, he is co-host of The 4th and Home Show on Blog Talk Radio.

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