In 2008, Carlos Quentin was on his way to winning the AL MVP Award while slugging to the tune of .288/.394/.571, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 96 runs and 7 steals before he broke his hand while slamming a bat into the ground in late August. Quentin missed the rest of the season and did all of that damage in only 480 at-bats. Since then a myriad of injuries have limited him to just 351 at-bats in '09 and 453 at-bats in '10, yet he has walloped 21 and 26 HR's respectively. A return to health and a packed White Sox lineup lead us to believe that for the 2011 season this quiet slugger is a bonafide fantasy baseball sleeper.
Carlos Quentin -- OF -- Chicago White Sox
2010 Stats -- .243/.342/.479, 26 HR, 87 RBI, 73 runs, 2 steals
Average Draft Position -- 196
Sleeper Scale Rating (#1-5) -- 5
Every season brings forth new hope and opportunity for a wealth of MLB and fantasy players but very rarely are those hopes and opportunities as grand as they are for Carlos Quentin in 2011. Quentin is now two seasons removed from his national coming out party in 2008 in which he tore apart the American League until his temper got the best of him and he broke his hand ending his magical season.
Based on his average draft position though you would think that Quentin hasn't done a thing since 2008 as he is being taken later than Carlos Lee, Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Alfonso Soriano. That is really not the case. Sure, Quentin hasn't managed to stay entirely healthy over the past two seasons as he has been limited to well under 500 at-bats but that hasn't stopped him from smacking over 20 HR's in both seasons.
We are now living in a day and age where 30+ HR's per season is getting tougher and tougher to find. The days of insane power numbers are over as pitching and speed are now much higher in volume than true power hitters. It has become paramount to acquire power early on in fantasy drafts otherwise run the risk of having to punt the HR category on a weekly basis. The few perennial power hitters in the game such as Howard, Fielder, A. Gonzalez and Adam Dunn will be off the board by the end of the second round in most drafts this season. Thus, finding power sources later on in drafts will be an absolute must in order to compete and win leagues this season.
The White Sox added to their already impressive lineup this offseason with the addition of Adam Dunn, who will offer both Quentin and Paul Konerko more protection in the lineup. These three hitting behind table setters such as Juan Pierre, Alex Rios and Alexi Ramirez will have a plethora of RBI opportunities in 2011.
Carlos Quentin was a first round draft pick and a very highly touted prospect in the Diamondbacks organization before injuries and a crowded big league outfield made him expendable in 2008. Scouts have never doubted his potential as a top flight power hitter with incredible run producing talents but staying healthy has always been his problem. Quentin is a very smart and patient hitter who makes good contact for a guy with his type of power. He also gets on base really well by drawing walks and also by getting hit by pitch at an amazing rate year after year. He also has good speed for a big guy and is not a basepath clogger whatsoever and in fact could steal 12-15 bases per year if given the green light more often. He will score a lot of runs for the White Sox this season.
In the minor leagues Quentin always hit for a high batting average and his skills suggest he should be a .280-.290 hitter most years. He has a short compact swing that covers the outer part of the plate well and generates power to all fields. His blend of skills and tenacity are a rare find these days especially in the middle to late rounds of fantasy drafts.
Carlos Quentin is the type of player that has an amazing season and we all wonder how in the hell we never saw it coming. All of the tools are there and he has proven that he can be a force between the lines. All he needs to do is stay healthy and some fortunate fantasy owner will have themselves a second round talent whom they drafted in round 14-18 this year. This is a risk well worth taking and one that will definitely be a difference maker in 2011 for those who stay aggressive throughout their draft.
Jeff Mans is a contributor to Bleacher Report and the Senior Writer on Fantasy Alarm.