Fantasy Baseball Player Analysis - Designated Hitters
Editor's Note: Player analysis profiles appear in the positions at which the players are projected. Profiles of players who may be eligible at other positions in your league include fantasy baseball advice related to a potential increase in value as a result. A player must have started at least five games or have played at least 10 games to be eligible at another position. Criteria for fantasy baseball leagues vary, so check your league rules.
Pros: Big Papi said his doc gave him a clean bill of health - at least as far as the wrist is concerned. If he's back to normal, look out: The big fella hit well over .300, with at least 35 homers and 100 RBIs per year, from 2004 to '07. His indicators remain high.
Cons: Ortiz's flyball percentage has slowly declined. A terrible April (.198-5-21) set the stage for a down year, and that came before the wrist injury. Even a fully healed wrist may not be back to full strength, affecting a hitter's power. He's already suffering from shoulder soreness this spring.
Fantasy tip: Most fantasy teams only have one slot for a DH. Ortiz carries substantial risk this year, too; that's why he goes a few rounds later than he used to. If you can wait until the fourth or fifth round, he's intriguing.
Pros: Thome packs pure power, with 35-homer pop and plenty of 90-RBI seasons to his credit. He experienced a big dip in his average on balls in play, something his still solid line-drive rate doesn't support.
Cons: Thome has displayed overall increases in groundball rate and decreases in home runs per flyball. That might explain why he hasn't sent as many out of the yard in the past couple of years. Bat speed is going, and don't forget how injury prone he is.
Fantasy tip: When you arrive at the middle rounds and need power, you can still think Thome. He should hit a little better than last year's .245 average, and 30 homers are likely. Just accept that you're limiting yourself. There is only downside; hope the decline remains gradual.
Pros: Reports regarding Hafner's offseason shoulder operation (the joint was cleaned out) didn't mention anything abnormal. Hafner was a peaking slugger just two seasons ago. He had made great gains in walk-to-strikeout rate and contact percentage.
Cons: The shoulder has truly robbed him - 15.9 percent of his flyballs were homers in 2007, 10.4 last year, down from 30.2 in '06. How much can we trust Cleveland? He was supposed to be healthy entering '08, too, but questions arose in April.
Fantasy tip: At least you don't have to take much of a risk on Hafner - he should go in the final third. If he doesn't, someone reached. He's unlikely to show '06 form because he was already showing signs of decline. His '07 form is upside, though, at this phase.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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