Outfielders - AL

by Tim Heaney on March 23, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT

 


Disclaimer: Not all players are eligible to play the position or weren't primarily playing at the position last season. They have been inserted into this position because our editors felt this is where they would most likely play.

1) Carl Crawford | Tampa Bay Devil Rays | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
617
189
.306
21
78
106
56
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
X
X
+
+

Positives: When Crawford was just a leadoff hitter, fantasy managers were skeptical of drafting him this high. Then Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon showed confidence in batting Crawford this in the order last season, and Crawford is tentatively slotted there for at least the start of 2007. As he enters the prime of his career, Crawford's home run total has steadily increased since he became a more complete hitter (11, 15, and 18 the past three years). His place atop the heart of the order only increases his chances of hitting over 20 dingers this season. Also, teams won't want to pitch around him, because if he gets on base, it's almost an automatic double. If you still aren't sold on his abilities at the plate, his 16 triples last season might make the sale.

Negatives: He only had 20 doubles last year, so he will need to develop more gap power in order to maintain his effectiveness in the No. 3 slot. His effectiveness in his new full-time role will require a quick start out of the gate.

Fantasy Tip: Crawford has the highest Average Draft Position of all American League outfielders at seventh overall. With his ability to contribute consistently in all five categories, he's certainly worth taking this high.

2) Grady Sizemore | Cleveland Indians | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
639
186
.292
29
84
130
27
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
X
X
+
+

Positives: Sizemore is a well-composed combination of power and speed, making him a complete hitter that could serve as a first outfielder. He has been on the brink of making "The Leap" since his rookie season. Sizemore is a plus in runs and stolen bases, and along with providing more-than-solid numbers in the big three offensive categories. He proved that he doesn't need to steal bases to set himself up in scoring position, hitting 53 doubles as a leadoff hitter.

Negatives: As with every leadoff hitter, his opportunities to drive in runs decrease, so he might not be that much of a threat to compile more than 100 RBI. Although Sizemore is essentially destined to hit in the heart of the order, Indians GM Mark Shapiro said that won't happen in 2007 unless they sign another prototypical leadoff hitter. So you can expect his RBI totals to temper off.

Fantasy Tip: This could be Sizemore's true coming out party. He already has huge buzz this draft year, taken in the middle of the second round. This will be his third complete season in the bigs, and if he follows the pattern of the third year boom, then he could hit 30 homers. He shouldn't go anywhere below the first two rounds.

3) Vladimir Guerrero | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
546
181
.332
34
110
88
11
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
+
+
X
--

Positives: Guerrero has been one of the top all-around players in baseball since his debut in Montreal 11 years ago. Vlad has no limits to his personal strike zone and has been known to crush pitches at his feet. His long body structure allows his swing to reach any part of the plate, and his timing at the plate is impeccable. He has slugged 30-plus homers eight of the past nine years and has hit at least .302 in each of his ten full seasons.

Negatives: Vlad decided to forego surgery on his pestering right knee this offseason, opting instead to let it heal on its own. Vlad has not played in less than 141 games since back troubles limited him to 112 games in 2003; however, although Guerrero has told reporters that he expects to heal, his malady is certainly something to keep an eye on with a guy that can potentially be a first-round fantasy pick.

Fantasy Tip: Vlad's ADP is currently falling at the end of the first round, just near the end of the first round. Vlad isn't a guaranteed first-round pick anymore despite his outstanding numbers, but no manager could be blamed for taking him in the first two, even with his injury reports.

4) Manny Ramirez | Boston Red Sox | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
552
175
.320
38
127
103
0
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
+
+
X
--

Positives: Like Guerrero, Ramirez is one of the most complete hitters in the game, hitting to all fields for contact and power for his entire career. Ramirez and Vlad are interchangeable in many outfielder rankings. Manny has hit at least 33 homers the past nine seasons, leaving dents in both the Green Monster and the heart of any opposing pitcher. If you want consistency, Manny is as close as you can get.

Negatives: Manny has had on-and-off again relations with Red Sox front office members the past few seasons: he asked for a trade before rescinding on several occasions, he argued with manager Terry Francona when asked to play on his scheduled days off, and showcased some lackadaisical fielding tendencies and mid-inning trips to the makeshift restroom behind the scoreboard. Sox brass made several inquiries into trading Ramirez this offseason, and after being unable to work out a deal, they must placate their quirky star. And of course, his 35th birthday this summer could spell a slight drop in production.

Fantasy Tip: Oh, how the mighty have experienced a minute drop in draft position. Manny has registered a late second-round pick in drafts thus far. With managers jumping on the rising stars in Sizemore, managers might forget about the perpetual success of a future Hall-of-Famer. He will could go as high as the end of the first round (his highest KFFL position was 15), but no fantasy manager would complain if Manny fell to the second or third.

5) Ichiro Suzuki | Seattle Mariners | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
686
224
.326
10
52
111
39
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
--
--
+
+

Positives: If you want hits, go East. Ichiro is the premier contact hitter in baseball, with his slap hitting style nearly guaranteeing a modicum of productivity every game. He has topped 200 hits in each of the past six seasons while setting the single-season record. He can hit anywhere on the diamond, and is an uber-plus in the three contact hitter categories. His base running adds another dimension to his worldliness at the plate.

Negatives: His power regions are barren; you'd be lucky to get more than ten homers out of him. You pretty much need to go heavily with mashers after drafting him, because you're mostly going to see a heavy array of singles coming off his bat. In traditional 5x5 leagues, Hits isn't a category, so the one stat that he would tangibly dominate in isn't available.

Fantasy Tip: Ichiro should undoubtedly go in the third round, and his ADP suggests even higher potential at the end of the second round. Those who plan to use Ichiro as a top outfielder better compensate for power at lower draft positions. Still, if he's there, you can't pass up guaranteed consistent statistics.

6) Bobby Abreu | New York Yankees | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
560
167
.298
22
111
105
20
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
--
+
+
X

Positives: Abreu's midseason arrival in the Bronx awoke the slumbering Yankees lineup, and gave fantasy owners a bull-market stud hitter. Abreu's ability to get on base from the third slot gave the Yankees a bonus leadoff hitter at the heart of the order. Abreu has a contact hitter's stroke (despite his gargantuan performance in the 2005 Home Run Derby), but still had seven consecutive seasons of 20-plus homers before his drop-off last year. With outfielder Johnny Damon and second baseman Robinson Cano hitting ahead of him, he will find at least one of them on base half of the time to drive in.

Negatives: Abreu strained his right oblique muscle in late February but has returned and should be ready for the opener. These injuries tend to linger throughout the season. His decline in home-run power since his historic Derby performance has caused his value to slightly dip. Abreu's main asset in the past has been his on-base percentage, which doesn't count as a category in standard 5x5 leagues.

Fantasy Tip: Abreu really has a chance to solidify his prime this year. If he can abuse the short porch, then he will add to his fantasy status. His lack of power has him going in the third round. Expect that to fall even more. He most certainly is worth taking as a first outfielder, as he will be the cornerstone of the Yankee outfield for quite some time. With the short porch in right, his power numbers have a chance to increase over a full season.

7) Vernon Wells | Toronto Blue Jays | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
601
181
.301
33
113
99
10
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
X
+
X
--

Positives: Despite projections of mammoth contract offers if he tested the market, Wells signed a seven-year extension with the Blue Jays this offseason. Now officially entrenched as Toronto's franchise player, Wells can show the rest of the league that he is the most underrated player in the game. Wells also added a slight increase in stolen bases last season (17) to go with his plus rating in average and RBI. He improved his average by 34 points in 2006, developing an ability to hit for contact when the situation called for it instead of swinging for the fences. Even with his increased contact ability, his slugging percentage went up an astonishing 79 points.

Negatives: His strikeout total has gradually increased (90 last season) despite his increased awareness in the box. Last year's stolen base total could also prove to be an aberration; the Jays might stifle his base stealing opportunities and let him concentrate on mashing.

Fantasy Tip: Wells is definitely a No. 1 outfielder on any fantasy team this year. He has been drafted at around the 21st pick, which may be a little high.

8) Johnny Damon | New York Yankees | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
600
178
.297
17
77
118
24
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
--
--
+
X

Positives: The Formerly Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer is one of the purest leadoff hitters in the league, with an ability to both swat at outside pitches and deliver a choppy but effective home-run swing. Even though he operates contact-first on offense, he hit a career-high 24 home runs last season - a monumental leap from his 10 in 2005 with the Red Sox. It's safe to say the short porch has had an effect on Damon's swing. And in this lineup, Damon's No. 1 fantasy asset - scoring runs - will be another huge factor come fantasy season.

Negatives: Damon has been fighting injuries the past several years, including groin and hand ailments last season. He was known in Boston, as well as his current trip in NY, for playing through injuries for the sake of the team. He may be a gamer, but his 0-fers could hurt fantasy players even while he's helping the team.

Fantasy Tip: Given the Yankees lineup, Damon can certainly be a number-two outfielder, and a No. 1 if strategy favors it. He is just making the top 50 at the beginning of the fifth round. In that lineup, if he's available on your board after the first few rounds, you should snag him.

9) Jermaine Dye | Chicago White Sox | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
509
148
.290
36
109
99
6
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
+
+
X
--

Positives: Jermaine Dye made a strong case for the Most Valuable Player last season (.315-44-120), finally breaking through statistically. Dye batted over .300 for the first time since 2000, and has six seasons of over 20 home runs for his career, and improved his run total by 29 last year. Dye showed a vast improvement in his ability to pummel pitches in the strike zone, and actually performed better in the power categories against righties (29 and 85 compared to 15 and 35 against lefties). He is certainly able to produce at least solid numbers in the big four offensive categories, along with being a huge plus guy in the two big masher categories.

Negatives: His 118 strikeouts last year was his third-highest total in a season. Concerns have also arisen in Chicago as to how his body will hold up. The 6-foot-5 mammoth outfielder will turn 34 this season, and his ability to keep putting up these numbers might come into question around mid-season.

Fantasy Tip: Drafters are counting on Dye continuing his success, as the veteran is coming in at the end of the third round.

10) Delmon Young | Tampa Bay Devil Rays | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
546
157
.287
22
84
89
26
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
X
X
+

Positives: Baseball's top prospect of a year ago was finally called up to the big leagues last August, and this season will jump immediately to the second spot in the perpetually young Devil Rays order. He shows signs of great pop when he outsmarts a pitcher. 

Negatives: While Young has the talent to jump quickly out of the gate, major league pitchers might be able to adjust to his aggressive hitting style. He struck out 22 times in September while walking only once in 26 games, and he has a looping swing that needs to be straightened out (Soriano with even less contact discipline). Hurlers might be able to adjust quickly during the season if Young keeps chasing garbage pitches.

Fantasy Tip: Last season, Young was a reward pick in the late rounds, as owners hoped to cash in on a September call-up. This year, hitting second in the Devil Rays order, Young has the potential to put up numbers feasible of a second outfielder with plus rating in stolen bases and RBI. Fantasy owners haven't been completely scared off by drafting a youngster, as Young is nestled in at the beginning of the ninth round.

11) Rocco Baldelli | Tampa Bay Devil Rays | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
552
165
.299
18
77
96
23
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
--
--
X
X

Positives: The "Woonsocket Rocket" is slated to lead off for the D-Rays. In his limited time last season, Baldelli matched his career high with 16 homers, and provided good offensive support atop one of the most improved American League offenses. In the first 22 games since his return from injury, Baldelli hit for a scorching .353 with seven doubles, two triples, four homers and 15 RBI with a ridiculous 1.034 OPS. His second-half performance in 2006 (12 homers and 40 RBI) is keeping the Devil Rays from caving in to trade offers from the Dodgers.

Negatives: His name was spelled "Bal-DL-li" the past two seasons, with injuries to his knee, elbow and hamstring preventing any contribution to the club. After missing all of 2005, he only played 92 games after missing the first two months of last season. Although he made a huge impact on the D-Rays in his return, there is no guarantee that he will be able to hold out for an entire season given his history.

Fantasy Tip: Baldelli is at 100 percent for the first time in several years, and his presence alone will increase the potency of the Devil Rays lineup. In the first seven rounds, Baldelli is a suitable second or third outfielder.

12) Torii Hunter | Minnesota Twins | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
541
148
.274
29
102
89
16
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
X
+
X
X

Positives: Hunter will have a full season of increased offensive support in 2007. He will no longer have to shoulder the load in Minnesota with the ascension of reigning MVP, first baseman Justin Morneau and catcher Joe Mauer. He had his second highest career total last season with 98 RBI, and early camp reports have Hunter fully healthy after a hindered camp last year due to his broken ankle in 2005.

Negatives: Hunter is one of the streakiest hitters in the majors. His average has never been a strong point; his single-season high was .289, and his 108 strikeouts counted for his fifth season in the last six that he has surpassed the century mark in that category.

Fantasy Tip: The Gold Glove centerfielder is a healthy pick as a second or third outfielder this season. Fantasy owners are expecting bigger things from Hunter this season, as he is being taken at the beginning of the seventh round.

13) Magglio Ordonez | Detroit Tigers | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
584
177
.303
29
113
93
0
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
--
+
X
--

Positives: It's hard to believe that Ordonez is in his 10th season in the bigs, and he's still putting up the numbers he was accumulating in his first few seasons. He finally beat the injury bug in 2006, capping it with an appearance in the World Series. In 155 games last year, Ordonez produced with 24 homers and 104 RBI. The entrance of Gary Sheffield will be a boon for Mags, as he will finally have some experienced protection in the heart of the lineup.

Negatives: His numbers have taken a fall since his time in Chicago. He had his lowest hit total since his first full season, and had his highest single-season strikeout total (87).

Fantasy Tip: Ordonez would surely fit as a second outfielder on any team, but could get lost in the shuffle of other recently successful outfielders. This could be a very productive year for Ordonez, and drafters should not ignore the tell-tale signs. That being said, Ordonez falls just shy of the top tier.

14) Corey Patterson | Baltimore Orioles | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
559
154
.275
19
59
82
35
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
--
--
+

Positives: Like the rest of baseball the last century, Patterson drove a stake into the hearts of Cubs fans, but ingratiated himself with fantasy owners in his call-up in Baltimore. He finally broke through and became a speedy offensive force, giving owners a plus steals guy with the ability to put up decent (if not outstanding) numbers across the board. He rebounded from a putrid .216 average in 2005 with a solid numbers campaign last year (.276-16-53).

Negatives: Patterson is still a contagiously streaky hitter, and will not provide much help in the power departments. He doesn’t have the best power bat, and won’t necessarily drive in that many runs on a consistent basis. He still has a lot of maturing to do at the plate  

Fantasy Tip: Patterson is still a risk-reward pick here. He is being picked as high as 65th while posting an average position around the middle of the ninth round. He is averaging higher than Rocco Baldelli, who will probably put up more consistent and wider-spanning numbers. It's the single-category factor that's letting Patterson go higher.

15) Hideki Matsui | New York Yankees | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
586
176
.301
26
106
100
2
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
X
+
+
--

Positives: Matsui is an RBI machine and an unheralded anchor in an overstocked lineup. In his three full seasons in the majors, Matsui drove in 106, 108 and 116 runs while hitting no less than .287 each year. His choppy stroke can hit to all fields, for power and average. And even though he only had 172 at-bats last season, he walked 27 times compared to 23 strikeouts. Even his sixth position in the Yankee order guarantees ample opportunity for offensive production. Up until last season, Matsui was a paragon of steady health, playing in a then-record 518 straight games.

Negatives: Matsui broke his left wrist in a diving attempted catch against the Red Sox last May. His four-month absence created a huge hole in the Yankee outfield, but paved way for the emergence of Melky Cabrera in left. Cabrera is waiting impatiently on the bench as the fourth outfielder this season, and is more than capable of filling in for Matsui if he suffers another physical or production-based setback.

Fantasy Tip: Matsui is going at an average at the end of the fifth round. He is certainly worth taking as a number two outfielder, but not as a top option because of his time needed to recover from his injury last season.

16) Alex Rios | Toronto Blue Jays | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
495
143
.289
20
86
92
17
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
X
X
X

Positives: Rios is a poor man's five-tool player. He can hit for both power and contact, and is a perpetual threat to reach 20-20 each year with his speed. After finally scoring a full-time job last year, he failed to disappoint, posting 17 dingers with 82 RBI. Rios could improve on his run total from last year, as his speed in this foot-dragging lineup could see him hit as high as second in Toronto's order.

Negatives: Rios struggled mightily since his return from injury last summer, and scouts think his swing took a major hit while he was rehabbing from a deep bone bruise in his bottom hitting hand. He will need to work out these mechanical issues once the season begins. He batted .214 in July and .198 in August, crucial months when he needed to help his team.

Fantasy Tip: Rios is hitting draft boards at the beginning of the eighth round. This is a smart place to draft him, as the outfielder rankings start to split around this round, so grab him if he’s there.

17) Raul Ibanez | Seattle Mariners | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
607
173
.285
29
107
97
2
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
X
+
X
--

Positives: His nickname could be "The Librarian." Ibanez put up another quietly productive season in 2006, setting career highs with 33 home runs and 123 RBI. For the past several seasons, he has served as a great option for a second or third outfielder to snag in the middle rounds. After playing in every game in 2005, he only missed three last season. Ibanez is truly proof that drafters can wait to snag an above average fantasy outfielder.

Negatives: He has only batted above .300 once - in 2004, when he only drove in 62 runs. Ibanez is a weak play against lefties, only hitting .243 against his southpaw counterparts.

Fantasy Tip: Ibanez will be there after all the big names are selected in the first eight rounds, as he's going at the end of the 10th round. Picking him before then wouldn't be a huge crime.

18) Curtis Granderson | Detroit Tigers | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
604
166
.275
22
75
98
13
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
--
X
--

Positives: Granderson is the spark at the top of the Tigers order, as his 19 homers and 90 runs made him a fantastic option for a third outfielder. This year, early camp reports say that he will be inserted into the lineup against more lefties, so he will have a chance to become a more complete hitter. And with the addition of outfielder/designated hitter Gary Sheffield to a core including fellow outfielders Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe, Granderson can expect to cross the plate a bit more this year.

Negatives: Of all the Tigers' patience woes at the plate, Granderson's was the most egregious. Granderson went down on strikes 174 times last season, third in the majors to fellow whiff wizards Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard. Problem is, Granderson doesn't have the grandiose power numbers to justify his strikeout totals. Yes, he has power for a leadoff hitter, but when you strike out in almost one-third of your at-bats, you are missing part of your mission. His 8-for-13 rate on the base paths doesn't exactly scream "leadoff hitter," either.

Fantasy Tip: Granderson is hitting the boards at around pick number 225. Despite his improved offensive situation, owners seem tentative to expect Granderson to improve on his reckless at-bats.

19) J.D. Drew | Boston Red Sox | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
449
131
.293
22
88
92
4
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
--
X
X
--

Positives: The Sox signed Drew for his glove, and to serve as the bottom slice of bread in the left-right-left sandwich with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. He will see better pitches while protecting David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Drew has driven in at least 93 runs in two of the last three years, and cashed in on his 100-RBI season in LA last year. He was also born to hit at Fenway, as his lefty stroke will cause problems around Pesky Pole.

Negatives: There's a reason Red Sox fans in general have loathed this signing. He has often been criticized for his work ethic, and has earned a rep for being just about as strong as a toothpick. Lingering shoulder problems held up his deal with the Sox, and his current contract includes clauses that could terminate the contract if Drew suffers at least 35 games of injury time in the fourth or fifth season. He's also not a supreme plus-category producer in any stat category.

Fantasy Tip: His potential has reached exponential heights with Manny and Ortiz around him, and drafters are giving Drew the benefit of the doubt with the average of an 11th-round pick.

20) Scott Podsednik | Chicago White Sox | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
504
138
.274
2
36
79
42
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
--
--
+

Positives: Podsednik has stolen at least 40 bases for four straight season and figures to make it five seasons in a row in 2007. He had a good first half last season with a .276 average, two homers, 33 RBI, 63 runs and 29 steals. He figures to be the starting left fielder on opening day.

Negatives: Podsednik reportedly suffered his fourth sports hernia of his career during the offseason, so his abdominal wall may be very weak right now. He just turned 31, which means he may be on the downside of his career. He hit just .217 in the second half last season, and his steals have fallen each of the last two seasons.

Fantasy Tip: Podsednik is a cheaper source for steals, as he's going in the last half of most drafts.

21) Coco Crisp | Boston Red Sox | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
537
154
.287
13
60
77
20
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
--
--
--

Positives: Coco is effective at hitting the ball to all fields and laying down the occasional bunt. His choppy hitting style can benefit him in the hitter-friendly Fenway Park for one of the league's best offenses, and he can put up some effective numbers in the bottom third of the order, providing a contact hitter to knock in the lower positions.

Negatives: Health problems delayed Crisp's arrival in Beantown, yet they also delayed the massive amount of boos he received. Crisp's experiment as leadoff hitter had a short-lived run in Boston, as he struggled to set the table in any spot of the order. His lack of hitting patience and premature decisions on baserunning will likely drop Crisp deep to eighth in the order. Also, Boston isn't normally an aggressive baserunning team, so Crisp can often feel like an awkward fit into their system.

Fantasy Tip: Crisp has potential to reach the base level of runs and is being taken at the end of the 11th round.

22) Craig Monroe | Detroit Tigers | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
539
143
.265
30
98
85
3
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
+
+
X
--

Positives: Pitchers who made mistakes to Monroe last season paid dearly, as the young hitter showed a love for the lumber: 28 homers and 92 RBI. He is entering the prime of his career, and could become one of the most underrated power hitters in the league. The Gary Sheffield factor will also give Monroe some fatter pitches.

Negatives: Like the other young cubs last year, Monroe also developed an affinity for pitches that ended up - well, everywhere. His 126 strikeouts contributed to a paltry .255 average, as pitchers learned to use breaking balls to snap his at-bats.

Fantasy Tip: Monroe could develop into a number-two outfielder this season with his plus stats in homers and RBI. The Mock Draft rankings, however, show managers' skepticism with a late 20th-round average.

23) Mark Teahen | Kansas City Royals | Other Positions: 3B

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
478
135
.283
21
89
71
8
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
X
--
--

Positives: After a poor rookie season, Teahen put together a very successful 2006. He hit .290 with 18 home runs and 10 stolen bases. He became a much more patient hitter at the plate and that could lead to furthered success. Many believe that Teahen is a budding star for the Royals and could continue to develop.

Negatives: Teahen is making the change to the outfield to make room for third baseman Alex Gordon. He had shoulder surgery in the offseason, and the longer throws could bother him. Teahen only hit 18 home runs last season, so there are a lot of guys with more power than him. He also is a part of the Royals lineup which usually is not one of the best in the league; this may hinder his RBI and run totals.

Fantasy Tip: Teahen has some potential to improve on the season he had in 2006. His potential is making him a 13th round pick so far in the drafts and we think that you could get slightly more value at that spot than to take Teahen there.

24) Michael Cuddyer | Minnesota Twins | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
525
144
.275
21
87
87
6
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
X
X
--

Positives: Cuddyer finally showed proof of the potential he was unable to display due to logjams at key Twins positions. He doubled his home run total and RBI totals from 2005, and his position flexibility helped fantasy owners fill in key spots. Cuddyer is one of the most effective offensive utility players to find on the draft board. If that doesn't make you giddy enough, he will be hitting cleanup for the start of the season.

Negatives: His propensity for whiffing panned out over his first full-time season, as he fanned 130 times while only walking 62 times despite posting a solid .362 on-base percentage. Cuddyer lost his third-base eligibility after playing strictly in the outfield last year.

Fantasy Tip: Cuddyer is going at the end of the 11th round on average. This is a little high now that he's only an outfielder.

25) Kenny Lofton | Texas Rangers | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
487
145
.298
5
37
76
28
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
--
--
--
+

Positives: For what he is, Kenny Lofton serves a purpose. He will be taking over Gary Matthews Jr's leadoff spot in Texas, which could mean very positive offensive numbers - well, positive figures for a centerfielder who will turn 40 in May. Lofton still has swift feet - a poor man's Rickey Henderson in that aspect - stealing 32 bases last year. He's still a very agile player who can create runs when given the chance. He will see increased playing time because of his never-dwindling fielding prowess, and will even have the luxury of having some days off as DH.

Negatives: Lofton has shown signs of his age. His 129 games played last season were the most he's played in three seasons. He offers little help in any of the other four offensive categories despite batting over .300 the past two seasons.

Fantasy Tip: Lofton is experienced enough that fantasy owners can rely on him for fringe statistical help. He's going around the 228th position, which puts him in the region of utility players.

26) David Dellucci | Cleveland Indians | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
438
132
.301
19
66
79
7
Impact
N/A
N/A
+
--
--
--
--

Positives: When Dellucci enters a game, there's a good chance he will drive in at least one run. He is an effective situational hitter. He hit 13 home runs in only 262 at-bats last season, entering mostly as a pinch-hitter or filling in as a spot-starter. He will finally get a chance to win a full-time job that eluded him in Arizona and Philadelphia. 

Negatives: Dellucci is once again stuck in a platoon situation, having to share time with Jason Michaels in left. Dellucci's .292 average last season was an aberration because of limited playing time. He has to prove that he can carry the load on a daily basis.

Fantasy Tip: Dellucci is a viable option as a plug-in play early in the season, keep an eye on this situation. He's not being drafted in many drafts and is best left undrafted. 

27) Gary Matthews Jr. | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
603
167
.276
17
65
87
13
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
--
X
--

Positives: Matthews essentially cashed in on making one of the top plays of the year in any sport, which accentuated his numbers to score a five-year, $55 million deal with The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Although his 19 dingers last year were mostly a result of Ameriquest Field, he had his first career 100-run season. He had 24 more RBI last season (79) than in 2005, his run total jumped by 30, and his batting average soared a whopping 58 points.

Negatives: Matthews is a shaky player to provide help in the categories he's groomed for. Last year was a breakout season at the age of 31. It's very unreasonable he can repeat it. He leaves a great hitters' park to play in a slightly pitcher-friendly park. He never stole more than 15 bases in a season.

Fantasy Tip: Matthews has the potential to produce as a third outfielder, and fantasy players are jumping on the speculation by drafting him at the end of the 14th round.

28) David DeJesus | Kansas City Royals | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
547
160
.291
11
66
89
8
Impact
N/A
N/A
X
--
--
X
--

Positives: Another Royals outfielder with promise. DeJesus is a speedy player who drives in a nice amount of runs for a leadoff hitter. The past three seasons, his average has hovered around the .280s and .290s while his run totals increased. He had a respectable 36 doubles last season, which helps him to set up run-scoring chances; with beefy young guns Ryan Shealy, Mark Teahen and maybe even Alex Gordon, his opportunities will surely increase.

Negatives: Another Royals outfielder. Despite his natural agility, he is not an aggressive baserunner. His eight stolen bases in his first full-length seasons was his career high.

Fantasy Tip: DeJesus is part of a young team and will fit in as a dependable table-setter. He is currently slotted at an average of the last of the 24th round, assuring him of a valuable bench spot on most rosters.

29) Jose Guillen | Seattle Mariners | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
534
151
.283
22
75
68
3
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
--
--
--

Positives: Guillen moves to another pitchers' park in Washington (the state this time), but drastically improves on his situation with the Nationals. He is penciled in as the sixth hitter, where he has a chance to pick up the fantasy scraps left by first baseman Richie Sexson, third baseman Adrian Beltre and Raul Ibanez. He had three consecutive seasons of at least 23 homers before only playing 69 games last year.

Negatives: The slugger's last two seasons have been torturous for fantasy owners. Last year he barely gave owners a chance to warm up to his free-swinging, undergoing season-ending surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament in July. If the phrase "Tommy John" doesn't scare you enough, Guillen was never much of an RBI contributor.

Fantasy Tip: Guillen is not being drafted in most leagues and could be a good risk-reward pick in the later rounds.

30) Reed Johnson | Toronto Blue Jays | Other Positions: None

Year
AB
Hits
Avg.
HR
RBI
Runs
SB
2007
502
152
.303
11
60
78
7
Impact
N/A
N/A
--
--
--
--
--

Positives: Johnson had a career year in 2006 when he hit .319 with 12 homers, 49 RBI, 86 runs and eight steals. He finally has the opening and security he needs entering the season to continue his success. He is a modest producer in all categories but can help your batting average throughout the season. He got off to a hot start last year with a .365 average and hit .283 with eight homers (twice the amount he hit in the first half).

Negatives: Johnson doesn't excel at one thing in fantasy. He's 30 years old and has hot prospect Adam Lind waiting in the wings. If he struggles, he is likely going to be on a short leash.

Fantasy Tip: Johnson isn't being drafted in most leagues and is best served as a depth outfielder in AL-Only leagues.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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