In the bottom fishing column, I'll be looking for players with upside who can usually be found either for nothing amidst the free agent pool or who might acquired cheaply via trade. Players selected will either have above average upside, or have value that has been overlooked by many players, such as the two older players at the end of this piece who are owned in less than 10% of Yahoo leagues and should out-produce many players already on active fantasy rosters.
Corey Hart (OF, Brewers): For all I know Corey Hart did wear his sunglasses at night last season. That certainly might have accounted for the lack of hitting he did last season and even into the spring. But over his last few at-bats it suddenly looks like he remembered that the basic theory of the game is swing bat, hit ball. While the sample size is small, the 35%-owned Hart has the talent to put up a 20-20 season or even do more damage provided he can keep earning the playing time.
Officially he's part of a platoon with Jim Edmonds, but that doesn't seem likely to last, especially since Hart is wielding a hot stick and Carlos Gomez doesn't seem to be able to hit his way out of a box right now. That means that Edmonds may soon be patrolling Gomez' patch of yard and getting the heck out of Corey's way. Just two weeks past his 28th birthday, it seems possible that Hart could break out.
In just 19 at bats this season Delmon has already swatted two long balls and stolen a base. Perhaps more importantly however is the fact that Delmon has only struck out twice in that span a 1:9.5 ratio as opposed to the K every 4 AB he posted last year. Fewer whiffs translate to more contact and more balls put in play. That should boost his fantasy production, provided he can keep it up. If he can, 15-15 is in the bag and 20-20+ is possible.
Rick Ankiel (OF, Royals): How short fantasy memories are -- just one down season and Ankiel has become a forgotten man in fantasy ball. That's kind of funny when you realize he's hit 36 home runs in just 785 AB coming into this season and last year was predicted by some pundits to be on the verge of a 40 home run breakout season.
No breakout is likely, but Ankiel still has power and is certainly capable of an average better than the .231 he posted last year. Given his every day playing time and the No. 5 slot in the lineup Ankiel should put up numbers far in excess of last season's .231-11-38. In fact a .260-24-90 might be just about right.
Don't forget the old guys
Aubrey Huff (1B, Giants): The luster has faded from Huff who was once a top 25 fantasy player, but he's still capable of being productive -- especially from the cleanup slot behind Pablo Sandoval. Last year Huff managed just 15 home runs, but drove in 85. That's not bad for a guy owned in less than 10% of all Yahoo leagues. And let's not forget, while he seems ancient by baseball standards he's just 33 and a season removed from a 33 home run campaign. He won't replicate that, but thinking he might surpass last season's totals isn't ridiculous.
Jose Guillen (DH/OF, Royals): Another Royal making this list is the 34 year old Jose Guillen. Since 2003 Guillen has hit at least 20 home runs in any season where he's managed to get at least 500 AB. Over that span (excepting his injured seasons -- and he's had two) he's averaged 92 RBIs per season. He lost most of last season due to injuries which limited him to a mere 281 AB many of which were still hampered due to pain.
That's led a lot of fantasy sources to ignore him, but he's capable a being a fantasy factor, especially since he's finally healthy and provided he can stay that way. He's owned in less than 4% of fantasy leagues. At the moment he's hitting in the six slot in the Royals order, behind Ankiel, but that could easily change, especially if he manages to park a few balls in the seats while Ankiel is struggling.
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